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Munich Trip Report--A Joyous Celebration of Kitsch and Schmaltz

Munich Trip Report--A Joyous Celebration of Kitsch and Schmaltz

Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Munich--Day 3 (cont.)

Die Residenz

First I saw the Schatzkammer (Treasury), which holds an unbelievable array of precious items. The crown and orb that date from the 19th c. evidently are given the highest regard generally, but I was most taken by the crown reputed to belong to the (10th c.?) empress, Kunigunde.

The Schatzkammer had several reliquaries, and those hold a special fascination for me. A medieval one, all of gold, was missing the slivers of the True Cross it once held. A 16th century figure of St. George on his horse, battling the dragon, was really stunning: It was entirely covered with rubies and other precious jewels, and it was obvious that the quality of workmanship on it was excruciatingly high.

Since I can't tell a Wittelsbach from a Habsburg or a Hohenzollern, the Residenz itself had no special significance to me, but I toured it as the great home of Bavaria's ruling family (which was, by the way, the Wittelsbach family). In the Residenz proper, I liked the Antiquarium best: a long, vaulted hall filled with classical busts and sculptures, and with portraits adorning the ceiling. Honestly, though, there were too many fascinating things to see at the Residenz to describe them all.


I left the Residenz pretty much tired out, but it was still early afternoon. I headed to the Hofbrauhaus (can't type "a" with umlaut, and "Hofbraeuhaus" seems wrong), just to see the flamboyant interior and to hear an oompah band. The band was indeed playing away as I went in and looked for a place to sit at one of the communal tables. It's not that the place was crowded, it's just that more than one table seemed to be the "Stammtisch" of a group of older fellows who surely didn't want some tourist joining them.

These groups were interesting: Several 60ish men wore Trachten, or at least the little green woolen hats with the chamois (?) tail tucked into the band. I saw one fellow who was a Doppelgaenger of my dear old German professor of many years ago: the same mournful blue eyes in a longish face, the same reddened skin and slightly bulbous nose, the same wiry, grizzled beard. (Actually, there were several times on this trip when I saw a near-exact double of dear old Professor L., always with such a wise, knowing look in those sad eyes that it seemed he recognized me, too!)

Anyway, I found an empty table, ordered "ein kleines Bier, bitte," and had a little salad and a pretzel, too. An older fellow sat down at the table. We said "Grüß Gott" to one another, and "Proest," when his beer came.

We tried to converse, and I could make out only "Wien" and "Geschaeft". If the Bavarian accent was hard for me to understand, with my skimpy store of Hochdeutsch, then his Viennese accent was just incomprehensible to me. Finally I pointed at myself and said, "Amerikanerin," as though that explained all.

After the Hofbrauhaus, I wandered around and eventually made it to Michaelskirche; in that church is a huge and mighty impressive nave barrel-vault, which my guidebook called "a triumphal arch of the
Counter-Reformation," or some such. Some window-shopping, then to the Viktualenmarkt, where I rested. More wandering, and then I eventually returned to the hotel.

Another solitary dinner: this time, pasta with rocket. Tonight a fellow with an accordion was playing away for all he was worth, accompanied by a dirndl-clad singer. It sounded like polka music. Here was all the schmaltz I could ask for, but I was tired and went upstairs.






























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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:45 PM
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I have just read through the entire thread smalti and am thoroughly engaged. I have a trip planned for Germany/Austria at the end of March and am very interested in your day trip descriptions. I've already seen Linderhoff and Neuschwanstein, by car in '92, but my hubby and sister have never been. Since I have to base out of Munich (Marriott hotel points reward-5 nights), I was planning on going to those castles independently, via train. Did you find the tour options less of a hassle?
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 02:47 PM
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Great report, you're sure, you're a not professional writer?
"Hofbraeuhaus" perfect thanks!
www.hofbraeuhaus.de
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 05:19 PM
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susanteach--That's very kind of you to say. We took the bus tour option for the sake of convenience, and convenient it certainly was. The company could not have been easier to deal with--they even picked us up at our hotel. The driver was very good, and the guide was pleasant and helpful.

Here's a discussion of tours to go to various castles:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34612593


Train travel to castles in Bavaria would very likely be more rewarding than bus travel, but it would also require more effort. Unfortunately, as I've only done a bus trip, I can't size up the cost/benefit ratio.
Hope you and your family have a great trip in March!


logos--Thanks for your kind words. I understand that "Hofbraeuhaus" must be right, but it feels wrong, probably because it has three vowels together.

