A few days before my mom was supposed to go back to the U.S., I got an email from my sister who lives in Tblisi, Georgia. She had mentioned trying to get together while my mom was in Europe, but we hadn't heard anything, so we just assumed it wouldn't happen. It turns out that at the last minute she got the ok from her boss to go to Munich for the weekend. So we changed my mom's ticket and headed to Munich!
We had a fun weekend in Munich. It was a city that I wanted to visit, but I didn't think I would be able to. Of course the highlight was seeing my sister, bro-in-law and my 2 nieces. And because of the kids, we didn't do a lot of serious sight-seeing. It was fun to just hang out with them. The hotel they booked had a pool, and Madi was a huge fan -- we went swimming every afternoon. Because my sister and her family are overseas, we often only see them once a year. It was really great to get to spend some time with them.
We walked around the old part of Munich several times during the weekend. It is a pedestrian area, filled with churches, the Rathaus, restaurants, shops and lots of people. The first night we headed to an outdoor restaurant for some brats, sauerkrat and beer. There was a drum corps playing on the pedestrian area, and it was fun to just hang out and listen to them. The surprising thing was that most of the drummers were women, probably at least 28 of the 35 or so. I figured that Lisa N would appreciate that! It also happened to be the day of the German football championship tournament, and supporters were out in full force. Germans take their football very seriously (as all Europeans do). There were groups of fans wandering around, singing, chanting, and drinking beer. There were also a lot of police out in full force. Thankfully we didn't see any disturbances. I think it helped that Munich was not expected to do very well.
The next day we wandered around the city a little more. We toured the Residenz Palace -- the royal palace of the Bavarian ruling family. The best part was watching Madi (age 4) listening to the audioguide. She took it very seriously, and figured out how to find the right number for each room. She didn't want to skip a single room. The palace was incredibly beautiful. The amazing thing is that a large part of the palace was destroyed in WWII. Munich was the origin of Hitler and Nazi-ism, and was therefore bombed to smithereens during the war. The city managed to rebuild the majority of the historic buildings, as much to the original plans as possible. I read in a book somewhere that the course of a lot of German cities depended on the rebuilding campaign they took after the war. Frankfort built huge skyscrapers and became a financial capital. Munich rebuilt the old city and became a tourist destination.
We were lucky to have beautiful sunny weather for the weekend. We headed to the English Gardens and explored just a small part of the huge park -- bigger than Central Park. We did get to see the surfers trying their luck on the waves coming out of the smaller canals into the river. Apparently Munich is know for its surfing?
The highlight of the day was heading to the Hofbrauhaus, the original Munich biergarten. It was so nice to sit in the shady beer garden, enjoying a HUGE mug of beer, sausages, and pretzels! Yum!
We spent the next day wandering around the old town, popping in and out of churches, and visiting the Viktualienmarkt -- a huge outdoor market with food, flowers, and all kinds of goods. We spent the afternoon at the Deutsches Museum, a museum of science and industry. We spent most of the time in the KinderReich, a fun kid's section complete with puppet theater, music room, water play, a fire truck and a full size hamster wheel. So fun!
The highlight of the whole weekend for me (and I think for everyone) was the Munich Zoo. The zoo was incredible! It was the first zoo to showcase animals in the natural setting -- meaning each animal has a realistic habitat and plenty of room to move. The zoo was huge and full of fun stuff! We got to see brown bears, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, polar bears, etc. My two favorite parts -- watching the Siberian Tiger have his lunch (a rabbit) and being mesmerized by the penguins. We easily could have spent twice the amount of time there, but unfortunately my sis and her family had to catch a flight. It was a fun weekend and I am glad we were able to meet up. Madi said it best when she said "I don't want to go home. Germany is FUN!"