Updated: May 6
If New York is the city that never sleeps, and London is the city that never stops, then I truly don't know what Munich is.
As many young Europeans, growing up I heard many stereotypical opinions about Germans, how they were all cruel, and ruthless. It got to the point where I even felt guilty that when I was about 11 years old I had a crush on a German boy, just because of what my childhood friend believed to be true about the culture, and judging it solely on the past.
And yet, they weren't man-eating monsters, surprisin
gly they weren't even monsters, though they could probably drink a man’s weight in beer.
Everywhere I went, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Normally it included some meal that was heavily saddled with meat and very, very very large beers. There was a peaceful feeling of happiness in the air, a calming feeling that I have never quite experienced in any other metropolitan city. Stress seemed to be a foreign feeling, as no one ever seemed to be panicked about anything... ever really.
My dear friend, who patiently put up with my rambling for a week, explained, in great detail, the 'October Fest', a mythical sounding festival where for about a month the Germans get together in original clothing, to drink, eat and laugh. See, though the festival itself sounded intriguing as it was an entire month of pure festivities, especially the drinking part, it was the way she explained it that truly captured the essence of people in Munich, and the celebration. Her eyes sparkled as if it was a child talking about Christmas, explaining it in such detail that you can almost be there yourself, just because of how it was presented. Afterward, having explained it all to me her entire mood stayed heighten for the rest of the night, just because of the promise of the festivities returning next year.
This was one of the many moments during the trip, where I realised how wrong I had been to see Germans in such a way, although it is always wrong to make assumptions and stereotype people, and I do believe there is also some truth to them, the people I met never supported the opinion of the outside world.
The country itself was just as startling as the people. It seemed as if I had walked into a battlefield between the new and the old. Ancient Gothic Cathedrals like something out of Dracula, with gargoyles, pain-stricken statues, and detailed figurines, set just beside a new and chic glass building holding some modern banking corporation, Much quickly became a juxtaposition of ideas. This contrast was so striking that I have yet to see one so prominent anywhere else. In the cities of Palma or Barcelona the building are all are either grouped or merged, creating a bizarre harmony and devision between areas.
In London and Dublin, there there is a strange harmony in the old and the new, and well Scandinavia just seems to have it everything together. Yet in Munich, it was this contrasted battle between old and new, that created a confusing sense of fragmented identity of the city, though I believe it might reflect its inhabitants.
I can see why the Brothers Grimms, Engelbert Humperdinck, August Macke along with many more found inspiration in german cities and landscapes. Between the lavish never-ending trees and fields, to the castles and churches, even with the terrible dancing and happy music, everything about Munich made me feel like I had entered a far away land, one of fairytales, secluded from the terrors of the outside world.