Munich, including Nymphenburg
Thu 16 Jul 2015 - Thu 16 Jul 2015
On my last day in Munich, Mark and I trekked out to Nymphemburg, the Bavarian royal family’s summer palace. After a long walk down a wrong turn, we posed for an "Oops!" photo before backtracking to the palace--which you can see in the distance in the photo.
We finally made it.
The grounds include numerous museums, the palace itself, and the "apartments" where the modern royal family lives, including Franz, Duke of Bavaria. Learn more about the Wittelsbach family--and their unpursued claim to the English/Scottish house of Stuart--here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz,_Duke_of_Bavaria
The palace was intended as a summer residence, and has a recurring Nature motif. Which, of course, I fell in love with. I could totally live here, no problem! Except I'd get rid of Ludwig I's Gallery of Beauties, LOL. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sch-nheitengalarie-gallery-beauties
The resplendent entry hall, with views of the front (long lawn with a pond with fountains and swans) and the back (manicured gardens with statues of Greek gods).
Close-ups of the details on the chandeliers. Swans were very big with this family--Ludwig II did, after all, build Neuschwanstein ("New Swan Stone") Castle! I love these beautiful chandeliers!
We strolled the grounds, as well, stopping at a hunting lodge adorned with Artemis sculpture...
...and pausing to watch a gondola glide by on a canal.
We walked toward the back door of the palace...
...pausing to examine Athena's weird-looking gargoyle-owl...
...and to pretend to be a queen, waving from her balcony.
After the palace, we stopped for lunch.
A place with outdoor dining, of course, and the stereotypical surly beermaid. Actually, one was surly (Mark: "May we sit?" She: "Think you can find a seat?" while rolling her eyes and gesturing to the empty section) and the other was... gently rude? After some discussion with Mark about the menu, in which he was trying to translate some items for me, she looked straight at me and said, "Americans are lazy with languages." I agreed with her and asked her to give me a break, because I'd only been in the country for three days! Thankfully, she seemed to accept that as a reasonable excuse for not being fluent in German.
It made for an interesting lunch, and became the third incident of anti-foreigner sentiment we'd experienced that day. Until this day, I hadn't seen a hint of it, but as we were leaving that morning, still in the train station, someone bumped Mark hard and cussed him out for being a foreigner--with her kids at her side! Mark handled it better than I would have, but since I don't speak the language, I had no clue what the problem was until after the fact. Later, on our way to the palace, we stood at a crosswalk with a woman who tried to tell us that we were standing in the bike lane (we weren't--her bike's rear tire was blocking it as she spoke, though). Then the "surly" and the "gently rude" servers mentioned above. It was an interesting introduction to the "Germany for Germans" folks--people who, for various reasons, don't want non-Germans in the country. There's no proof any of these people were of that group, of course, although it wouldn't surprise me if the lady at the train station was one of them. Anyway... it did provide a clearer picture of the life of an ex-pat, and what Mark deals with in his everyday life.
After lunch, we headed to the apartment so Mark could gather materials for the English class he was teaching that evening, where people can practice speaking English by discussing current events. I was privileged to accompany him to the class, meet his students, and occasionally give an American perspective on the topics discussed. At the end of the class, Mark invited his students to ask me, "a real live American," any question they wanted. There was only time for one question, and it was the one Mark had predicted they would ask first: "Do you own a gun?" It was really eye-opening for me. I had no idea that that was the European perspective of Americans, but given the news headlines over the last year, I am not surprised. I wish we would have had more time to chat, but a conversation like that could have gone on all night!
After the class, we strolled around a part of Munich that I hadn't yet seen... the Oktoberfest grounds! It was mid-July, and the tents were already being built. To get some sense of scale... each of these "tents" will seat 10,000 people, and there are 14 of them!
After pausing to goof around by the statue of Bavaria herself...
...and by one of the many Bavarian lions scattered around the city (much like Seattle's pigs)...
...and at the European headquarters of Apple and Starbucks...
...we finished the evening at--you guessed it--a biergarten! Tonight's beergarden was the famous Augustiner, and, of course, it was crowded. We had another rude encounter with someone while searching for a seat, but eventually we found a table--next to the pissoir!
We had a great time, but eventually had to head back to the apartment. It was time to collect my things and go to the train station, so I could catch an overnight bullet train to Essen. A man sat across from me, a Sicilian-Croatian man who loved to sing--loudly--and chat with everyone on the train. He was delighted to discover that I was an American, and we chatted for a while. Eventually, he went back to his singing... until someone asked him to be quiet, and he settled down.
I eventually drifted to sleep, contemplating my adventures over the previous 80 hours. I'd flown over 5,000 miles and found an old friend (Mark and I have known each other since we were about eight years old). We'd scampered around through palaces and beer gardens and all kinds of places. I'd discovered Mozart balls and Bavarian beer and sweet mustard. München ist wunderbar!
And now I was on a speeding train heading toward another, very different, region of the country with more adventures awaiting me.