August 25 - Sunday
By the way, I believe I mentioned that we do not like duvets. They get too hot and heavy for us. So the first two nights in Salzburg, I removed the duvet from its cover and just used the cover as a sheet. For two days the maid put the duvet back into the cover and I took it out in the evening. Finally, the last night she figured it out and left me an extra cover, but still put the duvet back into another cover. It worked for me!
When the alarm went off at 6:00 am, we got up, dressed, and packed our last minute items. Downstairs Dick went to the garage to get the car (it was just behind the hotel) and I stayed with the bags. When he brought the car around he loaded it while I went back to the desk to get our 10 euro garage card deposit back. We loaded up and took off.
It was pouring down rain, but Agnes found the satellite and took us out of town with ease and eventually to the freeway. Along the way we stopped at a little convenience store/gas station kind of place for breakfast. There weren't many choices, but I found a hard boiled egg, sweet roll and ice tea. Dick had a sweet roll, banana and coffee. It wasn't really the breakfast of champions, but it did the trick. As we got closer to Munich we stopped again to fill up the gas tank before turning the car in. It continued a driving rain, but we managed to get to the Munich car rental place by 10:00 am - a whole hour ahead of time. Thankfully, the predicted problems due to the rain or traffic slowdowns did not happen, so we were happy.
After taking a taxi to the hotel we found our room was ready and we were able to check in. We are staying at the Hotel Kraft which seems to be quite nice. The room is large and is furnished with a big armoire, desk and chair, a table with two more chairs, television, and a big bed. Also, the duvets don't look as heavy! The hotel is older, but has an old world charm to it and the staff seems very nice and helpful. Dick took a nap while I sent emails to the girls and then he took a walk around the neighborhood while I napped a bit. About 1:00 we decided to go out for lunch. It was still raining, but not as hard and our umbrellas and rain jackets kept us dry. We found a restaurant a couple blocks away, Café Mozart. The restaurant was busy with a lot of locals who were clearly out for Sunday lunch. On their menu they had the soup that Elaine had liked so much so we decided to try it. I don't know what it is called now, but did recognize the name on the menu then. It was kind of a beef broth with cut up pieces of fried crepes. It was ok, but I certainly wouldn't call it a favorite. Dick ordered a cheeseburger and fries (which were pretty good) and I had an avocado stuffed with goat cheese and surrounded by greens with a light dressing. That was very good. Dick had a beer and I had a coke and we shared a fruit tart with whipped cream. That looked better then it was and we really didn't need it.
It continued to rain throughout the afternoon so we stayed in. After our busy day yesterday and our early morning, it really was rather nice to have an easy rain day. We read the guidebooks and planned our time in Munich. There were also our Kindles and more dozing to keep us occupied. About 8:00 Dick said we needed to go eat. I wasn't really hungry, but off we went. We found a little vegetarian restaurant down the street, Max Pett, which was pretty good. There weren't a lot of people there and the staff was very friendly. They seemed to have a bakery at the front of the restaurant also. I had a potato/mushroom soup with bread and Dick had some kind of kabob (no meat, so I don't know what it was) with pita bread and salad. We were back in our room by 9:30 and hoping the sun would shine tomorrow.
August 26 - Monday
After showering we gathered up some dirty clothes, dropped them off at the front desk, and went to breakfast. They had a lovely little room and a nice assortment of breakfast foods. The nearest subway stop for us was two long blocks away, and we had figured out how to get to the main square, Marienplatz. It's a large square surrounded by big buildings. Many of the buildings were badly damaged by bombs during WWII, but have been rebuilt.
The New Town Hall, built from 1896-1908, is the largest building on the square. It survived the bombs and, therefore, served as the US military headquarters in 1945.
The glockenspiel is located in the New Town Hall. The figures in it entertain the crowd at 11:00 and 12:00.
There are 32 life-size figures that re-create a royal wedding from the 16th century. You can see the duke and his bride watching jousting, dancing, and clowns performing. And everyone in the square is watching too.
