Monday, June 27, 2011

Munich, Day 4

Wednesday was the only day we allowed ourselves to wake up without the assistance of an alarm clock.  We had too much to see and do in Bavaria to fritter away our time sleeping.  I was pleased when the girls really warmed up to breakfast at the hotel after initially deciding a Burger King down the road would be their preferred morning spot.  Admittedly, it's hard to compete with the gooey, artery clogging goodness of cini minis.  

I imagine breakfast at the hotel was very German/European, though I wouldn't really know since most continental breakfasts in the US don't include pretzels.  Every day the girls would have a pretzel, sometimes adding butter or nutella to it.  Plus they typically had a bowl of cereal and some fresh fruit.  Jason helped himself to some bread, not in the form of a pretzel, plus coldcuts like ham and prosciutto, as well as cheese and fruit.  I thought the bowl of horseradish was a nice touch.

We decided that we wanted to get a good aerial view of Munich from the old city center, so we headed over to the Frauenkirche.  A church constructed in the 15th century, it has a distinctive onion dome atop each of the two towers.  We climbed 86 stairs in the tower, which only allows for one-way traffic unless your physique resembles a broom.  Twice I had to press my body up against the outer wall to allow other folks to pass.  At the landing, we then boarded an elevator that took us to the top for some great shots of the city.  

We went to the top of the tower on the right.  The tower to the left is undergoing renovation, so it looks as if it has been swathed in white plastic from top to bottom.

At the entrance to this church, they had pictures of what it looked like in the years following the war so you could see the damage it suffered, which included a collapsed roof.  I was most impressed with an oversized Wittelsbach tomb located at the back of the church.  It is an amazing monument to Louis IV, King of Germany and Italy as well as the Holy Roman Emperor.  This amazing piece of statuary was initially installed at the front of the church (which can hold up to 20,000, by the way) before it took up residence at the back.  I'm thinking the man had quite a high opinion of himself and wanted to make sure he wasn't forgotten before the apocalypse.

The church was HUGE on the inside and had small chapels lining both sides of it. I was wishing I had a basic understanding of German so that I would have been able to decipher who the chapels were honoring or memorializing.  To my untrained eye, it looked like many of the items contained in the little chapels would fetch a handsome price on The Antiques Roadshow.  This certainly isn't something you'll find back in Texas at the local First Methodist Church, so maybe that's why I was so intrigued by them.

Out in front of the church, there was a water feature that had been installed in more modern times.  It consisted of little metal sculptures with water cascading from the center, which looked like either water lilies or skinny mushrooms.  Callie went down to take a closer look.

During Napoleonic times, it was commonplace to exhume bodies buried around the church and have them removed to another location in order to create space for further expansion.  It was also considered unhealthy to continue adding bodies on top of rotting bodies, which was wise in an era when the average life expectancy was just about my current age!  So what did they do with all of the headstones for the folks buried around the church?  They affixed many of them to the exterior walls of the building.

I have always had a fascination with epitaphs.  Even as a kid, I enjoyed strolling through cemeteries to read what had been written on tombstones.  The larger ones with detailed information about the life of the deceased person were always my favorites.  I've told my husband and the girls that I would like to be cremated, but have my ashes placed in a mausoleum.  Therefore, they can spend the insurance money (or maybe inheritance, because I want a nice resting place and none of that cheap pink granite, either) getting the story of our lives etched in stone for future generations to read.

After checking out the church, we headed over to the Viktualienmarkt just a couple blocks off the Marienplatz.  I believe it originally started as a farmer's market, but has morphed into permanent stands.  We passed people selling fresh meats, cheeses, fish, sweets, breads, candies, ice cream, flowers and souvenir stuff.

Having walked off breakfast, we whipped out Rick Steves' Germany book and thumbed through the Munich section for a restaurant suggestion.  Voila - we had a very tasty late lunch at the Andechser am Dom.  The weather was sunny and in the mid 70s with a nice breeze, so we ate outside under the shade of a tree in the biergarten area.  Jason had a dunkles (dark) and helles (light) beer for comparison purposes, you understand, and declared the dark variety his favorite.  Surprise, surprise - we were given a basket full of pretzels, as well as a couple slices of rye and some sort of twisted bread critter, before the meal arrived.  

See the little blue and white porcelain tub on the table?  It was filled with a sweet grainy mustard that was a perfect dip for the bread.  We dined on schnitzel, sausages, sauerkraut, spaetzle and warm potato salad.  Since Rick Steves, the travel god, had suggested this place, the three hollow-legged folks in our little party of four decided that we needed to order dessert, too.  As if we hadn't totally gorged ourselves on so many carbs by this time that we were all just about catatonic and in need of a larger pants size.  So with overindulgence being the order of the day, they decided on a slice of warm chocolate cake drizzled with ganache, a fried "donut" (that reminded me of bread pudding) floating in warm vanilla sauce, and freshly baked apple strudel with a jaunty scoop of ice cream crowning it.  

We ended the day by waddling back towards our accommodations, doing a bit of snooping through German department stores along the way.  Jason is always on the lookout for a new leather manbag and he found a keeper in the Galeria Kaufhof that he wore as a crossbody for the rest of the trip.  

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