Munich (München in German) is one of the most famous and (for tourists) most popular cities in Germany, as well as the capital of the state of Bavaria. Munich is most renowned for two things: giant bratwurst sausages; and the world's best beer (and, not so coincidentally, the world's biggest annual beer-guzzling festival — Oktoberfest). However, Munich is also one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in modern Germany: until the 1870s, it was the capital of the independent Bavaria, which was the wealthiest of the old Germany city-states; for almost 1,000 years, it's been an important centre of trade and commerce, as well as a staunchly religious Catholic centre; and more recently, it was the birthplace and the support base of the Nazi party. Munich is also utterly infested with Aussies — even outside of October.
During our tour of Munich today, Ozzie shared with us some interesting if alarming facts about beer and Bavaria. Bavaria is officially the beer capital of the world: not just by reputation, but also by the irrefutable weight of statistics. Have a look at some of these hair-raising facts, and you'll see what I mean.
Mr. Miller is an 84-year-old, Polish-born Munich local, who shamelessly (but not regrettably) interrupted our tour of Munich today in the Marienplatz. He staggered up to Ozzie, totally wasted on Glühwein (waving his Glühwein mug around); and wouldn't leave us alone until he'd told us his life story (at times, in surprisingly passable English), and sung us a few songs in G-d knows what language. You gotta see it to believe it: so check out the video below.
Weißwürste (lit: "white sausage") is a Bavarian specialty: it's made mainly from minced veal, and stuffed into a skin of pork casing. It's eaten without the skin — you either suck the mince out of the skin, or you slice the sausage in half — and is usually served with beer (and often with a big baked pretzel). I tried weißwürste on my tour of Munich today, in the Viktualienmarkt beer garden. Sadly, I did not adhere to the Bavarian tradition of eating the dish before noon: I missed the deadline by about an hour. Tasted great nonetheless.
Did you know that the word "Aussie" has 4 different meanings, here in Germany? First, it refers to Austrians — Germans have been calling their southern brethren "Aussies" for yonks. Second, it refers to Australians — naturally, who the hell doesn't know our affectionate national nickname? Third, it refers to East Germans, whom their Western brethren sometimes like to joke about. And finally, it refers to Ozzie! At least, that's according to Ozzie himself (yep, that's his name): the (allegedly) quarter-native Bavarian, 100% black, 110% crazy tourguide who took half of Wombat's on a tour of Munich this morning.
I'm officially labelling today "the day that I just missed everything". First there was the train from Dresden that I missed by 2 minutes. Then, this evening, I wandered down to Munich's Christmas market, to grab a bratwurst for dinner — arriving in the square at 7:30pm — only to find all the stalls shutting in my face as I got there! Apparently, the market closes at 7:30pm sharp on Sunday evenings. Next, I went for the next-best (and next-cheapest) option, and found a kebab shop at which to grab some tucker. Too late: they'd already stopped serving for the evening; luckily I found another one around the corner, that obliged me with a meaty plate of doner and salad. Finally, I jumped online at a nearby café; and they decided to close ½ an hour earlier than advertised ("family crisis" with the owners), and to kick me out prematurely. It definitely hasn't been my lucky day!
Wombat's Munich is a great place to stay if you want to experience the best of Munich. The free daily tour of Munich, that they run for their guests, is an excellent introduction to this gorgeous and unique city. Plus, the bar and lounge area (with pool table, and a funky "winter garden") is (a) packed with the hostel's lively and "true-blue backpacker" guests every night of the week; and (b) a good place to begin sampling the best thing about Munich: beer! However, Wombat's is also a little too much the "stereotypical backpacker" joint: while here, you really are expected to party hard and to drink harder. And — as its name suggests — if you're not sick of Aussies already, then you will be once you're done staying at Wombat's.