Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Munich – Capital of Bavaria

I left for Munich on Saturday, 15.10.2005, which was pretty amazing since I had only decided to go there two days earlier. As most of you know, I am a planner, so it was unusual for me to just “pack up and go” (well, as close to packing up and going as I can get). But I am really glad that I went because I had an incredible time and met some wonderful people along the way.

After I arrived in the city, I decided to do a little bit of exploring. The Old City was very close to my hostel, so I walked down the street towards Marienplatz, which is where the old and new town halls are located. The city of Munich was pretty much destroyed in the WWII bombings, but the Germans made picture catalogues of all the buildings before the bombings started. So, after the war, the city was rebuilt to its previous grandeur. However, the New Town Hall did survive the bombings so it still looks as it did when it was completed in 1906.

I also visited the three main churches in the Old City – St. Michael’s, St. Peter’s, and the Frauenkirche. I was able to climb to the top of the steeple in St. Peter’s and the dome in the Frauenkirche to look out over the city. It was beautiful, especially since the sun was beginning to set. The New Town Hall has a 100-year-old glockenspiel in its tower, and I was able to make a video of it moving when the clock struck 17.00.

On my way back to my hostel, a group of street musicians were playing in front of a store. The group was Tal Consort, and they were absolutely incredible! They played several different classical pieces (the instruments were flute, oboe, violin, and bass) and I enjoyed the music so much that I bought their CD. It was definitely a good investment, and I have already enjoyed listening to it.


On Sunday morning, 16.10.2005, I got up early to go to the Dachau Concentration Camp (located about 45 minutes outside of Munich). On my way to Dachau, I met a wonderful man whom I now call “the good samaritan.” I was looking at the subway map to figure out which line I should take to get to Dachau and he came up and asked me if I needed help (in German of course). I pointed to my map and said “Dachau” and he communicated to me (using hand gestures) that he was also going there, and that I should follow him. At first, we were going to take the train to Dachau that I had seen on my map, but then another train came and he motioned for me to get on it with him. So, I did (even though I was somewhat apprehensive). We got off the train at another station and he said “busse Dachau”, telling me that there was a bus to Dachau. Still skeptically following him, we walked out of the station and I saw that there was indeed a bus going to Dachau. When we got on the bus, he said “das zu arbeit”, which I could understand meant “this works too.” We had a 40 minute bus ride to Dachau and I am glad that I took that route because I got to see some beautiful scenery along the way. During our trip, he was able to communicate to me that he had three children – two daughters and a son. His son is an electrical engineer, one of his daughters is a designer, and the other daughter is studying medicine at Princeton in New Jersey. I could tell that he was very proud of his family. As our bus ride came to an end, I asked if I could take a picture of him. He seemed surprised, but was very pleased that I had asked him. As we got off the bus, he took me to the bus stop for the concentration camp, and told me to wait for the bus going to ‘KV-Gedenkstatte.’ Then, he gave me a big hug, I thanked him for all of his help, and we parted ways.

Once I arrived at Dachau, I was somewhat apprehensive of how I would feel when I walked into the actual camp. Since I know that many people are reading this blog and I don’t want to upset anyone, I am going to refrain from going into details about what I saw or how I felt during this experience. The exhibits were very descriptive, but pictures and text can never convey the whole truth about Dachau. I think the curators did a very impressive job of putting the memorial and museum together. It was a very moving experience for me to visit the camp, and I am glad that I went. The only way that history will never repeat itself is if we don’t forget what happened in the past.

Schloss Nymphenburg

After Dachau, I headed back to Munich and went to Schloss Nymphenburg, which was the summer home of the Bavarian royalty (like Schonbrunn is the summer home of the Habsburgs in Austria). It was not as impressive as Schonbrunn, but I still enjoyed visiting the palace and gardens. (I think I am beginning to be spoiled by all of the beautiful palaces and museums in Vienna!) I was able to see the palace as well as a small palace that was built for one of the queens to use as her ‘hunting lodge.’ It was very intriguing because it was basically a miniature version of a palace. One of the more interesting exhibits was the Masrtallmuseum (Royal Carriage Museum). There were so many beautiful carriages, and I could not believe how ornate some of them were. One of my favorite pieces in the museum was a miniature carousel for the royal children.

Duetsches Museum

On Monday, 17.10.2005, I got up early and went to the Duetsches Museum. This museum is basically the European equivalent of the Smithsonian, and it was truly amazing! I spent over two hours going through exhibits on many different topics – mining, electricity, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, printing, textiles, music, aeronautics, cars, trains, bicycles and carriages, marine transportation, tunnel construction, bridge building, glassblowing, ceramics, and paper, just to name a few. All of this, and I didn’t even see all of the different sections of the museum! Most of the museum exhibits were described in German and English so being able to understand the descriptions exponentially increased my enjoyment of the museum. In addition, the outside of the museum had a barometer, an astronomical clock, and a sundial on the buildings.

After the Duetsches Museum, I wandered around the western part of Munich before heading back to the Old City one last time. While I had been wandering through the city the past few days, I kept seeing metal statues of lions that were decorated with different artistic motifs, usually reflecting the type of store that they were placed in front of. I asked the desk clerk at my hostel what they were for, and she said they had been created by the city of Munich. Different individuals or businesses can pay to have artists decorate them with a theme. The money is given to charity, so it serves a dual purpose of philanthropy and advertising for the business. The two shown below were both for the clothing store Hertie.

It was time to head back to Vienna on Monday afternoon, and that is when I had my second encounter with some wonderful people. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my train when I heard the couple next to me talking. It was surprising to hear them speaking English…and even more surprising to hear them speaking English with a southern accent! I asked them where they were from, and the woman said “Alabama.” I told them that I was from North Carolina, and we struck up a conversation. We talked during the whole trip back to Vienna. Fred and Reneea are from Alabama, but they are living in Switzerland for three months to start a NGO (non-government organization) to help orphans. When I met them, they were heading to Romania to deliver blankets to children in an orphanage in Oradea. We had a wonderful trip back to Vienna, and once we arrived, I helped them find a place to store their luggage and a hotel near the train station, since they were leaving very early the next morning for Romania. They have reached Oradea, Romania by now, and I hope they have a successful journey.

And so, my trip to Munich came to an end. My parents arrived today (18.10.2005) in Vienna, so I will be showing them around the city and traveling with them for the next couple of weeks. Next up on the itinerary…Prague, Czech Republic!

If you would like to see pictures from my Munich trip click on “Andria’s Travel Photos” (on the right) and click on the folder labeled ‘Munich.’ I will try to have them posted in the next couple of days.



Blogger funkyjohnhuie said...

Hello, how's it going?
I read in your blog that you saw the group "tal consort!"

I think that my wife and I saw the same group in Munich back in 2004 and I'd love to get a cd of theirs for our anniversary!

Do you have any contact info? Any kind of website, email, snail mail, or even phone number? I thought maybe it'd be on their cd cover.

Anyways, if you can help me in any way, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Please respond in my blog? or email?

Thank you very much!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 3:22:00 AM  

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