Tales from Suburban Bohemia: Munich
This post originally appeared on Stumpy Moose on 21 April, 2002, and was migrated to PraguePig.com on 26 July, 2019.
The Beer Hall Putsch. Nazi party HQ. The Munich Agreement. The Munich Air Disaster.
Munich isn’t a place you immediately associate with good times but I had to pick up my visa from the Czech consulate there so we used that as an excuse to blow half a month’s salary taking a three-day holiday in “The West”.
In spite of its history, Munich is almost disappointingly pleasant. There’s way too much to see and do, the people are friendly, and the city runs as smoothly as you might imagine a major German city would.
I have a soft spot for Germany, not entirely explained by my fascinations with Kraftwerk, the Bundesliga and good typography.
Taking a bus from the Czech Republic to Germany is an odd sensation.
Grimy Bohemian border towns, full of brothels and shops selling inexplicably huge quantities of garden gnomes, give way to pristine German villages, full of recycling bins and well-tended lawns.
It’s as if someone suddenly wiped the dirt off your glasses and you can see clearly again.
Munich highlights? There’s a glut of historical buildings, the Deutsches Museum is one of the world’s finest museums and the Englischer Garten (a huge city park) is a great place to unwind.
Best of all though is the Olympic Stadium – perhaps the most spectacular building I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those 1970s design classics that, like the Lamborghini Countach, still looks daringly futuristic today, and is worth taking a look around even when there isn’t a game on.
Munich also has a vibrant nightlife but somehow we missed it.
We spent a good couple of hours pounding the streets of the “cool” Schwabing district, looking for cafes and bars, but eventually we got tired and hungry and went back to our hotel.
(On our last day, we found a guidebook called Groovy Munich, which I’d recommend if you want to avoid repeating our mistakes.)
Perhaps it was better for our budget that we never did find the cool district. Munich isn’t easy on the wallet.
Sitting in a pavement cafe on a street lined with Porsches and BMWs, sipping a refreshing weissbier, I began to wonder why I was wasting my time in a former-Communist country strewn with Skodas and beer gardens full of stray dogs.
I looked up and Real Madrid, in town for the Champions League quarterfinal game with Bayern, passed by on their team coach. It became very easy to feel at home in Munich.
Then the bill arrived and we suddenly remembered why we love Prague.