I don’t know on what date in September 1979 I arrived in Munich, but I do know it wasn’t long before I was changing the lyrics of John Miles’s 1976 single Music. The other soundtrack single of my undergraduate year abroad was M’s Pop Muzik. I remember dancing to that somewhere in Schwabing on a dancefloor surrounded by shark tanks full of living specimens …
You can’t help but fall in love with Munich, especially when the first mega experience of your year abroad is Die Wiese in full swing.
And in the intervening years, I have revisited the beer festival a few times. Though the last visit to celebrate retirement wasn’t a success. Perhaps it’s an age thing but it was too big, too crowded, and we were unable to get in the beer tents. Rossetti and I were consigned to drinking our beer outside in the rain … What a contrast to the – em – intoxication of prior visits!
Besides who needs the Oktoberfest when there’s the Hofbräuhaus, where you can drink beer and conduct the German band every night of the year if you wish. Talking of which ….
During my undergraduate year abroad I was a student at the University with no exams. So I had time and freedom to enjoy not just the city but other places too: The Alps ✔️the Lakes, Königssee, Tegernsee ✔️✔️ Ludwig’s Castles, Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee ✔️ ✔️✔️. It’s true, rather than study diligently, I became an inveterate tourist and a regular at the weekly showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Museum Lichtspiele on The Isar! (This I can confess some 4 decades later – btw the picture’s still showing!)
Now that I am older, I head to other haunts. I’ve been to the Lange Nacht der Musik twice. (I must go again.) The museums are a must see – arguably a city in their own right. The Lenbachhaus with the Blaue Reiter is my current favourite, but I always pop into the Neue Pinakothek to say hello to Effi. (Adolph von Menzel’s painting Wohnzimmer mit Menzels Schwester is the picture on my old, old copy of Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest).
My study (gap?) year wasn’t all plain sailing. A longstanding issue turned serious but the German doctors put me right, and I think this is when my admiration of Munich became something more abiding. As the train pulled out of the main station at the end of the academic year, I was in tears. I always intended to return for good. All I can say is that life took a huge diversion, but, if I ever come into a large sum of money, you know where my next home will be. 41 years on, I am still dreaming.
So just how did that John Miles’s song go? This is my version, “Munich was my first love, and it will be my last. The Munich of the future, and the Munich of the past.”
Favourite reads from or about Bavaria
Schellingstrasse underground station was the one I used to get to university and, therefore, the official starting point for my Bavarian adventures. As it is for the adventures in The Ludwig Conspiracy by Oliver Pötzsch (born Munich). If you fancy a high octane chase around second hand book stores, Munich and King Ludwig II’s fairy tale castles, this is the novel for you.
The humourous poetry collection, Merely Human by Eugen Roth (born Munich) is unfortunately out of print, but it is source of delight. Perfect for dipping in and out of when a spoonful of cheer or an understanding ear is needed during those necessary but doomed-to-failure book culls.
Volker Weidermann is not Bavarian. He was born in Darmstadt, Hesse, but his book, Dreamers, When The Writers Took Power is set in 1919 when the Free State of Bavaria declared itself the first communist state on earth. I never heard so much as a whisper about this when I was there, and so I will be taking this book to reread and serve as my travelling companion next time I am walking the streets of Munich.
What no women? Patience my friends. Come back tomorrow for a review of the first German Bildungsroman, written by a woman and a major influence on a fellow named Goethe ….
Thank you Lizzy, I loved hearing about your time in Germany.
Aww lovely! I not only want to travel, but want to time travel too! 😀
As do I. Back to 1989. I would never have left …
This is very exciting for me as this is where I came in in 2019 after reading a post about German Literature which directed me to you and this special month. I have read some wonderful titles and of course have a mounting TBR. Looking forward to travelling around Germany with you and to reading titles I’ve put aside to be read now.
Bavaria? Communist? Na so ein Quatsch! I cannot believe it, it seems so arch-Catholic and bourgeois to me now. I do love it of course, because it is more familiar to me with my Austrian background. In Munich I can still order a Topfenstrudel and make myself understood.
Looking forward to all your travels!
Great to read about your time abroad. It sounds all so exotic to me having grown up in Australia … I did not get to travel overseas until I was 29! And then, of course, I stayed much longer than I thought I would 😂
I came over to see what is going on with German Lit Month since I’m new to it — a blogging friend told me about it. Loved this!! I too love Germany; first visited in ’83 and have returned twice more. I was in Munich last summer in fact; magical. I love it so much I wrote a bio of Ludwig too, and yes I too have visited all his castles. I’m set to put my review up on Wednesday; do I just use the hashtag on social media and link to your blog, or is there a linky somewhere to join? Thanks for doing this. Really fun idea!
Grüß Gott sjbraun. 😁
Hello and welcome. There is a linky over at http://www.germanlitmonth.blogspot.com and an extensive blogroll of GLM participants. (Unfortunately these really useful tools don’t work on wordpress.) Let me know your blog url and I’ll add you to the blogroll. Use the hashtag #germanlitmonth where you will and as much as you will during November. To publicise both your own and other contributions.
Thanks, Lizzy, this is a great post and provoked a wave of nostalgia in me for my year abroad in Tübingen. It was then that I first went to Munich, driven there by my friend‘s boyfriend over a freezing weekend in January. I next went in 2010 and visited the exhibition of the Weisse Rose movement in the uni building where they threw the leaflets over the bannisters.
Thanks too for reminding me about the Volker Weidermann book- I‘ve read and enjoyed his Ostende and would like to read this one some time.
Hallo Servus from Bavaria..It´s amazing how travelling changes us.It is true that it´s worth to travel than make more money, since we can´t bring back lost time…
Thank you for sharing your love affair with Münich, I love this City as well.