Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wednesday in Munich

Wednesday April 8th was our day to explore Munich. We walked from Hotel Uhland to Sendlinger Tor. On our way we passed an 18th century Rococco church, Asamkirche. Fantastically gaudy and facinating. It isn't a free-standing building; rather a "store-front" church.

When we got to Marienplatz the first thing we did was go up in the tower of the Neues Rathaus for a nice view of Munich. Then we went back out to Marienplatz to watch the figures on the Glockenspiel dance, as they do 3 times a day. They tell the story of a wedding of a Bavarian duke in the 16th century, and also do a little dance to keep the plague away. After this, we went to the Viktualienmarkt to have a snack before going on our bike tour. Again the weather was upper 60s, bright sunshine. How lucky are we!

I had read about Lenny's Free Bike Tour in Rick Steves' Germany 2009 travel guide, and thought that the price was definitely right, as the other bike tour that leaves at the same time and sees the same sights costs 24 Euro per person! We had a good guide, Connor, from Ireland, and there were a total of 11 people on the tour. We went to the Hofbrauhaus, Odeonsplatz, saw some old and new government buildings, and some other places. We stopped at the Chinese Tower Beer Garden in the English Gardens for about an hour. Karl ate a fried pig's knuckle, Caroline ate french fries, Jana ate bratwurst and sauerkraut and I had Leberkaes, a kind of Bavarian meat loaf. It was ok, but not great. The English Gardens are famous for the nude sunbathers, and we did see some in the distance. There are a couple of them that frequent the spot and like to dance for the bike tours--I'm glad they weren't there on Wednesday!

On our way back to central Munich we stopped at the end of the English Gardens to watch the surfers. You can watch a YouTube video of it here. After World War 2, the American soldiers put some concrete barricadesAfter the bike tour we went into the Hofbrauhaus to see the inside, then decided to go to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet to see the Sophie Scholl memorial. Sophie Scholl was arrested and executed in 1943, along with her brother and others, for distributing literature speaking against the Nazi Regime. If you haven't seen the movie, "Sophie Scholl--the Final Days", I would highly recommend it. The memorial itself is very clever. It looks like the fliers that Sophie and the others distributed and they are embedded into the pavement outside the building where she was arrested. There is a photo of it on my Flickr page. Inside the building there is a bust of Sophie, and a plaque commemorating the "White Rose" resistance group that Sophie was a part of.

For dinner we met a friend of mine at Augustiner Braeustuben. Margot was an Austrian girl whose father was a professor in my hometown. My friend Mary and I befriended her and had lots of good times. Margot returned to Europe in the early '80s and once came to visit us in 1988. I hadn't seen her since then, and actually I had lost touch with her from about 1996 until about a year ago. I Googled her brother and found him living and working in Vienna, sent him an email, and shortly afterwards had a reply from Margot. So we have been in touch for about a year now, and it just happened that she moved to Munich in February, so we were able to arrange a dinner together. It was so fun to see her again, and we really had a nice time chatting. The food was traditional Bavarian fare. Karl had sauerbraten with red cabbage, Margot and I had Schwaebische Maultaschen (a meat ravioli with onion sauce) and sauerkraut, and Jana and Caroline had turkey breast with rice and tomato sauce. We are eating very well on this trip. I'm hoping all the walking is counteracting the food intake!

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