With catholicism’s strong influence in Bavaria, the pomp yet humbling somberness with which the Easter Holidays are carried out is gorgeous and captures all in Munich during this time in a state of awe. The preparation begins on Karfreitag, or Good Friday, and from here until well after Easter Monday, Munich all but shuts down. The churches are surely packed by eight for various events and vigils.
On Friday, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and thin pedestrian traffic to check out Munich’s OlympiaZentrum. Here is where the 1972 Olympics were held, and is also home to the renowned BMW-Welt (BMW World) and the four-cylinder building. After deciding to run up the side of the biggest hill after concluding that this would lead to the top faster, we knew it had been worth it: the view, although not too high up, was stunning with the sun shimmering off the lake and everyone bathing in the warm weather after a harsh winter. Later on, we saw a huge trampoline set up, and two of us, my friend Nicole and I, decided to give it a whirl. The kids in us will never die! For a cheap price we got five glorious and very tiresome minutes to jump our hearts out on this trampoline, unfortunately not being as successful as the boys next to us turning gymnastics…. Dying of thirst, we stopped at a small beer garden, drinking tasty Augustiner Helles, before heading back. It brought back memories of my first beer – which I had during my second time in Germany about two years ago. I remember thinking, “I will NEVER get used to this stuff!” and making a sour face. (Not a good idea in Germany, by then way….) But here, water is cheaper than beer, and my attitude towards the beer has changed dramatically. I am now convinced (of the truth) that German beer is the best there is.
On Karsamstag, the city opened again briefly, and everything seemed to be back in full swing. Munich’s enormous market, Virkualienmarkt, located in the center of the city, was buzzing in preparation for the feasts of the coming days. With a about 22,000 square meters of space and over 140 vendors offering everything from flowers to cheese, this market is a magical place – both in appearance and for the wallet.
Since this market is opened each Saturday, we decided to use the ample time before the start of the semester to travel cheaply with the Deutsche Bahn’s “Bayern Ticket.” The Bayern Ticket allows five people to discover cities surrounded Munich – Augsburg, Passau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Regensburg, and so on – for a mere €27! Receiving recommendations from another group of five, we headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the Zugspitze (Top of Germany at well over 2000 meters) is located. On the way there, it turned out that we had boarded the wrong type of train, and our tickets were not valid. The ticket reader understood our brokeness and honest mistake and charged us very minimally for what could have turned into a wallet-emptying event. After exploring the city center and picking up a handful of postcards, we stopped in a cozy little backery for lunch. A day of beautiful (and quite slippery hiking, since my shoes had long lost their traction) followed. We reached the Eibsee by bus, and the water was so clear and cold that we stooped down and drank from it rather than regressing to the now warm smelly water of our water bottles. And we’re all still alive, so I’d recommend it too.
Easter in Bavaria
Ostersonntag, (Easter Sunday) was beautiful. I woke up early to dress to the (holy) nines. I’m a tomboy at heart, but I’ve learned that dressing nicely before any special events boosts my confidence and my ability to concentrate on what’s important rather than on how much I’m underdressed. By taking the extra time to dress appropriately for church, I feel as if I’m honoring God with my presence as well. I attended Easter Service at Munich’s second landmark: Church of our Holy Lady, or Frauenkirche. This being one of the most popular churches in the city, the Easter Service was fantastically and intricately planned – Gregorian Chants, a well-crafted and moving homily, and beautiful music. It was really a neat experience!
There was, as you can imagine, not many places open on this special holiday, with the exception of foreign restaurants (in whose cultures the Easter holiday may not play as big of a role). So myself and three friends decided to try out a beckoning sushi restaurant near the dorms, and we were impressed. It was just awesome and, with all four of us, not too hard on the wallet either.
The Romantic Road
The host family that I stayed with prior to coming to Munich was fantastic. Through DAAD there is an organization called Das Experiment, e.V., which encourages cultural understanding by placing students in host families prior to their study in Germany, and so I had the opportunity to spend two lovely, fun-packed weeks with them before putting my nose back into the books. On Easter Monday, on the way to taking their kids to a music camp, they took me to see some breathtaking churches and other beautiful landscapes on the Romantic Road. An important medieval trade route that streches from northern Germany to Tirol, Austria, the Romantic Road is home to some fantastic and very old sights. We were able to see the famous Wieskirche, Pfaffenkirchen, Neuschwanstein, Neuschwangau, a series of fortress-looking buildings in Landsberg, and much more. The Baroque character of these churches can be seen as rather superficial, (as it was often a testiment to the power and reign of the Catholic church and their respective regions at the time), but the ornamental beauty made me weak to my knees.
See for yourself!
Easter in Bavaria, Hike through Garmisch-Patenkirchen, and the Romantic Road