I arrived in the spottlesss and modern Munich airport just before 9:00 am. yeah, that meant that I was up at 5:00. Hoping to save a little morning sleep, I took the calculated risk of biking directly to the airport. My gamble paid off, as I quiclkz made my way through the empty morning streets of Amager. I think the bakers were the only other around as I bike past.
The Munich airport met my expectations of Germany - uber modern, clean, and efficient. before jumping on the train to downtown, I stopped to watch a few volleys in a beach volleyball tournament that was taking place in between the airport and the nearby train station. The 40 minute ride into the citz was a nice opportunity to study my travel guide. I also had a nice conversation with a friendly German. He was eager to talk about his citz - v ery pround of the way that Munich mixed big city opportunities with small town atmosphere. Fitting my German stereotype, he was a scientist studying organic soill composition at a university lab.
I arrived at the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) as planned. My first task was to find the hotel where I would meet Marzy Ann and her family. We had booked separate flights, since their later flight was no longer available after my procrastination.
With over two hours until our established meeting time, I set out to explore some of the city. My first stop was a discount clothing store that was unloading dated shirts from the 2006 World Cup for 2 Euro. Souveniers in hand, I proceeded to the main pedestrian street - apparently this is a staple of every major European city-centre. All the typical outlets were represented. This took me toward the Frauenkirche, a cathedral famous for the not-so-temporarz onion-shaped italian inspired somes on the two main towers. Unable to talk my way into the student rate, I paid 3 Euro for an elevator ride to the top of one tower. The panoramic birds-eye view of the citz was a fitting start to my tour.
Continuing along Neuhauser Strasse, I encountered the Neves Rathaus (city hall), known for a Glockenspiel depicting a scene of dancers celebrating the end of the plague. Another proud resident was eager to relate this tale to another american family standing to my left. While waiting for the clock to strike, i picked up my first giant german pretzel. The actual operation of the Glockenspiel was disappointing on par with Copenhagen's little mermaid.
Adjusting course north, I stumbled through odeons platz. This plaza is knwn for a classical monument from which local orchestras often perform. Today, a lone tenor was singing tunes from Carmen, while dressed in full period ensemble. A little wierd, but he sounded great. Across the street stands the former rozal residence built in the 16th century. Local pensioners have taken root in the manz benches of the adjacent gardens. It is funny to see such a row, in part because they don't appear to be talking with one another.
Across the street stands the former rozal residence built in the 16th century. Local pensioners have taken root in the manz benches of the adjacent gardens. It is funny to see such a row, in part because they don't appear to be talking with one another.
Randomlz selecting another direction, drawn to the large black obelisk in the street, i found myself in another museum centre. in fron to one a wooden hourse stood guard while greek flags flew above; i can guess what the exhibit is about. Across the street was the glyptotec.
On the way back to the hotel, I passed through an authentic biergarten. On the way out of that park, i witnessed an unusual biking contest. Girls were riding their bikes along side of a fountain while trzing to scoop out some water with a beer stine taped to a broom handle. Watching some of them almost bite it into the drink was hillarious.
And then the waiting began... and continued... and three hours later, I decided to continue my exploration of the citz without Mary Ann and her family. Their own experience was less than pleasant - a perfect storm of incompetence by the rental car agency and un-navigable city streets. Alas, there was more to see, and this was my only day in town.
On foot again, my next destination was the Haus der Kunst, basically the modern art museum. No particular exhibit interested me, rather, I wanted to see one of the few remaining Nazi comissioned pieces of state architecture. The building is intended to impress with a collonade of massive Doric pillars. However, it has not aged well, perhaps deliberately. The interior space is unique in terms of the scale at which the rooms are desinged. Troost, the Architect, had previously been known as a furniture designer and interior decoratior before Hitler promoted him to head architect of the Third Reich. The ceiling must be 40 ft and the doorway approximately 8x20'. At such grand proportions only massive art can be displayed without appearing miniscule on the vast white wall. Fortunately, the exhibit I saw met the criteria, but the overtly homosexual and otherwise disturbing imagery just wasn't my thing.
Haus Der Kunst
Adjacent to the modern art museum is a large city park. Immediately past the entrance surfers were catching the curl off of a hydraulic jump caused by water passin through a culvert below. Most were pretty impressive, but it was soon apparent that there were only so many tricks that could be performed in the limited space. All along the banks of the river, residents set up picnics or just basked in the sun. Beware of the older German men walking around totally nude. It was repulsive - I'm talking septagenarians.. walking around..
Scarred for life, I made my way to the top of the Monopteros, a hill adorned with a small monument. From there, I had another grand view of Munich. The sounds of a marching band led me to the Chinesischer Biergarten. Not letting the opportunity pass, I went through the cafeteria-style line to geta 0.5 L brew and a traditional bratworst (no bun) and knodel (dumpling). I was a perfect German meal. Seating at the biergarten is unassigned and it is quite proper to plopl down next to complete strangers. I had a brief chat with two locals.
I then made my way down Prinzre Gentestrasse - a boulevard known for art galleries and museums, and its promenance as a parade route during Nazi times. At the eastern end, a monument to peace was erected following the prussian wars of the 19th century. Ironic then that Germany went on to be agressor in the great wars of the 20th century.
Finally, I was ready to return to the hotel once more to meet the girls. The way back took me past the Maximilaneum. It's a huge structure in the baroque style. Between myself, two New Yorkers, and a Mexican woman we could not determine its history from our travel guides.
After finally meeting up with Mary Ann and grabbing dinner with her family, we ended our night in traditional Munich fashion - at the biergarten. Our first stop was the Viktualien Markt. Market by day, at night, it is a lively biergarten. Traditional music was provided by a not-so-well rehearsed community band. Runners were periodically set to resupply the trombone section with beer. Still looking for more "culture" we stopped in at the Hofbrahaus for a final taste of the famous HB label - a beer so smooth and void of after-taste that Mary Ann considered ordering her own pint. We sat on a rooftop terrace and debated poverty, the environment, and politics. The place, or the brew, just seems to inspire "high thought." The Hofbraus was the site of an early uprising against the Nazi regime. The revolt was brutally quelled, but the beer making and the revelry continue.