When the show was over we went exploring through the big arches in the New Town Hall and found a plaque commemorating the killing of Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games held in Munich. There was also a plaque with the emblems of the sister cities to Munich; Cincinnati, Ohio, being one. Continuing through the arches we found a large courtyard that appears to be associated with a restaurant. I discovered when I got home that there is an elevator in the New Town Hall that will offer views of the square and city. I missed that, maybe next time.
From here we walked to the Residenz, the home of the Wittelsbach family who ruled Bavaria for nearly 700 years. The many rulers expanded and changed the Palace to suit their needs and display their art collections and treasurers. They designed the front of the building to resemble the Medici family's Pitti Palace in Florence. I thought it looked familiar, but wasn't immediately sure why. When I got home I checked my pictures of the Pitti Palace and there is a remarkable similarity.
The first room was the Shell Grotto. It was originally built in the 1550s and is actually outside. It is made from Bavarian freshwater shells. It was demolished during the war, but rebuilt from pre-war pictures taken by the Nazis with thousands of shells donated by small-town Bavarians. Originally, red wine spurted from the mermaid's breasts.
The Antiquarium originally served as a large banquet room and still does. It can seat over 200 people surrounded by the busts of ancient Romans and lovely paintings.
This is the private chapel of Duke Maximilian I. It has gold leaf and stucco marble decorating it. Stucco marble was a special mix of stucco that could be applied and polished. Designers liked it both because it was cheaper then real marble, but also they could control the color. It has intricate designs on both the walls and the floor.
This is the big chapel looking down from the second floor. It was the site of "Mad" King Ludwig's funeral. It was also the site of the wedding of his grandfather (Ludwig I) in 1810. After the wedding ceremony guests went on to a big reception that was so much fun they turned it into an annual tradition - Oktoberfest!
This is the Ancestral Gallery.
This is the Green Gallery with more family pictures. I read somewhere that the family didn't really use these hallways, but they decorated them lavishly in order to imprese their guests who were always directed through them.
This is the Imperial Hall. Here there are tapestries on the walls and paintings on the ceilings.
Following our tour of the Residenz we went into the Treasury next door. Here were hundreds of years' worth of the Wittelsbach family jewels, carved ivory, and cut glass. It was lovely, but I didn't take many pictures.
It was time for lunch and we headed to the famous Hofbrauhaus. It was not very crowded inside and the band was not playing for the lunch patrons, so we must be too late. We'll have to come back in the evening to get the flavor of the beer hall. It was starting to sprinkle so we chose a seat outside on the balcony with an awning overlooking the diners who were under the chestnut trees.
After being bombed in WWII, this establishment was quickly rebuilt and back in business within a few years. I guess that tells us the importance that Munich places on its beer halls and especially this world famous Hofbrauhaus.
I'm not really a fan of beer, but my son-in-law, Tim, told me to try a Radler. A Radler is a mixture of half beer and half lemon-lime soda. Ok, for you beer lovers, you are probably cringing, but I found it great. Even Dick liked it.
At first look the menu was very confusing. It wasn't English and it wasn't German. It appeared to be possibly Greek. We asked the waiter and found out it was Russian. He quickly brought an English menu. Apparently, they have menus in all different languages to accommodate diners from all over the world.
For lunch we chose a typical German meal. This was a sausage (many restaurants make their own, and Hofbrauhaus is no exception) served with mustard, potato salad (cold, but no mayo), and a big pretzel. Along with the Radler it was all very good.
After lunch we left through the courtyard and many people were enjoying their lunch. Thankfully, it had stopped sprinkling.
We walked along the streets in the area for awhile and then Dick said he wanted to visit the Alois Dallmayr Delicatessen. First established before 1700, Alois Dallmayr became the owner in 1870. Around 1900 the store's customers included 15 royal and noble households in Europe. If it was good enough for the kings and dukes, of course, other wealthy people wanted to try their foods too, and a reputation was created.
