Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beer, church and a bike tour

Marraige, dancing, jousting - the story of the Munich Glockenspiel
The altar at Alter Peter, Munich
Lucky for us, we met a very nice priest who stongly suggested that we attend the 10:45 Sunday mass at St. Peter's R.C. church.  During our first day in Munich, we had visited several other churches, but this wasn't one of them.  To be completely honest, I really hadn't thought of Germany as a Catholic destination, but then again, as one of our tour guides reminded us, the current Pope was a former Bishop of Munich, and even today he is apparently a regular consumer of German beer, so there you go.  Before going to church though, we thought we had better rack up some fresh sins, for absolution, so we went out to a very German beer hall and had a very German meal of schnitxel, sausage, and of course, beer.  Munich is a very lively city until about 10:00, when everyone just seems to quietly disappear.  Not surprising, I suppose, since most everyone seems to be drinking beer all day long.  However, the streets feel very safe and everything is quiet compared to most major cities that I've been too.  The 10:45 mass did not disappoint.  It was like stepping back in time, with beautiful organ music, an all male choir, latin, incense and the priest with his back to the congregation for most of the time.  So often now, churches have become like museums full of tourists trapsing through taking pictures of all the artwork and the architecture.  Sitting through a traditional high mass like this brings life into these buildings - even if one doesn't understand a word.  Something like watching a theatrical performance.  After mass we watched the Glockenspiel clock bring in the noon hour; not too exciting but a memorable event, none-the-less.  From there we joined Mike's Bike Tour of Munich, a four hour tour of many of the significant sites of the city.  I would describe myself as a somewhat lazy tourist.  When travelling, I often end up without much planning or research  somewhere wonderful with very little understanding or expectation in terms of what makes it so wonderful.  For me, TripAdvisor has been a life saver, not only in finding great hotels to stay at, but also in terms of recommending attractions.  Mike's Bike Tours is rated as one of the top ten attractions in Munich, and so it should be.  Mike actually introduces himself, and our guide (James from down under) was superb.  Using bicycles rather than buses or feet made it an environmentally positive experience, and we weren't dead tired at the end of the day, infact somewhat invigorated.  The tour ended up in a beer garden where we joined hundreds of other Sunday tourists drinking beer and sampling some pretty decent German cuisine, once again.

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