Tuesday 2nd July
Today I did a day trip to Nuremberg to visit the German Railway Museum. It was a two hour trip on the Regional train. I could have taken the ICE train which takes half the time, but it was three times the price! The museum was quite interesting, particularly the section concerning the 1920s and 1930s, probably the golden age of German railways, when they were at the cutting edge of railway technology, and led the world with streamlined and high speed trains, such as the Flying Hamburger and the Noble Stag locomotive (I have models of both these). Of course the system was largely destroyed thanks to the Nazis starting WWII. The Allied bombing, plus the Nazis' crazed destruction of infrastructure as they lost the war, saw to that. Then the division of Germany caused serious problems for the railway system, from which they are still recovering. There were some very interesting items in the museum from the Nazi era, and also from the Communist East German railways.
Overall I thought the French rail museum was better set out (it had much more space), and it had a lot more real locomotives, carriages and wagons
than did the German museum, which had a lot of models and other items. The German museum was more thorough in telling the history though. It also featured a large and complex model railway, all controlled by hundreds of (now old fashioned) relays, rather than being computerised, like for example the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg (the world's largest model railway, which I visited in 2013).
Unfortunately I didn't see anything else in Nuremberg today. I am actually pretty tired of travelling, and though the heat has relented somewhat, I am now finding it too hot to bother walking around too much. There's nowhere to get much relief, as the buildings just don't cope with heat, so it's hotter inside than outside – this hotel is a good example, it has cooled down outside, but is still 8 degrees hotter in here – ventilation is hopeless). Air conditioning is very rare. Last time I did such a long trip (6 months in the US & Canada in 1998-99), I was 20 years younger and also the intensity was lower!
Amazing coincidence: I went to an Indian restaurant this evening, the second one I looked at, and the waiter was
the same bloke from the restaurant on Sunday night in Füssen! We talked about the cricket again. Tomorrow I will spend looking around Munich a bit (I have been here before, but only for one day), before heading to the airport Thursday first thing.
Wednesday 3rd July
This morning I started with a one hour bus city tour to get a good look at the main features of central Munich. There is a lot to see here, if I had more time I would certainly have visited the Olympic Park, BMW Museum and the Deutsches Museum.
I decided to have a look at the National Socialist Dokumentationzentrum, which is a museum dealing with the rise and fall of the Nazis in Munich, and the aftermath. It is situated amongst some buildings that remain from the Nazi era, when this area of Munich housed the Nazi party headquarters. For the most part the area has been returned to its form before the Nazi era, and some Nazi buildings were demolished and landscaped over. The architecture of the area remains interesting, though the buildings were given new purposes after the war. For example, the Fuhrer building became
the America building. Today it is a music school. The museum was very interesting, and also very disturbing and at times emotional. It consisted mainly of large, lit tables showing enlarged documents, newspapers and photographs from the era. It included a lot about Nazi propaganda, the popularity of the government in the 30s, all the national programs they developed, and how they influenced the judiciary, courts, community groups, etc. It details the persecution, discrimination, deportation, imprisonment and murder of jews, communists, people with a disability, etc. It shows the destruction and rebuilding of Munich, and the cowardice and denial of many Germans in the face of what their nation had done. Very worthwhile to visit, but a lot of reading!
I then headed off on the underground to the gluten-free bakery and cake shop I had located on Google. I arrived at 2pm, and the lunch was finished – nothing to offer. I had to settle for some delicious gluten-free cake.
I then headed on the underground for the Englischen Garten, an enormous green area (much larger than Central park, NY), which occupies a swathe of Munich along the river. It was cool and very pleasant in the
forest and fields there, especially by the water. However, I had started out close to the far end, and it was actually about a 7km walk back to the city end, which is where I should have started! There were various points of interest in the park, such as a weir across the river with a building spanning it, a large lake with pedal boats and ducks, a Chinese style tower, a lookout rotunda, and a wave area on a fast flowing stream, complete with surfers in wetsuits having turns surfing on it, and teenagers in the water being rushed downstream and through the waves. At the Chinese tower is the world's largest beer garden, which can seat 7,000 people. There was an oompah band playing as I arrived there at 5pm, which is when they stopped – just as I walked up to sit and listen.
I took a tram back to my hotel, where I am writing this before packing ready for tomorrow's return flights.
Some general observations on France & Germany:
Impossible to escape all the smokers – every street, every station, every bus stop, every restaurant terrace, every park. It's horrible.
Smoking rate in France is about 30%, in Germany 32% (Australia 16%), but the sheer amount of smoking the smokers do is incredible. Parts of Munich are like giant ashtrays, butts everywhere. Many people have cigarettes in their hands as they step off the tram, for instant lighting.
On a more positive note, Germany is packed with people cycling – tens of thousands of them. Not racers in lycra, but normal people commuting, going shopping, etc. Bicycles everywhere!
Germany also has solar panels galore. Not only on houses and businesses, but whole fields full of them, sometimes several hectares, and roadside stretches of panels running for kilometres. I understand that on a sunny day (like most days at present), Germany's solar panels could power Australia. So what are we doing in Australia, where we have many more sunny days?
It has been a long and interesting trip. Hard to believe all the things I did and places I went over the three months. I hope you have enjoyed the blog. For me, it will serve as an excellent travel diary.
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