Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Sunny Day in Munich

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A beautiful day like today seems to have brought the Germans out to the park in droves. The English Garden is such a boon for the city. It is full of joggers and cyclists, walkers, and today it even had surfers! It was incredible. There was a place in the river (not the larger Isar, but a smaller tributary), where the water came down a small drop. It caused a lot of surf, and the boys were lined up with their surfboards, taking turns trying to go back and forth across the river as many times as they could without falling over. Some could go 20 times or more before falling. Others barely made it a few times. It was amazing to watch, especially because there were many signs posted that said “Absolutely no Swimming! Danger of death!” I guess “Verboten” in this case is more of a suggestion! There were also groups of high school kids down stream diving and swimming in the river. It looked very fun. We wanted to introduce them to tubing. It could be a giant hit here in Munich!

We wondered if anyone in Munich has to work. Everyone seemed to be on vacation. On the other hand, it didn’t make the tourists sites too busy to see. We had no problem wherever we went. We saw 5 churches—St. Peter’s, St. Michael’s, St. Kajetan’s, the Frauenkirche and the Church of the Holy Ghost. They were all very nice. Some are Lutheran and some are Catholic. It’s hard to tell the difference. It seems that the Catholic ones have votive candles, but the Lutheran ones do not. My favorite thing is hearing the organ playing in them. We heard the organ in one, but it was no master organist like we heard in Limburg! We also heard lots of street buskers, several violinists, an Inca group from Ecaudor, a classical quartet (they had rolled their grand piano into the pedestrian mall), and at the end of the day we enjoyed a um-pah brass band in the beer garden at the Chinese Tower. They played Jambalaya!

All the churches are open to the public. We did pay to climb St. Peter’s tower, which was a nice climb and worth a few Euros each. We wanted to climb up so we could get a picture of the New Rathaus, but it was so big that even at the top of the church tower we still couldn’t get it all in. The fun was accentuated by the fact that it was a one way climb and we had to squish ourselves into corners of the landings to let people pass (both on the way up and the way down). If two fat people tried to climb it they could have permanently wedged themselves in when they tried to pass! It was very narrow. Fortunately, it was cool in the tower, and we enjoyed a lovely breeze at the top.

We were at the foot of the Rathaus just in time to hear the Carillon bells at 11. They have a clock that has some figures go around like a cuckoo clock. There are two jousting figures that fight, and the Bavarian prince wins. Then, some coopers dance on the second level. It was very festive, and we were in the Marienplatz with thousands of our best friends to witness it.

We walked a lot today. We started at 9 and got home at 5 p.m. We started and ended with walking through the park. It didn’t seem so bad till the last half hour. Then it seemed bad. I made the family stop for an ice cream break about 15 minutes short of the hotel. That pepped me up a little.

The Wittelsbach residence was our main tourist attraction today. It was where the Kings of Bavaria lived till they were kicked out in 1918. They ruled Bavaria for 750 years, and in the process they collected a lot of stuff! The palace was HUGE! It went on forever. It was just as nice as Versailles, but without the gardens (and without the crowds). They had some beautiful, ornate rooms, with beautiful tapestry and stucco and gold trim on the walls. It was interesting that the king collected reliquaries. A person had to have permission from the Pope to collect them. That means you collected slivers of the cross of Jesus and bones of saints. Then you paid someone a lot to build gold and silver jeweled settings in which to display them. The black market must have done pretty well in those days dealing in what might rightly be termed “misrepresented” pieces of saints and the possessions. But, the craftsmanship that went into the display cases was something to behold!

We had audio tours, which came with our entrance to the palace. We soon realized if we listened to every word on the audio tour we’d be there for days. We learned how to pace ourselves a little better, and only occasionally listened to the tour. You could input numbers in different rooms and it would explain the room. There must have been 200 rooms. With about 10 minutes per room, you can see we had a problem!

We ate lunch downtown. Our waitress was very sweet and had a Bavarian outfit on. She spoke mostly German. Ed and I both ordered Tortellini. She came back and told us there was only one order left, so I switched to baked Camenbert, which was like a cheese Frenchie without the bread. It was interesting, but I might not try that again soon. It came with some great rye bread with sunflower seeds in it. It reminded me of Danish bread.

My eye is getting slightly better each day. I’m grateful for that. I still see spots, but they’re getting smaller and smaller. The big worm in my eye has moved entirely out of the front of the eye, and is much smaller. Isn’t that great? I feel very confident that I won’t be making another visit to the eye doctor here.

We went for a dip in the Hilton pool when we got home. That was refreshing. We had a sauna and the girls even tried the lemon, wet sauna. They smell fresh and their skin is soft! We’re going to bed early tonight, as we need to be up early to get to Neuschwanstein by 10 a.m. for our castle tour. Then, we drive to Zurich after that.

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