On to Munich

August 26. Morning came too early.  I jumped out of bed, stressed, and packed everything into as few bags as possible.  I had to fit my things into the back of a Citroen C3, which was the car I’d been driving through Europe till a week and a half ago.  There would be 4 passengers: me, a girl from France, and an engaged couple.  That didn’t leave much room in the trunk.  Marek was a dear and woke and gave me a ride to the train station.  He was very tired and took the wrong turn.  I was directing him, which is funny because he’s from Bratislava.  I found the car pretty easily.  The driver was standing behind the car.  I signaled, and then had the fun task of trying to fit the bags into the back.  I suggested taking off the trunk cover so there was more room, and I crammed it under my things.  I’d become an expert in cramming things into small spaces. Given that it was 8am, we had a remarkably cheerful crew. I talked with the fiancee of the driver, and shared my gum and snacks with them. We picked up the French girl outside Vienna, and she was very nice. Her parents were from Brittany, and she told me that it was a pretty part of France. She showed me photos of her home, and places she’d visited. Her boyfriend lived in Vienna, and she was visiting him for a few days. The driver and his partner were headed to Lyon, France. They’d been on a long holiday visiting friends in Slovakia and had to get back to work. All in all, it was a very pleasant drive. Aside from the guy driving 160 km/hour, which scared the shit out of me. I’d just had a car accident a week and a half before, and the idea of crashing into someone while going 100 mph didn’t thrill me. I’m a nervous passenger, having had a dad who drove like a maniac in Europe and Mexico, playing chicken with other drivers and passing around blind curves. It’s amazing we didn’t die a hundred times. My mom is a wreck as a passenger.

They dropped me off at the Munich airport at 2pm, which was perfect, as the replacement car was nearby. I called the number and the representative picked me up 20 minutes later in the Citroen DS3 I would be driving. It was a cute car, a lot like a mini cooper, and other than the fact that it was smaller than my previous car (so I wouldn’t be able to sleep in it, or so I thought), it was great. Relieved to be finished with the whole bureaucratic mess, I drove to Ralph and Jennifer’s apartment in Munich, arriving at 4:30pm. I would be staying with them for the next four days. I’d planned to go out to the town, but they were lazing around the house on a Saturday and didn’t have any intention of going anywhere. I didn’t want to be rude by bolting as soon as I’d arrived, so I stayed for the evening. Jennifer and I had a lot to talk about. I’d forgotten how much we had in common re work. We’d both worked in the solid and hazardous waste field, as well as programming. She was working on a complex Java program, and really enjoying her work. I had done some C programming, writing compilable sample code, when I worked at Apple. And we had the Camp Unalayee connection. She’d never been a camper, but had sat on the board of directors and knew all the same people I did. What a trip! I hadn’t thought about that time for years. So we reminisced until late in the night, punctuated by a nice dinner that Ralph made. I was happy to be indoors and with friends!

August 27. Sunday am. I had to use my time strategically, because I only had till Wednesday in Munich. Jennifer had suggested that I go to the Munich museum, and I had wanted to see the Bavarian National Museum again (I’d seen it twice or three times before). I got a late start, and arrived at the Munich Museum at 11:30 am. I had a latte and cake beforehand, and was still reeling from sticker shock. The total came to 9 Euro, much more than I’d ever spent in Germany. But I’d forgotten: I was in Munich. Munich is one of the most important cities in Germany. The museum gave me a great booklet which gave a detailed explanation (in English no less) about each exhibit. I was in heaven. I loved the fun house/carnival and puppet exhibit on the top floor. I felt like I was back in Playland near the Cliff House in San Francisco. I stayed all day till closing time (5 pm). From there I walked to the historic center, only 10 minutes away, and then to the Residence and into the English Garden, one of the largest urban gardens in the world. It was created in 1789 when Elector Carl Theodor ordered that a public park be established along the Isar River. He put the project in the hands of the Briton Benjamin Thompson, who worked at the time for the Bavarian Army. The park was given the name Englischer Garten because it was laid out in the style of an English country park. At the edge of the park, there’s a strong current and surfers line up on either side of the river to surf across. There’s a spot light at night so they can surf into the wee hours. A lot of locals gather there to watch. I like walking in Munich, especially in the center. I watched the clock strike the hour, then found out that the figures only move at certain times of the day (noon and 5pm). I walked till dark, then found my way back through the beer garden to my car. Jennifer and I had another nice conversation, which went into the wee hours.

