Europe Winter Trip: Ich Mag Gern München!
What was the best part of my trip this time? The plan is satisfying. I won't say that my last Europe trip wasn't satisfying, in fact it was but I could only score it 7 out of 10. It has been 6 days I am doing my Winter Europe Trip and I am happy! Actually I learn from my past mistakes. I minimise my stupidity even though I still made some. At least, this time I didn't do too much dangerous things, instead I met new friends!
After having a nice conversation with Hilda last time in Luxembourg (Part 1), I made my way to München by taking overnight bus. I will proudly say that I only took one overnight bus this time, it's because I have experienced pain whilst taking overnight bus almost everyday in my first Europe Trip. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? So, the plan that time was going to München by overnight bus and stayed in Mbak Dara's acquaintance. And I did, of course.
I got off from the cafe where I stayed in Luxembourg at 7 PM and come back to the station. During this journey, I tried to find way back without a map or GPS. Simply because I want to test my memory and figuring how far I will get without a navigation. Sadly, I got lost! I took the wrong junction and it made me ended up in the middle of nowhere, so I gave up and back to the GPS. Fortunately, it wasn't too far from the station and finally I made it to the station! Yay!
After that, I took my luggage that have been stored in the station and waiting for the bus. The bus took too long and quite late from its schedule. It was supposed to arrive at 9.45 PM but it came around 10 PM (or more). Shortly after that, I hopped on the bus and start my journey to München. We have to align at Saarbrücke that time and we have to wait for the next coach in midnight. During this waiting time, I met Noellar. Apparently she also visited Luxembourg that day and got unlucky because of the heavy rain. I asked her whether she was waiting for the bus to München or not and she said yes, that's where we start our conversation. She told me that she studied in Budapest and she came from Uganda. We talked about a lot of things, including Iddi Amin and the higher education circumstances in Budapest. We ended up exchange contact in Facebook. (Hey Noellar, if you read this please smile for me). Noellar witnessed me encounter some random man and I tried so hard to speak German. That man is quite something because he was too excited and kind of joking my German speaking ability. I have to admit that I only speak basic German tho.
Long story short, Noellar and me hopped on the bus. Because I was too tired and need to gather energy for the next day, I told Noellar that I want to sleep. And yes I slept during the trip and didn't make any further conversation with her, I'm sorry Noellar :(
The next day, I arrived in München and said good bye to Noellar. I got off in ZOB (München Central Bus Station) at 5 AM, that's quite early in the morning furthermore it is Winter. So I had to work more in finding way to Mbak Dara's acquaintances' residence. I got the address, I got the maps, everything is ready but I need to walk a bit far to reach the nearest U-Bahn station. If only I knew that S-Bahn is far more efficient, quicker, and less exhausting :(
I thought I won't repeat my stupidity but the reality doesn't say so. I deliberately not buying ticket to ride the train in München on my first day and I knew that I might pay EUR 60 if I am being a free rider. I thought, "In thousands probability, how bad could it be for me not to buy train ticket just once?" And seems like God hear my thoughts. During my journey, two stops before my final destination, three casually-dressed officer got into the train. At first glance, I thought they were just passengers like me. It was an apocalypse when the other passengers were showing their ticket and I can't! Despite being in a bad-condition, I calmed my self and accept anything that would happen to me. I also thought, "How bad would it be for the first-timer for not buying ticket? Will they really charge me EUR 60?" AND YES THEY DID! This my friend, so unwise to let your self take another's blessings because naturally you will ended up losing more.
When the officer asked me for my ticket, I said "Nicht habe." it means "I don't have one." But he kept asking me even in other language like "Billet? Ticket? Fahrkarte?" and I said three times, "Nicht habe." Then he started to write a note and asked me to pay the fine. I asked him, "Can I pay by card?" whilst I already missed my stop. Then he shook his head and got me off the train one stop after. There he brought me to ticket machine and charged me (really) with EUR 60! And I paid it. After that he said, "It's okay." Well, if it's okay then you just have to let me free hahahaha. I laughed so hard and smirked to my self. "Oh my Gosh? Why in the hell I thought that I will be lucky in this early morning?" I mean out of thousands probability and almost every story I heard from Germany said that they are safe even though does not posses valid tickets. I think I've ran out my fortune.
