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Entries about munich

16 July 2015

Munich, including Nymphenburg

sunny

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.

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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).
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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!
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We strolled the grounds, as well, stopping at a hunting lodge adorned with Artemis sculpture...

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...and pausing to watch a gondola glide by on a canal.

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We walked toward the back door of the palace...

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...pausing to examine Athena's weird-looking gargoyle-owl...

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...and to pretend to be a queen, waving from her balcony.

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After the palace, we stopped for lunch.

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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!

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After pausing to goof around by the statue of Bavaria herself...

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...and by one of the many Bavarian lions scattered around the city (much like Seattle's pigs)...

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...and at the European headquarters of Apple and Starbucks...

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...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!

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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.

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Posted by OhMissLia 21:31 Archived in Germany Tagged germany munich summer_2015 16_july Comments (0)

15 July 2015

Munich, including Dachau

sunny
View Europe 2015 on OhMissLia's travel map.

The day started off with a beautifully laid-out breakfast with Mark and Laura.

A wonderful Bavarian breakfast: coffee and beer, weisswurst with sweet mustard (yum!), pickles, and a pretzel!
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Mark had some things to do, so I was on my own for the day.

I feel it’s important to view a Nazi concentration camp if possible, so I headed to Dachau. I really don’t have words for how I felt. Dachau was the very first KZ (concentration camp) the Nazis created and served as a model for those that followed. As I stood in the waiting room for the shower area, then under the showers, then in the room with the plaque that said, “This is where the bodies were piled,” I was just thankful for the knowledge that this specific shower area was never used en masse. I don’t think I could have done it otherwise.

This is the prototype "shower" room. Fake shower heads were installed above, and chemicals were poured into the grilled window via an outside chute.
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There is a beautiful garden/wooded area in the back of the camp, where the ashes of the cremated were buried. It's a quiet, contemplative place where few people go. I can't say that I found peace here, but the shady quiet provided some personal space that allowed me to process what I was seeing.

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Also seen along this path:

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This is a view of the perimeter, with a guard tower in the distance. Between the ditch/moat and the fence was the "neutral zone," and guards would shoot inmates who set foot on it. There are stories of guards who would steal an inmate's cap and throw it into the neutral zone, forcing the inmate to retrieve it--appearing at roll call without the cap meant a severe, if not fatal, beating--and then shoot the inmate when he entered the zone. There are also stories of inmates intentionally walking into the neutral zone as a method of suicide.

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I spent some time getting my head together before heading back to the city.

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When I returned to Munich, I visited the Residenz, residential palace of the Bavarian royal family for hundreds of years. While it was absolutely beautiful, I was struck more by the absence of some of the art, rather than its presence; holes that used to be occupied by artwork that couldn’t be restored after the Allies bombed Munich in WWII. To see these beautiful pieces missing large sections—often the centerpiece in a room—was startling, and spoke volumes all by itself. This first photo below features some blank spots.

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I was pretty done in by the time I returned to Mark and Laura’s flat, but after a short rest I was able to join them for a trip to the English Gardens for dinner. I am so glad I did—what fun! We ate our food in the shade and played several games of Uno.

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This poster was at the English Gardens, advertising a dance that takes place at 6am!! Laura explained that this tradition began when someone realized that the barmaids couldn't ever attend a dance because they always had to work, so a special dance was held at odd hours just for them. The English Gardens still holds such a dance every summer.

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A notable sight while travelling to the English Gardens, near the university. These are bullet holes, where university students protesting Hitler were shot. I don't know details of the story, or if this site is specifically related to the White Rose resistance movement (http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/revolt/whiterose.html), but it's a fair assumption to make.

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Posted by OhMissLia 21:31 Archived in Germany Tagged germany munich dachau summer_2015 15_july Comments (0)

13 July 2015

Munich

semi-overcast

Arrived in Munich on time. I had no problems retrieving my luggage or finding the train station. Not too much trouble with the ticket machine (hey, the first one was broken, and I don't read the language!) and then got to sit back for a 45-minute train ride. My first impression was that the cliche of German engineering is true... this was the smoothest, quietest and cleanest train I've ever been on!

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Navigating from my final train station to Mark's apartment was going to be the tricky part, but turned out to be a non-issue, as Mark met me there. Woohoo!

We walked to his apartment--stopping first at a meat place for some yummy sandwiches and second at a cheesemonger's--then chilled out until Laura, his wife, returned home from work. She'd just received news of getting a new job, so we all celebrated with a Viennese drink made from white peaches--it was delicious. Then we headed out and strolled through the heart of Munich: Marienplatz, churches, the palace, Hofbrauhaus, and more.

A dragon, symbolic of the Black Death, attacks citizens on this sculpture (if that's the correct term) on the side of a Marientplatz building.
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The Munich National Theatre, an opera house on Max-Joseph Platz.
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Outdoor dining near the National Theatre.
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Rubbing the nose of the Bavarian lion outside the residential palace. It brings good luck! Why? Read about the legend here: http://munich-greeter.de/en/2013/06/munich-only-die-residenzlowen/
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The infamous Hofbrauhaus. It was a lot less "tavern-ish" than I'd anticipated; I just thought there would be less artwork and more wooden timbers, or something.
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This is where the regulars of Hofbrauhaus store their personal steins--a practice I have seen mirrored in certain coffee shops back home. :)
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Laura and I pose beneath the gorgeous ceiling. We didn't stay--way too loud.
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No official tours, just strolling until we found a good Bavarian restaurant for dinner. I managed to down a litre of Schneiderweisse with my dinner--a savory pancake with vegetables that was quite good.

Prost!
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What strikes me most about Munich is how safe it feels... no creepy feelings. We just walked around anywhere we pleased, even after dark. Also, it's clean. And old. The restaurant we ate in is older than the United States, and is still owned by the same family that has always owned it!

As we strolled, we came upon an unofficial Michael Jackson memorial, located outside a posh hotel where he liked to stay. [Note from later: the memorial is quite controversial, to the point of violence between fans. Here is an article about it, written two weeks after my visit: http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-disputed-german-michael-jackson-memorial-may-have-to-beat-it-2015-7 ]

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I'm tired, and can't get on wi-fi to post this; will do so when I can.

Posted by OhMissLia 13:44 Archived in Germany Tagged germany munich summer_2015 13_july Comments (0)

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