Exploring Munich

I have now officially experienced a hangover in another continent.  I think I had about the equivalent of 10-12 beers but these metric units are confusing me at this point in time.  As a result, today got off to a slow start.  We went into the city center, which is about a 20-minute ride, to do some sightseeing.  But, we had to go home halfway through the afternoon to take a nap.  Hangovers do ruin days.

Munich is somewhat a different experience that the other cities visited.  In Rome, Florence, and Innsbruck, our hotels were in the middle of the city.  We took the subway in Rome a little bit, mainly to get around faster.  We took a tram in Florence to get to and from the rental car company.  In Innsbruck we walked everywhere besides the ski resorts.  However, in Munich, we are using public transit extensively.

Munich has four transit systems, the bus, the tram, the U-Train, and the S-Train (U stands for underground, S stands for suburban).  They are all integrated, and you can ride all of them on the same ticket/ day pass.  After taking a mid-day nap, we rode a tram to a Cajun restaurant for dinner, a U-train downtown, and then the S-train back to the tram home.  Overall, a good system.

Everything reminded me of Wisconsin in some way or another.  Okay, maybe not everything.  But, a lot of places I felt like I was in Milwaukee, due to fonts, letterings, street signs, etc.  My favorite place so far is the Viktualienmarkt, which feels like Summerfest to me, and Rotkreutzplatz, which is in the neighborhood of our hotel, maybe four stops east.  It had the feeling of a cool, kind of less touristy area of town.  Maybe Wicker Park without the hipsters.

A lot of people ride bicycles here.  The bike lane system is kind of different.  Most of them are kind of between the street and the sidewalk.  They are sort of separated from vehicular traffic.  They still seem to have to go up and down ramps in a manner similar to having to ride on the sidewalk.  I have yet to decide how I feel about this system.  Usually I like what I know better unless I hear or think of a good reason to feel differently.

The roads themselves, their size and such are most like home of any place we have visited so far.  Rome and Florence had a lot of very narrow roads, basically the size of an alleyway in Chicago.  But, they had a lot of pedestrian traffic, and people riding scooters, along with the occasional small car would come through.  The roads here, and the spacing of the city, and even the size of the cars feel a lot more like home.  Obviously, the cars here are still smaller, but they are not nearly as small as Rome, in aggregate.

Another thing I noticed about Munich and Innsbruck is the way they lock their bikes.  They seem a lot more trusting here.  I did not see any U-Locks.  Instead, they just tie a cord lock from the frame to the wheel, not even using a bike rack of any kind.  They don’t seem to be worried about people cutting the lock, or of other petty theft, like removing the front wheel or seat.  The only thing their locking methodology seems to prevent is someone literally hoping on the bike and riding away with it.

The highlight of the day was probably the street performers at night.  No offense to U.S. street performers, but they were just put to shame.  We saw two sets of street performers in the city center this evening.  One group had all kinds of objects on fire.  It included this girl, who hula-hooped, with a hula-hoop that had several fires lit on the outside of it.  She moved it up and down her body, without lighting her hair on fire!  We also saw a five piece band playing.  This band included a violin, bass, cello, piano, and accordion.  They played classical music, but kind of in a modern form, and the lead singer was very entertaining.  They were also dressed a lot nicer than U.S. street performers.  Overall, they were much better.  It felt like they were actually trying to bring enjoyment rather than shows us that they need help, which I found very refreshing.

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