It’s nearly holiday time so how about I give Scotland a wee rest and do a holiday blog. I’ve twice been to Munich but unfortunately both times were in the close season. Also both times I was on the way to the Alps. We’ll get to the football stadiums in a minute.

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From the Olympiaberg looking down on the Olympiastadion and Olympiasee

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to pack for a dual-purpose holiday (a city break followed by a walking week), especially with EasyJet’s baggage allowances in mind. You really have to wear your walking boots on the plane.

The first time we had four days in Munich before taking the train down to Kufstein in the Austrian Tirol then onward to Walchsee. The second time we stayed in Munich then on to Innsbruck. Mind you the second time EasyJet made it even “Easier” by losing my bag so I travelled light the next day. The Edinburgh crew were to blame though. However I have to say they did themselves proud, getting it over the Alps by courier for teatime the next day, nearly getting there before we did.

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Looking North-East from Olympiapark to the BMW Museum and the Allianz Arena

If I was going during the season, I’d probably want to take a look at Munich’s third team, Spielvereinigung Unterhaching, who play in the 4th Division. Obviously FC Bayern play in the Bundesliga and 1860 Munich play in Bundesliga 2. It’s a wonderful city and easy to get around by S-Bahn or U-Bahn. There’s a lot of English spoken too, unlike Berlin where I had to rely on the German I had picked up by reading Commando comics 🙂

P1000717Then of course there’s the beer. Wonderful. Weissbier (wheat beer) , Helles (lager), Dunkel (dark beer), Maibock, Oktoberfest etc and six large breweries making them. It would take you a year to try them all. Not too daft on the sausages though I have to say.

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Hofbräuhaus

The cavernous, state-owned Hofbräuhaus is maybe the most famous pub or bierkeller in the world and a must-see for the tourist, but not the most civilised place to enjoy a pint (or litre). However it’s the place to go for photos of pretty waitresses with frilly Bavarian costume with 5 glasses in each hand, although it’s pretty dark even during the daytime.

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Serving wench in the Hofbräuhaus

IMG_1055Apparently it became Munich’s number one tourist attraction after WWII as American servicemen brought home mugs with the famous HB on them. In 1920 Hitler’s National Socialists held their first meeting in the hall upstairs.

The most famous club is 26-times champion FC Bayern. Founded in 1900 and European Champions 5 times, I first came across them at school when they beat Rangers in the Final of the 1967 Cup-Winners’ Cup, played at Nuremberg. Of course this was the week after the Lisbon Lions. I then got a German pen pal, a girl who supported Bayern and sent me stuff about them.

In September 1970 I saw them eliminate Rangers from the Fairs’ Cup with a 1-1 draw at Ibrox, the scorers being Gerd Muller and Colin Stein, in front of 82,743. In April 1972 the boot was on the other foot as Rangers gained a 1-1 draw in Munich and beat them 2-0 at Ibrox with goals from Jardine and Parlane to reach the Final of the ECWC. Across the city Celtic were playing Inter in front of 75,000 in the EC semi-final. Youngsters in Scotland will barely believe this but at the time Bayern players formed the spine of the West German team who won the 1974 World Cup. The team that night was: Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Johnny Hansen, Herwart Koppenhöfer, Georg Schwarzenbeck, Edgar Schneider, Paul Breitner, Franz Roth, Rainer Zobel, Uli Hoeness, Gerd Müller. Yet players like Willie Johnston and Willie ‘wan leg’ Mathieson ripped them apart.

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Approaching the Olympiastadion from the North

That summer Bayern moved into the Olympiastadion which was and still is, an amazing place. Featuring a tent-style construction with lightweight translucent acrylic glass roof panels and steel cables, it’s as airy as a 79,000 stadium could ever be and really broke new ground at the time. The Olympiapark in which it stands is mainly a mound formed from debris from the bombings during the war, while the stadium itself lies in a crater.

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Olympiastadion

P1000762P1000758The first time I was there in 2007 it was easy to wander in if you found the right gate: returning in 2014 I found they were charging €3 to look around. Also there was no pitch as it was set up for a rock concert. That last time we passed through Munich with a day to kill before our evening flight, and Marienplatz was heaving with some sort of bierfest, so we actually went out to Olympiapark for some peace and quiet. If you climb to the top of Olympiapark you get a fine view south over Munich to the Alps.

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Looking South over the twin towers of the Frauenkirche to the Alps

1860 Munich moved in alongside Bayern in the 90s but still periodically went back home to their Grünwalder Stadion (now the home of Bayern II), until 2005 when both clubs moved into the newly built, 71,000 capacity Allianz Arena. The revolutionary design of the Allianz has since been copied around the world. The exterior is clad with 2874 foil panels inflated with air and these panels can be lit, making the whole stadium change colour. So it can be red for Bayern, blue for 1860 or just white. Multicolour designs are not used as the stadium is right next to the A9 Autobahn and has caused accidents. The stadium has Europe’s largest underground car park. All this for €340 million.

IMG_1023I was there with the missus in 2007 but the English speaking tour was full and the next one was in 3 hours so I gave it a miss. However on the last night she retired to her bed and I went out with camera gear and tripod and hopped on line 6 on the U-bahn to Fröttmaning just as dusk was falling. There were plenty people around even at 10pm and the stadium was nicely lit up in white. I wandered over the A9 and up the hill a bit, to get a view. At the time I was nervous in case I was trespassing on a telecoms site but later on I discovered the hill is public. Nobody there but me though. As I set up my gear I was leaning over my tripod and checking the camera settings. Suddenly I was aware of the whole world turning red and looked up to see the stadium had changed colour. Amazing.

IMG_1040IMG_1045On the way back there was a delay on the train and this young guy started ranting about something. Everybody in the carriage was peeing themselves laughing and I wished I knew why but I got the impression he was a natural, like Billy Connolly before he joined the establishment. I’ve always wondered why so many English people hate the Germans and say they are humourless. People are great everywhere, you have to take them as you find them.

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