So, we arrived in Munich from Innsbruck and got here relatively early, around 12:30. After depositing our baggage at Amba Hotel near the train station, we started touring around Munich.
Barry visited Munich last year so I relied on him totally to navigate the subway system. I’ve been on the Metro in Rome, Vienna, Prague and Moscow. Moscow was difficult with that Cyrillic alphabet. But Munich would have been a disaster for me because I found none of the names were decipherable.
It amazes me how one word here can have sixteen letters. By the time a word has been spoken, you could have run around the block. And, at the risk of insulting my friends of German descent, I have to say that the German language does sound somewhat harsh. I listen to people on the Metro and it sounds like they’re all trying to hock loogies. Also, a couple of times I’ve heard someone yell out “Schnell!” or “Achtung!” which caused me to involuntarily raise my arms in surrender.
As I mentioned above, it is difficult to decipher some German words. For languages with a Latin base, many words can be figured out. For instance, assolutamente in Italian means “absolutely”. But in German, with its sixteen plus letter words I would come across something like blatzenhaufmuszeitpleingaffegungfiegelhorgfen which, to the best of my knowledge, means “I want to dry clean your feral cat in cranberry juice after I play football on the autobahn in your grandmother’s bloomers”.
Following Barry, we visited the Marienplatz in the center of Munich. This is a shopping area void of cars (as are many central city areas in Europe. High-end stores lined the streets leading to the square. The main attraction is the Rathaus Glockenspiel that boasts the world’s first Glockenspiel. In the immediate area were a number of churches and their spires were visible all over. It provided a Gothic experience from the architecture of these buildings. We then walked around and just got our bearings for the serious sightseeing.
This morning we were a mess from a lousy night’s sleep. We asked for another room and, while Management was accommodating us, I decided to take our laundry to a local cleaners. This is the same infamous laundry that we had attempted to clean in Innsbruck to no avail.
In Munich I had much more luck in finding a laundromat. I had to walk probably a quarter mile, but I found the facility and started the washing process. I am glad to report that there were no problems or funky scenes in accomplishing this goal. Once again we could present ourselves in polite society without the ripe smell of dirty socks and sweaty t-shirts. I will admit, though, that I felt like a weird type of Santa Claus walking down the street with a large sack over my shoulder—full of underwear and socks.
Anyway, after the laundry we had more of an agenda. We visited the BMW Museum and the Olympic Center, site of the 1972 World Olympics. This is the Olympics where Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in swimming. It is also the Olympics that is infamous for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. The story horrified a world audience.
As we approached the site, I was initially unimpressed. The architecture looked very dated. However, upon arriving, I marveled at not only the architecture, but the engineering for which the Germans are famous. By today’s standards it looks somewhat primitive. But for 1972 it was ingenious and seems to be the first time the Olympics attempted to express itself in memorable ways besides athletic ability.
The BMW Museum nearby was very interesting. The cheapest Beemer was around $75,000 and this was for a car that wasn’t fully loaded. The most expensive, full-loaded Beemer was $140,000. Rolls Royces were also featured since BMW owns Rolls Royce. Near the museum was the headquarters for BMW in an ultra modern high rise. And yes, BMWs appear to be the only car on the road here, aside from a few VWs. I think it’s a law.
We also visited the site of the Oktoberfest which covers hundreds of acres. Obviously, there was no activity other than some paving occurring. Barry tells me that, during Oktoberfest, the place is abuzz with hundreds of thousands of people in tents drinking beer. The festivities kick off with the mayor of Munich opening the show by drinking a beer at the base of a large statue of a woman.
After that, we went for lunch and had a couple of hamburgers (hey, at some point ya gotta have American food). We returned to our hotel room to get caught up on the sleep we missed the night before. When we woke up, we made our way to Hofbrauhaus.
Hofbrauhaus is a large beer joint. Three stories high, it is where Adolf Hitler announced the formation of the Third Reich. Today it just has enormous beer steins and enormous pretzels.
Barry and I each ordered a beer and I ordered two incredibly huge pretzels. While chatting we started toasting people at other tables. As it turned out, the table right next to us was full of eighteen-year-old men, recent high school grads from Bologna. When I found out they were from Italy, I naturally had to engage them in conversation. They were wonderful young men, very respectful and intelligent and quite animated as they shared their affinity for America and their desire to visit Southern California.
We spent two hours at Hofbrauhaus before retiring to our hotel room. Tomorrow we plan on visiting the concentration camp in Dachau, the Jewish Quarter and the Rhine River. I must say that I am coming back to Munich.
I should mention that I have been terribly impressed with the pastries of Germany. Since I am such a dessert snob, I judge a nation and its people by its ability to create orgasmic desserts. Germany has not disappointed and I must say that I’m quite surprised. Other than France, I’ve always assumed it was only nations from the warmer climes that made such magnificent pastries. While I’m here in Munich I’m having a terrible time in my attempts to keep myself from eating nothing but desserts for each meal as well as in-between snacks. Yet another reason to bring me back to Munich.