It’s official. WE HAVE <4 FULL DAYS LEFT OF TOURING LEFT TO DO IN EUROPE. In hindsight I should have just maximised this holiday and come back one day before school starts lol.
Anyways today we had what I felt was the
BEST EVER FREE WALKING TOUR.
At first, we thought that we weren’t going to make it on time because we left late. Even though we planned buffer time for delays like this, the train chose this morning to lag on us so we reached 1 minute later. Thankfully we found the tour group (after mistakenly standing in front of another free walking tour company for a while).
I found this tour company online; they’re called ‘InMunich Tours’. If you search for FWTs for Munich, this company would only appear as the 4th result. But thankfully I did my homework and screened through the itineraries of the first 3 hits. This one included reviews and had the most comprehensive list of thing in store for their guests. 🙂
Unfortunately, they weren’t having a group as large as the other one which we initially mistook it for. But for us, it meant that we had a cosy time with our tour guide, Marcin, who was spectacular.
Firstly, our guide, Marcin, speaks loud and CLEAR enough for everyone without using a mic. And it is partly attributed to the fact that he came from UK. (YESSSS! I didn’t have any trouble understanding him from start to finish.) In fact, he even brought the British humour into the tour and I really laughed out loud at many of his jokes and sarcasm. He’s a real witty and confident guy.
Secondly, he really knows his stuff. From history, to nitty-gritty details of each place. I’ll try to put everything I learnt here so that I’ll never forget it. 🙂
We started in the Marienplatz. Initially it was worrying because of the small group and weather. Furthermore, when the tour started, Marcin was fighting against the loud bells of the Glockenspiel while explaining the origin on the gold Virgin Mary standing on the column in the middle of the square.
The story goes… A king (whose name I already forgot) commissioned a Virgin Mary statue made of pure gold to be made and be placed on his grave so that she would watch over him in his afterlife. However, he was an unkind ruler during his reign. He drove out non-Catholics and burnt the rest alive on the accusations of witchcraft. 2 days after his coffin was laid, citizens broke into the church where he laid to steal the statue and hid it in another church. Many years later, his son, whose name I also forgot, was running away from the Swedish army when they ‘invaded’. Apparently they barely made a dent on Munich because they loved it here so much they just came over to occupy in peace while the useless ruler is gone.
Meanwhile, the latter was at the top of a mountain in Salzburg, drinking BEER. We later learnt that BEER is the cause of many things in Munich’s history. The Swedish finally left after 2 years when Munich people bribed them with money, and because they didn’t have enough gold, beer as well was used as bribery. The useless ruler came back and claimed that because he was praying for the well being of Munich when he was in the alps, a golden statue of him should be erected. Of course the citizens didn’t buy into his lies and even if it were true, they argued, Virgin Mary is Munich’s saviour. Conveniently, they had a golden statue of her and so they decided to put her on a column on Marienplatz, which derived its name like this. It was used to be called market square because there was a market here.
Back to the tour, Marcin was saying all these above the loud bells and everyone around is were taking videos and snapping photos. However, he assured us that the people in the clock will not move for another 5 minutes and it was true! When they did, he explained to us the story behind it. Munich has many stories Hahaha…
The glockenspiel depicted the wedding of the nasty, exclusive king that we talked about earlier. People danced around them and even a fight between a Bavarian and a Salzburg soldier were depicted. Guess who won?
The part below that depicted the times when bubonic plague struck Munich. Men in tights were asked to dance and hop in public to convince citizens that it is safe to come out (if not it spells disasters for beer houses in the past). Clowns go around pelvic thrusting and painting lead paint on children’s nose…. Well…
And at the end of it, a golden rooster flapped it’s wings and cuckooed but most people already left besides us. Marcin told us to stay because not many people knew about this finale.
So the attraction which is voted by the world for being the second most overrated attraction was actually pretty interesting because Marcin explained to us the elements in its 15 minute chime.
Later we went over to the St Peter’s Church, which belonged to a group of tax evading, drunken monks. And why we say this, is because after WWII, when most part of the church is destroyed, they excavated the layers beneath the original church and found that the earliest piece of archaeological artefact was a tax document. And on it, it documented that yes, these monks made beer from over a thousand years ago and under-reported the number of monks living in the monastery so as to evade taxes. But they were later exposed by citizens living in the area… LOL. We learn that these monks were not only the source of beer production but in fact, they are the source of inspiration for Munich’s mascot, Münchner Kindl (‘Munich Child’). It became the topic of contention when the running political party (in which period, I forgot) could not decide on the gender of the child and was hence, kicked out of rule. LOL!
Moving on, this church is also the oldest in Munich and YS and I even found time in the afternoon to go up to its bell tower for a panoramic view of the city! ^^
Our tour guide then pointed us to a cannonball (not cannibal, he emphasised) lodged at the edge of a window of the church. It was bombed by Austria and later dislodged during the chaos of WWII. A doctor picked it up, kept it for a few years, and returned it just when they were reconstructing the parts which were ruined. And because many photographers were hired to take detailed pictures of Munich’s architecture before it was bombed by the Americans, they managed to find out where this cannon ball belonged to.
Trust me, we heard many other bizarre things about Munich.
Such as how the bell tower has 8 clocks is made into a joke about Germans’ over-punctuality.
Afterwards, we crossed the road to Viktualienmarkt where Marcin explained the significance of the Maypole to us and showed us the arrangement of the stalls. He is a supporter of the Augustineer Beer house (and least of them, Spaten) and as well as the local grocers, so in his words, ‘We better not be caught buying from the chain stalls around the market’. He also told us which are shops sell the more affordable goods so that we can do our shopping later.
Crossing back to the Marienplatz, Marcin showed us the statue of Juliet, which was built to attract tourists to visit Munich, just like how the statue in Verona did. These are exactly the things we wouldn’t have known were we not on a walking tour!
Marcin also told us about the significance of the building next to Juliet. I can’t remember which building it was (a hotel maybe?), however it was where Hitler had been at when the German ambassador to Paris had been assassinated by a Jewish boy, sparking off the Night of Broken Glass. This meant that many Jewish owned property were being broken into by the SA and also German civilians. Its bits and pieces of such information that helps me to consolidate my understanding of WWII. 🙂
More info to come when we arrived at the Hofbrauhaus, where young Hitler gave his speeches to members of SDP. It was here he started to gain popularity and buy over the hearts of its member so much that he was to change its name and mission completely, and lead it one day. Of course, Marcin was the one giving us all these info, simply awesome. He also shared with us something about the HB itself, such as the significance of its interiors and one of its regular customers, Mozart!
After which, Marcin brought us for a little walk and we learnt about the Bavarian traditional costume and how to wear it correctly; we were introduced to a local bar that he highly recommended; and we learnt a new word, ‘Shicky Micky’, which meant the pretentious upperclass in Germany, and began to identify them while walking along the Maximillianstrasse. We also touched the noses of the 4 lion statues outside the Residenz. They are also, golden in colour, for the same reasons why Juliet’s boob was golden.
After the tour, we revisited the HBH and went up to the viewing platform in St Peter’s church. Many attractions were closed by the evening and we intended to visit the English Garden. We even caught an outdoor performance otw there but because it began to pour, we quickly headed back to our Airbnb and rested for the day. 🙂