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A Munich Vacation: A Racism Nightmare/Amazing City

Updated on February 12, 2009
Lemonade Beer!
Lemonade Beer!
The german countryside at sunrise
The german countryside at sunrise
A view of downtown from the Englischer Garten
A view of downtown from the Englischer Garten
Greedy Ducks
Greedy Ducks
Pirate Graffiti! How else did it get there?
Pirate Graffiti! How else did it get there?
Inside 'the tent'
Inside 'the tent'
The Chinese Pagoda w/beer garden
The Chinese Pagoda w/beer garden
A marathon in the olympic village
A marathon in the olympic village
End of the marathon
End of the marathon

Demonstration AGAINST Neo-Nazis in Munich

Neo-Nazi demonstration in Munich

I guess I should have expected it from the city that brought us Hitler. But I was not really expecting much when, early in the morning, I got off the night train and walked the short distance to downtown, the Marienplatz.

Munich is a wonderful city. It’s one of Germany’s hidden treasures. Berlin is nice. Frankfurt is dangerous. But Munich is a strange little town that seems to live in a world all its own.

From the Marienplatz with its animatronic Rathaus-Glockenspiel to the magnificent twin towered Frauenkirche to the Englischer Gartens to the old ruins of the infamous Munich Olympics, the city has much that the avid site-seer would enjoy, but its when you get off the beaten track that you discover some of the more interesting things Munich has to discover.

Your first stop should be the Englisher garten: a massive botanical garten that sits within walking distance of the downtown area. The Englischer garten has everything you need, statues, running tracks, teahouses, duckponds (with very pushy geese. Don’t feed them or they’ll bowl you over) but in the centre of the park is what you’re really looking for, the Chinese Pagoda (it’s a massive structure made to resemble the great pagoda in China) and underneath this pagoda is one of Germany’s famous beergardens. Get a rack of ribs and a litre of beer and sit back to enjoy the oompa band and some unbeatable atmosphere.

But caution, in Munich its common to find a particular beer infused with Lemonade. Or in other words, lemonade beer. What at first sounds like two incompatible objects, like broccoli and cheese, but which instead turns into something you truly have to taste to believe. However, my caution is this: lemonade beer is so good, you wont realise you’re drunk until its all over. Don’t be like me and wonder aimlessly until you stumble into the Olympic village in the midst of a marathon and have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

The thing about Munich is that it always surprises you. A Chinese pagoda rises up out of a park. Beer is made with lemonade. Racist Irishman assault you at every corner. At so point during my visit, (while being mostly un-inebriated) I was walking down the street and a German man, seeing me with my map, asks me in English for directions to something, but before I can say anything, another man buts in to supply the information. From his accent, I gather he’s Irish. The Irishman is older, with silver hair, a red face and quick eyes.

He gives directions then turns to me. “Nice day it is,” he says.

“Sure,” I reply. A few more lines of small talk later he launches into a racist tirade. He tells me about the coming civil war between Europe and its Muslim immigrants. He tells me the police are prepared. They’ve (keep this to yourself) built police stations like bunkers to repel the menace when it happens. I keep going, “uh huh uh huh,” while slowly edging away.

Then he says to me. “Sometimes, these people make me physically ill. I just want to do something about it, you know.”

At this point, I get a little scared. I tell him perhaps he shouldn’t be hasty. Then he does the strangest thing: he quickly agrees with me, says goodbye, then pivots around and darts off down an alley. I am left standing there perplexed and uneasy. I try to put him out of my mind and start walking down the street, but I swear, not five minutes later two police cars and an ambulance go roaring in the direction of the Irishman and I think Oh god, what did he do? (I searched the papers afterwards but didn’t hear about any Munich hate murders, so its okay. Sort of).

The odd thing was this wasn’t the only incidence of racism I encountered in Munich. I don’t know whether it being the city that launched a thousand Nazis, but the place seems to affect or draw people of that sort into it. There was the Munich massacre at the Olympics in 1972, too. The place seems a racial hotbed. It’s something to watch out when travelling there. Even to this day, Munich is the seat of demonstrators pro/against neo-nazis and their supporters. I came across a demonstration on the second day. It was a march down one of Munich’s famous wide street lanes. My German being bad, I couldn’t exactly tell whether the demonstration was for or against racial intolerance, but from the signs, pictures and the way they were dressed, I know they were made about something and willing to disrupt downtown traffic to tell people about it.

Places to stay: Munich has plenty of old world hotels which will no doubt suit all your means, but if you’re on a budget or looking for something a little more adventurous, consider, “The Tent.”

The tent is a massive hostel with a capacity in the hundreds. It’s a giant tent about a fifteen minute tram ride outside of downtown. You store your valuables in nearby lockers and everyone sleeps together in double decker beds in a communal space underneath the giant tent. And for 10 euros a night, the price can’t be beaten. (I couldn’t do it) And its fun too. Beer is cheap. And on good weather nights, most of the lodgers gather around a giant campfire and share stories of their travels, reminisce about old times, and try to convince girls to accompany them to someplace a little more private.

