Published: May 27th 2005May 17th 2005
We said goodbye to Paris, on the 13th, and boarded a comfortable, second class French carriage on a train heading for Munich. In Germany, at Mannheim, we had to change to another train. We noted that this train left precisely on time - give or take 10 seconds or so. Unfortunately, our faith in German efficiency was soon to be destroyed. Our train broke down and we had to disembark and wait for the next train, at a small station 10 minutes outside of Stuttgart. The next train was overcrowded and we could not get on. We did manage to board the one after that, but had to endure 2 hours sitting on our bags next to the toilet. Thankfully a German Theology student took us under her wing. We could not understand any of the public address announcements, but she kindly translated these for us. She was also traveling to Munich, and went out of her way to ensure that we were on the correct platforms, and boarded the correct train.
In Munich we stayed at a very nice Hotel, The Eden Wolff on Arnulfstrasse. It was nice to have a bath, a comfy bed, and a steak. We
Hitlers Art Gallery
Ironically Untouched by bombing
also caught up on sleep for a day or so. We noticed that the Germans do have a sense of humour, and that beer is very important to the local culture. Bayern Munich were playing thier final game in the Bundesliga on the night we arrived. The German fans were louder, and more numerous than the Chelsea fans we saw in London. They seemed well behaved, but the sheer volume of people in the middle of town was daunting.
We went on three guided tours around munich. These were good value, and informative. Most of Munich was destroyed by bombing during the war, and a large number of the buildings have been rebuilt exactly as they were. It is difficult to know what is new, and what is old. We saw the street where Hitler first attempted to take over the government, and the Beer Hall we he made his first speech. We also went to Dachau. This was quite disturbing, but probably the most moving thing we will see on the entire trip. People in Munich have a high standard of living, and the streets are clean, and safe. Looking around, you can't help noticing that family life,
sport, and outdoor activities are very important to the Bavarians. Consequently its hard to reconcile the birth of Nazism, with what you find in Munich today.
The other tour, was titled Beer Halls and Breweries. This was really good. I had a great time but ended up drinking a wee bit too much. The wheat beer, and the schnitzel are fantastic here. You cant go wrong at the Weisses Brauhaus on both counts. We toured the Paulaner brewery, and tried three of their brews, and sampled the sausages and saurkraut. The tour finished at the Hofbrauhaus, with 1 litre steins.
It is difficult to explain how important beer is in Bavaria. However two things we found out about go some way to explaining this. When Bayern Munich won their football match, 8000 litres of free beer was provided in the town centre. Naturally this was a very popular spot. There is a local custom, whereby towns steal each others maypoles. These poles are often enormous, and special equipment is required to dismount and lift each one. Apparently each town employs their local fire brigade to help. This year, Munich lost their maypole to another town. In order to
get it back, they have to pay a fine in beer. Thousands of litres of beer.
Who said the Germans do not have a sense of humour?
There are more photos below