Nom de Plumage

February 25, 2013

Reminiscing In Munich

Dampfnudeln galore!

Dampfnudeln galore! (Photo credit: hirnrinde)

Neuschwanstein - Germany

Neuschwanstein – Germany (Photo credit: Madison Berndt)

English: Frauenkirche (Church of Our Blessed L...

English: Frauenkirche (Church of Our Blessed Lady) in Munich, Germany, as viewed from the tower of Peter’s Church. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Deutsch: Die Frauenkirche in München von der Peterskirche aus gesehen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew from the beginning, that my return to Munich would be a very emotional experience. But it was something that I really needed and wanted to do. I had to move forward in my life, but to do that, I had to go back and close a chapter that I left unfinished.

There was never going to be a set plan of where I would go and what I would see today. It was always going to be a day where providence will guide me and my feet take me. That is to be the easy part, for I came to know Munich very well years ago. The question is, how much has changed?

The best place to start is from the Hauptbanhof (main train station). I exit the main entrance and cross the wide road to the beginning of the street that I once lived on. I knew at first glance that changes were made, it now appeared more dirtier, and new unfamiliar shops, had moved in. But shops that I knew so well, are still here. The Italian gelato shop that became my favourite after work treat during summer, is still here and the Turkish café that sells the most memorable culinary experience. The greasy Doener kebab! Turkish pita bread, filled with fatty meat of which the outer crust is caramelised, topped with salad, onion and a yoghurt sauce. Nothing beats it! My brother and I would always chose a Doener over every other food, ever time. And so I will again chose it for my lunch today and being the great sister that I am, I ring my brother back home and rub it in (just a little). Ah, sibling love!

The block of apartments were I once lived, is no more. It has been renovated and some parts demolished to make way for a new business. The memories remain and although I am sad at the lose, change was inevitable because the building was old. But something still remains and that is the cathedral at the end of the street. Many a night I cursed the damn bell that would ring every hour, as it kept me from my sleep. But not anymore! It was a sound that I am unaccustomed to back home in Australia, but in Europe, church bells ring all the time and I miss the sound. Not more than a few metres from the cathedral, is a vast expanse of open parkland that transforms every year to the best show on earth – the Oktober Festival. I would walk around this park almost every night and from July, watch the men construct the wooden foundations that would become the mighty beer halls. With the tents up, the food stalls and rides would follow quickly ready for the start of the beer season. I was lucky enough to love metres from this amazing spectacle and would every night after work, come down and enjoy the people, amazing food, crazy rides and the atmosphere. But seeing the park now covered in snow and standing here alone, opened the gates to my emotions and I openly cried. It was an amazing time and I miss my brother and the crazy adventures we had, and the laughs we shared.

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Karlsplatz is the entrance to the long promenade that leads to the impressionable and very famous Rathaus. But before I walk under the medieval looking arch, I go into the bookstore that brought me such joy. Hugendubel bookstore is massive and has several levels filled with books of all genres. The only section that I could understand (unfortunately) was the English books. For a traveller to walk into a bookstore and not be able to read the books because of the language barrier, is a nightmare. But to find a bookstore that sells English books – is heaven – and a place I frequented quite often.

Through the stone arch and I am immediately familiarised with the department store of Karlstad. The long crowded promenade has changed very little and I recognise many favourite shops and cafe’s that I once use to visit. Half-way down is the church of St Michael and it is famous for housing the mortal remains of many of Munich’s ruling élite. For a small fee, the underground chamber is accessed and here lies many impressive tombs of different sizes, of the royal family. The tomb that I have come to see and have seen many times before, is that of King Ludwig. It is a massive tomb and one of the most popular, if the amount of flowers laid down are any indication. Whether history states that he was crazy or just misunderstood, I care not. Personally, his story is very sad and his death, whether it was suicide or murder (the jury is still out on that) is unfortunate.  Something about his story, his loneliness, love of music and beautiful castles and his tragic early death, touched me. His beautiful castles, stunning recreations of his dreams, are something worth seeing.

Marienplatz is the square dominated by the Rathaus or council chambers. But come Christmas and the square transforms into one of the best Christmas markets. Stall upon stall selling beautiful Christmas decorations and foods, all distinctly German. Personally, I love the food stalls because the food offered is so varied and delicious. I treat myself to a sugar overload and buy skewered strawberries dipped in milk chocolate and dampfnudeln (sweet yeast dough) coated in vanilla custard. Here in Germany, a treat that I have found very rarely outside of Germany (or one of such great quality) is fruit (mainly banana, strawberry, grapes) dipped in either white, milk or dark chocolate. Simple and yet so wonderful. Please note; I am lactose intolerant and yet, I have indulged on dairy food throughout my travels and not a sign of any upset stomach or other pleasantries that I shall not name. The mind boggles about why dairy food is so different in countries and why it affects people so differently. Look, I am not complaining because it is my favourite food group and I am going to enjoy the novelty while I can.

Not far from the square is Bayerischerhof Hotel. A place that floods my emotions with both good and not so good memories. I worked there for eight months and found the experience  both a joy in learning a new cuisine, meeting new friends and catering to some famous people. One such famous person, was Michael Jackson and in a little park in front of the hotel, is a memorial dedicated to him. Memento’s, photo’s, poems and candles, transform this shrine into a sea of colour and memories. I fondly remember an occasion where I had to show Michael Jackson’s personal chef around the kitchen and help him find what he needed. We talked and he thanked me with a beautiful dish of lentils and vegetables. That was as close to fame as I got, but I shall remember it fondly.

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I am not sure how many people know the real reason behind the “English Garden’s” notoriety? Apart from being a massive landscaped garden in the middle of the city, it is also where the locals during summer like to bare all. When I first arrived in Munich back in 1999, it was winter and the locals are clothed appropriately when taking a weekend stroll through the garden. But come summer, how different things were. One summer’s day, I wondered why there was a large group congregated in one area in the middle of the park and it was only on closer inspection, that I quickly saw for myself. There was that initial gasp of shock and bewilderment, followed closely by a roar of laughter.  You have to give it to the Germans, their freedom and ease in laying bare all their assets to the enjoyment of tourists. I remember watching a young fully clothed male teenager, playing badminton with his not-so-young, not-so-trim unclothed father. There are just some things you should not see and that still haunt you years later. If you are wondering, I never participated in the summer craze (too modest), but I certainly enjoyed my weekend walks through the park.

And so my day of reminiscing is all but over. With each step taken, I shed a tear, but each tear represented not only sadness for has passed, but happiness for what will always remain in my heart.

Chapter closed!

Deutsch: Doener.

Deutsch: Doener. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: Crypt of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, b...

English: Crypt of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, beneath Michaelskirche, Munich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Munich Christmas Markets

Munich Christmas Markets (Photo credit: lostajy)


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