Monday, July 20, 2009

Is München home to the Munchkins?

Maybe not! (Remember the Wizard of Oz) But the trip from Schwäbisch Gmünd is full of other interesting things.

We took our leave of Steph and Felix this morning for the time being. That was after we got up at the almost inhuman time of 6:40 am to have breakfast with them and say goodbye before they left for work. And that was after we went to bed at 2 am after repacking and (Michael) rearranging the car! The unit felt really dead once they had left - like the life had been sucked out :( .

The Mucz family generously offered to have a look at re-gassing our airconditioning in the car before we left so once we discovered that the post office in Schwäbisch Gmünd did not open until 2 pm, we drove down to Schorndorf. Anja and Ulli welcomed us very warmly with wonderful coffee while Andy couldn't wait to get to the car (ain't he a darling!). But the news was not good - yes, the aircon probably needs re-gassing, but the pipe from the compressor to the condensor is snapped and while they could have ordered one, they could not fix it today - so we tell them not to worry, we will find an Opel dealer on our travels and have it fixed. He did, however, give the car a quick service and arrange an emissions sticker for us that we need to get in to Munich City with the car. Such darlings! We really appreciate their support and help!

And as if that wasn't enough, when we got to the Post Office in Winterbach, we discovered that the parcel was too heavy at 24 kgs (Feix, you do not know your own strength - 12 kgs indeed!!) and the box not the right size to send it. So, as we had left the key to Steph's place inside and shut thedoor behind us, we had little choice but to go back to the dealership and as Ulli if she could take the box for us so Steph could collect it - and being the generous people they are, they said no worries - they would get it to Steph. Our angels in disguise today!

So now we are headed for Münich. Our trip begins on back roads through picturesque little towns with the most amazing medieval architecture. The buildings gradually change and it is not long - once we are on the autobahn - that we start to see the Evangelical churches with the onion domed towers. Cool! But we want to see 'stuff' on our way, so I ask Kate what POIs are on the route (points of interest - get with the programme guys!) and amongst the one she comes back with is the Meteorkrater Museum at Steinheime. How very cool that sounds. And it is only 37 kms out of our way - so being the mad Aussies, off we go!!

Now, I know that an earth sciences museum won't rock everyone's boat(every pun intended!), but it was very interesting - even though the whole thing is in German and we are the only ones there. The receptionist though she hardly speaks any English, offers to put their very americanised video in English on for us. The museum and the site nearby on which it is based is part of the Swabian Alb UNESCO GeoPark. It features a detailed explanation of a twin meteor strike 15 million years ago that formed the surrounding landscape (a huge bowl with a distinct crater crust and an upthrust bubble in the centre). They have core samples and samples from the meteor remains as well as heaps of early vertebrate and fish skeletons that came to the surface at the time of the upthrust (check the website if you want more info). Michael climbs to the top of the remains of the upthrust and is amazed at how clear the meteor crater is.

And Ulli and Anja had told us about the Münster at Ulm and suggested that we go via it on our trip today - so we do that too. Now, we've seen churches, and we've seen churches - but boy, this one is something else. The Ulmer Münster to this very day is the tallest church in the world. It is a Lutheran church (often mistaken for a cathedral) that dates back to the 1300s. The carved stone and timber work is mind-blowing and the painted walls that remain are stupendous. In fact, the high wall at the front of the choir is intact - A M A Z I N G. But we only have half an hour as we know we are heading into München right on peak hour - turns out that it is not a problem for us as - all the traffic jams are in the other direction - one for 13 kms!

There is a really major restoration project at the Münster but even though, we have almost unlimited access to the interior. There is a curious mix of old and new stained glass windows in such a way that they really complement each other in a funny sort of way - the old ones are so detailed and the new ones so clean, almost minimalist. And the timber busts carved on the end of the choir stalls are exquisite - all that emotion captured in timber.

The Münster has a strong link to the Teutonic Knights and there are coats of arms splendidly embellished throughout the church. Their own chapel is impressive in its rich but simple design and it contains a huge locked vault set in to one of the walls where the ashes of many of these knights are interred. But there is just too much to see in just half an hour and with 768 steps to climb up the steeple, I need to give Michael a little more time! So we agree to come back to explore it further when we return to Steph's later in the year.

In fact, there is a music festival starting in the Münsterplatz as we leave, similar to SchoWo the other day. They have set up a huge bank of toilets that include a public, open pissoire for men! What next? No wonder men feel so comfortable just stopping by the road and letting willy drip! And there is lots more to take our interest just in the short walk back to the car in Ulm - they have some fascination with birds and clocks that we need to explore more too!

And on to München we push. We are staying at a motel in one of the outer suburbs - the cities are so expensive at the moment as it is the holiday period here. The motel is comfortable enough and has off street parking - but is set in an industrial area (along with two others). There is nowhere close by to have dinner and we are too tired after last night to bother going out so we order the only thing that the motel can do in the way of food - toasted sandwiches. But they are fresh and very tasty with some sort of cheese dip used as a base for the other fillings. We are tired and want to get to bed early - but after chatting to Hels and Gen, and doing the blog, it is now 12:20 and Michael is falling asleep as he watches some old German movie like Lost in Space - very surreal!

So goodnight!

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