Thursday the 11th we traveled by train from Berlin to Munich, and the next leg of our trip. We have no other plans on these travel days but to travel. It gives us a chance to rest and absorb the experiences of the other days.
The train ride has its own charms, of course. The first half of the route between Berlin and Munich is canyon-like, with hills on either side of you green with trees, intercut with occassional villages or a river. I wish I could have captured a few decent photos of it, but most I took with my cheapo camera were blurry. The land levels out as you get closer to Munich.
Munich leaves a much better first impression than Berlin. It has many more older buildings (or at least it appears that way). The hotel we are staying at here in Munich, however, is our least favorite so far. It is one of those uber-modern "design" hotels, and I would take an older hotel with character (and a bathtub!) over this any day. The first room they assigned us smelled of cigarette smoke, even though this is a non-smoking hotel. The second room is a bit noisy with the street traffic of a major thoroughfare passing by just outside. The sink in the bathroom is about an inch and a half deep, which makes it hard to do a little soak-laundering. And the neighborhood does not have a lot of interesting restaurants to choose from.
I think with the exception of breakfast sausage, Deborah and I had not partaken in any indigenous food since we'd arrived here before Munich. We'd had Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, numerous sandwiches made from hotel breakfast bars, and some deli salads. But real "German" (or Dutch) food? Not really. There was a German restaurant near our hotel in Berlin that we peered into, but then we moved on.
Friday the 12th Deborah and I had a hop-on, hop-off tour of Munich scheduled that was pre-paid. We caught the double-decker bus at Munich Hauptbanhof and started the "Grand Circle" tour. This took us to Nymphenburg Palace and the Olympic stadium. We hopped off at Schwabing, the old artists' quarter. I think Deborah hoped to find art galleries here, but after wandering down to Ludwig Maxilians University and back, we realized it was more a student district. We still had 45 minutes until the tour bus returned, so we decided to bail on the tour and continue on foot and by subway car.
We headed from there to Marienplatz so we could locate the glockenspiel , the huge mechanical clock. Once we found it, we felt free to wander around the city center. We stopped for lunch at a cafe, where I had a sausage salad that was more sausage than salad. After lunch, we made our way to the Lenbachhaus museum in Konisbergplatz, which is where you really *do* find the galleries. I must mention that we have found most of what we were looking for in Munich and Berlin by the GPS on my tablet. I have spent half my wanderings in these cities with my nose buried in Google maps, following the little blue arrow that indicates our position, just to make sure we were on the right track. I am not sure how we would have found half the things we were aiming for without it (maybe, in. Munich, by remaining on the hop-on, hop-off tour?). And if you're as lame as I am turning out to be, efficiency matters. The museum was a spur-of-the moment choice we made after seeing an ad for der Blaue Reiter school of late 19th/early 20th century art featured there.
After the museum, we returned to see the glockenspiel chime in the 5 p.m. hour. We arrived early and sat in an open air cafe. The glockenspiel is a clock tower where puppet jugglers, jousters, dancers, and finally a rooster appear on a turning clockwork set to fanciful music. Deborah and I had a front row seat from our cafe seats. The clocktower is high enough that, as the crowd gathered close to five p.m., we were still able to see the display. I also had the prescience to bring along binoculars for a close-up view.
After the glockenspiel was over, we wandered until we found a beer garden where we shared a couple of weiss beers and dinner and watched people playing the ancient game of bowls on the gravel. I am not a beer drinker at all, but it did go down well with the pizza I ate.
All along the streets we walked, we continually saw the blue double-decker buses of the grayline tour we abandoned, meaning we saw most everything the bus would have taken us to. On the other hand, it did take us longer than usual to get back to the hotel--my new-found confidence on the subway meant we got on several lines going several wrong ways. Best to take a minute to make sure you are on a route headed to your destination--and direction, rather than just leaping on the first train that comes along.