On my keyboard, I type "Alt+" codes to get umlauts, etc. When I enter the code to umlaut an "a," I get kicked out of the site!

Froehliche Weinacht!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2005, 09:53 PM
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Still a great report, smalti!

Froehliche Weihnachten to you, too!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2005, 07:16 AM
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Thanks, hsv!

Froehliche Weihnachten!
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Old Dec 26th, 2005, 06:23 AM
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This is a really informative trip report. We will be going to Munich this summer and you have helped me a lot in planning!
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Old Dec 26th, 2005, 09:16 AM
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Thanks, Wren! I hope to post more this afternoon.
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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ü, ä, ß

Well, some of the "Alt+" codes are working, anyway.

Didn't get to post any of the report yesterday afternoon, but here's some more now...
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Old Dec 27th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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10/6 Munich--Day 4

Excelsior!

I love, love, love to travel! It's easily one of the best things about living--it's fulfilling, exciting, sometimes even thrilling.

But it's also the venue for some of my worst frustration, because I have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. That's the most common form of MS, and I have one of the most common symptoms: a heavy and unyielding fatigue. It hampers my activity level at home as well, but many factors in my convenient suburban life minimize the effects of ongoing tiredness. When I go on a trip, I bring my fatigue with me, and even add to it with the effects of jet lag. So at the time when I most want to be active--out sightseeing, going and doing, with lots of walking--I'm the most tired. Ironic.

All of this is by way of explaining just why it was such a big deal when I went to Peterskirche and climbed the steps (all 306 of them!) in the clock tower. Peterskirche is one of the oldest churches in Munich, and from its clock tower one gets a commanding view of Marienplatz, the Frauenkirche, and many of the red-tiled roofs in the Altstadt. I knew the view would be good from that height, but it was on impulse that I bought an entrance ticket to the tower (1.50E), and started climbing.

No more than 20 steps up, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" I turned back to leave, then actually said aloud, "No! I can do this!" I stopped at every landing to rest, and took a long, long, long time to finish climbing. When I finally (finally!) got to the top, I exclaimed, "Gewinn!" a bit too loudly, to the amusement of some people already there.

But seeing the view really did feel like a success. I stepped into the open air, walked around the narrow strip of flooring (enclosed by a waist-high railing), and took in the view from every angle. It was lovely to see, and I thought it well worth the effort.

It took a long time to come down too, especially since I could hear boisterous footsteps behind me every few minutes and so would press against the handrail to let schoolkids scamper past me on the narrow stairway. Once down to street level again, I needed to rest for a long time, but I was more happy than tired.


More Churches

On to the Asamkirche, near Karlsplatz. The interior of this mid-18th c. church is quite possibly the most elaborately ornamented space I've ever seen. The church's builders, the Asam brothers, pulled out all the stops and filled the interior with the most opulent and sumptuous features imaginable: varied and rich surfaces, twisted columns, intricate figures in woodwork and plasterwork, and gilding, gilding, gilding. It all works ultimately to pull one's eye toward the resplendent 3-story altar with its sunburst of gold and silver.

The ceiling is painted in familiar Baroque/Rococo trompe l'oeil style: The roof has magically opened up to reveal the blue sky, and--lucky you!--you've arrived just in time to see the denizens of heaven alighting round the gilded frame. Also on this ceiling are life scenes of St. John Nepomuk, the Bohemian saint to whom the church is dedicated.
When I see a dramatic Baroque church interior (though never before this dramatic!), I remember how Prof. L. would tell us about the Counter-Reformation. One thing: Catholic church architecture developed quite theatrical elements as a sort of lure to hold those who might be heading toward Protestantism. And there has been interesting conversation on this board before concerning the pros and cons (well, mostly the cons) of Baroque style in churches (see http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34642076 , about halfway through). To me, the appeal is not as immediate as that of, say, a Byzantine church, but Baroque and Rococo style yet have much to recommend them.

But I digress. Next was the Theatinerkirche, on the Odeonsplatz near the Feldherrnhalle. Here it was the church exterior which was striking, not in an eccentric way like the Asamkirche's interior, but in a distinctive way just the same (patterned after a church in Rome). The details on the tower are very pleasing.

A pedestrian street off Odeonsplatz (didn't note the name) was filled with terrific shops, and was great for people-watching.


Humiliation in a Distant Land

Worn out after walking from the Theatinerkirche, I sank into an outdoor seat at a beer garden near Marienplatz. A 50ish, blonde, dirndl-clad waitress came to my table, and I asked for a Weitzenbier, as I had heard others do. To my surprise, she reappeared in a few minutes with a beer glass as long as my forearm! Luckily, I really like beer.

