Munich to Paris

May 27, 2000 in London to Munich 2000

Munich to Paris

After a dreadful night’s sleep at the noisy youth hostel, I went back to the station to buy a train ticket back to Paris. Having booked myself onto the overnight train again, I had the whole day to explore Munich again. The day had dawned bright and very warm, and seeing as it had been so pleasant the day before, I went back to the Englischer Garten.

Sadly, by the time I’d got out of the U-bahn, there were clouds in the sky, and it was getting cooler. Soon it had started raining. I thought I’d walk on through the park, in the hope that it would soon stop, but in fact just as I got to the point furthest from any shelter, the rain started really lashing down.By the time I got out of the park, I was absolutely sodden, and considerably less cheerful than I had been. However, the rain had stopped, and so I carried on wandering.

I wandered back to the Marienplatz, which is where all the tourists seem to congregate. It’s dominated by the wildly overblown gothic monstrosity which is the town hall. Nearby, the Viktualienmarket is a good place to pick up a bratwurst, and there are lots of little streets to wander around.

I filled up my time around here, and then went back to the station to go back to Paris. All in all, I’d been impressed with Munich, but I was happy to leave and see what Paris was like. The train journey back was less pleasant than the one to Munich had been, because I didn’t even get a reclining chair. I was a bit of a physical wreck when I arrived in Paris at 7am the next morning, but after an hour’s kip sitting on the wooden bench in the reception of the youth hostel, I was restored enough to hit the town.

Paris to Munich

May 26, 2000 in London to Munich 2000

Paris to Munich

I managed to get a reclining chair on the overnight train to Munich, and so slept tolerably badly. When I went to sleep I was the only person in my carriage, but when I woke up I was surrounded by commuters, who looked as if they felt far too respectable to be sharing a carriage with a shabby backpacker. After a 10 hour journey, we rolled up exactly on time M√ľnchen Hauptbahnhof.

I had absolutely no idea what Munich was going to be like at all until I walked out of the station. For all I knew, I could have been arriving in a German Birmingham, but thankfully Munich is actually a really nice, clean, pleasant city. I wandered around town until I could check into the youth hostel at 1pm.

Once I’d checked in and slept for a couple of hours, I went back into town, via the super-efficient U-bahn. I headed for the Englischer Garten, a huge park stretching along the east side of the city. It proved surprisingly difficult to find, and after some while wandering up and down Leopoldstrasse, I ended up in the Hofgarten instead. There was a sudden heavy rainshower, and I took refuge in a small covered spot in the middle while I consulted my guidebook.

Eventually, the rain stopped and the sun came out, and despite a monstrously unhelpful map in my Rough Guide I worked out I was right next to the Englischer Garten, so I gathered my stuff and set off. I was glad to leave the Hofgarten: It had been quite pleasant, until a Ukrainian violinist appeared, and began tuning up. After about 10 minutes, he stopped, paused, and began again. I realised he was actually playing a tune, and made a rapid exit.

The Englischer Garten was well worth finding. On this warm May evening, it couldn’t have been nicer. The park has wide open spaces, rivers, lakes, islands – basically everything you want in a nice park. I headed towards a strange tower on a small hill. According to the spectacularly useless Rough Guide to Europe (of which more later) this was the Monopteros. What it is for or why it is there was not explained. Still, it looked quite intriguing, so I went to have a look.

A quick dash up the little hill leads you to a fine view over the park. There are no clues on the Monopteros itself as to what it does, so you just have to appreciate it for what it is. But strange towers on little hills are OK by me, so I sat there for a while in the evening sunshine. There was a group of percussionists playing away to the left, and I could hear a brass band somewhere off to the right.

From the Monopteros, I wandered off towards the sound of the music. It turned out to be coming from the Chinesischer Turm, a huge pagoda type of thing surrounded by trees. There was a traditional Bavarian band playing, all in lederhosen and silly hats. Almost overwhelmed by stereotypes, I wandered on up the park.

Having sat around for a while by the Kleinhesseloher See, the lake at the top end of the park, I wandered out of the park through the back streets to Ludwigstrasse. This road passes through the heart of the university, and many grand old buildings line the way. They looked fabulous in the late evening light. All in all, I was impressed with Munich, and even the rat which ran almost over my feet as I made my way back to the hostel didn’t dent my good mood.