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A beer, please

Last post 07-08-2009 5:08 PM by alexmiller. 0 replies.
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  • 07-08-2009 5:08 PM

    A beer, please

     If you're in Munich, the epicenter of Bavaria's beer lovers, these are the first words needed. munich is intrinsically associated with Oktoberfest, but it offers much more than beer gardens.

    Lpcated within eyeshot of the snowcapped Alps, Munich is sophisticated, wealthy and elegant, a city of broad boulevards and baroque facades. It is one of Germany's major cultural centers, only Berlin outranks it in the number of museums and theaters.

    As Germany's most popular tourist destination, Munich is likely to evoke stereotypical images: the Glockenspiel carilon in the tower of the neo-Gothic Rathaus, or city hall; the annual Oktoberfest bacchanal; and men wearing lederhosen.

    But as Germany's third-largest city celebrates its 850th birthday this year, it's shedding its dirndls and coexisting with modern technology, industry and design. the historic center remains pleasantly intact, but you can feel a burst of innovation powered by a strong economy (companies like BMW and Siemens call Munich home) and by the global boom in contemporary design.

    Just beyond the throngs of backpackers in the Marienplatz (the historic main square) and tourist staples of Altstadt (Old Town), the spires of Baroque churches soar above winding streets, and Gucci-clad shoppers crowd elegant designer boutiques and stylish cafes along Theatinerstrasse.

    Munich's self-described image is that of a funloving city, typified by Oktoberfest. The celebration, which began as part of the festivities for a royal wedding in 1810, has become a symbol of the city itself. It draws more than seven million visitors each year and has been called the world's biggest fraternity party. This year's festivities are from September 19 until October 4.

    A special fairground is constructed with beer halls (the biggest tent it the Hofbräu-Festhlle, which holds 10,000) and for 16 days raucous hordes cram themselves into the city to have a good time. Think Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but with oompah-pah bands instead of jazz and beer instead of rum puch.

    Even if you miss Oktoberfest, you still have to do.

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