Munich in 2017!!!!
It took only 42 years. After my sophomore year in high school in 1975, at age 16, I participated in an exchange program with a Catholic girl’s boarding school in Altotting Germany, located between Munich and the Alps. Frau Graf organized the event. We toured Southern Germany/Bavaria for one week, then lived with a family for three weeks. School was in session so we attended or were expected to be in attendance, along with our host. What an experience for a 16 year old! There was international travel, German beer, and girls. This trip created an interest in visiting new countries and since then I have been to over 70 countries for work and vacation.
On a business trip to Poland two years ago, I considered adding a stop in Munich/Altotting but Poland itself provide enough interesting sites, so I decided to leave it out of the itinerary. When I learned that an International Conference and Symposium on Lameness in Ruminants was being organized by Dr. Andrea Fiedler (one of the strong women everywhere) for 2017, I decided to submit a paper. It was accepted so now I am back in Munich.
It has changed. I do not have very specific memories of Munich other than visits to the old city with the town hall/Glockenspiel, a few churches, the Olympic Stadium (Munich Olympics in 1972) and a visit to the Dachau WWII concentration camp. It was the largest city we visited during the trip in the summer of 1975.
The city today is swimming in tourists. There is a very strong international bent to the crowds with Africans and Asians in sizable proportions. While visiting the old town/city center with massive and ornate Catholic churches on every other corner I am amazed at the number of Muslim women among the crowd of tourists. Some of them were fully covered with the slits for their eyes covered by sun glasses. Where was my camera?
Munich is very easy to navigate with an excellent network of buses, subways, trams and trains. Bikes are everywhere and are available to rent via a simple use of the smart phone (see photo). After a stroll through the very large and lovely English Garden (large city center park with lakes, trails, Chinese tower and beer gardens ), I headed for the city center and the old town hall. The Glockenspiel was doing its performance on a cool September morning upon arrival. I wandered about, visited the Frauenkirche (strong women everywhere) with its twin domes; St. Michael’s Church where a noon time service including organ music was just ending; St. Peters Church*, with gold and gold leaf adorning the many status and icons; Viktualienmarkt (traditional food market) and a required visit to the Hofbrauhaus.
* I had not planned this to be an ABC tour: Another Bloody Church. Marla has taken me to many of these over the past 35 years, (ABC, ABT (temple). ABM (mosque)) so I guess it is now part of my DNA.
There was a bit more walking around to admire the architecture then back to Hotel Leopold in Schwabing (up scale area) for a rest and dinner at Bavarian style restaurant/café where I enjoyed watching the people from my street side table right on Leopold Strasse.
Nymphenburg Palace, Olympic Stadium, and BMW World
Just three mass transit connections and I am in the gardens of the summer home of Bavarian royalty. Nymphenburg Palace was designed as Munich’s version of Versailles just outside Pari. It is a beautiful palace adorned with paintings, statues, chandeliers, spacious gardens and plenty of water features. The stories of the occupants are filled with intrigue. Built with money from the people–the money that the church didn’t take– the opulence makes Trump look like a hack. The palace is famous for a wall of beauties, which I think should be labeled “all the girls I’ve loved before.” The tourist books do not explain why the paintings are there. In one room, they could be “Stepford Wives.” They all have the same face. The palace is also famous for the birthplace of Ludwig II, an eccentric prince who built many castles. More on him tomorrow.
I met a nice Chinese couple. He is a civil engineer, with a Ph.D. from France. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. With the construction boom in China that has been going on for over 15 years, I wonder how he has time to get away?
Olympic Center. I decided to take a visit to this site from the 1972 Munich Olympics. The site had a novel use of tent like canopies that was unique at the time. It looks faded and dated now. Some young Mormon missionaries asked me, a heathen, to take their picture. I mentioned the tragedy of the Israeli athletes from the Munich Olympics. They knew nothing of it. Kids these days!
Next, was time for modern opulence and a walk through BMW World. BMers, Minis and Rolls Royces were all on display. Funny that at $500,000+ the Rolls seemed to have the same seat adjustment levers as my Chevy. Some nice slogans about riding and life were displayed with the BMW motorcycle exhibit.
Final notes. 1) Munich is a city of 1.5 million and a metropolitan area of 4-6 Million. It doesn’t seem so crowded. Must be the use of mass transit and bicycles. Three hundred thousand of the 1.5 million are not German citizens. 2) Inflation is everywhere. It cost $1.2 Euros to use the WC in the central station. I will probably water the bushes next time. (Just kidding!)
Day Three Life of a King
King Ludwig II took over the thrown at age 18 and was removed at age 40. He is most famous for having a relationship with composer Richard Wagner, and for building three wonderful castles: Linderhof, Neuswanstein, and Herrenchiemsee. Only Linderhoff was completed. Today’s trip was a bus tour with Norma Blowey to Linderhof and Newschwanstein, with a stop in Oberammergau home to the famous Passion Play. The castles are located in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps about 2 hours from Munich. We traveled through lush farmland where the roofs of nearly all of the quaint farm houses are covered with solar panels. Linderhof is a small, but ornately decorated castle, with lovely gardens and water features. Rain did not dampen the experience!
In Oberammergau the citizens put on the Passion Play every 10 years in payment for the ending of the plague many centuries ago. Only citizens of this small town can be part of the 500 person cast. The play lasts 5 hours.
Neuschwanstein is the castle that inspired a logo for Disney. It is wonderfully situated in a rugged mountain with views across a lush valley. The castle is the most visited tourist site in all of Germany with 6000-7000 visitors per day. Our visit was no exception. The exterior views are fantastic. The interior is relatively simple.
I was entertained during the 11.5 hour trip by Norma Blowey, wife of my good friend Roger Blowey, both from the UK. Norma told me her life story and explained how Roger became her boy-toy. They have been married for 45 years. Who would have thought relationships could work with the woman older than the man?
Days Four, Five, and Six
I attended the International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, and presented a paper on the final day. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the globe. This conference was attended by about 500 people. As usual there were excellent evening events including a gala dinner and party. After the closing of the Conference there was a tour of the Munich Residenz, home of the Bavarian Royal Family the Wittelsbach’s. Much of the Residenze was destroyed during WWII, but has mostly been restored.
Walking to my hotel from this tour I encountered three kilometers of Munichers enjoying a street fest. Some type of warm up for the upcoming October fest? In spite of a constant light drizzle Leopold Strassa was filled with people enjoying food, beer, music, dancing and various other diversions.
As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge and written by Thomas C. Hemling!