Sunday in Munich, July 6th
Church bells are tolling and shops are closed for the day, but the streets are filled with people. This is Munich at its best. The commercial facade of one of Europe’s largest and most visited cities is put away for the day, and locals and tourists alike are out to enjoy the best of the city.
They gather in large crowds in the Marienplatz, the city’s center and heartbeat. Cafes are thronged with happy couples and college students, a group of dancers put on an informal show in the square, and visitors stop to snap photos of the Glockenspiel as it faithfully performs its “wedding and joust” ceremony at the toll of noon. The warm smell of summer and golden light wraps everything and everyone in a hazy glow, and all is peaceful and happy.
In the afternoon, droves of people head for Munich’s playground, the English Garden. This sprawling park stretches 3 miles from the city center, and provides a welcome respite from the heat. With quiet shaded park benches, open sunny fields and the cool, refreshing river, it never fails to give relief on a hot day. The sunny banks of the river are claimed by sunbathers, while surfers plunge into the rapids just below a bridge. When the sun gets too hot, visitors slip into the river, whose swift current takes them down to the next sunny field. They chat and greet their friends on the walk back to their own blanket in the sun.
As afternoon turns to evening, the crowds begin drifting into the local beer halls. These establishments all at once fill the role of watering hole, restaurant, concert hall and gathering place. They are filled with locals and tourists alike, all sharing a drink and hearty German food as the sounds of laughter and robust German polka pour into the streets.
And where am I? Happily in the middle of it all! As a tourist in Munich, I can gladly say that it lives up to its reputation as a “liveable” city. The typical tourist attractions and unseemly side-businesses that usually accompany them are nowhere to be found here. Rather, as a visitor to Munich, I feel much as though I am one of the local residents, and am treated as such. Though this city is a favorite among travelers, it does not prey on them. It welcomes them with open arms and encourages them to dive into its rich culture, to learn and appreciate a different way of life.
As a temporary Munchner, I encourage you to come and experience this beautiful gothic city and its friendly residents. Dive into the river with the surfers or make a new friend over a stein in a local beer hall. This friendly city does not disappoint.
Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!!!