Friday, 20 April 2012

Munich - Germany

The Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich. Glows red or blue at night depending on which team is playing
Incredible city this, probably in my top 3 with San Fran and Rio. Something for everyone, beautiful architecture, tons of history, great nightlife, modern technology everywhere, brilliant public transport and a very clean safe feel.

With that said, it wasn't that difficult to get out of bed here and run. Our hostel, the interestingly named Easy Palace, was slap bang in the centre of the city, just a few yards from Haubtbahnhof, the central train station.

We were only here for and rather annoyingly we were leaving on the day the world famous Oktoberfest was to begin, so the three of us had to be the only people flying out of Munich that weekend.

Much like Bratislava, where we had come from, Munich was experiencing one of the hottest Septembers in history, with temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s. Combined with the commencement of Oktoberfest, it meant that the city has crazy busy with tourists from inside and out of Germany.

Despite that, from our hostel I set off towards Marienplatz which is the main town square in Munich and about 1.3km east from the station. Once the pedestrian only zone finishes, pick up Bayerstrasse east until you come to the crossroads. 
From there, simply cross over and rejoin the pedestrian only zone on Neuhauser Strasse south east for 0.8km and then Kaufingerstrasse. You will know you have reached Marienplatz because you will be greeted by this little beauty of a building...!
The Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) is located in the city's main square




















At night, when illuminated, this is easily one the most visually striking buildings I have ever seen and is arguably Munich's biggest tourist attraction.
After manouvering through the square with the Rathaus on your left, take the first left passed it, Dienerstrasse, so the building is to your left as you head north and away from the square. True to form I then went off in search of a park!
After 300m the street will reach a T-Junction, at which you just take a right and head east on the one way street called Hofgraben which then bends left northwards. At the next T-junction, take a right along Maximilianstrasse until you reach the Louis Vuitton store on your right, at which you then take a left.
It seems like a fiddly route so far but stick with it, it gets much smoother very soon. The road you are now on will be called Alfons-Goppel-Strasse unless you are hopelessly lost, in which case I apologise!
This is a nice long straight road where you can open up your legs (hurray) as you head towards Hofgarten, a really pretty garden similar to Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

Entering the gardens in the south east corner, pick your route through the gardens and exit through the north east corner. You should now see signposts for the Englischer Garten (yes yet another Park!), just continue north from here.

Once you reach it, your first impression will be that it is absolutely huge. The park is 3.7kmand is larger than New York's Central Park, making it one of the biggest urban parks in the World.

As I was unsure until I got back to the Hostel just how big it is, I picked a route relatively through the middle, but as long as you head north you can again pick as long or as short a route as you wish depending on how you are feeling to this point. To the centre of the park from the Marienplatz is 2.4km so to this point the run is 3.7km.
There is an artificial streams running through the park at the mouth of which you can actually surf, something I didn't think possible in a park in the middle of a city, although after snowboarding the in Dubai desert I probably shouldn't have been so surprised.

Two things Germans love: Beer and terrible trousers
Once I reached the Chinese Restaurant and Beer Garden, I was unsure what was to the north so to avoid getting stranded too far from my hostel, I took a left and headed east over the stream and out of the park back towards the city centre along Ohmstrasse which crosses over Kaulbachstrasse.
Continuing east, once I came to the busy Leopoldstrasse I decided to cross rather then head north or south along it. Now on Georgenstrasse, I continued east across two street before reaching Arcisstrasse where I took a left south back in the general direction of the central train station.
Munich is such a well organised and efficient city that even running on the roads, which in London can be very dangerous and chaotic, is really enjoyable. The pavements are large and very clean so there are no issues with pedestrians or cyclists.
Fortunately, and by total luck, the street actually headed straight to the station. 1.9km in total, Arcisstrasse took in several features typical of Munich. Well maintained green spaces such as Konigsplatz and Alter Botanischer Garten, fantastic architecture - both old and modern, and lots of what I would call typical German shops and bars.
That is not meant to be derogatory, the opposite in fact. By that I mean really authentic cave like wooden fronted stores where you imagine the locals would often visit as a whole family.
Now back at the hostel, the route in total was 9.8km according to my Nike+ chip. A really mixed run, very flat but a good variety of tourists sites, green spaces and narrow streets, incorporating concrete, gravel, grass and sand.

The route itself may not sound aweinspiring, but this is definitely that everybody should visit in their lifetime.
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Summary:
Start - Haubtbahnhof, Sch├╝tzenstra├če
Journey - From the central train station, head East 1.3km to Marienplatz. From Rathaus, turn left north towards the Englisher Garten. Pick your route the centre of the park and exit east at the large Chinese Garden and Beer Garden. Pick up Ohmstrasse and then Georgenstrasse 2km to Archisstrasse where you take a left and continue 1.9km.
Finish - Alter Botanischer Garten
Dachau Concentration Camp - The darker side of German history. The first of its kind in Germany, it is estimated that over 25,000 prisoners were executed here during World War Two

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