We arrived in Munich (carrying on with the practice from the previous entry, Munich shall hereafter be referred to as München) and, as was already becoming a habit on this trip, didn’t really know what to do with ourselves. We’d sent Sarah’s brother Michael an e-mail the day before reminding him we were coming soon and informing him of the exact date, but hadn’t heard back yet. In addition we had his non-answering cell phone number, no Euros, no working ATM cards and only a vague recollection of his address.
Finally we managed to get some money, found an internet cafe, figured out how to get there and, on the rather bold presumption that Sarah had remembered the address correctly, walked up to the appropriate house and knocked.
Fortunately Sarah’s memory had served, and we were greeted by Carmen , Michael’s girlfriend who explained, very apologetically, that Michael was away skiing and that she’d only recently read our e-mail, and had just returned from the train station and trying to find us. We in turn explained, very apologetically, that if we’d booked our train tickets more than 20 hours in advance, the whole debacle would have been avoided and that she shouldn’t be explaining anything very apologetically.
All this sorted out, we had a quick dinner and after a bit of a catchup chat (Sarah and Carmen hadn’t seen one another in 6 years) and some brief sightseeing suggestions for the following day, we were all off to bed.
A reindeer in the lacing of Michael’s glass of Starkbier. This picture doesn’t really belong here, but I couldn’t figure out where else to put it, and I like having a picture near the top of the entry.
Once again, introduction dispensed with, we will now present our time in München more as of a series of vignettes than an actual narrative:
Schloss Nymphenburg. Very pretty baroque palace (Germans have a habit of mis-identifying palaces as castles. A subtle distinction perhaps, but one that’s important to me.) There were large numbers of a large number of species of aquatic birds floating around in the pond in front. Inside, the rooms that had been maintained (or restored, I’m not sure) since the palace was vacated were really quite impressive.
The ceiling of the great hall in Schloss Nymphenburg. Not quite the Sistine Chapel, but pretty darn impressive.
Me trying to be artsy with a photo of the ceiling and a chandelier in the schloss.
As a whole the palace and its HUGE grounds were well worth a visit, but weren’t quite Versailles, which led me to wonder whether (Mad) King Ludwig II of Bavaria wasn’t quite as mad as Louis XIV, or if he just didn’t have the same budget. Until I realized that Ludwig II hadn’t BUILT Nymphenburg, but been born there. Anyhow, more on Ludwig II later.
Me doing my “Mad” King Ludwig II impression. (There’s even some debate as to whether he really was mad. Some people say it was just a plot hatched by his political opponents to have him removed from the Bavarian throne.)
Two photos of the interior of the great hall at Nymphenburg is really enough, but they just turned out so well that I can’t help myself. I really should have included one of the Hall of Beauties (where Ludwig I immortalized in portrait any woman he happened to find particularly pretty) instead.
Bierhalles. The two things that München is most famous for amongst foreginers are probably Oktoberfest and Biergartens. Unfortunately late September was long gone, and the weather wasn’t quite up to biergarten standard yet.
The Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) and surrounding biergarten in München’s Englischer Garten (English Garden.) You can at once imagine how fun a place this might be and see why it wasn’t during our stay.
Thus we spent a fair bit of time at number three on the list, Bierhalles. Bavarian bierhalles (even the ones not entirely geared to tourists) often come pretty close to living up to preconceived ideas. Waiters in lederhosen. Waitresses in derndls. Deer antlers on the walls. Heartily laughing, red faced Bavarian men cheersing their friends. Beer (in one litre Mas, of course) and Brezn (yummy, salty Bavarian soft pretels) everywhere.
Sarah and I at Hofbrauhaus enjoying our first mas in München
The Augustiner Bierhalle. Maybe not a TYPICAL bierhalle, but they all certainly displayed something of this character
Whether at the Augustiner am Dom for dinner with Carmen, Michael and his skiing friends, the famous Hofbrauhaus with just Michael, Sarah and I, or the Augustiner Bierhalle with just the pair of us, the Bierhalles we visited were uniformly lively and fun.
