As my Lufthansa plane slowly descended into the Bavarian part of Germany, I realised that what I had been dreaming about for almost three years was finally coming to fruition: A trip through the land of medieval castles and enchanting forests.
I was partly in a haze because I had just been gently woken up by the air hostess for breakfast. It was 5:30 am and bright outside and I could already see some of the green pastures dotted with houses in what looked like a painting. As the plane then swooped down into the Munich airport, I was already starry eyed and ready for my vacation in Bavaria. I proceeded with the mandatory customs and made my way to the S-Bahn station and soon found myself in the train towards the city centre.
Travel by train in Germany is a pleasure and the icing on the cake are the picturesque towns that flash on the window. Can a technologically advanced country find such a cordial balance of science and technology? I wondered. I soon arrived at the Hauptbahnhof at around 7:30 am. The station is the main one located in the heart of the city and bears close to 30 platforms that flag off trains to connect various cities across Europe. I looked for the tourist information centre firstly to locate my office and secondly to get a map of the city and ask for recommendations at the station. However, it being a holiday, I was forced to wait until 10:00 am for it to open. I found a quaint cafe and noticed that the only other customer in the cafe was a lady seated quietly in a corner. I took a seat at her table and she was the first to open up a conversation that resulted in a decision to chuck the tourist office, locate my hostel from her iPhone and head out to visit a few museums of art. An artist herself, Maria from Sweden spoke perfect English and a chance to have an artist explain art to me was an offer only a fool would refuse!
I headed out with her and was introduced to the works of modern painters, photographers and the ones that left a strong impression on me were works by Warhol and Twombly. For the first time, I had been able to appreciate modern art thanks to a great guide! I learnt more about art, about sexism in the arts, cultures and realized that we had spent over two hours just talking and walking around the city. Weather in Munich changes promptly and the cool sunshine soon turned to a shower. Maria had a train to catch and I left her at the station before walking around a little more around the city on my own, thinking about the chance encounter I had had, that left me with very pleasant memories of the place.
Walking to Marian Platz, the main market place is a joy. It seemed as if the whole town had gathered to watch a spectacle in the main square. The towering Gothic buildings with their baroque sculptures enclosing the main square are a feast to the eyes. One could spend all evenings just strolling through the endless niches of the square, cycling along the cobblestone paths or just loitering on the grass watching the sun cast shadows on the green carpets below.
Visit to the Deutsche museum is educative and importantly, engaging. A technical museum can easily get sucked into the jargon of technicalities and can get increasingly complex for the general public. This museum offered puzzles, games and a lot of interactive text to make one feel at home about subjects as diverse as engineering, physics, astronomy and even math. I managed, I do not know how, to get myself locked out of the museum (!) and it took me several failed attempts of finding an open door before I found myself back in the museum. Indeed, my direction challenged brain has given me more confidence than anything else. How many times have I lost myself in new places, only to find myself safely back some way or the other! Thereafter I left for the Englischer Garten. The beautiful garden is a sprawling one, spread over 1000 acres. I walked for a couple of hours in the garden, following the green river meandering through the it, couples in love walking under the umbrella of trees, young mothers managing their difficult toddlers….life is beautiful.
I walked in and out of fascinating Gothic churches, drank in the paintings of the tapestries on the walls of the churches, the serene milieu and just sat on the green grass people watching. I had spent a couple of days in Munich and felt that I had so much more to see there but I was also interested in getting out of cities (I always run away from hustle and bustle). It is a vast city and one could easily spend a week in the city and still not see everything. I did what I could in the time I had. I do not like to rush myself and like to keep my plan very open. I decided that I would see more of Munich in the last leg of my trip if I felt like it.