If there is a stereotypical version of Germany it is Munich. Munich is all the things that Americans think about Germany: Beer, sausages, oompa music, lederhosen, and young kids walking around in soccer kit. It would be too simplistic to say that is what Munich has to offer the world, but if you are visiting for a few days I’d be surprised if you came away from the city without drinking at least one beer, eating one sausage, hearing at least one oompa song, seeing someone in lederhosen, and at least 10 kids wearing soccer kit, but Munich has more to offer the world than great beer and oompa music, it has some great museums, one of the world’s best public parks, and plenty of ways to kill time.
My wife and I were looking forward to seeing the city, but we were really looking forward to seeing our German daughter, Maike. Maike stayed with our family five years ago and she took some time to come down to Munich to play tour guide and show us around the city. We had three great days of catching up, eating really good food, and walking until the rubber on my shoes wore out. Maike made our visit extra-super-fantastic. (The only German word we picked up was super which is pronounced with a z like zuper. So I added another language to my resume of fluency.)
Most of our time was spent in the English Garden because it was very hot. The garden has at least two beer gardens, plenty of green space to run and play, and a river and canal to swim in if you need to cool off. There were a bazillion people hanging out in the park and we spent one day cooling off in the beer garden and one day sitting next to the canal with the rest of Munich. The only thing that can spoil a nice time like this is a naked old man or two. I don’t know why this happens, but it seems like there are a few guys who always think, “You know what? Not enough people get to see me naked.” In reality only one person should be seeing that guy naked, himself. Why punish the world with your obvious lack of exercise and dining restraint. Hey, I’m not perfect, but I keep my shirt on in public…and pants too, if you were thinking I might be running around with uncovered nether regions you are wrong.
So while I was enjoying the sunshine by hiding in the shade with my wife, we were entertained by at least two older guys who needed to dip their twigs and berries in the water without any clothing restraining their man region. There is one good thing about these guys showing off their bodies by Elvis…I feel better about myself.
The English Garden does have some explaining to do. Why is it an English Garden and why is there a huge Chinese pagoda sitting in the middle of the world’s largest German beer garden? These things probably have some historical rationale, but that might mean I would research something for my blog and if you’re here for the first time that will not be happening.
Munich is also a great for just walking the streets (and I mean this in the most innocent way). The tall buildings provide shade and we were able to see tons of interesting old stuff. The streets around our hotel were crowded with people enjoying the Christopher Street party. I assumed Christopher Street was some German dude who had experienced some form of hatred for being gay, but through some research called posting bad information on Facebook I came to find out that Christopher Street was the name of the street where the Stonewall Riots/Protests took place. So for three days we walked through the throbbing crowds of drunk people dancing to techno music and wearing odd outfits, in other words, a normal weekend in Munich.
Munich looks really old, but most of it was rebuilt since 1945 because the USA dropped a few bombs there. (The next 6-20 sentences are completely wrong as far as recorded history goes, but a rewrite won’t happen because these italicized words are fair warning.) Munich was also part of the GDR (East Germany, the bad guys, during my high school years). The 1972 Olympics were held there and if you don’t remember how that went then you need to Google “1972 Olympics” read that and then read about “1972 Olympics Basketball.” If you are from Oregon you probably know the 72 Olympics as the Olympics where Steve Prefontaine almost got a medal but lost because he tried too hard. I could go on about Mark Spitz and the poster I wanted of him with his gold medals since my mom wouldn’t let me get the one of Farrah Fawcett in the red bathing suit, but my point isn’t how I wanted posters I never got and how the 1972 Olympics is burned into my memory, it is that East Germany was our enemy. Less than 20 years later Germany reunified and our nations became BFFs. This is what gives me hope for the future. Could my children someday visit Iran and see where the American Embassy hostages were held? Could they go to North Korea and see the Sea World where all the animals (fish?) were trained by Kim Jong Un? The world always seems like a big scary place with lots of people trying to kill each other and when you get out there, away from your televised news, you find out that the world is full of people just like you: Same fears, same passions, same need to be loved, and the same need for a shower and a shave.
So, I leave Munich with a feeling of hope for the future…unless Trump gets elected…then I’ll be moving to Mars with Matt Damon and farming potatoes.