Bretzen (pretzels), beer, and crusty pork; in that order, are the things that excite me about Germany. Crispy, salty, buttery and chewy pretzels. The kind that give Auntie Anne nocturnal orgasms at night. Twist, rip, and let your teeth do the dirty work to make a meal of that salty mass. After your arteries are hard as bricks, you thank God for the cold pint of Lager.
Pork shoulder, just shy of burnt to a crisp, swimming in a pool of gravy. A gelatinous ball of mashed potato floats nearby to rescue the drowning pork. Stand down, potato, that pork needs to drown. If there is a hell for pigs, this is it. But for a carnivorous human this is heaven.
Our first stop was the Hofbräuhaus - a popular stop for anyone visiting Munich. A traditional Bavarian band, in full Lederhosen, play music as women wander the hall selling Bretzen (pretzels) the size of your face as the men stomp behind carrying litres of beer and crusty pork dishes. Above, the ceiling is painted with faces construed of various dietary divisions. It’s wild, primitive, a little creepy, and yet totally welcoming.
The Catholic Church has deep roots in Bavaria - reinforced by the presence of churches radiating from Marienplatz across the city. Atop St. Peter’s Church, for €3, you can view the entirety of the city.
Below the city lies a network of trains connecting the people with the places they wish to be. The U-Bahn stations were relatively garbage free, despite the ever present pretzel stands at nearly every entrance. Don’t resist, just stop and get one. It gives you something to do while you mull over the train maps. Even without a deep understanding of the German language, they’re relatively easy to understand. If you’ve made your way around the MTA , you can navigate Munich.
Get off the U-Bahn at Odeonsplatz, and wander toward the Haus der Kunst art museum. Here begins the Eisbach (ice brook, in English). The water is never above 15˚C and the river mouth a mere 12 meters wide. But a brave bunch of surfers gather with thick wetsuits to ride the chilled waters in search of the ultimate high. It moves at 20 tonnes per second, with little to no change in force, providing surfers with unlimited action.
This section of the water is for those with a mastery degree in surfing. While the Eisbachwelle has been surfed since 1972, it’s only been officially allowed since 2010. Concrete baffles behind the wave and the rocky walls the channel the Eisbach pose a real threat to any surfer off their board. For those less experienced surfers, a smaller wave lies a few hundred meters downstream.
After a visit to the BMW Museum (which will be featured in the next blog post) I took a walk through the Olympic Park. The park was built for the 1972 Olympic Games, which you might remember from personal experience, or the summary of events in the 2005 Steven Spielberg film “Munich.”
It was here, in Olympiapark, that I first felt fully in Bavaria. The Alps made their first appearance to my eyes towering above the low city. Having lived in Vancouver, Canada for the past 8 years, it felt familiar; white snow-capped mountains guarding the city below. Yet, these mountains were so much further away than those surrounding Vancouver.
Standing here, observing the city and the Alps in the far distance, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of my mortality. The man made world felt so small compared to the constructions of nature.
I thought of the deeply flawed nature of humanity and our desire to build bigger, higher, better. The things we devote our entire existence to, our professions & careers, all fall short of what our Earth can do. Our religions, cultures, and hobbies help us make some meaning of the time between birth and death. And while it may be easy to think of this as sad, it became more beautiful than ever in my mind. Given no expectation, no clear direction, we have forged purpose in our lives from the Earth around us. We aspire to climb that mountain, ride that wave, or come up with the Pretzel. And pair it with beer.
Shot on Canon 5dii + Fuji X-Pro1 + Google Pixel 2