Sunday 24 May
A short night’s sleep as we stayed up and watched Eurovision which finished just before 1am. Defending champions Austria suffered the ignominy of not scoring a single point. The only other country on the night to do this was neighbouring Germany and it is the first time in 12 years any country has scored zero. In a contest that is more about politics than any musical ability I was surprised that Germany and Austria did not at least give each other a few points. Anyway, Sweden won with a good song and Russia second, although Serbia and the UK were the best two musically I thought, along with Belgium (who finished 4th
I think). Sadly for Serbia and the UK they don’t seem to have many friends who voted for them. Australia were invited to compete as a one-off as Eurovision was celebrating 60 years and it is very popular in Australia. Former Australian Idol
winner Guy Sebastian wrote and performed their entry and it was pretty good. They finished a creditable 5th
of 27. I commented to the receptionist that we were going from Austria, who had scored 0 points, to Germany who
had also scored 0, so there would be no singing on the train. No doubt when we get to Salzburg for “The Sound of Music” tour on Tuesday people will be in full voice (I still haven’t bought those earplugs!)
We had half a day in Innsbruck before catching the 1436 train to Munich so we went to the Schloss (Castle) Amras. We didn’t realise the walk from the tram stop was straight up a steep hill! However it was worth doing. They had an extensive collection of old artwork and armoury, as well as a glass collection. As well as that you could just explore areas of the castle and the grounds. Zachary actually quite enjoyed it and was on his best behaviour. He had spotted some things in the shop when we bought out tickets and had decided he wanted a sword so that probably had a lot to do with it!
As we left the castle the sun came out for the first time since arriving!
A two hour trip to Munich. There were a lot of Africans on the train. They seemed to be together but were
spread out. When we got to the Munich Hauptbahnhof the exit at the end of our platform was completely blocked by police. I thought maybe they were doing a random check but then noticed all the Africans were being herded over to one side. They must have been checking all their documentation and we saw a few of the Africans later when we went back to BK for dinner so it wasn’t like they were all detained. There is a huge issue with African refugees flooding into Europe at the moment and our train came from Verona, Italy – the country where most of them land. Interesting experience.
We found the hotel easily enough. A reasonable room for a cheap price. It is in the city so there may be issues with city noise, but we’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow is yet another public holiday so finding somewhere to buy groceries is going to be tricky. There is a convenience store in the station from which I got breakfast supplies. If I can’t find anything else I’m sure I can manufacture something from what they have. Heather is going to make her way to the former
concentration camp, Dachau. I went in 1994 and it is well worth visiting. However it is completely unsuitable for Zachary so he and I will find some things to do in Munich that he will enjoy. Monday 25 May
A rather gloomy sort of a day outside today. After morning jobs we all headed to the Hauptbahnhof where Heather caught a train to Dachau while Zachary and I headed for the underground to go to the English Gardens. This is a very large park which has the river Isar running through it. Lots of people were out jogging / running and biking this morning and Zachary did a lot of running – managing to get into a friendly race with a young man at one point! The kiosks were closed as was the boat hire, and we had trouble finding a playground (we eventually found a very small one) but it was good for Zachary to have some wide open space to run in, and watching him defend his cereal bar from a determined duck was entertaining.
From there we headed back to Marienplatz, the main square of Munich’s Altstadt. For
sheer architectural magnificence this may be the number one town square in the world. The town hall is incredible and the surrounding buildings are uniformly beautiful and ornate. Of course, the most famous feature of Marienplatz is the glockenspiel. After we had our lunch we went over to get a good spot to watch the 12pm show. It was cool for me to see this again and Zachary was fully engaged watching it. The piece at the end where one knight knocks the other off his horse was his favourite bit (he is rather into knights at the moment and got a sword at Amras Castle the other day which he has been using to slay dragons).
From there we went up a spiral staircase to visit the Toy Museum. This was very good. Not a huge display but the room with trains particularly captured Zachary’s attention. After that we caught a bus to the zoo. Zachary wanted to go, although I am a bit over them as we have been to a few lately. However it was only €14 to get in and they had polar bears, something Zachary has never seen apart from on tv.
The place was absolutely packed. When we went into the aquarium it was basically shoulder-to-shoulder and I quickly got hot and bothered. It was better when we were out in the open, although still busy. The polar bears were good from the point of view of being able to see them, but I can’t say I really approve of keeping them in captivity. The saving grace was that they had a cub. We also enjoyed watching the rhino and the tigers (who have a good area) getting fed. Keepers concealed the food in a barrel which they had to figure out how to get out of the tree and then open. The elephants were also fed as we arrived at their area. There are four elephants and there were two piles of food – one of grass and hay and the other of fruit and veges. The elephants split into pairs but one at the fruit and veges soon went to the grass. The other stayed at the fruit and veges the whole time and he (may have been a she) was very methodical about getting all the apples first. After about 50 apples it moved on to other things.
Got back to the Hauptbahnhof and picked up some groceries at a mini-market I had spotted this morning and arrived back at the hotel the same time as Heather. She had an excellent experience at Dachau. I visited there in 1994 and found it fascinating and moving. It seems they have added some things but basically it’s the same in that everything is open. You can go into the crematoria, the barracks, and even the “showers” (which were not used for mass extermination here, but rather as experimental ones). I have always been impressed with how Germany has faced up to the atrocities of WW2. There has been a firm belief from the 60s on that it must be addressed head-on. By taking ownership and responsibility they ensure it can’t happen again. It is sad that the opposite approach has been, and still continues to be, taken by Japan. Heather will hopefully get something more detailed about her visit on this site in the near future.
So tomorrow it is back to Austria for the day for our “Sound of Music” tour. I still haven’t got earplugs so I may just have to grin
and bear it. I have my ipod with Guns N Roses, Metallica, The Ramones, Kid Rock and the like on it if needed!
Now, if you are in the mood for some of that "Sound of Music" here's a link to the brilliant Gwen Stefani with her take on "The Lonely Goatherd": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qv8Ci2QemE
If that isn't to your taste though, here's Julie Andrews on the Muppet Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW1gMVw_LtI
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