Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

Munich Sightseeing

Nine o'clock next morning finds me under the pilotage of Mr. Buscher, wandering through the splendid art galleries. We next visit the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a magnificent building, being erected at a cost of 7,000,000 marks.

We repair at eleven o'clock to the royal residence, making a note by the way of a trifling mark of King Ludwig's well-known eccentricity. Opposite the palace is an old church, with two of its four clocks facing the King's apartments. The hands of these clocks are, according to my informant, made of gold. Some time since the King announced that the sight of these golden hands hurt his eyesight, and ordered them painted black. It was done, and they are black to-day. Among the most interesting objects in the palace are the room and bed in which Napoleon I. slept in 1809, which has since been occupied by no other person; the "rich bed," a gorgeous affair of pink and scarlet satin-work, on which forty women wove, with gold thread, daily, for ten years, until 1,600,000 marks were expended.

At one of the entrances to the royal residence, and secured with iron bars, is a large bowlder weighing three hundred and sixty-three pounds; in the wall above it are driven three spikes, the highest spike being twelve feet from the ground; and Bavarian historians have recorded that Earl Christoph, a famous giant, tossed this bowlder up to the mark indicated by the highest spike, with his foot.

After this I am kindly warned by both Messrs. Buscher and Walsch not to think of leaving the city without visiting the Konigliche Hofbrauhaus (Royal Court Brewery) the most famous place of its kind in all Europe. For centuries Munich has been famous for the excellent quality of its beer, and somewhere about four centuries ago the king founded this famous brewery for the charitable purpose of enabling his poorer subjects to quench their thirst with the best quality of beer, at prices within their means, and from generation to generation it has remained a favorite resort in Munich for lovers of good beer. In spite of its remaining, as of yore, a place of rude benches beneath equally rude, open sheds, with cobwebs festooning the rafters and a general air of dilapidation about it; in spite of the innovation of dozens of modern beer-gardens with waving palms, electric lights, military music, and all modern improvements, the Konigliche Hofbrauhaus is daily and nightly thronged with thirsty visitors, who for the trifling sum of twenty-two pfennigs (about five cents) obtain a quart tankard of the most celebrated brew in all Bavaria.

"Munich is the greatest art-centre of the world, the true hub of the artistic universe," Mr. Buscher enthusiastically assures me as we wander together through the sleepy old streets, and he points out a bright bit of old frescoing, which is already partly obliterated by the elements, and compares it with the work of recent years; calls my attention to a piece of statuary, and anon pilots me down into a restaurant and beer hall in some ancient, underground vaults and bids me examine the architecture and the frescoing. The very custom-house of Munich is a glorious old church, that would be carefully preserved as a relic of no small interest and importance in cities less abundantly blessed with antiquities, but which is here piled with the cases and boxes and bags of commerce. One other conspicuous feature of Munich life must not be over-looked ere I leave it, viz., the hackmen. Unlike their Transatlantic brethren, they appear supremely indifferent about whether they pick up any fares or not. Whenever one comes to a hack-stand it is a pretty sure thing to bet that nine drivers out of every ten are taking a quiet snooze, reclining on their elevated boxes, entirely oblivious of their surroundings, and a timid stranger would almost hesitate about disturbing their slumbers. But the Munich cabby has long since got hardened to the disagreeable process of being wakened up. Nor does this lethargy pervade the ranks of hackdom only: at least two-thirds of the teamsters one meets on the roads, hereabouts, are stretched out on their respective loads, contentedly sleeping while the horses or oxen crawl leisurely along toward their goal.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Tuesday 26th May 1885 (18:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

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