- In Spring they have a mini-version of the Oktoberfest called the Frühlingsfest. It's in the same place as the bigger version, and only has one beer tent, but compared to my recollection of the Oktoberfest (which to be fair was 19 years ago, when I was young and somewhat less wary about my overall consumption as I am these days, so my recollections are liable to be of fairly mixed usefulness) it seemed much better. It was, for the most part, a Bavarian event, filled with your genuine Muenchners, as opposed to the Oktoberfest, which seemed to be an Australian/New Zealand event as much as a German one. Regardless as to the accuracy of this impression, there is something uniquely appealing about an event so unconcerned with modern-day health concerns that the only size of beer that can be purchased is a one litre mug.
- Bavaria (or possibly just Munich) has a "strong beer season". (I swear I am not making that up). This season runs from Ash Wednesday until Easter, which you'll note is not a million miles removed from the season often called Lent by some people. I'd like to think that Lent is the season when one is expected to give up normal strength beer in Bavaria, and thus strong beer season was born. Bavarians are, in fact, fairly devout Catholics, so they presumably do recognise lent in some form or other. But it might explain one or two things about their own brand of Catholicism - When the current Pope (who is, you see, a Bavarian) says something like "Condoms cause AIDS", we might cut him some slack and see it as a result of his Lenten diet of large mugs of viciously strong beer, rather than a theologically highly developed philosophical outlook. Or maybe not.
- In the Marienplatz, the central square in the city, is a fancy clock (a glockenspiel in fact) which three times a day does this elaborate 10 minute bell ringing thing, involving the small mechanical puppet based reenactments of various important scenes that are vital to Bavarian culture. In one of these, a knight clad in blue and white stripes wins an epic contest against a knight clad in red and white stripes. This fantastic vignette repeatedly reminds us all (tourists and Bavarians alike) of the gloriousness and importance of the FA Cup Semi-final of 1993. You can see this at aboout 2.15 into this video.
- Rumours that have sprung up around the coincidence of my visit immediately preceding the sacking of Jurgen Klinsmann are not to be taken seriously. And anyway, was he actually sacked or did he take a dive?
- It is forbidden to build anything higher that the twin towers of the Frauenkirch in Munich. These towers, which are more or less in the middle of town, survived the second world war, when pretty much everything around them was flattened. From that moment an unwritten rule appeared which said nothing could supersede them. Sadly, being unwritten it was ignored at some point and there are therefore two buildings that broke it, but after that there was a referendum which made the unwritten rule, written.
- One of the beers that I tried (and tried, tried again, just to be sure I really did like it as much as I thought I did) was weissbier. Not like the first time I'd ever had weissbier, but anyway. Weissbier means "white beer", and oddly you can (and I did) also get something called "dunkel weissbier", which means "dark white beer". It is extremely good, if a little oxymoronic in name.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Facts about Munich
Six things you might not have known about Munich: