Happy New Year from Munich

by - January 16, 2020

building with german flag

Deciding to spend the New Year in Munich was neither the best nor worst decision of my life. It was simply an unforgettable experience and for those of you like me who have experienced the unique style that the Germans have in celebrating the New Year, you can understand when I say "Wow, that was scary!" and for the others, you will learn in just a few skims of this page.

As most people know, travelling around Europe is maybe one of the easiest things to do when you arrive in a city within the Schengen Zone. (An area of an approximate 26 participating european states which abolished passport and border control in 1985). The signed Schengen Agreement makes  country hopping in Europe super easy to do.

Map of Schengen
Schengen Zone Map

Nonetheless, people should remember that random spot checks are legal and may happen at any moment so your documents should be in order especially when planning to pass through Germany. Authorities there tend to be still very strict about who comes and goes through their country.

It was about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. when I was awoken from my light slumber by tall, robust border control officials who were checking passports and travel documents. Although not surprised by this (the random spot check), the appearance of the officers was still very intimidating to say the least so I think I let out a huge sigh of relief when they returned my passport to me without thinking twice.

On the other hand, the lady and her travel partner who were sitting 2 or 3 rows behind mine in the bus was not as lucky. She spoke minimal English and no German so that did not help her situation. She, along with her travel partner were asked to disembark. They did not get back on board so I guess ... well I have no idea what I guessed at that moment. Everything was a huge blur except for her hitting me with her hips as she squeezed through the passageway on the way out and spewing some words in her native language which had the tones of swear words but I will never know what she was truly saying. I assumed they were detained and possibly deported or maybe their situation was straightened out and they took the next bus. Who knows? It was quite unfortunate for them but I was happy to have had my 'get out of jail free card'.

Animation with texts

Finally arrived in Munich and the weather was nice. I think that the wind reciprocated my every emotion. Excitement, sadness, hunger. It kissed me softly on the cheek one minute and bit me on the derrière the next and at other times, it was completely still. It was also sunny too so I guess that was the best part of it all.

The city was very beautiful and as I took a walk around the city with a group of other tourists like myself learning about the history of the country, the city, the buildings, the streets and their names and even the people, the city seemed even more like a hidden treasure. It was a gem much like the many statues and monuments 'hidden' in plain sight and if you weren't paying attention, you would very easily miss them.

building on corner of street
The people there were friendly and helpful even at 2:00 a.m. when I had some early morning junk food from KFC. Don't judge my eating habits! Most of the restaurants that served healthy meals were closed and if they weren't, they were over-crowded with partygoers and families. It was the New Year after all. The streets were full and festive.

Nevertheless, it wasn't very difficult to find what you needed in the crowd as fireworks lit your way in every direction on some streets. It was like a battle zone of exploding colours and loud people which seemed to be quite normal. It was sheer amusement for the masses.
Personally, I was mortified in the beginning and I couldn't understand what was going on around me. Were there no laws prohibiting fireworks and firecrackers from flying in all directions within close proximity of the buildings and cars? Were these people not aware that these things were hazardous? Was that an ambulance I heard? Was it coming for me because I think at some point my heart stopped with the BANG, POP, POW, BOOM and FIZZLE that I heard around me.

There are things in this world that are best left alone and this scene was one of them. It was better not to understand it especially since you can't even imagine that a few hours earlier on the 31st of December, the environment was a "civil" one. The contrast between the day and the night bordering the New Year was really incomparable. A paradise by day and a fun-packed warzone by night.

The truth is though that it was all very exciting as an experience even though it was borderline dangerous and scary. It was amusing to see people lighting fireworks and firecrackers and then running for cover as their fire hazards lit up the streets and the night sky in an explosive display of loud sounds and vibrant colours.

buildings and people
Now, if you are visiting Munchen and prefer not to be there during the New Year because your heart can't take such excitement, I recommend that you stick to activities during the day like participating in one of the many walking tours that is offered in this city and many others around Europe. You are sure to learn something new even if it is that your body is not as young as it used to be.

On the other hand, if walking around cities for a few hours isn't a favourite activity of yours, maybe sitting in a pub or restaurant may be more amusing or visiting one of the famous beer halls in the city used during the Oktoberfest celebrations. You may even want to consider taking a Hop-on and off sightseeing bus tour of the city on a nice sunny day or stick around to see the Rathaus-Glockenspiel Clock display in Marienplatz that uses figurines to tell a story of the town's history. (It is best if you bring a tripod as the skits may take a while and holding your phone up is definitely not ideal. Additionally you should prepare mentally for the crowd of tourists even in the early morning.)

church and antique clock
Rathaus-Glockenspiel Clock
The Devil's footprint is something not to miss when visiting and should definitely be added to the list of things to do and see in this city. You could also take a walk down Maxilmilianstraße, visit the Residenz Museum or Odeonsplatz. There is a profusion of activities that can be done here so whether you are visiting for the fun and festivities or the history and horror stories, remember that you are going to a different city and should keep your mind open to the endless possibilities that could make you trip to Munich one that you could never forget even if Alzheimer's decides to creep up on you.

P.S. Take lots of photos, they will be worth collecting.

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