We decided to first go upstairs to the Café Bistro where Dick had a cappuccino, I had some hot tea and we shared a pastry. In addition to the usual cup and pitcher of hot water, my tea also came with a strainer with tea in it and a timer. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the strainer, because all the paraphernalia took up a lot of space on the table and was rather unusual looking. After "tea time," we went downstairs where the store is. It was quite large and they offered for sale candies, baked goods, a large array of salads, fresh vegetables and fruits, fresh meat and chicken, all kinds of fresh seafood including an oyster bar, various teas and coffees, and wine and spirits. The place was packed and people were buying all different things. It reminded me of the food department at Harrods in London. They also offer for sale over 12,000 products online.
We walked some more around the park area and bought some handmade necklaces from a lady at a table set up along the street. They aren't valuable, but they were pretty.
We eventually worked our way to the subway and took it to our stop. This is the fountain that is near our subway stop.
Back at the hotel we had some R&R time until we went out for dinner about 7:30. We walked to a neighborhood Italian Restaurant. I had linguini in pesto sauce and Dick had penne pasta with a white sauce. We shared a salad. Dick had red wine and I tried another Radler. This one wasn't as good as the one at Hofbrauhaus. No dessert tonight and we were back at the hotel around 9:00.
August 27 - Tuesday
Today our plans are to go to Dachau. We had called the tour company, Radius Tours, from the hotel yesterday and made a reservation for the 12:15 pm tour. Their tours begin at their office that is located in the train station. So after breakfast in the hotel we took the subway to the train station. We were at least two hours early for the tour to begin so we first went to the information desk. Our original vacation plan included taking the train to Rothenburg on August 29, staying for two nights and then taking the train to Frankfort for our flight out. At the information desk we found the young man not very helpful or friendly. It occurred to me that if that was his attitude to tourists, he was certainly in the wrong job. Nevertheless, when he discovered that I was not going to just shrug and go away, he did manage to print out some train schedules for us. I guess he figured out that was the quickest way to get rid of me and get back to chatting with his colleagues.
After securing the schedules, Dick said he wanted to find the tour office and get our tickets. I found a bench to hold down while he went in search of the office. When he returned we walked around some more in the train station. It is a huge station. We weren't really ready for lunch, but we knew that there wouldn't be any opportunity for food on the tour so we bought a baguette sandwich at a kiosk to share and then went up to one of the fast food places where we got some drinks and settled in to have our lunch. We then walked to the tour office and just stood around waiting for it to begin. It turned out that there were 14 people on the tour and we talked to people from the US, New Zealand, and Australia. We took the train to the town of Dachau and then boarded a local bus out to the camp.
Our guide was very good and took great care to pass on a lot of information we had not been aware of. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp and was established in 1933 to house political prisoners and opponents of the Nazi regime. It was never designed as an extermination camp like Auschwitz; but, of course, people died here of starvation, disease, medical experiments, and being worked to death. Between the years 1933 and 1945, 32,000 people died here; as opposed to more then a million people who died in Auschwitz. Dachau served as both a work camp for prisoners and a training camp for the Nazi officers who went on to manage other concentration camps and death camps. It was also a departure point for people who were shipped out to other camps.
The tour began by entering through the same gates as the prisoners did and reading the same slogan, translated as "work makes you free."
The big square just beyond the gates was used for roll call. Twice a day the entire camp population was required to stand at attention here until all inmates were accounted for. On the left is the square as it is today and the photo on the right is a picture taken on May 3, 1945, after liberation.
The photo on the left shows prisoners standing for roll call. The photo on the right was taken in July 1938 and shows the prisoners working to build the camp buildings.
Our tour began in the room where the prisoners were first processed along with an original desk used for paper work. Next was the shower room where the prisoners' heads were shaved and they had to take showers to "disinfect" them. An odd sign remained painted on the wall instructing that "no smoking" was allowed. How could they smoke? They were naked and in a shower. In these rooms were also displayed pictures of victims prior to the war and their arrests, clearly showing people who had been living happy and normal lives.
Our tour continued through the two reconstructed barracks that showed the bunk rooms, washroom and toilet room. We also toured a building that was used for "special prisoners," such as Georg Elser who attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1939. Other inmates of this building included outspoken clergymen and politicians who challenged Nazism. I also took many pictures of all these rooms and buildings. We also viewed a powerful documentary movie.
