Cars, castles, and beer halls

- in Nyheter

Some cities in the world are the chief exporter of their nation’s stereotypes. Hollywood in Los Angeles is the obvious American example. Within Germany, Munich is that place.

Having experienced Berlin and Hamburg, the only aspect of Germany I still longed to see was the merry beer hall filled with people sporting feathered hats, lederhosen, and suspenders. Just like in the movies.

The real world, sadly, rarely contains such caricatures. Munich, however, paints the Germany of our imaginations well enough. For one, it’s the site of Oktoberfest. The event had long been over while I was in town, but that hardly stops anyone from enjoying a quality beverage. The local beer halls—and the glasses they use to serve drinks—are truly enormous. Half a liter is no option in this town, and the beer goes down smooth like water. Accompanied with a plate of local sausages, and your day is made.

In addition to beer, Germans also make great cars. Munich is home to BMW, and the city so generously has a museum dedicated to its beloved local product. Inside, the assortment of gorgeous automobiles from throughout the century was so stunning, it made me consider abandoning my environmentalist sensibilities and going into debt for the next twenty years in order to own one of these cars.

Given the Germans’ ingenuity with building fine products, it is fitting that Munich features the world’s largest museum of science and technology. A full day at the Deutsches Museum can bring you up to speed on the history of the world’s major tech industries. I wouldn’t recommend going there as a first date, though.

Finally, one cannot forget the Alps when thinking of Bavaria, the region that Munich lies in. Two hours from the city at the foot of the Alps lies a famous castle built in the 1800s. It’s called Neuschwanstein, and looks like something straight from a Disney movie. The king who ordered its construction was allegedly crazy, as well as a huge fan of the composer Richard Wagner. As a result, the castle’s exterior doesn’t match the time period when it was built, and the room designs are inspired by Wagner’s operas, making each room look jarringly different from the last. Nevertheless, being perched on a hill and overlooking a splendid valley makes it an excellent day trip destination.

Munich, more than Berlin, might offer you more of that imagined German essence. As great as Berlin is in its own ways, Munich leaves you with a stronger sense that you have truly experienced Germany.

Trust me, the satisfaction is worth pursuing.