Munich: Five Unexpected Things
Let’s Get Acquainted...
Hi. I’m Linds and usually you’ll find me reviewing snacks and writing about travel and life near Munich over at EatExploreEtc.com... But for today, I’m taking over Nic’s home on the internet.
For the first time ever, 40PercentGerman.com will actually be more like 90 Percent Lancashire. Hailing from the county famous for Witch Trials, the Spinning Jenny and Butter Pie, I’ve only been in Germany for just over a year. The relocation is temporary – work stuff – but when Nic suggested a Guest Post swap, I jumped at it: “Yeah! Fun!”
Naturally my brain at that point refused to co-operate. We all get writers block, that’s fine. It’ll come to me! Unfortunately for all involved, the idea for the post arrived as I was falling asleep. My brain wrote it all out and it was half-way decent, if I do say so myself. Morning after, couldn’t remember a word of it. Thanks, neurons! So instead, I’m offering up a bunch of different words. Let’s call it a tribute.
To keep it thematically relevant to 40 Percent German, I thought I’d share a five point list covering the unexpected aspects of life on the outskirts of Munich. Very Buzzfeedian of me, I know.
Public transportation in my English neck of the woods is a bit of a sore subject. It’s generally slow to non-existent (quite literally), so being within a ten minute walk of an S-Bahn and less than 25 minutes out from Munich, I’m filled with wonder at German public transport and use it with the giddy enthusiasm of a kid in a candy shop. It’s cheap, more-or-less on time and the list of destinations by rail is astonishing.
There’s something very peculiar about waiting for an S-Bahn here though... people can’t stay still. I get to the platform, stop and wait. It’s the same at train stations up and down the UK and a pretty normal experience. Not here though. Here, people keep on moving.
I’ve seen folks walk laps of the platform... Up and down, even in loose circles! As the train pulls in, so eager to get to the ‘right door’, they walk in front of you and prod-prod-prod that door button until it opens. And then... for some reason I’ve yet to discover, people will carry on walking down the train to find a seat. Just last week I saw a woman do this and walk past three, entirely empty, sets of four chairs. At the end of the journey she re-emerged from the deep recesses of the train carriage to leave out of a door at the opposite end of the train. I suspect this mystery will stay with me for the rest of my life.
We’ve dubbed them Train Sharks. Just like the popular notion that if a shark stops moving, it’ll die – we think remaining static for too long will break a Münchener.
As I sit writing this, it’s raining. The drops are hitting an umbrella-like cover outside and the sound is just lovely. There’s bird noise in the background, a steady patter of raindrops and nothing else. It’s quiet, it’s calm. Being from Lancashire, I’d thought this kind of rain was a myth.
My experience of rain is that it’s always accompanied by strong, gusting winds. The kind that brings slates down from your roof and forces you to go to Travis Perkins on a weekend to buy a new fence panel. Umbrellas? Well unless you’re using one for a Rhianna re-enactment they’re a sweet idea but ultimately useless. They sit on the coat rack collecting dust, ornamental rather than practical.
Not so near Munich! Rain is, quite literally, perfect. It usually falls straight down, making an umbrella wonderfully useful. With barely a gust of wind around, there’s no fight to the death or inside-out umbrellas littering the street. As it’s so warm and humid over the mid-year months, I often go for a t-shirt and umbrella combo. Unheard of for a Lancashire lass! Such luxury.
Sandwiched between the Irish Sea and the Pennines, Lancashire gets lots of awful, windy, wet weather. It’s also a county blessed with a plethora of hills. If my written sarcasm doesn’t translate well, let me tell you that whilst my home is never at risk of flooding, it’s a bloody big hill to walk up when you’re tipsy. Thanks to those inclines, it’s not often you’ll see a bike navigating the pavements, regardless of the legality.
In contrast, bicycles are everywhere here. Everywhere. Whilst you’ll find specific bike lanes in Munich (helpful hint to pedestrians: keep clear), that’s not the case in the smaller surrounding towns. Regardless of how you feel about the situation, a pedestrian will always have to give way to the cyclist on a pavement here. Because yes, they’re on the pavements and they’re not for moving.
That ding of a bike bell from behind makes my heart jump, every time. Bicycles will honestly whizz by at such speed and in such proximity, I’m amazed there’s not more accidents. I’ve had to step into grass verges before to avoid bike traffic! DING DING = Move out of my way. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I live by the bell.
I’d heard that Germany was a heavily cash-centric country, but I really wasn’t prepared for the reality of it. The first time I went into a shop here, I had the choice of a German Maestro, MasterCard and Visa... but none were accepted. Thankfully we had enough between us to scrape together the amount but from that moment on I knew my pockets needed to be properly funded.
In the UK I barely carried much money with me. Carrying anything more than £50, unless it’s got a specific purpose, often feels like a bad idea. £30 was probably the average in my purse for most of the time. Not here though, that’ll get me nowhere. Cash is King. Exact change is often preferred.
I’ve had to get used to carrying ridiculous amounts of money with me and working with those tiny fiddly coins, rather than proffering my plastic card wherever I go. Also, whoever designed the 1 Cent coin must have been aiming for dolls house money. You really do need pocket money, even in a city.
In my opinion, one of the best things about living near Munich is the bakeries. There’s lots of them and they’re filled with delicious bread, gorgeous breze and fantastic, seasonal cakes and sweet treats.
The UK’s lost its love of the local bakery and that’s such a shame. Chain bakeries like Hampsons took over, then became Sayers and then Pound Bakery. You can see where the decline is, yeah? Gregg’s (sorry Nic) is a minefield of baked-from-frozen greasy pastry and is a depressing sight to behold.
When I leave Munich, the bakeries are the things I’ll probably miss most. I love the fresh cherries and redcurrants in cakes, retaining their tartness and covered with just-sweet and crunchy streusel. There’s the delightfully salty and chewy breze and all the seasonal treats in between. From Christmas to Lent it’s doughnut season! And Stollen at Christmas time... oh don’t get me started! I have a bakery addiction. There’s no denying it.
Pop Over and Say Hi!
Thanks for bearing with me as I wittered on about Munich vs the UK! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the read and found out something you didn’t know about living in this part of Bavaria. So much of it has been done to death before, I hope I’ve added bit of something new to the discussion.
If you’re in the market for reading about German snacks, where to score your favourite British or American treats in the Munich area or happen to be looking for some travel inspiration, I hope you’ll pop over to my blog and say “Hi”. All the details are below!
My thanks go to 40 Percent German for hosting me here today!