One thing I did notice was again, the tent’s inhabitants were mostly white, American, European, Canadian and Australians. The only exceptions, a young Asian couple and few black Americans kept mostly to themselves, even in the bonfire area, never really opening up conversation with anybody else. It’s a small thing, but I couldn’t help noticing it after the past day’s events.

Yes there seems to be an underlying tone of racism in the city, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the other wonders that travel to Munich can offer the wide-eyed explorer. It’s a city of contradictions with a racist past and a Chinese pagoda which seems at times kitsch and at times, a mockery. Munich has been a place of racial contention in the past and it may be again, but the city is an experience that any European traveller should take in at least once.


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    • profile image

      G. S. 

      5 years ago

      I came to Munich expecting a week of good times at beer halls and clubs. I hated it. It was absolutely racist, but not only that, I got the feeling that everyone there hated everyone who wasn't from there. I'm a white guy from America. Right away, I felt people were very unfriendly compared to other places I've traveled in Europe . I had just come from Zurich, which was awesome, and had been to Berlin which I loved. But in Munich, it was just one rude thing after another... a conversation would strike up in a beer hall and after a minute the guy I was talking to would pick up a book and start reading like I wasn't there. I had a drink with a local girl and we hit it off, and the next day I ran into her and she acted like she didn't know me. On day three, I was tired of German food so I went to the Hard Rock. The bartender, a real friendly Brit, was the most outwardly racist there. He laid a joke on me about the difference between Jews and Boyscouts (Boyscouts come back from camp). After that, I was just furious at everything I saw... the swastika graffiti and the abandoned monuments to Jews. I couldn't stop thinking about how every person I saw on the street would have probably voted for Hitler. Luckily, I moved on to Prague a few days later which was a REAL great city, and no wonder the Germans tried to take it over.

      Screw Munich and screw Bavaria. Let them inbreed theirselves to death, lol.

    • preacherdon profile image


      7 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks, Freeze, for the hub. I have always wondered about racism in Germany. I've had many friends of different races who were in the military visit Germany and they all sing its praises. Someday, I hope to visit.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That's a city I'm never going to visit, thank you very much... I can't handle racist people.

    • irepgermany profile image


      8 years ago from Nuremberg

      Munich's a great city. Have tips on How to get here when you're on a budget. Feel free to check my hub

    • Myriam80 profile image


      8 years ago from Madrid, Spain

      I am very surprised that you feel this way...

      Having grown up in Munich and being half German and half Arab, I never until this day felt any racism in Munich..I have been to other places though where I did feel it but Munich definitely is not one of them.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for the honest input. whether there was racism or not, i appreciate brutal honesty. btw, that old irish man doesn't sound racist... he sound as though he is mentally unstable. nutbar was he?

      back to point, in 2001, for several months, i traveled to germany and serveral other surrounding countries. i had a horrible experience, especially at berlin airport, as with the other non white passenger that was in tears after the interrogation. make a long story short... i swore that i would never again spend my hard earned money vacationing in a country that did not want me there (inhospitable. rude, and racist).

      now, i'm planning my next long vacation... reading reviews... and just wanted to say thank you for the honesty.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      No, thank you!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I agree with Elena. I have come up against "closed mentalities" there. Perhaps that's an aspect of the precision, intellect, and restraint of what we have come to know as Germanic culture. But never anything like racism. But then, I was a tourist there; I did not live in the city or the country, I only visited.

      Racist people are everywhere. They are in my town. They are even in my family. Racism is something that does not belong only to Germany.

      I think that your unpleasant encounter should not speak for the country. And as you so beautifully said in your Hub, the country does speak for itself.

      Thumbs up for a wonderful piece of writing.

    • earnestshub profile image


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      My guess is that there are this element in most cities.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Lonely people are everywhere, you're right. But I'd like to think racist people arent. It sure was an interesting trip though.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Sounds like an interesting trip. I always seem to meet one loney person in every city, even where I live.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi FreezepopMorality, congratulations! This hub has been picked to be part of the hubnuggets list for this week. Check out Shirley Anderson's hub for the details:

      Reading your hub, it reminded me of my penpal who lives in Germany too-although in Berlin. She has been my penfriend for almost 20 years now. Munich sounds like a wonderful city.

    • FreezepopMorality profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Oh don't let me deter you. It is, like Elena says, a great city. I think perhaps I just had an atypical experience. I just thought it was significant enough to mention. Also, lots of cities have good and bad traits and many times, you don't hear about the bad.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      Interesting hub. I've never been to Munich, and your encounters make me feel I might leave it a bit, fascinating though the city sounds!

    • Elena. profile image


      9 years ago from Madrid

      Hi Freeze!  I've been to Munich many times (and hope to return many more!) and never came face to face with racism, but I have come up against "closed" mentalities in there, very traditionalist.  Bavaria and Munich at its center were the cradle of H and Nazism, after all. 

      As cities go, I think Munich is exactly like you said, a little hidden treasure.  I dig spring in the city, with all its biergartens and curb tables with candles, and an oddly Mediterranean feel to it.  Great hub!


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