Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More on München

Up and moving much earlier this morning (and obviously everyone else as well) with the only downside being that the shower pressure was missing and I had to keep fighting with other rooms for my share of the hot water. But all is güt! And we are headed for another beautiful München day with a forecast of 31°C! Ahh yes, it is summer!!

Breakfast is taken on the terrace as we prepare for our day. We drove in to München on the autobahn. Now, call me over-cautious, call me a coward, call me whatever - but I can't say that I feel comfortable when I am travelling in the kerb lane at 125 kph with people in the centre lane overtaking me at speed - and drivers in the inner most lane passing them at twice their speed! God forbid, if any of those inside drivers was to have a blowout, we would all be cooked. I mean some of them are doing well in excess of 250 kph! And this goes on to within 10 kms of the München CBD with no speed limit - and then it only comes down to 120 kph for another 6 kms. Crazy, I know! And we keep passing signs to 'Umleitung'. Steph laughed so hard last week when I suggested that all roads in Germany lead there - it actually means detour! And with all the roadworks, there are plenty!

We are headed for Ostbahnhof - the East Railway Station, or somewhere near it to park the car for the day after sussing it out last night. We get parking easily on the main off street and charge the Hunter and his hound that is etched into the building next to the car with keeping a watch over it today. We hop on to Bus 100 to go to the main rail station Hauptbahnhof where we can pick up the hop on-hop off tourist bus. There are two rival companies that leave from here - both with the same route, both the same price, but on goes every 20 minutes as opposed to every 30 minutes of the other, and this one has a live guide as opposed to recorded descriptions - so of course we will have that one thanks! The Gray Line SIGHTSeeing Munich. There are two possible routes - the Grand Tour and the Express. The Grand Tour includes the Schloss Nymphenburg (Palace of Nymphenburg), the Olympic Park and the Siegestor in addition to the Express route - so of course we take that one! It was well worth it just to look at the Palace which was originally designed as a summer manor for , and who then added to it time and time again to cater for guests and staff. Although we don't have time to go inside today, if the outside is any indication - then it must be amazing.

And while the Olympic Park is huge and for its time (1972) very impressive, neither of us are really interested so we just stay on the bus. As we pass the new BMW Museum (and their headquarters) we are told that they are one of the largest employers in München. And Anna, later we pass the Siemens headquarters and learn that they too are one of the largest employers and that they have a wonderful museum that is free to enter - but we don't have time today! And finally, we pass very slowly past the Siegestor, the Triumphal Arch built under the reign of Louis I (who ordered much of the grand public architecture in Munich). It commemorates the 30,000 Bavarian soldiers who fought in Russia with Napolean and subsequently perished and it separates the local suburban area of München from the neighbouring Schwabing.

So we are now back at Hauptbahnhof where we change buses for the Express tour of the inner München. We make the decision to do one full route of the city before deciding where to alight for more touring on foot. Returning the second time we reach the Odeonplatz with the huge ediface of the Theatines' Church facing into the square with the Feldherrnhalle (Hall of the Field Marshalls) adjacent proving too much a lure and so knowing we only have 20 minutes before the next bus, we hop off to have a look around the square. As we get off the bus, we hear classical music playing from behind a wall next to the bus stop and at the end of the wall, we are greeted with the magnificent vista that is the English Garden - complete with a Temple to the classical Greek goddess Diana and two young violinists playing in front of beautiful wall friezes. The architecture here in the Square is amazing - Baroque, Roccoco, Classical, Gothic, Renaissance - it is all here. And surprisingly, they all sit quite comfortably side by side.

Now, the Church, bold in its rich yellow outside is almost pure white and gold inside. It accosts your senses as soon as you enter because it is a huge, light filled building. It is the oldest baroque architecture in München, dating back to 1663 and an impressive example of this style although there are also roccoco ornamentations that were added in the next century.

Back on the bus we head around to our main destination for the day - the Marienplatz which is the very centre of München. This pedestrainised square is an absolute hub of people. We are really hungry (it is almost 3 pm) so choose the Restaurant Café an Marienplatz right on the square to have some lunch. As we near the al fresco dining area we notice one table occupied by a group of young blades dressed in black Lederhosen and Top Hats! Michael, unable to resist the opportunity, snaps a shot of the group. The lads are alerted to the intrusion, and of them says [in his best English] "That will cost you a beer!" Michael apologises and suggests maybe the 'offending' picture should be erased? One trait we have realised while spending time in Germany, these Germanic folk have a weird sense of humour tinged with a sense of 'Aussieness'. Anyhow, a truce is brokered whereby we surrender one of our business cards and ask the lads to send us an e-mail so we can return a copy of the pic...a suggestion which is eagerly embraced.

