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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Germany Day 6

Munich

After today there would be a change of pace for a few days. Just like in Berlin, I’d have a few nights in the same hotel once I reached Munich. This hotel however was not the one I’d booked. The day before I was due to travel to Berlin, I’d had an email from the Hotel Deutsches Theater to say that they were closed and I would be staying at a different one instead. Looking at how the prices had changed since I’d booked, I was keen for them to change their rate too. I didn’t want them to charge me hundreds of Euro’s more for a room that wasn’t what I booked. This change of rate was also partially due to the cancellation of Oktoberfest, another casualty of COVID-19. It’s not something I’d even realised would be on at the end of September. I’d thought this was at some point in October. It does show that there can be blind spots in planning, no matter how thorough you are!

This morning was my one chance to see the Monument to the Battle of Nations, but it meant running 4.5K there, and 4.5K back if I wanted to do it. Since getting my new iPhone I have found the quality of the pictures to be so good, that I decided if I was going to do this run it would be without my DSLR - something I’d not expected to be thinking. So, when I set off I did so with the aim of getting there, but fully prepared to turn back if I didn’t feel my legs were yet up to it.

Monument to the Battle of Nations at dusk

The run turned out to be a fairly easy one, with not too many stops for road crossings. It was cloudy, with a few spots of rain every now and then, but these had stopped by the time I’d done a mile. I got to the monument before sunrise, and took my photographs before the sun had poked above the horizon. It was fortunate my phone could cope with low light conditions. I then ran back to the hotel for a shower, and breakfast. This time it was pain au chocolat, juice, and tea due to having been shopping last night.

Once I’d checked out, I headed to Leipzig Hbf and found platform 11 for the ICE 595. What I found confusing about this was that it said this went all the way to München - so why was I changing at Erfurt? I wondered for a while whether I was getting on the right train, it was packed full of commuters, busier than any other train I’d been on thus far in Germany. Whilst sitting on the floor of the train, just like in the UK I guess, I had time to look at what I’d booked. From what I could tell I’d booked a faster route by switching trains as the second one, ICE 1003, would only have one stop between Erfurt and Munich. As long as I got to Munich okay, I wasn’t too bothered!

At Erfurt I could have walked off the train and straight onto another that was also heading to Munich with only three stops. I waited though, and eventually boarded the sprinter train. Patience can pay off. This train was quieter, and I was able to get a seat for the next couple of hours. As the train approached Nuremberg, the sun started to come out, and I wondered if I should have planned a stop there. I’d not seen mention of anything I was interested in there, but I could see what looked like a viewing tower that would have been nice to visit.

I arrived in Munich just in time for lunch, but had decided to eat it on the train just before to save time. It was a short walk from the train station to Cocoon Hauptbahnhof, but other than it’s name, I had no details whatsoever as the Hotel Deutsches Theater had not been forthcoming. The receptionist commented, “That's a nice room!” I’ll take her word for it. Unfortunately the room wasn’t yet ready, which was to be expected, so I dropped off my luggage and as it was nice and sunny out I decided I’d do the Dachau Concentration Camp first.

This was an 11 minute train ride from the main station, and upon leaving it I thought there was nothing much there. I checked my map and saw it’d be around 40 minutes walking to get there. This was more than I realised, but I was there, I was going to see it now. Fortunately it took me considerably less time to walk it than maps.me told me, though I did notice one curious thing along the way - on one road there were three street vending machines for cigarettes, and they couldn't have been more than a few hundred metres apart. Do they smoke so much here that they’re needed? I also wondered about security at the time, and other thoughts about it later too.

Eventually I got to John F. Kennedy Platz and from there it was more or less a straight line past a school and a number of houses to get to the place that had brought so much horror during the war. To get in it’s free, but you need to check-in using the Luca app, or manually in the info centre, but in both cases you need to prove your vaccination status, and how long ago it was. They’ll then give you a ticket to get inside the museum as well.

Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp

On the way in I noticed a train track that was mostly buried. Having recently seen Schindler’s List, I knew that they were for. Just like in many other camps, this was how people were brought to them. The first sight they’d see when getting off the train would have been this gatehouse that I could see now. On either side there are barbed wire fences that lead to guardtowers. Once in, there would have been no getting out for these people. The thought of people trying to escape had not yet crossed my mind, so had not yet made a connection with anywhere else.

Habitation buildings

I looked around the back of the maintenance building and then back round at the front I found it to be the entrance to the museum. For the most part these are boards of information, but I felt I didn’t have time to read them all. I picked at random which ones to look at, and focused on places where they’d got items left over from those days.

Once the museum was done, I started to think about the gate they have on display that says “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free” in English. In Colditz the Geneva convention had prevented the Nazi soldiers from putting the officers to work, which is why they’d find ways to keep themselves amused such as theatre productions. Here, the Geneva conventions didn’t stop this; they were treated as criminals, not prisoners of war. They were made to work.

Gas chamber

I walked past the other buildings and to the avenue of trees that lead to the chapel. It looked like the rows of gravel leading to it were probably where there had once been more buildings. To the left of this was another gateway that said ‘crematorium’. Surely they can’t mean…? They did. This building is where people were taken and held tightly packed in rooms. They would be led into another room and stripped of their clothes, being told they were decontaminating and would be showering next. When I reached that room, I paused. You could see holes in the roof where the gas would have poured into the room to kill the occupants. At Dachau they never used the gas to kill en masse, but it is believed that some did happen here towards the end of the war.

