Sunday, June 26, 2011

Munich, Days 1-3

Guten tag!  We returned yesterday from our week in Munich.  The dirty clothes pile (aka Mt. Everest) is shrinking, so I thought it would be the perfect time to get in a bit of blogging while I'm waiting around to shake out and hang the shirts currently tumbling in the dryer.

DAY 1:  We arrived last Sunday at the Munchen City (Munich) airport and took the Lufthansa bus to the Hauptbahnhof because our hotel was located just a few blocks from the central train station.  The Fleming was rated #13 out of almost 400 on Trip Advisor and it was a great central location.  After checking in, we strolled over to the Marienplatz, which is the heart of the old city center.  It was a busy place, with lots of street vendors, sightseers, a couple live bands with dancing and sidewalks filled with tables full of beer drinkers.  

In the pic above you'll see a temporary stage with locals in traditional German attire - dirndls and lederhosen - performing some sort of Bavarian dance.  My husband and I got these goofy grins on our faces because it immediately brought to mind this scene from the Griswold's European vacation.  The girls danced around the fellas while the guys did their own little snap, clap, and stomp bit in the center of the circle.  

We watched the famous glockenspiel do its little routine.  It was all very pretty with the beautiful red flowers in the boxes bedecking the facade of the new town hall where it's located.  It's as if that whole part of Germany agreed to really trick out their houses and businesses in gorgeous blooms to impress the tourists.  

DAY 2:  On Monday we opted for a hop on-hop off tour bus ride around the city.  The Central Park of Munich is called the English Garden.  Everything was incredibly green and peaceful along this stretch of the Isar River.  We rode across the bridge that overlooks a spot where people surf.  It was around 10 am on a Monday morning, so no one was surfing.  However, this is what we would have probably witnessed if it had been a bit later in the day.

It's so strange to think that the majority of the city was rebuilt following World War II after America leveled much of it with air strikes.  In a sad testament to priorities, several of Hitler's unattractive administrative buildings survived because they were camouflaged, while historic buildings like the Residenz palace and various churches dating back hundreds of years were partially destroyed.  I will give the Nazis credit for taking lots of pictures to document how things looked since it aided in the rebuilding of so many places that are an important part of Bavaria's heritage.  We enjoyed our tour of the Residenz, which was home to the Bavarian royals.  Parts of the palace date back to the 14th century and it has been expanded over the years until it became a museum right after World War I.  Here are a few pics we snapped while on our tour.

There were two statues we passed several times on our tours around the city center.  One of them was a wild boar - aka razorback if you're from Arkansas or javelina if you're from Texas.  It's supposed to be good luck if you rub its snout and we saw several people walk by and do just that as they passed by it.  The other statue resembled a big old catfish with its mouth wide open.

DAY 3:  On Tuesday, we rolled out when the alarm clock beeped at 6:15 to hit the trail on a daytrip to Linderhof, Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein.  It was a fabulous ride into the edge of the German Alps on the upper deck of the bus.  We started out the tour at Linderhof, which was originally just a hunting lodge until Mad King Ludwig decided to gussy it up with a whole lotta 24K.  It seems he had this little obsession with the Palace at Versailles and even created his own mini Hall of Mirrors.  It was small but incredibly ornate and unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any pics while inside it, though I did snap the one below of the front entrance.

Here is a pic I found on the internet of the HOM replica - see what I mean about the use of gold.  I think he and Liberace would have been big pals!

Our next stop of the day was Oberammergau, famous for its production of the Passion Play every ten years.  All of the residents are involved in some aspect of the show and people come from all over the world to see it.  We saw the theatre where it was staged last year and had a chance to snoop around some of the local shops.  What I enjoyed was seeing all of the interesting artwork painted on the sides of the buildings throughout town.  Here are a few examples I found.  And once again, it's as if everyone in town had agreed to provide a profusion of flowers on their houses or businesses to enchant the tourists.  

Our final stop for the day was at Neuschwanstein.  Mad King Ludwig designed this castle and approximately one-third was completed before he was deemed mentally incompetent and removed from the throne.  Annie and I white-knuckled it out onto "Mary's Bridge" to get this view of the castle.  

This picture of Mary's Bridge, where Annie and I crept out to snap the above pic of the castle while trying not to look down, was taken from a viewing area of Neuschwanstein at the end of the official tour.  We certainly got our fair share of exercise, but it wasn't so bad since the high was in the mid 70s.

Neuschwanstein looked cheap in comparison to Ludwig's over-the-top finishes at Linderhof.  There was a lot of gold, but it was all painted atop cement instead of ornate plaster.  Ludwig might have been a bit of a kook, but he did have an eye for great locations because the views from the castle across several lakes to mountains in the distance were stunning.  

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