Sarah and her second home in München (the first being Michael and Carmen’s of course )
The regulars’ beer steins locked up snug and safe at Hofbrauhaus
We walked an awful lot during our first few days München. Between perambulates around palaces, trots through town, galevants about galleries and strolls through the city we did a lot of walking. Good thing too, as neither Sarah or myself are in A1 Top Shape, and we’re scheduled to be doing a 3 week, high altitude trek in Nepal a couple months from now. Pray that our fitness continues to improve.
Smoking. Unlike us fit lot, I was surprised by how many Müncheners smoke. It was only a couple of months ago that smoking was banned in bars in München, and many of them have reacted to this move by turning themselves into private clubs where members may pay a joining fee and puff away to their hearts’ contents. There are cigarette vending machines in public spaces all over the city for goodness sake!
Perhaps amusingly clever advertisements like this are why so many Müncheners still smoke.
(Though to even out the vending machine score, I’m surprised and delighted to report that German newspaper boxes work on the honour system. That says a lot about the sort of place München is.)
Newspapers on the Honour System
The Olympic Village. COOL! Most “avant garde” type buildings manage to look pretty worn down and dated 30 years after their construction. Only the best, like the complex from the 1972 München Olypmics, still manage to look interesting and exciting at that age.
The München Olympic Stadium and Tower. The whole tension support system for the roof is really cool and (I’m sad to say) has aged waaaaaay better than Montreal’s 1976 Olympic Stadium.
The U-Bahn (and S-Bahn, and trams, and inter-city trains). München and Bavaria’s public transport are quick, clean, well organized and just generally great. Accuse me of playing up national stereotypes if you will, but the Germans do know how to run a mass transit network.
Part of the monstrous model railway at the Deutchesmuseum. Some of the trains had cameras on them, whose views were projected onto the wall during the demonstration!
The Deutchesmuseum. We’ve been to some great museums so far in our trip, but this one may be the best of the lot. Perhaps the most comprehensive science and technology museum in the world. We spent over five hours there, and still only managed to explore (incompletely) three of the museums seven floors. There were exhibits on bridge building, aircraft, optics, printing, mining, space travel, hydraulic engineering, textiles, photography and on and on and on… All with dozens upon dozens of real examples or spectacularly constructed models of the devices being explained. It struck me that a kid visiting this place couldn’t HELP but want to be an engineer by the time he or she left.
An Me163, Me262 and V1. That is SO COOL. If that isn’t the coolest bit of second world war military technology you can get in one photo, I don’t know what is. Except for maybe if I stood way back with a wide angle lens and managed to get the Deutchesmuseum’s V2 rocket in the photo, but then the composition wouldn’t have been as good.
More amazing still, there were two more WHOLE MUSEUMS in the complex, one dedicated entirely to aircraft and another to land transport. (Sarah insists that I mention the fact that the Deutchesmuseum collection includes the original grating interferometer used to demonstrate the wave particle duality of light. Sigh. What am I doing travelling the world with someone even geekier than myself.)
The tower at the Deutchesmuseum. The sliding scale up the side shows the temperature, while the dial near the top is a barometer. No boring old clock towers in München! (Note the dramatic sky… a few minutes later we were being assaulted by wind, hail, thunder and lightning in… Oh, let’s take a look at the tower! 10 degree temperatures.)
Michael. Its clear from the way she talks about him that they’ve always been really good friends, but that his role has always been very much that of a BIG brother. This led me to kind of expect someone older (seeming at least) than me. But whether it was the fact that he’s 5 years my Junior, or just the fact that he’s a super-friendly youthful (and somewhat nerdy) spirit, it didn’t feel like it at all. From the moment we walked in the door after walking back from Schloss Nymphenburgto find him and his skiing buddies sitting around the dining table, I knew we’d get on wonderfully.
Carmen. Speaking of first impressions, mine of Carmen (the circumstances of our meeting our detailed above for those of you just skimming) was both good and (seemingly, based on further time together) just about spot on. Organized without being overbearing, considerate and supremely friendly (it seems like her smile is a permanent fixture) it was wondeful getting to know her.
Well, with that much said, I’m going to bed. More on München in the next entry…
Tags: Germany, Llew Bardecki, München, Munich, Travel