Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Munich city tour and Christmas markets

Traveling with someone that I have known longer than my brother !
Gail and I became neighbors over 60 years ago in Glendale, California before my last sibling, a brother, was born . Over the years we have met up in many places but have seldom had the pleasure of taking a trip together (one can’t really count the odd night at my place or theirs).

As usual having fun together

The first night we dashed right back out after the briefing, so quickly in fact that I totally neglected taking a camera (now how often does that happen?).  An hour at one of the city’s 20 Christmas market had us enjoying not only the sights, but the smell and taste of Germany. My friends had been here three days so opted for a vegetable crepe, but I had to have a hotdog (had meant to have a grilled sausage until I discovered that the hotdog came with roasted onions, pickles and condiments!).

It is 100 steps from the elevator to my room on the 20th floor

The sun coming up through the fog

Then this morning after a wonderful German breakfast (I still maintain that the hotels in Germany do breakfast like no one else in the world) we set off on our first official event – a city tour.

the Sheraton Arabellapark has the cutest little pastry cups for the jams and jellies

Ah the comfort of group travel : we were able to see so much more and so many different areas of the city in just a few hours. Doing it on one’s own is possible, but would have involved many bus, tram, metro rides and again only the knowledge that we would have gleaned from formal guides. Our local guide, Karolina, was one of the best that I have ever had, so kudos to Grand Circle Tours for their organization as the tour guide accompanying us throughout – Mihai (pronounce « me high ») – is also very clear not only in speech, but in his instructions.

The weather is also being very cooperative as still shining sun once the fog burns off.

A kaleidescope of sights starting with the BMW (Bayerische Motor Wagen) plant. BMW stands for the Motor Cars of Bayern – this particular region of Germany and they have added in recent years a glass elevator so that new owners have the total experience of not only seeing their car-to-be on the lot so to speak, but once they take delivery it is via several halls and the glass elevator before it rolls out in front of the museum : hundreds a day says the guide !

BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany

More of the BMW plant

The architecture of the BMW plant is amazing

They even have a museum, although this may not be it

On the opposite side of the street is the Olympic Park : built in only just six years on land where rubble still remained from World War II, it was the making of Munich as a major city as they had to build roads and everthing. The fact that they had a large enough piece of land to put the Olympic Village and all the necessary stadiums, lodging and event’s parcels in one area was what won them the nomination, but they use it all still today making it an exception in the world of cities that hosted the Olympics.  Of course it is also more sadly known as the Olympic games where jewish participants were murdered by terrorists (Sept.5, 1972).

The Olympic park spire - now has a revolving restaurant at the top

Part of the 1972 Olympic park buildings

Part of the 1972 Olympic park buildings

Leaving behind the Olympic terrains we traveled along the English gardens until be crossed the Isar River and arrived at Ludwig the First’s castle (grandfather to Ludwig the II who built Neuenschwanstein – the « mad king » whose castles were used to represent those in Disney Land – the fairy tale castles) of Nymphenburg. Ludwig I was married off to an Italian princess when they were both only 14. They finally met when they were 16 and although the marriage didn’t get off to a good start (they were both too innocent), they first had a girl, followed three years later by a boy. This netted the princess an Italian palace and Ludwig built the castle to honor her. As one of my traveling companions said when he saw the lawn in front of the castle : « I have seen a lot of weird things in front of or behind castles, but never had I seen a Royal Gophorium » – i.e. the lawn was torn up by gophers).

part of the Nymphenburg castle and grounds

part of the Nymphenburg castle and grounds with the "Royal Gopherium" in front

Then it was on to the Royal Square where the former Nazi buildings are being used by the Academy of Muisc. Our guide gave an excellent description of nazism – Munich was the capital – and to their credit they have maintained three of the buildings that Hitler used as headquarters in order that we not forget.

After this great bus tour, we then had a walking tour of the Old Town which ended at the Marienplatz where the Christmas market was founded in 1410 in order to watch the figures turn in the Glockenspiel (Clock tour) at noon. The sun then deigned to come out and turn all into light.
(Follows a series of photos of odds and ends throughout our walking tour) 

The local "bath house" which was turned into a public swimming pool

A "Stammtisch" is the regulars normal table, very German

The Hofbrau hall

one of the weather vanes down a side street

The old "tax house" belonging to the reigning Wittelsbach family

A bike parking lot near City Hall

Two delightful door knobs

Wall painting in the HB hall: "to be thirsty is worse than being homesick"!

A quick trip back to the hotel to re-charge the camera batteries and we were off to the newest of Munich’s 20 Christmas Markets – out on the fields that host the famous Oktober Fest (beer drinking festival in October of each year). On top of all the outside stalls and sights (the Christmas tree is made from plastic bottles), there were many tents with various themes. The idea was to be not only ecological, but to also represent many nations from around the world. Successfully I might add.

Tollwood the organisor of the Oktober Fest also does a Winter Fest

Loved the juxtaposition of old cathedral and more carnavalesque park

Plastic bottle Christmas tree

part of a series of large statues with very tongue-in-cheek sayings

Many tents: this is the music one

Pipe saxophonist

The plastic tree lit from within as night fell

photos projected onto a playing space in the "discussion" tent

Same "discussion" tent

a wheelbarrow seat

HA Schult's installation "Trash People" http://www.haschult.de/action/trashpeople

By the time we were to meet the bus, we were all tired and chose to stay in tonight. So I went down to
check e-mails, post a blog and have a glass of beer (after all I am in Germany and Munich to boot !).
Last sight of the night : the city at my feet with a crescent moon to watch over us all.

A crescent moon rises over Munich - view from my balcony