An April 2011 trip
to Munich by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: My 2011 European vacation started with a bang beginning with the flight from hell from the USA followed by three weeks of fun in some of Europe's lesser-known destinations. The first journal from this trip covers our whirlwind trip to Munich, heart of Bavaria.
Attraction | "Champagne Wishes Along The Maximillianstrasse"
Our adventures led us to the Maximillianstrasse, Munich's most exclusive and main drags. The Maximillianstrasse is home to several exclusive and high-end shops such as Benneton, Dior, and Versace and the expensive Dallmayr Grocery Store. The Maximillianstrasse was built in the mid-19th Century after King Ludwig I, who was a very unpopular king, build the Ludwigstrasse, and the people wanted a street built in Munich that was named after a popular king, that being Maximillian II, who became Mad King Ludwig II's father.
After strolling along the Maximillianstrasse and hobknobbing among the rich and beautiful folk, Helga and I came upon the Max-Josefplatz and decided to take a break. This square is home to the National Theater and the Residenz, the Wittelsbach's palace. The Residenz was undergoing remodeling, and there was a tarp with a facade of the Residenz on it covering the scaffolding that was covering the front of the palace. The National Theater opened in 1818 and was a cultural center of Bavaria hosting concerts, plays and other events until its destruction during World War II. After the war, the National Theater underwent 18 years of reconstruction and restoration. before reopening in style in 1963.
You don't have to tour a lot of museums or sites to get an idea of what Munich is like. Just walk along its strassen (Streets) and sit in their squares to soak in the culture, language and history that way. Avoid the souvenir shops and other tourist traps and you can see the real Muchen for yourself.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 26, 2011
Attraction | "Vittles at the Viktualenmarkt for Your Pleasure"
Helga and I did walk around the Viktualmarkt for a few minutes to see the Maypole that dates from the 15th Century along with several of the food stands throughout the market but we didn't partake in any of the food and drink there. It was a good Munich experience to see what life might have been like in the 15th Century when the place wasn't overrun by tourists. If you are interested in seeing the Vitualenmarkt, go through the Marienplatz past St. Peter's Church and you are there. I recommend it for a quick tour to check out the produce but go somewhere less touristy and inexpensive for food and beer.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2011
Center of Munich
Munich, Germany 80331
Munich, Germany was the sight of the 1972 Summer Olympics. It was the first time since the 1936 Games that an Olympiad was held in Germany, albeit a divided Germany in 1972.
The 1972 Munich Olympics were the Olympics of Olga Korbut, Mark Spitz, and the tragedy of the Israeli Olympic team where Palestinian terrorists raided the Israeli Olympic quarters and held several athletes and coaches hostage. The German police tried to rescue the Israeli athletes at the airport when the terrorists tried to leave Munich, and the tragedy that ensued led to the terrorists and 11 Israeli athletes being killed.
The Olympic venues are a series of metal tent-like buildings on the outskirts of Munich worth a half day of your time.
Many of the Olympic Park venues were closed due to the events of September 11 in the USA, and Helga and I were not able to see much. However, we did get into the swimming venue where Mark Spitz won his seven gold medals. The swimming venue is now a public swimming pool where you can go for a swim for a cheap price on an hourly basis or more.
I was only five at the time of the 1972 Olympics and my parents put me to bed early, so I didn't get to watch any history being made. When I got older, I was able to watch documentaries on the 1972 Olympics on TV, including the Israeli athletes' tragedy. In 1972, a little girl from Belarus named Olga Korbut tore at our heart strings when she fell off of the uneven bars performing her trademark back flip and other moves and cried. But there was a happy ending when she won three gold medals in Munich and became another heroine of mine.
There are great walking paths around the Olympic Park that you can walk about seeing the venues. There are athletic statues scattered along the park, and my favorite was one of a gymnast in a cartwheel position. I was tempted to imitate art, but with the wet grounds, I was afraid of falling on my butt!
The police were out in force at the Olympic Park. As Helga and I were leaving, we saw a narcotics unit investigating some suspicious activity. There was a smell of acetone or some other chemical, and spectators were rubbernecking to see what was going on. Helga and didn't stick around to see what happened. We went to a mall located nearby to browse before heading back home.
When you visit the Olympic Village in Munich, take a moment to reflect on the tragic events of September 5, 1972, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli Olympic athletes as German police tried to rescue the hostages at the airport. I still get the chills when I see documentaries on TV about the tragedy and hear Jim McKay's voice. Munich Olympic Park is a place of both triumph and tragedy.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 7, 2003
Olympic Stadium and Park
Attraction | "A Beautiful "Lady" in Munich"
Construction on the Frauenkirche began in the late 15th Century and was built in the Gothic style of architecture. However, construction of the Frauenkirche was delayed several times due to lack of money and had to wait until Renaissance times to get the onion domes put on the roof of the Cathedral. Legend has it that the construction of the twin onion domes were inspired by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem or in honor of the many onion-domed churches that have been built throughout Bavaria in the past 600 years. In order to save money, the Frauenkirche was built of brick since it was cheaper than stone and faster to construct. Construction of the Frauenkirche only took 20 years, and it is built on top of the first King of Bavaria Ludwig IV's grave (he died in 1347). When Helga and I entered the Frauenkirche, we were greeted by his beautiful and huge black tombstone. It was originally located at the altar at the front of the cathedral but in later years, Ludwig's final resting place was moved to the back of the cathedral where is stands today. Since 1821, the Frauenkirche has been the main church of the city of Munich.
