We invited a couple from Indianapolis to join us for our final continental European trip. They invited two more couples (all of us good friends from our CrossFit Indy North gym), so in the end we were a rowdy group of 8 with a plan to have some fun and blow off some steam in Munich and Prague. Munich first!
|One of the few pics of the entire crew (Lauren, Kerry, Me, Chris, Ashley, Jeremy, Doug, and Victoria)|
We met everyone at Munich's airport on Saturday morning 22-June. Of course, as I had expected, no one slept a wink on their flight from Indianapolis, and we had a full day planned!
|Walking into the city center from the old west gate after dropping off luggage. We tried to check in early for a quick snooze before setting off, but no dice. We're in this for the long haul.|
I'll go out on a limb and say this was an eye-opener for the group. If you've read my past posts you know I can get a bit adventurous with the local cuisine, and the group was caught off guard with this one. Everyone survived, although we did have to make additional pit stops at more familiar establishments.
|I had the traditional Munich favorite, Leberkäse. Essentially the largest slice of bologna you'll ever eat.|
|Kerry had another traditional favorite, Weißwurst (white sausage). Inexplicably it came floating in a bowl of warm water...|
|Doug fit in easily with that beard. He just gave a knowing nod to the waiter and got a 1/2 liter of dunkel and this dish.|
|On the other hand, Jeremy was approached by a hen-do selling some interesting male underwear - one was elephant shaped...|
|Doug showing how he prepares his meals at home with this bronze statue of a boar|
|Going noodling with this bronze statue of a catfish - am I doing it right?|
|The new town hall in the marienplatz - looks old and gothic, but relatively new, built in the early 1900's.|
|The landmark Frauenkirche - Cathedral of our Dear Lady, the seat of the Archbishop, and what not.|
I will say that while I was excited to ride bikes in Munich, my excitement doubled when we met our tour guide. I was trying to place his accent (not very German-sounding), and then he said we'd wrap up around "Seven Chirty" (7:30). I had nearly placed his heritage when he announced he's an Irishman hailing from a suburb of Dublin! I always say that adding an Irishman to your trip makes it better!
|Ashley had her eye on the purple single speed|
|Kerry got a comfortable 10 speed|
|Jeremy and I in a hurry to get things going!|
We started off around the very large Residenz palace, where we learned about Ludwig I of Bavaria, his architect Leo von Klenze, and the fascinating history of how many times this palace had been rebuilt. The most recent restoration was after World War II, when it was significantly bombed by Allied forces. They've done some very detailed, expensive restoration to the main facades - some of which have just recently been completed - but some of the walls are just painted to look like 3-D stone blocks. Our guide pulled no punches when he said the famous museum inside which holds the best collection of European interior decoration is the most boring museum you'd ever make the mistake to visit!
We stuck to the exteriors.
|Our guide had Kerry and I (and another volunteer) pose as the Feldherrnhalle statue|
|Here's the actual statue, honoring the Bavarian army|
Under Nazi occupation, the area by this statue was occupied day and night by the SS honor guard, every time a citizen walked passed, it was compulsory to give the Nazi salute, as a sign of support. Failing to due so was a good enough reason for imprisonment. As Bavaria was not a huge supporter of the Nazi rule, they would often walk behind the honor guard to avoid having to give a salute. The alley behind the statue became known as "Shirker's Alley" by the soldiers. Today a memorial exists to those shirkers as a trail of bronze cobblestones in the street.
That's the story that stood out most to me from our bike tour, but all said, it was a great introduction to the city.
|Doug and Vic in the park|
|Bavaria's fascinating state chancellery building - the wings were bombed and rebuilt with glass, to symbolize government transparency|
|Zooming in on the columns reveals pock marks from bombing damage|
|Kerry cruising through the English Garden|
|The canal through the garden (a big park actually)|
|The Chinesischer Turm - location of the 2nd largest beer garden in Munich, 7000 seats.|
|Kerry got a traditional pork knuckle and a stein of wine|
|Liters of Beer! and Saurkraut!|
|Surfing is popular at the canal at this spot where you get a perpetual wave - crazy to watch!|
|Our Irish tourguide finds the high ground to herd us back together|
|Subtle at first, the door grillwork detail reveals swastikas|
|SS helmet reliefs above the windows (with anti-pigeon spikes)|
|Our tourguide making sure we all made it through the crossing OK|
|We were told that all the gold mosaics on numerous buildings face west to catch the setting sun. Jeremy really latched on to this detail.|
So I gotta hand it to our friends here, going nearly 36 hours without sleep and managing not to crash a bicycle. Rest was well earned.
The next day had a better weather forcast than Monday's, but neither were terribly promising. We took the train down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Alps for a hike. Partenkirchen was originally a Roman trade route to Venice, from the year 15. Then, in neighboring Garmisch, from 1589-1596 they executed over 10% of the population by burning at the stake or garroting (strangling). The accused were tried for witchcraft by causing poor crops and disease.
So logically, if she weighs the same as a duck, she must be made of wood, and therefore a witch.
Ahh, I love cherry-picking facts from Wikipedia articles!