August 28. I had decided to go to Tegernsee, a beautiful alpine lake at 2450 feet that I’d visited before about one hour (by car) southeast of Munich. It was supposed to rain, but I couldn’t see any museums as it was Monday and they were all closed. I didn’t mind if it did rain – I wouldn’t melt. After winding my way through the Munich ring streets, I finally arrived and parked near a beach on the northeastern corner of the lake. From there I walked to the town of Tegernsee, about 3 km from where I parked. Apparently the town has its origins in the Tegernsee Abbey, which was founded in 746. The rain was indeed coming, but I was intent on avoiding the down pour, and ducked into a store as it started really coming down. I decided to explore the surrounding area as well, and drove to Scliersee, a nearby lake, also very pretty. I parked and walked as far along the shore as I could, then drove to Spritzingsee. I took a lovely walk around the lake, taking some photos of fall leaves in the setting sun. Then I headed back to Munich and had another good chat with Jennifer.

August 29.  I decided to go back to Tegernsee, as I’d so enjoyed the previous day.  Ralph set me up with a folding bike, and I was really excited about riding on the bike path that circles the lake.  I didn’t plan on riding the whole way, though. I parked in the same place I had the day before. There are very few places to park at Tegernsee, and I think the parking lot near the beach was the only public parking for miles. I got the bike out and brought my swimming suit as well. I was determined to swim and ride. It was a glorious day. I felt like it was summer, and the sun shone so beautifully that I wanted to move there! I passed Tegernsee and drove up into the mountains along a stream, a place that I’d explored by car before. I loved the small roadside chapels and pretty farmsteads and plowed fields. It was idyllic. I kept riding. I wasn’t planning on going around the whole lake. I stopped at a beach where many Germans were sunning themselves. A few brave souls (more than I would have expected) were swimming. I thought how cold can it be? I changed into my suit and put my feet in. Whoa! It was really cold. I ended up going in, though gingerly at first. Finally, at the count of 3, I dove into the water. Yikes! It took my breath away. I didn’t have a towel but I used my clothes to dry off. There was a wind blowing, so I rode fast to warm up. Then suddenly, I found myself on the other side of the lake, opposite my car, and decided it would be faster to continue in the same direction. So I was going to circle the lake! I got back to the car happy and exhilerated. It had been a beautiful day. I headed back to Munich and relayed my adventures to my friends.

August 30.  It was my last day in Munich, and I decided to go back to the Munich ifg Museum to see the exhibit on Hitler’s rise to power and the NSDAP movement. It was incredibly alarming, and I was reminded of Donald Trump’s bizarre mix of right-wing populism and corporate ass kissing.  When I was done, around 3:30pm, I headed to the Bavarian National Museum, which was expensive (10 Euros). I didn’t realize it was only open till 5pm, and they kicked me out at 4:30pm.  So it felt like a waste.  I ended up rushing through the rooms, taking photos, hoping to examine them later when I had time.  I walked through the Englischer Garten (the English garden) again, then headed over the Isar River to a lovely neighborhood on the other side, and a continuation of the English garden.  The angel of peace, aka Friedensengel, stood just on the other side of Prinzregenstrasse.  It’s a very wealthy and remarkably quiet part of town. Rich people tend to discourage rowdy gatherings.  It disturbs their afternoon tea ;> .

I walked by the British and Italian consulates, and found a small church which hadn’t changed much in the last 600 years. Apparently the parish priest was killed by Nazis in 1943. They definitely targeted clergy, particularly ones that were truly devout in their practice. Can’t have religious role models being courageous and resisting oppression. It’s counterproductive in controlling the populace. I walked back over the bridge and into the historic center for one more look before heading to Kaufering to visit my friends Anne and Robin. I like the old buildings in Munich. It’s a lovely city, and cozy as well, with the big outdoor beer gardens and lovely Rathaus. It’s easy to see why it’s such a popular tourist spot. About 8:30pm I headed back to my car and on to Kaufering. I got there about 10pm after picking up some groceries. It was nice to be with my friends again. I’d visited for 2 days earlier in the summer. Anne’s has been a port in the storm on more than one occasion. A home away from home.

 

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