I recently went on a journey to the Czech Republic (more on that to come) and chose to travel there by train. The journey appeared straightforward enough, from home to Mannheim, Mannheim to Munich and Munich to Plzen. It would take about 9 hours, not that much different from travelling to an airport, standing in endless queues, flying to Prague and then travelling west again to Bohemia.
(Un)fortunately my journey was less straightforward than the plan. A trackside fire between Augsburg and Ulm meant that the fast ICE train was unable to travel along the usual tracks and was diverted, delaying us by about an hour. I was more than a little surprised by this. Familiar with the UK hub and spoke system of train tracks, I was pretty amazed that there was a different set of tracks even available to travel to Munich. The ticket controller on the train looked into my connection options resulting from the delay and explained that I should go to the ticket office in Munich station as she did not think there was an onward connection that day.
Following that advice, I spoke to the lady in the office between platforms 18 and 19 at Munich station. She confirmed there was no further onward connection on the day. “All I can do is give you a hotel voucher and adjust your ticket to travel the remaining journey tomorrow.” There are worse places to be stranded at 5:30pm for the night than Munich! So here are some impressions gathered on an unexpected early evening stroll around the capital of Bavaria.
Walking from the station to the old pedestrianised part of the old town, I passed through the Karlstor, previously known as the Neuhauser Tor. Neuhaus was the nearest village to the fortified city and the gate in the city wall was named after where the road led. Originally built around 1300 it has been changed a number of times. On rebuilding its towers in 1791, the gate was renamed Karlstor after Elector Karl Theodor. Its exterior has since changed on multiple occasions, the name stuck.
In the 1960s the architect Robert Jensen encouraged the city to consider pedestrianising the area inside the gate, which was decided in 1966. A commemorative plaque has been erected to recognise his work. The three figures above the plaque are not related to this, they had been on a fountain, which stood on the Marienplatz square until 1944. Its redesign did not include them, so they were placed on the gate rather than being destroyed.
Passing through the gate I saw some lovely houses and was rather amused by the statues outside the hunting and fishing museum. What makes the boar so dangerous is unclear, it has obviously suffered damage, the fish however merely acts as a place to pose for funny pictures.
Images of the skyline with the distinctive towers of the Frauenkirche are used to inform viewers of TV series or films that the story is set in Munich, similar to the Golden Gate bridge for San Fransisco or the Houses of Parliament for London. I had not known that the church is so closely surrounded by other buildings that pictures of it other than as part of the skyline are nigh on impossible.
The destination I was aiming for on my walk was the Viktualienmarkt. A long-standing marketplace for victuals, i.e. food and provisions. My walk there took me across the Marienplatz past the new and the old town halls. The latter now houses a toy museum. On arrival at the Viktualienmarkt, I was surprised to find a visiting Portuguese music troupe performing. I enjoyed their music while refreshing myself with a locally made ice cream, amazed by their decision to perform in thick woollen coats!
A not to be forgotten during a stopover in Bavaria is of course beer. My arrival time meant I was unable to visit one of the breweries, however, I did make the time to admire the maypole donated to the residents by the principal breweries of Munich. Often used as a meeting point in the Viktualienmarkt, it depicts the making and enjoyment of beer and re-enforces the commitment to the Reinheitsgebot of 1487. This is considered the secret to good quality beer. It limits the ingredients for Munich beer to water, hops, malt and yeast. Despite all breweries using just the same four ingredients, true beer connoisseurs can taste the difference between breweries and have a favourite!