I haven't done with my stupidity on the first day, I also found it difficult to find Mbak Dara's acquaintance's residence. What makes it more frustrating is Google Maps got me lost! If only München existed in Citymapper then my life will be easier. So I need more than half hour to find the place even though I had taken off from the right station. When I finally found the place, I just want to sleep the whole day. In addition I didn't feel quite well since Luxembourg, walking around the city during heavy rain wasn't really recommended. My head was dizzy and I just want to lay down. So I did. I slept until 12 PM and decided to walking around the city at 3 PM. First, I explore the closest attraction BMW Welt which is admission free and from there I started to explore Wienachtsmarket (Christmas Market) in Marienplatz and drank a Kinderpunsch. Actually, Mbak Aul (Mbak Dara's acquaintance) recommend me to try the beverage. It is non-alcohol drink but could warm your throat and body during winter, Mbak Aul was true because Kinderpunsch tasted really good (combination of apple, cinnamon, and some spices). I also bought a crepe filled with banana, nutella, and almond. Hey, I speak German! Yes, I did speak German when I bought those in Weinachtsmarkt. This is why I keep choosing German as my destination because it can help me practice my German speaking skill. I know it's not much but at least I will be proud of my self that I could communicate in other language than English.
The next day I started to plan my journey, it was filled with a bit of help from Mbak Aul. I actually had no idea where to go in München because likewise I never planned an itinerary. I'm a simple girl, I have the will then I go. Once my friend asked me, "So you never have any plan or expectations for doing a trip or visiting a city?" and I said yes. I explained that I'm a bit spontaneous so I just follow where the wind guides me. It happened during the summer Europe Trip when I didn't arrange any plan, I simply went places that I google right in city. Quitting bad habits, I started to plan out where to go in München because you know that German always Plan and Proceed right? So yeah, I decided where to go in my second day in München.
The plan was first I will go to Nymphenburg Palace, the furthest one and then proceed to Candidplatz because it's insta-genic and right in the middle of Nymphenburg and the city. Then I'll proceed to Residence Museum which has this majestic middle-aged interior design. And lastly, I'll finish my tour in München by visiting Allianz Arena and having a stadium tour. To be honest, I barely do stadium tour unless it's Manchester United's but I broke my promise so I did the Allianz Arena's. It turned out, I never regret my decision to have a stadium tour in Allianz.
The plan went quite well and smooth. I spent my first two hours in Nymphenburg Palace then went to Candidplatz. After taking quite a lot of pictures, I went straight to Odeonsplatz to visit Residence Museum. Unexpectedly, I got lost (again) but thanks to that I found a great garden called Hofgarten and visit another Wienachtsmarkt that seemed more tempting near the Residence Museum. I started to explore Residence Palace with admission fee EUR 6 for almost an hour and half. The Residence was actually pretty similar with Victoria & Albert Museum, the difference is just it has several rooms with magnificent interior design (and there's admission fee, you don't need to pay a single pence when you want to visit a museum in London).
There were stories before I got into Residence Palace, the first one when an older Münchner woman smiled at me and asked me where did I get my hand socks. She seemed interested in the convenient style of my socks. I told her that I bought it in London. She actually a bit curious because she told me that she never seen such things in München. The second one, I met another girl when I was walking around Hofgarten. The girl bumped at me and asked me to take her picture, then we have the conversation. Turned out, she is Philippines who works in Germany and had similar name to my college's friend in London, Rochelle. The odd is Rochelle also a Philippines (though she hold US residence by now). Then we talked, Rochelle offered me to come together with her instead being alone. Sadly we had different destination so I couldn't go any further with her. She wanted to go to Englisch Garten meanwhile I had to go to Residence Palace and continue proceed to Allianz Arena.
I came to Allianz Arena in time, I was supposed to do the arena tour at 4 PM so I have calculated that I must be in Allianz Arena at least 3 PM. From Odeonsplatz, I only need to take one U-Bahn (U6) direction Fröttmaning. Shortly after that, I got off and walked around 15-20 minutes to get to Allianz Arena, so I arrived approximately at 3.15 PM. I scanned my e-ticket and walk through barrier, I visited the Allianz Arena museum. It is decorated in red, somehow remind me of Old Trafford and made me miss UK (once more). The difference were Allianz Arena's museum is far more sophisticated and modern by means occupied with technology than Old Trafford's. It was consisted of FC Bayern's history, yes, and the trophies, of course, but what makes me fascinated is the photobox facilities which is free and the VR. They even have cinema! The cinema itself played a short documentary movie of FC Bayern depending on monthly or seasonal theme. Allianz Arena's museum also had two audi cars inside! I mean where you can park the car inside a football museum like Old Trafford? So yeah, Allianz Arena's museum is in whole new level compared to Old Trafford. I suddenly thought that it wasn't a waste to spend EUR 17 here. Worthy!
Not just the museum, the stadium itself has an exquisite treatment for the players. Speaking of bench and pre-booked seat, it is actually similar to what Old Trafford had. Allianz Arena's capacity is 75.000 almost similar to Old Trafford. What makes this stadium different is the folding seat, we don't have that in UK (re: Old Trafford). So the guide told us that in Bundesliga match, FC Bayern's fans who can afford the cheapest season ticket (approx EUR 15) will stand, yes there is a standing area in Allianz Arena and we cannot find it anywhere in UK's football stadium. The guide said that those standing area will be functioned as seated area by locating folding seat because the international football committee prohibits standing area. Germans, likewise, they always have efficient solution for each problem. Then as far as I can see, there's no bench for coach or players like we always seen in international match. There is also no tunnel where the player are coming out from their dressing room. There's only a flap that will be opened before match, during half-time, and after the match. It was quite different with what I saw when I had Manchester United's stadium tour.
