10 Sep 2011

Munich Day 4 – Saturday, September 10, 2011

Posted by Deborah

(Written by Deb)

On our last day in Munich, we took a tram to Nymphenburg Palace, which was built in the 17th century as a summer residence for Bavarian rulers. It was expanded over the years, and now the massive complex is a local hotspot for wedding photos (we saw two newlyweds during our brief visit alone) as well as a popular tourist site. Leading up to the palace is a well-manicured stream and a series of ponds stocked with photogenic swans. Various rooms inside the main building have been restored to their original form, including the “Gallery of Beauties” lined floor to ceiling with portraits of women that King Ludwig I deemed attractive enough to represent his idea of beauty.

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We completed our tour by walking through the large garden behind the castle, and then headed by foot to the Hirschgarten, the largest beer garden in the city with seating for up to 8,000!! There were some interesting signs leading the way there. In truth, I had no interest in the actual beer part of the biergarten scene, I just got a kick out of the fact that it was spelled the same as my last name. Plus, in honor of the Hirsch namesake, which means deer, there were live deer in an enclosed area not far from where the tables were set up.

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While many beer gardens in Munich were just outdoor seating attached to a beer hall, for when it gets cold, this one was at the center of a very nice, and very sizable public park. There were a number of swing sets and other playground areas for kids as well as nature trails, food stands and so forth. Compared to Philadelphia, Munich clearly wins the prize for better, cleaner and larger parks.  Other than the deer, the beer garden itself wasn’t anything special but they did have chicken, which was a welcome surprise. Authentic Bavarian eateries don’t generally have much to offer for those who aren’t into pork and beer. Not only did they have chicken, but it was quite tasty. The bees thought so, too. We couldn’t seem to escape them, but that was the only downside to lunch. Seth also enjoyed his currywurst, which was basically just another variation of bratwurst but with a curry sauce (also very popular in Berlin, we later learned).

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We spent our last few hours in Munich back in the “old” downtown area, where we heard some wonderful street performers as we window-shopped – including a small orchestra ensemble that gave an impressive rendition of a familiar classical tune. I think I may have played the same piece years ago in high school but I can’t remember the name yet (there’s a video clip coming soon, if you know the name and want to help me out. 😉

After that, it was back to the train station for a six hour train ride to our next stop on the honeymoon tour: Prague. We lucked out on our train car. A friendly couple sat with us for the first hour, another young guy came in for a short while after that, and then we had the seats to ourselves to stretch out and get a bit of sleep.

It was around 11 p.m. by the time we arrived in Prague, so we headed straight for the Hotel Ametyst in Vinohrady, which is only two stops by train from the center of all the tourist attractions but a deceptively long walk from the international train terminal – especially with a backpack on! Our map indicated that it was only a half a mile, but Google Maps later confirmed our suspicions that it was more like a mile.

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