From my last visit to Munich in 2017:
Most of us think Munich means only the famous Oktoberfest whenever September rolls around. But this great German city, which I last visited in 1971, offers much more than just great beer. I spent the better part of a week here, but hardly recall much more than spending each day and evening at the enticing Oktoberfest grounds. So, here is quick shot at some Munich facts and figures, most of which you will either ignore or at a minimum, rolls your eyes into cabbage rolls.
Munich is Germany’s third largest city, after Berlin and Hamburg, with 1.3 million residents. Just so you know, the Oktoberfest started in 1812, and attracts over SIX million people in a three week period. That is more beer than Lake Tahoe (just kidding!). It is the biggest folk festival in the world, called Wiesn by locals. Oktoberfest beer is a lager or Märzenbier brewed by Munich breweries for the festival. With an alcohol level of 6 -7 % it is slightly stronger than normal German beer. Back when I went, it was delivered in wooden barrels covered with ice by horse drawn wagons. A mere 1.8 million gallons of beer are consumed during the fest. The average price now is $13 for 34 ounces of beer.
The world’s largest pub, Hofbrauhaus, which opened its doors in Munich in 1589, can fit around 5,000 people at any one time. Among its famous guests were Lenin and Krupskaya, Hitler, Mozart, and many others. Here you’ll also find a safe where glasses of the local visitors are kept, and the chambers of which are passed on as inheritance.
I do recall lounging at the English Garden while waiting for a train to Switzerland. It is larger than London’s Hyde Park, as well as NYC’s Central Park. Munich boasts the largest museum of science and technology in the world. Deutsches Museum displays more than 28,000 objects in 50 exhibition areas and attracts about 1.5 million visitors every year.
BMW makes their home here, and even has their own museum and their own zip code (87088)!!! If you saw the movie, “Finding Forrester”, you know that Jamal gave us a brief treatise on the history of BMW. Founded in 1913, BMW started with airplanes, followed by cars in 1928. After WW2, BMW was allowed to produce only household goods and bicycles. In 1950, auto production resumed. Before moving to Clovis, I had a 2008 Z4 3.0i that our dog Buddy loved to ride in, with the top down!
Food and beer are a BIG deal here. Munich is famous for its white sausages, served only before noon, and always with sweet mustard and soft pretzels. FC Bayern is the most successful football (soccer) club in Germany. For my friend Webb, nudists love to swim and sunbathe here. He is also happy to know their is a Barbie doll here in Germany that looks like Angela Merkel.
Fortunately for me, Munich has 61 theaters, four symphony orchestras, and 36 museums. Play-Doh was invented here by a local pharmacist, Franz Kolb. Note that the great Jimi Hendrix smashed his first guitar here in 1966.
Munich is further north than any major city, except for Alaska. Yet it is located in Bavaria, basically southern Germany. On the plus side, Munich has over 60 beer gardens. Beer is considered a food here. An interesting fact for beer lovers everywhere is that there are six major breweries (aka the Big Six) in Munich: Augustiner Bräu, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr Bräu, Spaten-Franziskaner Bräu, and Paulaner Brauerei. There will be a quiz later.
The major streets of the old town of Munich were pedestrianized for the Olympics in 1972 and have stayed pedestrian only ever since. I was here when they were building for those Olympics, which were marred by the terrorists. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and eventually killed, by eight Palestinian terrorists. Mark Spitz was the big star of the Olympics winning seven gold medals.
Germany has over 600 main kinds of bread and 1200 types of pastries and rolls, including my favorite, the delicious Nussschnecke (literally: “nut snail”). I did not realize this, since I spent too much time drinking beer at the Oktoberfest.
But this is downright bothersome: Only 71% of German men stand up to pee. That means the other 29% are squatting!!! I never realized this on my first trip here. Wow, TMI!!!! And for my friend Webb, there is a nudist area in the Englisch Garden.
Germans are inventive people: The printing press, glockenspiel, automobile, motorcycle, X-ray, diesel engine, special relativity and jet aircraft were all German ideas. They also came up with the helicopter, ballistic missile, morphine, the Z3 (first programmable computer), tachometer, coffee filter, Christmas tree, Gummy bears, the cuckoo clock, mp3 and (this is just a new one) sticky tape with serrated edges so you can rip off sections with your fingers alone! But more disturbing is that Hugo Boss designed the SS Nazi uniforms.
Fanta was created in Germany during World War II when Coca-Cola imports were banned. Its name comes from the word Fantasie meaning “imagination”. The Germans also drink a sickly sweet cola/orange soda mix called Spezi. Germany’s most popular snack is the Döner kebab and the best ones can be found in Berlin. This folded sandwich with chicken or turkey, salad and garlic sauce arrived with Turkish immigrants in the 1970s. Annual Döner sales amount to €2.5 billion a year! And I must say, the ones in Berlin are great!
Fully 65% of the Autobahn has no speed limit. It is rather fun to drive it, but once you see an accident, reality sets in. German is spoken by more than 100 million people worldwide. There are over 1000 different sausages in Germany.
I remember Munich for its great fun, friendly people, and great beer. Speaking of beer, there are over 60 beer gardens here. There are six major breweries here: Lowenbrau, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, and Spaten-Franziskaner. BTW, John Denver’s Country Roads is the most popular song played in the tents at the Oktoberfest (which starts in September).
Fast forward to 2022: I am here in Munich for two short days, having arrived from a long SFO via Istanbul to Munich itinerary. I have the fondest memories of Munich, my Oktoberfest days in 1971, and more recent visits a few years ago. And despite having a fabulous time on prior visits, the memories of the terrorist attacks during the 1972 Olympics remains as a nightmare memory.