I was far more excited and shocked when I visit the dressing room. It was also dominated by red but it is added with shower room and even a physiotherapy room! They even have smart TV to replace ordinary-ancient-old-fashioned chalkboard. The guide said that it's easier to re-strategise using smart-TV because players could watch their live-stream video and point of what is good what is wrong, and it is also easier for the coach to write up the strategy whilst the video is being played. As expected, Germans! Never had I ever seen something like that in Old Trafford.
When the guide took us to the away team dressing's room, I couldn't help admiring Allianz Arena more. The dressing room is also occupied with mobile kitchen! There is even ice cream and champagne/beer fridge! It is also filled with Jacuzzi tub! Though the guide said that the jacuzzi is eventually not being used because the physiotherapist said cold water is better for the player's muscles. Wow man! It was an exquisite dressing room.
Then the guide asked us to follow him to the press conference room, player's tunnel, and finally the way out. The conference room also a bit different from what I saw in Old Trafford. If they do the media interview separately (away and home team) in Old Trafford, FC Bayern will give three chairs for home coach, away coach, and the press officer of Bayern. I can see that this club is really aware of press because they give high quality press room completed with bar and translator cube. They also put the history of press in the life of football. Bayern really put concern in how press could define the art of football in mass media. As an ex-journalist I was touched with FC Bayern's concern.
To sum it all up, Allianz Arena was mesmerising and I will never regret my decision to visit the stadium ever!
Despite the majestic stadium tour of Allianz Arena, don't get me wrong, there was another story behind it and related to my stupidity. Before starting the tour, I actually missed my group tour. Because I've mentioned above that I spend my time in Allianz Arena museum from 3.15 PM. I was aware that the tour starts at 4 PM and I tried to find the rendezvous point. In Old Trafford, once you finished the museum, that's your rendezvous point. I found it different in Bayern, they arrange the rendezvous point on the opposite side of museum's exit door. I wouldn't know if I didn't ask the clerk and then he said to me, "Did they not explain to you?" and I said no because I was booking online. I took the exit at 3.55 PM and I thought I would make it, turns out I didn't make it to my group. I felt like I'm the stupidest person in the world that time. I kept checking my ticket whether I could join the next group or what but it said I can't. I would never be able to do stadium tour by joining the next group, the ticket said.
Having similar experience in Old Trafford, they allow me to re-schedule the tour and join later group, once again I tried my odd. Who knows that they will allow me to join just because I was late 7 minutes from the schedule? Luckily, yes! When I sneaked into the queue and scanned the ticket, actually the scanner denied my ticket then the guide said, "Oh no, it was for 4 PM tour but it's okay. Follow me, you'll be fine." THANKS GOD! THERE'S A GOOD PERSON FINALLY! Without hesitation, I follow him and join the group for 5.15 PM schedule.
The next thing is I was a bit hesitated when the guide asked us (the visitors) to mention what is our favourite team. There were a group from Barcelona, Spain and of course their most favourite team is Barcelona (no doubt). And then there was me who fancies Manchester United. Then some people said theirs is Liverpool. Finally there was a Chinese girl who admit to be fans of Bayern München and she had attended FC Bayern's match in Allianz Arena. At least the guide will be relieved, won't he?
I was actually satisfied with München and I feel like this city offer me more than Berlin. At first I thought München will be boring like Berlin but it doesn't. München feels like home, almost like London. I like the transportation which is going smooth and nice for a ride, I like the city centre, I like the attractions. I almost like the people but then Mbak Aul told me that not all Münchner are good, they are quite conservative and München actually a bit old-fashioned and slow paced. I would say that I agree with that since stores and restaurants are closed at 8 PM, I mean what kind of stores or even a convenient store will close at 8 PM???? We're still alive in that time in London. I do agree to the fact that it's quite difficult to find convenient store near residency areas or find the nearest restaurant. Well, you can find Tesco, Sainsburry, Iceland, or Co-op and KFC basically everywhere in London. I was told that there are only three branches of KFC in München and they are separated like kilometres, so different to London.
Despite the bad facts, I like München because it gradually feels comfortable. I was comfortable when speaking German and I like the weather as well. But to be honest, even though I love the train stations, the public transport, and the vibe, the best and most comfortable city for me is still London. I do love München more than Berlin but it's just I think I will prefer London to live for a long term.
At last, I would say thanks for great moments and memories I had in München. It was nice! Danke im Voraus, lieber München!