Anyway, in these modern times, the area hosted the 1936 winter Olympics (the first year to feature alpine skiing) and more recently hosted the 2011 World Alpine Skiing Championship. There was no snow to be had obviously, luckily they have a wealth of trails along the ski slopes for walking and taking in the sights. The nice part about walking in a ski resort is that some of the lifts and cable cars still operate, so you can hike up, and pay to go down thereby avoiding the associated knee and toe pain. While this is the location of Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany, we tackled a more modest route in the foothills to the Kruezek mountain station.
|Just some nice views of south German countryside|
|We're a fit bunch off to a good start. But what are these low-hanging clouds?|
|Trying to stay on the path - which was nicely graveled, but there were quite a few forks that were not on my "map". By map I mean the photo of the generic trail map posted back at the train station that I took on my phone...|
|Here you can use it too, the glare adds an extra challenge|
|THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUUUUUUUSIIIIIIIIC!|
|The clouds are keeping their distance and we can enjoy some nice mountain views|
|The trail continued along a gorge|
We stopped at a mountain cabin for food. But no English was spoken and we were struggling. Luckily a cook came out and said "we have pancakes and fries". I said "we'll have 3 orders of each". Thanks for making it easy!
|By pancakes, the cook was talking about traditional Bavarian apple pancakes. They came out in a huge iron skillet. Halfway through our walk, those pancakes with applesauce and pineapples were damn tasty. Sorry for the terrible pic.|
|As we wrapped up our meal, the rain started. Some were more prepared than others. Luckily that cook was cool with sharing a few extra garbage bags.|
|We had a close encounter with a heard of cows (some with horns) crossing our path. We got some nervous stares but they left us alone.|
|The mist is getting really heavy, and we're all starting to get wet. I'm having some flashbacks of Lake District rain. We enter this ominous tunnel.|
|Our party is starting to get separated in the mist - you see Doug and Vic barely.|
We were abut 5 miles in and more-or-less miserable. Luckily we found the cable car which will get us back down to civilization. And we paid dearly for the luxury at 15 euro a person from Kruzeck. They charge that rate because the Alps views are so amazing.
|Reality...smiles all the way, better than being wet!|
|It got pretty humid in our little car as we cruised down the mountain|
|I forgot the camera, but got a phone pic of the Bavarian band at Hofbrau house.|
|Liter of dunkel all the way, then another liter, again, only faster.|
|Liters only at the Hofbrau house.|
|Leberkäse aka meat bread. Guess who this dish got passed to? In addition to his sausage variety plate.|
|The 2 Liter Club (not bad for Americans, but equivalent in volume to what 13 year old German girls drink on a school night)|
In terms of visiting notable Holocaust sites, Dachau complemented our visits to Auschwitz in Poland and Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam. Dachau was not an extermination death camp like Auschwitz, but it was essentially the first camp the Nazi's set up which paved the way for all other sites - both concentration and extermination.
Also Stefan complimented our tour guide Anna from Auschwitz very well. While Anna's tour focused on the horrible, detailed conditions and events which took place there, Stefan's tour was more historical, explaining events leading up to opening of Dachau and gave more of an overview of it's role throughout Nazi rule. While somber, the tour did not have the same emotionally devastating effect I felt after the Auschwitz tour, which was OK by me.
|Our crew with Stefan as we look at an aerial shot of the camp|
|Approaching the gate to the camp|
|The saying on this gate "work sets you free" is the original propaganda statement used at that was copied on the gate at Auschwitz.|
|Dedication to the US Army liberation troops. Recall that Auschwitz was liberated by Russians.|
|The roll-call yard, with mock-ups of the barracks. Most of the buildings at Dachau were destroyed. The opinion of the times was to destroy and forget. Not until the 60's did the next generation decide to memorialize and remember.|
|A walk through a detainment building (essentially a prison within the prison)|
|The concrete edges mark the original locations of the many barracks on the camp (which were destroyed)|
|While the gas chamber at Dachau was never used, they still burned the executed prisoners in these ovens.|
|Another memorial - showing twisted, emaciated bodies|
|The crew after a long tour, but I wasn't even thinking about the girl on the top step who was embarrassed to be in my photo. Sorry.|
So we got back to the city and split off for a bit to shop around and just get a break from each other, as all large groups should do from time to time. So Kerry and I went back to the market near the old town hall to see what kind of shops we ran into. The following photos were taken in sequence, meaning I did not skip any stalls between photos.
|Whew!!! Bavarians like their protein. I give this display an A+. This last photo gets into the good stuff: hearts, kidneys, livers, lungs, and brains in top center.|
|Not too shabby either. Good balance.|
We regrouped at the Hard Rock Cafe for some overpriced beverages and more familiar snacks (see the first photo at the top of the post). It's OK - it's not a big surprise that Bavarian food is a bit of a shock for Americans, as evidenced by the latest montage of photos.
That night we had an enjoyable meal at a Greek restaurant. It was easily voted best meal of the trip to-date. Vic ordered hummus (or houmous, as they spell it in the UK). So when she said "Do you have hummus?" the waiter said "Pommes? Of course we have pommes!". Vic said, "Yay! We'll have the hummus!". Of course, he brought out fries (or chips, as they say in the UK). We all had a good laugh, and feeling sorry, the waiter brought out some extra tzatziki sauce for dipping. Yes, hummus is Middle-Eastern, not Greek!
|A sweet release from Bavarian cuisine|
|Both Google translate and Google search fail me here.|
|Ashley and Jeremy at Augustiner|
|Again, words fail me for this picture above our table|
|Doug and I are probably 3 liters deep. Doug did make some nice local friends who were cubbies fans:|
|"I love Chicago, man! Go cubs!" (apologies for the classic shutter-stick I'm so well-known for)|
|Lauren and Chris enjoying the streets of Munich at night|
|Our air-conditioner - Jeremy had trouble operating his...|
|Munich's taxi's are all Mercedes.|
The next day we ate breakfast at the train station (oh, sorry I meant to say we ate breakfast at the train station every morning!). I had a salmon sandwich and a coffee (I was getting tired of bratwurst or bbq chicken). Then we hopped on a train to Prague. And our adventures continued...
|Watching Django Unchained on an iPad in the "Boys cabin"|