Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
111Trip End Ongoing
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What a fabulous city! First off, it is a massive city of about 1.5 million but it feels unlike most major centres we have been. We expected a "concrete jungle", but have seen so much more. Munich is said to be the cultural capital of Germany as it is full of intense history, beautifully gabled churches, countless massive "piazza" type places (called platzes here), a park in the middle of town that is bigger than Central Park in NY, and of course the odd beer hall or two... dozen. We spent the first two days simply exploring the place. We walked the main shopping district (pedestrian only of course) checked out the main markets that are set up daily. Their main food market is constantly buzzing with people, many of whom took a break for a beer at the beer garden that is set up in the middle of it all. In our travels we came across the "Hofbrauhaus", the world's most famous beer hall. We had to check it out so we stopped in for a beer not realizing the German "beer" is a little different (see pictures)
The next day we went to their "English Garden" which was actually created by an American. Anyway, as mentioned, the park is bigger than Central Park, full of walking paths, river streams, a lake, a beer garden (of course), and the odd naked person. Apparently it is common to sit on the grass in the park in the buff... no tan lines I guess. From there, we headed back to the main square to browse the market and do as the locals do. We joined the masses in a very quick line, picked up a couple pints, and grabbed a corner of a picnic table with hundreds of others in the late afternoon. It didn't matter where we looked, all different sorts of people were getting into the mix, young, old, business people, grandmothers, tourists, everyone. It was really neat to see so many different types of people sit together randomly and just drink and chat. At the table next to us were a couple little old ladies sharing a laugh and some refreshments when a young kid barely 18 plops down in an empty seat across from them. We were thinking great, there goes the mood for the ladies, but in a matter of minutes, they had introduced themselves to each other and ended up laughing, talking, and drinking together for some time
Now for the heavy stuff. The third day we headed to Dachau. Dachau is the site of the Nazi's first Concentration Camp in 1933 created just a few weeks after Hitler took power. Dachau served to be a model for later camps and as a training school for the SS. In the 12 years of its existence over 200,000 people were sent here and 43,000 lost their lives. It was pretty creepy to actually be there. We walked through the prison, into a few cells, past their living quarters, and through a very comprehensive museum section in the old kitchen. The museum had stories of horrific medical experiments on people. They actually tested how soldiers would cope in freezing waters or at high altitudes by putting prisoners in those circumstances. They even gave subjects Malaria and tested vaccines on them. Quite distressing stuff. The German's have really done well at preserving the memory of such places to ensure that mistakes are remembered and therefore not made again. The pictures will explain a little more.