Munich

Trip Start Sep 13, 2005
1
9
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Trip End Oct 15, 2006


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Wednesday, October 5, 2005

As we drove past the festival grounds in which they were disassembling the tents from Oktoberfest in Munich I knew that I hadn't missed much. It's a huge festival with thousands of people, where the beer flows as freely as water from a mountain stream. But being only an occasional drinker who is at the beginning of a trip around the world, I felt as if the cost of the accomodations which are approximately twice their regular price during Oktoberfest, weren't worth it...I was probably right at least in my case. I loved lingering in Budapest and Austria and wouldn't have traded it for drunken revelry.

Munich however is still an amazing place and I wish I had more time there. The city itself has a great feel. It is confident and sure of its identity unlike Berlin. People there are Bavarians first and Germans second. The mountains of Bavaria are dotted with castles including Neuschwanstein Castle build by King Ludwig II who some considered mad. He had an obsession with the composer Wagner and designed different rooms in his castle using themes from Wagner's operas. Neuschwanstein castle is another castle which claims a Disney connection. It is supposidly the inspiration for sleeping beauty's castle in Disneyland.

After checking out the Bavarian countryside, I went to Dachau which is a little town outside of Munich. Dachau is a name that might be very familiar to some of you who know a bit about WWII history. Dachau was the sight of a well known concentration camp and is now the sight of a memorial. While not an 'extermination camp', thousands upon thousands lost their lives here. Jews as well as political prisoners, foreign prisoners, homosexuals, gypsies and actual criminals were held at Dachau, a work camp. Arbeit macht frei - work will set you free - was the motto of this and a few other camps during the Nazi Regime. The bunk houses where prisoners stayed were all torn down due to sanitary reasons but the crematoriaum still stands. Next to it sits the gas chambers that were disguised as showers. Surprisingly enough it's believed that these gas chambers were never used, perhaps due to a shortage of poison gas. But an eerieness still sends shivers up your spine when you walk through this area.

Back in the city center you can check out the glockenspiel, an overrated sight in Marienplatz where you see differnt figures dance and move like a giant cuckoo clock certain times of the day. You can also grab a beer at the world famous Hofbrauhaus, a former royal beer hall where Hitler held his first Nazi meeting or else view the Hofgarten by the Residenz where the royal family one lived. Two must see sights in Munich are Frauenkirch and the Englischer garten. Frauenkirch (the church of our lady) was supposidly built with the help of the devil and has his footstep to 'prove' it. Englischer garten (the English Garden) has one of the largest beer gardens in the world (it can serve thousands), and the coolest thing I've ever seen in a city park...surfing. Europe's largest public metropolitan park actually has an area where people can surf the rapids of Eisbach which is a river that flows artifically through the park.
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