Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In München, the Angel finally has a name!

Slept nice and long on wonderful cotton sheets in an air-conditioned room. Usually I love having an open window but as the flies in Germany are plentiful in summer (and the occasional mossie as well) we kept the window closed. The added bonus is that the air-conditioned room retains a constant temperature - no getting real hot or cold during the night or early morning, so I slept like a babe. Breakfast here at Motel One is served until 10am on a weekday and it is not until 9 am that we get there hoping that the buffet selection would have survived the early hordes. But the staff are keeping it well stocked and it is lovely and fresh.

The standard buffet breakfast in Germany consists of cereals, fresh fruit salad or slices, rolls and criossants, sliced meats and cheeses, sometimes (like today) tomato and cucumber slices, crackers, jams, apple and orange juices and coffee and tea. So if you eat well at breakfast, you can make it to dinner with only a coffee or cold drink during the day!

Once we have breakfast out of the way, we are back in the room checking out the opening times and transport options for the
Deutsches Museum here in München. Skype is open in the background and in order, we speak with Antony, Gen and my brother Michael in South Africa. He has begun a blog - sobering but a must know for us all. I would encourage anyone (and everyone) to follow it at http://parmen.wordpress.com/. By the time we get the info we need (and chat to Bella who has woken up from sleeping) the morning has gotten away and we eventually leave for München by car right on midday.

We are only about 15 minutes out of the city, and yet we overlook a very healthy crop of corn in a town that is very rural still if it were not for the large industrial estate that is growing on the edge of Putzbrunn. This late in the day, the traffic in to the Zentrum is relatively quiet. I have programmed Kate to get us to the museum and before I know it, we have driven in to the central quadrangle! OK if you live on the street on the other side, not otherwise! So, I look like the helpless Brit that the car implies and with as much grace as possible do a U-ie and dodging the pedestrians, turn back on to the street. There are plenty of car parking spaces on the side street, but they are with a one hour limit. However, there is a car parking garage and we find an easy spot on the first level. And at only €9 for up to 8 hours, we consider it money well spent.

We are two blocks from the museum, across the Isar River. The museum, the largest in Germany is an impressive site from the moment we turn the corner a block away. It is sited in a number of buildings around a central quadrangle that range from the classic to the modern. There are a number of items that immediately take your interest as soon as you enter the facility. There is the Astronomical Clock, a sundial built in to the ground (where Michael tries to tell the time) to huge pieces of mechanical machines. We sit in the shade and have a coffee before we head into the main entrance. We enter into an ordered but very noisy marble space. Our entry tickets cost €8.50 each and we pass through the entry gate before we discover that we need separate tickets (at €2 each) for the Planetarium. So Michael ducks back out to buy them - I get the feeling that this is a regular occurence, as the ticket collector just nods as he starts to explain, and waves him through.

And so where do we start. We already know that there is no way we will see it all. In fact, you would need a month of Sundays to make any sort of dent in seeing all there is on offer. There is an amazing array of topic areas - petroleum and natural gas, metals, welding and soldering, materials testing, machine tools, power machinery, electrical power, marine navigation, new technologies, research, robotics, model railway, tunnel construction, aeronautics, bridge building, hydraulic engineering, fourcault pendulum, mining, environment, nano- and bio-technology, the history of the museum, energy technologies, physics, optics, electron microscopes, nuclear physics, aeronautics, musical instruments, scientific chemistry, pharmacology, glass blowing, ceramics, technical toys, paper, printing, astronautics, photo and film, textiles, astronomy, geodesy, computers, micro electronics, mathematical cabinet, telecommunications, agriculture, food technology, chronometry, weights and measures, amateur astronomy, amateur radio, Zeiss planetarium, sundial garden. So, where do we start? Gosh - this is a hard one!

Well, we are both interested in astronomy and map making so we decide to begin on Floor 3, then go up through 5 to 6 where the Planetarium and sundials are. On the way through we see amazing exhibits on astronomy from both the natural and technological perspectives, geodic instruments and results, satellite use and the resulting map making. We also test out the various computers that have developed over the last 60 years as well as getting a close look at the mechanics of telecommunications - old and new. We see ancient and modern astronomical tools and their applications including testing a number of computer based programs to determine the placements in the heavens from the year 9999BC to 9999AD. It was brain-exploding!

