09 July 2007

Day 12: Munich

It has rained most of today, but fortunately it was not as cold and windy as some of our worst rainy days here have been. Mom and I went into Munich on our own while the rest of the family went to do more Ikea shopping for Colleen and Armin's apartment. I must say with pride that Mom and I did a fine job navigating the city streets and the S-Bahn trains. I've only been here for a few days, but already I am getting a grasp of the city's layout.

Because it was raining, it was the ideal day to do the Residenz Museum tour. I had already wandered around the Residenz courtyards two days earlier, but this was the first time I went inside the Wittelsbach's home in their capital city. It's an enormous complex that has housed the family since the sixeenth century. The museum consists of two parts: first, a museum that takes you through the intact rooms of the palace; second, an art tour of the many treasures in the family's coffers. The Wittelsbachs collected many riches (the paintings are all housed in the Pinakothek Museum). I went first through the tour of the palace rooms. Some of the chambers were reconstructed after the war, since the building suffered heavy damage in bombings. The best preserved room is the enormous Antiquarium, a titanic hall with an arched ceiling. We visited the audience and bedroom chambers of the Elector and Electoress (the Bavarian ruler was rewarded for its service to the Empire in the Thirty Years' War with the title of "Elector," meaning the Duke had a vote in who became the next Emperor) and the portrait gallery, which has portraits of the many dukes, kings, counts, and electors of the dynasty, stretching from Charlemagne (whom they credit as an ancestor despite having any real evidence for it) all the way to King Ludwig III, the king during World War I. After this tour, we moved into the treasury, which contains one priceless work of art after another. Most astonishing is a statue of St. George, patron saint of the Wittelsbachs, slaying the dragon beneath the hooves of his horse. The statue is convered in every type of valuable gem imaginable. We also saw the crown of the kings of Bavaria, starting with Maximilian I, but which was never actually worn and sat on a pillow beside the king during audiences and ceremonial events.

After leaving the museum, Mom and I worked our way up Residenzstrasse, past Theatienkirche (I had Mom go in so she could see the inside), toward an English language bookstore so we could purchase a book about Salzburg, where we're traveling tomorrow. I hoped to also find a book on The Thirty Years' War, but no such luck: it seems that all English books written on German history are about Hitler. Very frustrating.

Mom and I jetted on the S-Bahn to Karlsplatz and back into the Karstadt department store so Mom could purchase some better rainy weather shoes. We also ate in their nice buffet on the fifth floor. More Bavarian sausage, I'm afraid, but hey—I had Italian yesterday. We then S-Bahned back to Starnberg. Tonight is home-cooking night and preparation for Salzburg, but I just may get out to Cord Club for their swing night. We'll see.

Because of the trip to Salzburg, I might not get to post tomorrow, so there will be a double posting the day after that.

Sorry that there are no photos today; I might upload a few to this entry later, but I don't have access to my camera at the moment.