The altar in front of the church was built by the Wittelsbach family and it is said that they had a bit of a God complex wanting to be associated with God all of the time. The altar is represented by Christ and the Wittelsbach family, and for a long time during the Wittelsbach's reign in Bavaria, residents of the Land (German name for provinces) were forced to recite this prayer: "Virgin Mary, Mother of our Duke, please protect us."
During World War II, the Frauenkirche sustained a lot of damage due to Allied bombings of Munich, but the twin domes miraculously survived serious damage. The Cathedral underwent a major reconstruction after the war, and from 1977-1982, Joseph Ratzinger, was archbishop of Munich and used the Frauenkirche as his homebase. From there, he became a Cardinal and went to The Vatican to be in Pope John Paul's inner circle before succeeding him as Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
Helga and I walked around the beautiful Lady for several minutes admiring the altar, stained glass, and gothic architecture. Upon seeing the area where one can light candles and pray for family and friends, I made sure I lit a candle and said a little prayer for my family, my safe voyage in Europe, and the Red Sox to start winning! I did this at every church I visited in Europe, and although I am not overly religious, I felt very spiritual lighting candles and praying for good things to happen in our lives.
Admission into the Frauenkirche is free of charge and it is open Saturdays-Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Fridays from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information on the Frauenkirche, go to www.muenchener-dom.de. I highly recommend you see the Frauenkirche if you are interested in Gothic architecture and the history of this "Beautiful Lady of Munich."
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 16, 2011
The Frauenkirche (Domkirche zu unserer lieben Frau)
Munich, Germany 80331
+49 89 2900820
The second time I was in Germany was in 2001. I was staying with a friend in Neuburg an der Donau and we were going to spend a day in the Bavarian capital when I got the flu. Instead of strolling along some of Munich's beautiful strassen (streets) and seeing the sights, I had a view of my friend's toilet for two of the days I was visiting her. UGH!
You what they say about the third time being the charm. This trip to Germany, I was not letting flu or other disasters prevent me from seeing Munich at least once in my lifetime. I was staying with my friend Helga and her family in Dachau, which is a suburb north of Munich and a short S-Bahn ride away from her home. Helga suggested we visit Munich on Thursday since Friday was Good Friday and most shops and other sites would be closed for the Easter Holidays starting that Friday. So that Thursday afternoon, Helga and I took her car to the S-Bahn station at Karlsfelf and jumped on the S-2 Bahn for a couple of hours strolling around Munich (that is Munchen to the locals).
If you are looking for a journal with all of the tourist traps and other sights that are seen from the window of a tour bus, this isn't the journal for you. Helga and I just did a whirlwind walking tour of this beautiful old city and saw some of the famous sites along with a couple of places that Helga likes about Munich. But first, I will give you a short history of Munich, the place that was founded because of salt.
Munich's history dates from the 12th century when Heinrich der Lowe (Henry the Lion), a wealthy salt trader, built his home on the Isar River near a monastery. The name Munich comes from the German word for monks, Munchen. After Heinrich died, Munich was taken over by the merchant family Wittelsbach in 1240 and Munich then became a major hub of trade and the seat of the Holy Roman Empire when Ludwig IV became Holy Roman Emperor. In the 15th Century, Munich got its fame and wealth from a new source, beer, when several breweries were built in the area. Residents of Munich who got rich on beer sales then started to build many of the buildings in Munich that are standing today including the Frauenkirche, the Residenz, and the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall). Munich was a Catholic city that stood its ground during Martin Luther's Reformation that swept Germany in the 16th Century.
In 1800, another invasion swept Munich. Napoleon's Grand Armee surrounded Munich and instead of fighting the French, the Wittelsbach family surrendered to Napoleon and offered Bavarian hospitality to Napoleon, who in return gave the family royal titles starting with crowning Max-Josef Wittelsbach King of Bavaria with the name of Maximillian I in 1806. Max only had to have his daughter marry Napoleon's step-son to make it a done deal. Maximillian ran Bavaria until his death in 1825. Then his son Ludwig I succeeded him almost running Bavaria's coffers into the ground spending money on his mistress, a dancer named Lola Montez, pissing off Muncheners and coining the phrase, "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!" Ludwig I's successor wasn't any better, but Ludwig II's problem wasn't women, it was blowing the budget on fairytale castles in the Alps (can you say Neuschwanstein!?) and his obsession for Richard Wagner, the composer. Bavaria and Munich joined the German unification in 1871 and suffered greatly during WWI. Hitler used Munich to start his evil empire in the 1920's and the city suffered much damage during WWII due to Allied bombings. The Marshall Plan allowed Munich to rebuild after WWII and today Munich is restored to its former beauty and is home to several of Germany's and the worlds most-prominent industries including BMW and Siemen's. Munich hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics and hopes to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, and I saw the signs all over town calling for Munich to once again host its first Winter Olympics since 1936.