At 3:45 pm we make our way to the sixth floor for the Planetarium show which begins at 4 pm. But we were in for an unexpected delight. There are two terraces - one with the sundial garden and the other more open. And from these two vantage points, we get amazing views of the München skyline with all its spires and towers - it is MAGIC.
The sundial garden is something else again where there are 21 sundials that function with precision in a number of different principles. They are amaxing - in fact there is one that has 25 sides with examples of different styles of guides - all presenting different faces to the afternoon sun - and ALL demonstrating the same time.

The planetarium show is amazing even though it is presented only in German. But perhaps the most amazing thing is that the astronomical project is 25 years old and while looking like something out of the War of the Worlds, could not be more modern if we tried to imagine it.

Once the show was over there was only 30 minutes until closing so we hurry to the first floor where the aeronautics displays are. Michael disappeared. Literally. Not unexpectedly. So as they begin to clear all the people from the Musuem, I make my way downstairs. I can't imagine that he will be lucky enough to be locked in for the night (hmm thought - do the displays come alive as in Night at the Museum?) He eventually comes out with this glazed look and about 100 photos from this display area alone - well, what do you expect? Planes, planes and planes. Old to new. Wright Bros, Messerschmitts, Fokker Tri-planes and German Junkers.

Then it was off to the Museum Shop to buy the official guide as we have decided that we are DEFINITELY coming back to Munich to spend more time exploring later in the year and that it will DEFINITELY include at least one more day in the museum.

So, back to the car. We are planning a full day (with an early start) in the City tomorrow. So the thought was to try to get to the Visitor Information Centre to get a map and some information. Just who the hell did we think we were? It is peak hour. And there is lots of traffic. So much so that at some intersections, it is four or five light changes before we move forward at all. But you should see the architecture we are seeing. And we never did get to the Information Centre thanks to roadworks to lay extended tram lines. Who cares, we have found some areas where there is all day street parking in very close proximity to the Underground or the S-Bahn (trams) Whoo hoo.

And so, Frances (see here - 9th paragraph), our parking fairy, come good as we decide to have dinner in the City before we go home. There we go. Right next to the Viktualienmarkt in Westenreiderstraβe - just a couple of blocks from the main square Marienplatz. And we are gob-smacked with the architecture (just wait until Michael gets to Prague!!!) And we marvel at the bikes for hire, not chained, just leaning together tired at the end of the day. But at this time of night the parking is only for 2 hours so we hurry back down little streets and at one time being accosted by a very 'ocker' young New Zealand girl now living in Melbourne, to find a restaurant for dinner. We finally settle on Augustiner Bräu München - part of a chain that is linked to a Brewery that has been proudly been operating since 1328! The menu looks a little daunting until the waitress brings us an English version - and even then it is still daunting - there are so many appealing dishes. We decide on:
Kalte Fenchel-Suppe mit Tintenfisch (Cold fennel soup with octopus) Michael
Eier a la russe mit Kartoffel-Salat-, Forellen-Kaviar und geräuchertem Lachs (Eggs a la russe with potato salad, trout caviar and smoked salmon) Maria
Geschmorter Lamm Schulter mit Cous-Cous und gebratenen Zucchini (Braised lamb shoulder with cous-cous and roast courgettes) Michael
Poularde mit Pfifferlingen-Lauch-Risotto, Parmesan-Chip und Kräuter-Soße (Chicken with chanterelles-leek risotto, parmesan chip and herbs sauce) Maria
The meals were as delicious as the names and the photos!
We hurry back to the car as we don't want a ticket (or a clamp or a tow) and then back to the hotel arriving just after 9 pm. Great day and anticipating another great one tomorrow!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maria your travels are so exciting, and your reviews fantastic (have you considered a job writing for a travel book!). It was great to meet you on the Scrabble site. Will keep in touch. maggie.. hervey bay