Timeline: September 15th – 17th
The drive down to Munich went much smoother than the one to Nuremberg. As we got closer to the city, memories of trips past filtered through my consciousness. I’ve visited Munich in 1977, 1982, 1984, 1992, 1999, and 2002 and can’t quite seem to get enough of it, much like with Amsterdam. I’m not sure what it is about the city that draws me to it, but it is a strong attachment.
We wound our way along the Isar River in route to Camping Thalkirchen, our home for the next three nights. We’d planned to spend a few more nights here, but weather considerations had altered our plans, as had our meeting with Kim and Marty Mitchell (Jessica’s boyfriend Kris’s Parents) that had been moved up a day to Thursday.
Thalkirchen, like Vliegenbos in Amsterdam, holds a special place in our memories. Joanna and I spent a number of memorable days camping here alongside the Isar in:
and looked forward to our return. Similar to our visit to Prague, we wanted to see how much, if any, the campground had changed in the intervening years. We were pleasantly surprised to see a city bus idling at the entrance, indicating service close by, not available to us in 1984. I checked in and had a nice conversation with the older gentleman working the reception counter; he let me know about updates to the toilet and shower blocks and the new bus stop and I reminisced about our time in 1984 and the Oktoberfest madness that overcame the campground then.
As we drove down to field C to set up camp, we immediately took notice of the dozens of tents being sent up by different tour companies preparing for the Oktoberfest onslaught that would begin later in the week. Temperatures were delightful, warm bright sun that would stay with us the rest of the week, allowing us to dry out the tent before we set it up.
With the evening ahead of us and not much of interest at the camp store food wise, we purchased metro system passes at the reception desk, made our way out to the bus stop for the quick ride to the Thalkirchen metro entrance on line U3 for our trip to the center of Munich. We alighted on the backside of the Marienplatz, ground zero for tourist Munich.
As we walked into the platz, we confirmed that our favorite pastry shop, Woerner’s, was still in business; we’d visit it a number of times in the course of the next week. I wanted to stop in at the North Face store located a few blocks south on Sendlingerstrasse, which leads eventually to the Sendliger Tor. This is a pedestrian only zone and the streets were crowded with shoppers and other tourists.
We hadn’t gone but a few feet when we noticed Schuster on our left, a multi-story sporting goods shop and just had to make a stop as we needed to pick up another fuel canister for the stoves. This is a gigantic store; six floors high (five above ground), a veritable sports enthusiasts dream palace, or nightmare if you are trying to stay on a budget.
We found the fuel, did some looking around, well a lot of looking around and then went back outside, found the North Face store, confirmed they wouldn’t take back the shoes I’d purchased in Amsterdam and returned to our quest for beer and food at the Zum Augustiner. This large restaurant and beer garden complex is on the site of the original Augustiner Brewery (founded in the early 1300’s) and it is always the first place I want to visit when I hit town.
We walked through the first part of the downstairs restaurant, past the owner’s table (Stammtisch) and sat down at a long communal table. Our somewhat reserved waiter (who would loosen up later) took our beer order and the evening began. We ordered our food, splitting a bowl of hearty Goulash Soup and a special that week, the Allgauer Almteller. This delightful dish, the first time we’d encountered it, is egg spatzle with “Butcher’s Ravioli (thick, almost lasagna like meat stuffed) and small hamburger based meatballs in a creamy mushroom sauce, with some mixed vegetables added. It was simple, and simply one of the best things we’d eaten on the trip.
Satisfied with our filling meal and first taste of Augustiner in our visit, we returned to camp and prepared for a bike ride, one of the two we would take from camp, the next morning. It was nice to be back in Munich, and camping again at Thalkirchen. Travel comes in different flavors. Sometimes it is a new one you’ve not tried before; the process of discovery with the good and bad you find providing the underlying worth of the trip.
Sometimes the flavor is revisiting familiar places full of memories; savoring the comfort of knowing what to expect balanced against the lack of excitement that comes from the unknown. Munich for me this time around would be a bit of both; the pleasure of walking through halls full of memories and the anticipation of seeing Jessica, Kris, Kim and Marty and sharing this great town, and Oktoberfest, with them. It couldn’t get any better.
Isar River: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isar
Campingplatz Thalkirchen: http://www.muenchen.de/rathaus/home_en/Department-of-Communal-Services/campingplatz_en
Sport Schuster: http://www.sport-schuster.de/
Sendlinger Tor: http://www.muenchen.de/sehenswuerdigkeiten/orte/120455.html
Zum Augustiner: http://www.augustiner-restaurant.com/