On May 15th, Rebecca and I were off for another adventure with our friends Jenn and Spence. The four of us flew the red-eye to Munich and arrived early morning. We took the train to the central town square of Marienplatz and made our way to the nearby Hotel Lux. We ditched the luggage and set out. First stop was for a coffee and buttered pretzel from the Viktualienmarkt (a daily food market and square). After our coffee we thought we’d take a better look around Marienplatz. It was there that we found the tourist information centre and learned that a guided tour of Dachau would be leaving in 15 minutes. We decided to go for it. We were soon on the metro with our group and guide and arrived at Dachau 45 minutes later.
On March 22, 1933, a few weeks after Adolf Hitler had been appointed Reich Chancellor, a concentration camp for political prisoners was set up in Dachau. This camp served as a model for all later concentration camps and as a “school of violence” for the SS men under whose command it stood. In the twelve years of its existence over 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned here and in the numerous subsidiary camps. 41,500 were murdered. On April 29 1945, American troops liberated the survivors. © KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau
Our guide was very knowledgeable and took us through the former maintenance building, roll call area, barracks, and camp prison, but for me, the most chilling was the crematorium area. It was a very sombre place to visit and quite sobering, but I believe it’s important to remember what happened in the concentration camps to ensure that it never happens again.
Back in Munich we stopped in at our first beer garden, Augustiner Keller, just as it started to rain. The gardens were empty because of the rain so we popped into their restaurant and had lunch on the covered patio. We had beer, pretzels, mini sausages, sauerkraut, and some sort of delicious dumplings. After lunch the skies cleared so we wondered back over to the Viktualienmarkt and enjoyed the beer garden. We stopped at the Heiliggeistkirche (church) on the way back to our hotel. We realized that the famous Hofbrauhaus was just around the corner from the hotel so that night we had a great traditional meal and listened to the Oom-pah band.
After breakfast, we were back in Marienplatz to watch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Every day at 11am, 12pm, and 5pm it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. We conveniently met our bike tour group in the square at 11:30 and followed the guide to their shop. He outfitted us with bikes and we were soon cruising around the city stopping at the National Theatre, Munich Residence, and Odeonplatz. We biked through the Hofgarten and past the Bavarian State Chancellery into the 3.7 km² Englischer Garten. We stopped for lunch at Munich’s second largest beer garden, Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower), with 7000 seats. On our way back into the centre we passed the only place to surf in Munich, the Angel of Peace Monument, the Maximilianeum, and finally the Deutsche Museum.
We had noticed that there was some sort of an entertainment stage being set up in Odeonplatz when we passed by so we thought we’d go back later to check it out. That night, we wondered back and found out that it was the Streetlife Festival and that Klaus Ammann (local famous singer) and his orchestra would be headlining. We stayed to take in the music and, of course, the great beer and food.
It was a little rainy on Sunday morning so we headed over to the Deutsche Museum. Its focus is on science and technology (oh that German ingenuity!). Afterwards, we thought we could get in a little shopping but, to our dismay, every single shop was closed. The Germans seem to value Sunday as a day off. So we toured around a little and walked up to the top of St. Peter’s Church to get some 360° views of the city. Late afternoon found us relaxing in the Hofgarten with apple strudel and beer for the boys and wine for the ladies. We headed back to the hotel to get our bags and were then off to the airport.
We definitely got our fill of pork and beer while we were there…Bavarian food is so hearty and tasty. Danke schön to Jenn and Spence for being such great travel buddies. You never know, we might have to drop in again sometime…Oktoberfest perhaps.