At the precise moment I paid her, a tiny fly dove straight into the beer! She saw this, took a knife, fished out the tiny suicide, and presented the glass to me again with a dazzling smile.

My astonishment must have showed on my face, for in a second I saw it mirrored on hers. "Jetzt koennen Sie es nicht trinken???" she fairly shouted, rolling her eyes to a magenta-haired woman at a nearby table. From that quarter she received a knowing look in confirmation: "Die Amerikanerin ist ja ganz verrückt."

"No! Nein! It's okay!" I babbled frantically, thinking: Leave. Now.

Too late. The waitress snatched the glass from the table and flounced back to the bar with it. She soon returned with a fresh beer (or perhaps the same one, now topped with some of her spittle), and placed it before me with a contemptuous flourish. "Danke," I muttered, and downed the beer at top speed before racing off to the Marienplatz S-Bahn station.

I'd guzzled a huge beer on a nearly empty stomach, so I was half in the bag by the time I stumbled down the stairs and found the right platform to get back to the Hilton. I joined the small, early-rush-hour crowd waiting patiently for the train, and tried not to sway as I stood. Being suddenly tipsy in such a situation is really not fun.

A stocky woman in a white sweater was pacing the platform erratically. Suddenly she stepped to the very edge of the platform and began to speak in a loud voice to the whole crowd. Her tone and behavior told me it was some sort of raving or tirade, though I couldn't make out the words. I carefully avoided making eye contact with her.

She stayed there on the edge and got louder, and I thought, "Oh, no! he's going to jump onto the third rail. Or wait till the train comes and leap in front of it." But she just went on ranting, not really shouting, but talking in a loud and angry voice.

Then she stopped. She had made her point or had worn herself out, so she stopped talking and walked away from the platform's edge. A few minutes later she returned and made a couple more angry exclamations--must have had one more point to get across--and then wandered off, but this time it was anti-climactic.

So, thankfully, she was not a suicide, just one of those mentally ill unfortunates one encounters in subway stations everywhere. But who was I to speak? I was one of those falling-down drunks one encounters in subway stations everywhere.







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Old Dec 28th, 2005, 02:29 PM
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>couple more angry exclamations
It's the same lady all the time, she stands there, angryly speaking words and sentences nobody can understand in her own private language. As long as those people don't pose a threat to themselves and others they're free to do whatever they want. Psychiatry can't help them anymore and they're not dangerous so that they must be locked away. You'll meet them in the street every few days but really you don't and can't care about them.
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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It is quite sad, logos. In every city I've ever visited, I think I've seen at least one seriously disturbed person, and it does seem they have no one to help them.
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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From a certain point, society is helpless. When there's no remedy and everything has been tried, you can only choose between locking people away or let them go. Being mentally ill is not a crime. The descision should always be based on weather there's a danger involved for anybody, shouldn't it?
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Old Dec 29th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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Oh, certainly I agree that people can't be confined just because they're mentally ill, if they offer no threat to anyone. And there's no way to help people unless they want help, while because of their illness, many disturbed people resist help. It just seems unfortunate to me.
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Old Dec 30th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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smalti,
Great job on your report. Thanks for sharing what was indeed a wonderful trip for you.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Thanks, kopp! I appreciate your saying that.

There's still more to come. The trip was short, but the report is long, and I've been posting it in bits.

Here's some more...
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:36 AM
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10/7 Munich--Day 5

The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, as noted above, was a delight! I especially enjoyed the Romanesque and Gothic sculpture, architectural fragments, and religious artifacts--fascinating pieces all, in a very pleasing setting.

There was even a little mystery: In a large case, along with some, private devotional items of carved ivory, was a golden metal bust of a young woman. Because of some research I'd done on a reliquary sculpture in my local museum, I thought it might well be a reliquary bust of St. Ursula. But there was no information with the bust, not even a number or name, nor could I find any, even with the guard helping me to look. That seemed quite odd.

Dinner was close to our hotel, at Dal Cavallieri, to which the night concierge directed us. As the name suggests, it was an Italian restaurant, and the owner was a charming, energetic fellow who looked a little like Stanley Tucci.

My tagliatelle with vegetables was very good, and DH enjoyed his spaghetti Bolognese. My only reservation in recommending this place is that the air circulation was so poor. People were smoking up a storm, and the air was almost blue. But again, the food was good.
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