Our first full day in Munich began with a “Fork & Food Tour” through the famous Viktualienmarkt in the center of Munich with our guide, Kevin.
You can’t understand the history of Munich – or Bavarian food – without first understanding the significance of beer. Beer was first produced by both Benedictine and Franciscan monks, who believed it had medicinal qualities. It was first documented in this region of Bavaria in the early 1100s, and was considered cleaner and safer to drink than water. There are six official Munich breweries. The first brewery was Augustiner, founded in 1328. Hoffbräu, the most famous of the six, was founded in 1589. Spaten (1397), Paulaner (1634), Löwenbräu (late 1300s), and Hacker-Pschorr (1417) make up the other four.
As Munich began brewing its own beer through these family-owned breweries, Duke Albrecht IV issued the Munich Purity Law in 1487, stipulating that only hops, water, and malt are the only permitted ingredients in Munich beer. This law was the first food purity law of its kind in the world and still holds true today.
To be considered a true Biergarten, the garden itself must include chestnut trees, they must only serve their own beer, and they must serve food from their attached/adjacent restaurant. If you see tables with tablecloths in a biergarten, you must order food from their restaurant. If they have bare wooden tables (no tablecloths) you are permitted to bring your own food.
We began our tour with a traditional Bavarian breakfast at Zum Dürnbraü, consisting of weisswurst, sweet mustard, pretzel, and weiss beer. We then walked through the market and tried numerous foods, including falafel, pork sandwich, fresh berries, fresh bread, cheese, and Bavarian desserts.
We finished with a picnic of many of these items while enjoying another cold beer in the Biergarten of the Viktualienmarkt. The best part of the tour, though, was when Hannah was asked by an elderly German woman – who spoke zero English – to take her picture and then proceeded to get mad at Hannah because she didn’t like how they turned out! Hilarious!
Our afternoon was spent walking off all the food we ate, roaming the streets of this fantastic city and taking in the sights! We ventured to the English Garden, Munich’s largest city park – and one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. It’s bigger than Central Park at 375 hectares, which translates to more than 926 acres! It was a gorgeous, warm and breezy summer day, so there were hundreds of people all enjoying the park.
We even witnessed surfing in the middle of the city – a small rapids on the river Isar where wannabes try their skills!
We were still full at dinner time, so we opted for a light meal at the hotel and turned in early!
On Saturday, we met our private tour guide, Marcin, for a walking historical tour of the original Munich city center. While I didn’t get many pics during this tour, we covered a ton of ground.
Did you know that the Hoffbrauhaus, while a fun tourist site today, has a very dark history? It’s the location of the original meetings and formation of the official Nazi party and where Hitler was voted in as the party’s leader. What we also learned on our historical tour today: 1. Everything in Munich revolves around beer. In fact, the six breweries own more land than the Catholic church. 2. Beer sales account for 15% of the total city’s tax revenues. 3. Most of Munich was severely destroyed during World War II; even the buildings that appear old are actually not. Even 75 years later, they are still rebuilding the city; it’s about 85% complete. 4. King Ludwig I was a terrible cad; he slept with more than 2,000 women and had each of them painted (the morning after each tryst) by the royal portrait artist! 5. The Munich Operahouse (Bayerische Staatsoper) has been built/rebuilt four times. It burned down twice – once shortly after it was built in the early 1800s, again a few years later, and then was bombed during World War II.
After our tour, we stopped for lunch at Augustiner Klosterwirt for one of the six authentic Munich beers…and this is where the challenge of the trip was born! Zack and Hannah are attempting to have a liter of beer from each of the six breweries. One was accomplished Thursday night (Hoffbrau). This lunch accomplished the second!
After lunch, we walked through Frauenkirsche, with its two beautiful spires that were spared during World War II.
Before making our way back to our hotel, we checked another brewery off our list by stopping for a drink and dessert at Herr’Schafts’Zeiten, Das Pauliner im Tal. Their kaiserschmarrn and apfelstrudel were incredible! After two liters of beer, Hannah & Zack were slap-happy and made for a very humorous walk back to our hotel!
We skipped dinner tonight and had another early night. We’re venturing outside of the city tomorrow for our final day of this amazing trip. Guten nacht!