Almost every category of victim passed through Dachau. There were German dissidents, those who were referred to as "anti-social" or those who did not "fit in," Roma "gypsy" people, outspoken clergymen, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, Jews, and Polish civilians. This chart shows the prisoner groups represented in Dachau in 1940.
Outside is a colorful sculpture to honor these people.
Nearby, another memorial honors all the victims of Dachau. The iron sculpture depicts the emaciated bodies and skeletal remains of prisoners.
As we walked through the grounds towards the crematorium area we passed by the many foundation blocks of former barracks showing how many there were and how close together they were. A guard tower is shown in the distance.
Along the perimeter is a very deep ditch with slippery concrete and rocks and an electrified fence at the top. Was it impossible to climb out of? Perhaps not, but don't forget those towers with armed guards on watch.
The first crematorium in Dachau was built in 1940. It worked until about 1943 when the new one was built. There were approximately 11,000 prisoners cremated here.
The new crematorium building was part of a system of rooms. Designed as a precursor and model for the much larger Auschwitz, it contained a room where the inmates were informed they were to take showers. The next room was where they were told to remove and leave their clothes. Following through was the gas chamber with false shower heads. Outside we were shown where the pellets of poison were deposited.
The next room was the actual crematorium room, after which we entered a room where bodies were stacked to be cremated.
Supposedly this building was never used for mass murders such as at the larger extermination camps. However, many historians believe that it was used for experimenting with the system of gas chambers.
The ovens themselves were used to dispose of the bodies prisoners who died here.
It is hard to comprehend the horrors of this camp and others like it. I understand, though, that German school children are required to visit one of the concentration camps. The large camp-administration building has been turned into a museum; however, our tour did not allow time to explore this. On the grounds are also places of meditation and worship - Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Russian Orthodox. There is also a Carmelite convent.
Following this very moving and thought provoking tour we headed back to the bus. Unfortunately, our guide was in a hurry to catch a certain train and he hurried us along at a very quick pace. There was a couple who was lagging behind and didn't make the bus. I often wonder what happened to them. Did he make a phone call for another guide to catch up to them or did they find themselves lost and wondering where the group went? In any case, we made the bus and the train and got back to the train station where we promptly got lost trying to find the subway. It really is a very large station and we wandered a few hallways until we finally found a familiar store. We got back to the hotel about 5:30.
About 7:00 we decided to head out for dinner and took a taxi to the Marienplatz. I seem to have only one trip per day to the subway and back left in my hips, so we ended up taking taxis in the evenings. Tonight we didn't have any particular destination in mind, but we knew there were lots of restaurants in the Marienplatz area. As we wandered around we spied the Hard Rock Café right across the street from the Hofbrauhaus and decided to give it a try. It's been years since we were in a Hard Rock Café and the thought of American food sounded good. It was certainly noisy, but it was fine. We started out by sharing a bruschetta appetizer, (American?). Dick had ribs and fries and I had a sirloin steak with mushrooms and fries. He had red wine and I had my usual white wine and water.
After dinner we went across the street to check out the nightlife at the Hofbrauhaus. It was packed with lots of people dining and drinking. The band was playing oompah music. I got a video of them, but I don't seem to be able to put it into this report. Suffice it to say, the music livened up the atmosphere even more and was great fun.
Here it wasn't self serve like at the Augustiner Braustubl in Salzburg.
Once again the courtyard was full of patrons. It was very hot inside, so I can understand why people would want to sit outside enjoying the very pleasant evening air.
Leaving Hofbrauhaus we wandered around and looked in shop windows.
How about some beer steins?
These kids' clothes are adorable. I wish I had a little one to buy for.
How about some nutcrackers?
This little wooden train might be fun.
Oh well, all the stores were closed or I might have been tempted. Dick is happy. His comment is always "How are you going to get it home?" He somehow knows he is going to be carrying it!
Instead, we called it a night and were back at the hotel by 10:00.
Coming up: Museums, BMW cars and Olympic Park