Crematorium

The next room are a number of furnaces where the dead bodies would be cremated, often prisoners who were hanged would have had this done in front of them so it wouldn’t be far to carry the body. It’s still shocking how unchecked hate and distrust when utilised as a weapon by the government, can lead to this.

I headed back to the exit, and saw a bus at the bus stop. As I got closer I started to think, Does that go to the train station? It does! Of course it did… as it then pulled away from the stop just as I reached it. I looked at the timetable, and found it was only seven minutes until the next one. That wasn’t too bad, but the smell of smoke around the bus stop was horrendous - caused by the teenagers that were huddled nearby. That was when I realised that cigarette dispensers can’t really have a way of not selling to young people. That can’t be good.

Dinkel Streuseltaler johannisbeere cake

The bus ride was fairly direct, maybe slightly more so than my walking route, and then it wasn’t a very long wait for the train back into Munich either. On my way out I bought a Dinkel Streuseltaler johannisbeere from a stand there, and started heading in the direction of the Assam church. I was an hour or so ahead of where I thought I’d be, so I took my time getting there.

This church is on what seems to be the main high street, and has a very ornate front. The jewellery shop at the side looks like it may once have been part of the same place. At this end of the street is the Sendlinger Tor which is an old entrance into the city from around the 1300s. I then turned around and headed back up the street in the opposite direction, to the Neues Rathaus - the new Town Hall. It’s an incredibly impressive gothic building on Marienplatz with so many little details that you could spend a lot of time looking at it and still find new things to see.

Town hall

I went inside the courtyard and tried to find if there was a way to look around. On two of the doors I did find, there was a sign which I translated, but couldn’t find the other door it talked of. I did however find a room that was a temporary art exhibition, but I wasn’t interested and moved on to where I spotted St. Peter’s Church. This seems to be a combination of styles as one part is rounded and made from red brick, whilst the rest is white. I went inside briefly, but to go up the tower it was going to be a thirty minute wait. I decided I’d be somewhere far from there by then, so I kept moving.

I passed through the archway next to the old town hall, which is still a very photogenic hall, and found another church. The Heiliggeistkirche is a combination of 14th and 18th century styles, but I didn’t find it as impressive, so I was there for mere seconds before moving on and heading in the direction of two church towers I could see. These were for the Frauenkirche.

Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche is difficult to get decent photographs of due to its size and location. My feet were also so tired, so once I’d photographed what I wanted to I sat down until I was asked to leave at 16:00. I think a service was about to start, or I had ‘agnostic’ or ‘atheist’ written on my forehead.

Not sure where to go now, I remembered I’d seen a place called the Residenz on the map, so headed for that. The buildings around this square are all pretty impressive, but I didn’t realise they were open to the public. To see all of it would cost around €23, and they were open for a couple more hours. Unfortunately as the last admissions are at 17:00, I suspected I wouldn’t get to see inside during the next couple of days in Munich either.

Feldherrnhalle and Theatine

As I didn’t know this information, I carried on walking to the Feldherrnhalle - a 19th century monument to the Bavarian army, and the baroque-style Theatine Church next to it. At this point I decided I was done, and started walking back in the direction of the hotel, but looking out for food places as I went. There were very few, and too many of them were packed with people smoking outside. I’d noticed that there were far too many smokers around the city centre in general.

Eventually I found my way back to the Cocoon Hotel and checked in. They were right, the room was quite nice - it was quiet when the windows were closed, and it had its own sofa as well. Not quite as spartan as the last couple of hotels. The theme all around this hotel seemed to be mountaineering and adventure. I suppose it was the right place to be!

Hotel Cocoon

It took some time to find somewhere to eat after that, but I found Schnitzelwirt that specialised in schnitzel, so that seemed like a good idea. I could try another German food! The signs suggested I go inside, and down some stairs to find someone to seat me, but it seemed deserted. I rang the bell and a waiter rushed to appear about a minute later. After having read the menu whilst I waited, I was ready to order, but he didn’t resurface for another 15 minutes - they were pretty busy outside. I ordered the Jäger schnitzel with spátzle which is like a pork escalope in mushroom sauce, with something that is like pasta, but not quite pasta as it seemed fried. I thought he’d reappear with my drink soon after that, but it took him 20 minutes to come back with that as he told me he’d forgotten. Not a problem, these things happen!

Jäger schnitzel with spátzle

Around 15 minutes later the food arrived, and it was quite nice - it was different to anything I’d tried in Germany so far. Although filling, I also wanted to make sure I sampled German Apfelstrudel. Between waiting to order it, and receiving it, another 40 minutes had passed. I'd heard someone mention strudel in the kitchen as if it was some sort of question. When it was delivered it was somebody else who looked like it may have been the manager, suggesting he realised I’d been forgotten about again. It was nice though, served with both cream and custard (I left both), but had started to cool off a bit suggesting it’d been ready for some time. I was able to pay the bill quickly, and the food was okay, but overall it was a lot of wasted time - it’s not like I had anybody with me to talk to.

Apfelstrudel

I then headed back to the hotel as it started to get dark, passing the local police surrounding a large group of teenagers on the way. My first day in Munich was over.

Running: 5.68 miles, Walking: 11.72 miles, Bus: 1.8 miles, Train: 318.3 miles

Tags: germany munich travel trips

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© David G. Paul