So on with lunch; and it is not until after we finish that we realise that these dishes are normally breakfast or early lunch dishes! Oh well, not knowing allowed us to order them - and enjoy them!
München Wurstsalat mit Zwiebeln und Brez’n (Munich sausage salad with onions and pretzels) Michael
Wurstbrett’l “Marienplatz” mit Weiβwurst, Leberkäs, Rostbratwürstel, Sauerkraut, Kartoffelsalat and Brez’n (Sausage Plate "Marienplatz" with Weiβwurst, liver, Meat loaf, sauerkraut, potato salad and pretzels) Maria
and washed it down with tankards of Appfelschorle (sparkling apple juice).

Now with lunch taken care of, we make our way towards St Peterskirche to view the interior and for Michael to climb the 713 steps leading to the towers' apex! The style of this church is in complete contrast to the Theatines' Church. The interior of St Pete's is a masterpiece of frescoes of breathtaking proportions - words cannot sufficiently provide apt descriptions; you're just going to have to visit Munich yourselves. Michael grimmaces at the indisciminate flaring of camera flashes by visitors who are unaware of the damage which may be inflicted upon the precious works of art. However, it appears that the caretakers are openly unconcerned by this...such is life. We search for the doorway which leads to the tower; our efforts prove fruitless, so Michael goes outside to search the church's perimeter. Success... the entry to the tower is by way of an external entry - so, it's onwards and upwards!

Climbing the 718 stairs is an experience to say the least; there are thirteen levels and at the second and tenth levels there are 'rest areas' with defribulators.... By the time Michael reached the towers' summit, he was a lather of perspiration as were many of the other climbers. The outlook from the towers' summit was a breathtaking panorama of the city of Munich.

Now one of the views from the tower is the Marienplatz which appears quite small from this lofty height of the gods! Clearly can be seen, (apart from the swarm of humanity,) Mariensäule [Mary's Column], a pillar erected in 1638 at the behest of Maxililian I in homage to the Patron Saint of Bavaria. Also in the Platz can be seen the Neues Rathaus [the New Town Hall] - new...right! - built between 1867-1909 in a style of Gothic revival. Now this architectural gem took forty two years to complete and was emersed in controversy. Many Munichers at that time were concerned the 85 meter tower of this new Town Hall would obscure the twin towers of 'the' Cathedral! If anything, both structures compliment Munich's skyline. Within the tower of the Neues Rathaus is the famous carillon, Rathaus-Glockenspiel, one of the greatest attractions of the Bavarian capital. The carillon has 43 bells and 32 copper figures. The carillon operates at 11 am daily, and in summer at noon and 5 pm as well. We were lucky witness it's 5 o'clock performance before we caught the train back to our car. The Marienplatz was choked with people (mainly tourists - fancy that?) to observe the repertoire of chimes and movement; you can be well assured it WAS worth the wait.

At the eastern side of the Marienplatz is the majestic Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the late 15th century and used by the Munich Municipality until 1874 when it moved to the Neues Rathaus. Severely damaged during WW2, this beautiful structure was fully restored to its former status. However, although the building's purpose has changed it still remains as one of the jewels in Munich's pantheon.

Other sites we wandered (at many times mesmerised) but not detailed here because we want you to keep reading each day and not be shocked by the lengths of the blog pages:
700+ fountains including Neptune's fountain in the old Botanic Gardens
Lions - one of the two symbols of the City (the other is the Monk)
the three 14th Century City Tors (Gates)
Mariatheresia Straβe = very expensive property (€ 10,500 sq m) - Maria Therese - that figures! acceptance of dogs in shops
Cathedral of Our Lady built in only 20 years (1468 to 1488)
Maximillliaem - the seat of Bavarian Parliament
Residenz Museum - the Palace Museum
Maximillian Straβe called 'The Golden Mile' because of its expensive shopping

No comments: