Munich – More than just surfing

I know nothing about Munich. When I first researched Munich, I discovered that it is the capital of the German state of Bavaria. This puzzled me as I was unaware that Germany had states. Moving past the embarrassment of my utter lack of knowledge, I realized that Bavaria is not that different from my home state of Texas. Bavaria used to an independent state before it became a part of Germany and is very proud of that status. There is a common saying: “First I am Bavarian, then I am German.” Sound familiar? Texans are extremely, even annoyingly, proud to be from Texas, and it seems like Bavarians may be the same way. I’m sure I’ll feel right at home!

Besides that similarity, I think Munich will be unlike anywhere I have ever been. Before any research, when I thought of Munich, I thought of two things: heavy meat-filled food and Oktoberfest. From the research I have conducted, it seems as though I was right about the food, but Munich has so much more to offer than Oktoberfest. It is a hub of technology, including the site of BMW headquarters, but also has many quaint public gardens and parks. People even surf on a river that cuts through one of the city’s best parks. I sincerely hope that we get to see people wipe out in the middle of a public river. One of Munich’s main elements is the horde of beer gardens. These are outdoor spaces with rows and rows of picnic tables where groups can gather to drink beer. This suggests that Munich has a strong sense of community and is welcoming to visitors.

However, one of the most unexpected facts I discovered is that Munich has the highest cost of living of any city in Germany. This probably means lots of BMWs, but does this cause a wealth disparity in the city? Economic inequality is a pressing problem in the United States and I am curious to see if this problem looms over Munich. Arguably, the most exciting way to answer this question is to visit and explore the city itself. Of course I will not be able to understand the full-depth of possible economic inequality that could possibly be in the city, but I will see the outward signs of the phenomenon. For instance, are there many beggars on the street? Is it common to see rows of expensive cars, like BMWs, followed by a beat-up fifteen-year-old automobile? Are there slums, or “bad parts” of town? These factors are some of the physical signs of wealth disparity in any city or town and will be helpful in determining the answer to my question.

Munich is sure to be a charming and dynamic city, but is there a lurking tension between socioeconomic classes? Economic inequality is a growing problem worldwide as we see people starve in Africa while American billionaires buy yet another New York penthouse. I am curious to see if the expensive city of Munich is experiencing the same problem. In addition, it will be interesting to see if the stereotype of Bavarian pride is accurate. As a Texan, I find myself relating to Munich culture already! As Davy Crockett (probably) said, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Munich.”