02 July 2007

Day 5, Part 2: Munich

Ah, finally in Munich (München)…unfortunately under rainy conditions, so I'll wait until a sunnier day to show photos of Marienplatz, the center of historic Munich. Because of the rains, we decided to visit the museums of Munich today. I went to Deutsches Museum, one of the largest science and industry museums in the world. If it's been invented, it's probably somewhere in the six stories of this building. After only two hours inside (it was near closing time), my brain felt like it was approaching information overload. I went through the extensive mining exhibit, a massive crawl through artificial caverns not unlike the line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. There was also an interesting electrical power display, a la Nicola Tesla, although it didn't get as explosive and powerful as I thought it would. Here's a photo of me in front of that exhibit.

My mother, sister, and her mother-in-law Patty went to the teddy bear museum (that didn't exactly grab my interest), and we met up with them in Marienplatz in front of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), which unfortunately is currently covered in scaffolding and a drop cloth for cleaning. Rather spoils the effect of the plaza. Perpendicular to the Neues Rathaus is the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), which looks newer than the Neues Rathaus. Answer to this riddle: the Altes Rathaus suffered extensive bombing damage in World War II and had to be extensively restored, so it looks shiny new compared to the "New" Town Hall.

The next stop was Hofbräuhaus, the most famous of the beer halls in Munich, built in the sixteenth century and famous for its own beer brew. The Bavarian government has always operated it. Hitler once held meetings there in the upper halls, but nobody mentions that any more (at least, not the locals). It's now a touristy beer hall with Bavarian musicians who break into famous drinking songs that half the crowd can follow along with. Fortunately, Dad had a tour book with some of the songs in them, so we we're able to join in on one of the pieces. I had the sauerkraut and grilled bratwurst and a beer mixed with a lemon soda that's popular for it's refreshing quality, called a Radler. But it was still far too much liquid for one sitting. You have to get used to the Bavarian way of holding the stein, which involes slipping the hand under the handle to hold onto the sides of the stein and hooking the thumb over the top of the handle. Here's the whole family at Hofbräuhaus:

This is the point when I really started to notice the lack of the German flag, and the dominance of the blue-and-white diamond-checkered Bavarian flag. Bavarian (Bayern in German) is proud of its history as an indepedent and semi-independent state, and the long-lived Wittelsbach Dynasty that ruled it for centuries. The most famous of the Bavarian kings was King Ludwig II (1845–1886). You will hear a lot more about him. Most of Munich's great architecture was done under the reign of Ludwig I, from 1825 until 1848.

After that filling meal at Hofbräuhaus, we returned to Colleen and Armin's house. The rain had finally stopped, and we got a few better views of Munich's sights. Tomorrow we're making the long journey to the most popular tourist attraction in all of Germany, Neuschwanstein, a.k.a. Mad Ludwig's Castle. The fairy tale castle. You'll know it when you see it.

I am till having allergy problems, and the flies are damn annoying.