Helga and I started our trip by getting off the S-Bahn in the Marienplatz, then looked around the beautiful platz that contains the Frauenkirche, Neues Rathaus, and the statue of St. Mary for whom this square is named after. After getting out of the Marienplatz, Helga and I walked to the Max-Josefplatz followed by a stroll looking but not buying at some of Munich's most expensive shops on the Maximillianstrasse and then into the famous Viktualenmarkt where one get sample some of Munich's best food and drink. We spent about two hours touring Munich and ended the day at one of Helga's favorite places, a huge fountain with beautiful statues of women and men enjoying the water. It was a nice trip that allowed me to finally visit this awesome town and tell my friends and family back home, "I was there!"
So finally in my new seat in Row 35, I tried to nap a little bit but when you are 5"8" and long-legged and like to stretch out to sleep, it wasn't easy, and I was lucky to get maybe three hours of beauty sleep during the entire flight. I took advantage of Mike's free-drink offer at dinner by getting a Budweiser. After that and watching some TV programs on the in-flight screens, I looked forward to landing in London in a short time, but just when you thought things were going right. . .
The pilot or purser came over the intercom as we were travelling over the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada saying that due to the brain trust in Miami failing to properly inspect our plane before taking off from there, we would have to turn back to JFK Airport in New York to be inspected and then go to London from there. Just about every passenger groaned and started to grab any flight attendant in sight. I had established a great repore with Mike during this time, so I got out of my seat and went to him in the back where he was calming all of us down and letting us know what was going on. During our time at JFK, we would have to stay on the plane and wait for the inspection to be completed. UGH! But then I looked at it this way with my snarky sense of humor: I didn't bring my Red Sox hat or a t-shirt and if I did get off the plane at JFK to stretch out, I might have met a Yankee fan who might have insulted my garb and I might have slugged him and gone to jail for all of Red Sox Nation! Best for me to stay on the plane instead of risking bodily harm for calling Alex Rodriguez "A-Roid."
Now, I am going to pay Mike Janes, the flight attendant of American Airlines Flight 56, a big thank you and compliment. Mike was so patient and sweet with all of the passengers, including myself, who went to him to get information. He didn't pussyfoot around the truth and after a while we were talking about sports, politics and he complimented the handmade sweater I had on for most of the flight. He made sure my water bottle was full for the entire flight and my needs were met. So, Mike, if you are reading this, "thank you!"
Less than two hours after landing at JFK, we were ready to take off for London again and made it there two hours later. Mike told us that anyone like myself who was connecting elsewhere that people were waiting at the gate to get us in the right direction to our next flights. After saying good-bye to Mike and getting my instructions from the folks at Heathrow, I had to go to the British Airways line to get my new ticket to Frankfurt for the 3:35 flight. The couple with the twins was also on this flight but by this time, the baby was quiet and they were happy to be sitting together.
We landed at Frankfurt about 6 p.m. and I had missed my train to Dachau where my friend Helga lives with her family. I went to the Deutsche-Bahn desk at the airport to see about getting to my next destination, and the girl behind the counter was kind enough to get me on the next train to Dachau via Ingolstadt that would get to Dachau at 11:30 that night. Then I realized I didn't have Helga's phone number and couldn't use my cell phone even though I thought I had put international time on it before leaving home. GRRR! The nice girl at the desk then got me connected to Helga and Helga said once I got to Dachau to call her, and she and Peter would be there to get me since the train station at Dachau is a short ride from their home. Another woman at the Frankfurt Flughafen Bahnhof said I should write to American Airlines about a possible refund for the missed train since I had paid for my ticket before leaving home via the www.bahn.com.
My train from Frankfurt was a little late getting to Ingolstadt, and the train to Dachau was about to leave, but the conductor saw three of us getting off the Frankfurt train and waited for us, and I just took the first seat available on the train and collapsed exhausted and sore. We got to Dachau on time and I had to search for a pay phone and was lucky to find one near the bike rack at the station and called Helga and she and Peter were there in no time happy to see me. After arriving at their lovely home in Dachau, I wound down with them in their kitchen before a cold shower (their hot water heater is on timer and stopped working for the night but I was clean) and crashed about 1 a.m. and slept until 7 the next day refreshed and ready for adventure.
American Airlines gave me a 3,000 credit towards my AAAdvantage account due to the snafu between Miami and London and when I wrote them to ask about a refund on my lost train ticket and complimented our hero Mike about his kindness during our flight, they, unfortunately could not give me my money back but kindly thanked me for writing about that and my compliments for Mike and gave me an additional 2,000 miles for my account. SWEET! Trip that was looking like a disaster got back on the right foot!