02 Jan 04 European Vacation 04 Jan 04
In case you didn't realize it, you can click on the pictures for a bigger image.
Saturday, 03 January 2004
Settlement in the Munich area dates back to Roman times, but the 8th-century Benedictine monks deserve credit for putting the city on the map, hence the name Munichen, or 'monk settlement'. Munich was badly damaged by Allied bombing in WWII, with nearly half the city in ashes by war's end. In the postwar years, the city's historic core was meticulously restored. It is also headquarters to mega-companies such as Siemens and BMW (more on that later). The massive reconstruction program led to Munich hosting the 1972 Olympic Games. Unfortunately, this event turned from celebration to tragedy when 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
We woke up bright and early to catch the 0615 train to Munich. To tell the truth, it wasn't really bright just yet ... but it was early. As you can see (picture to the right), the sun hasn't really gotten up yet either. We got to the station and found ourselves a cabin. Jen and Andrea staked
out their spaces and started preparing for our day in Munich. That's Jen under my coat (nice and warm) and Andrea hiding under her coat and an airplane blanket we liberated. You're probably wondering right now what I'm doing in the train coatless and with no one to talk to...you are, aren't you? Well, I found ways to keep myself entertained. After all, I had a camera in hand and amazing scenery outside the
window. What would you do? Well, I didn't do that, I decided to take pictures of the scenery instead. As you can see from the gallery below, I got to see the sun rise and managed to snap a few nice shots to boot. The one above was taken through the sun screen, which I left down to let the ladies sleep.
The train ride was pretty uneventful. I managed to squeeze in a few zzzzzzz's and even some reading. When we got to Munich
we sought out some lockers in the Bahnhof because Jen realized we still had time to get to Marienplatz to see the Glockenspiel. Once our luggage was nice and safe, we walked to Marienplatz. Our timing was excellent, just in time for the 1100 show, and it was working!! Yay us. Jen warned us that it really isn't all that suspenseful, but you have to see it once if you are in Munich. Apparently when Jen and her family were
here the last time they stood under the Benetton at MarienPlatz 25 for many hours waiting for the
Glockenspiel to play. And all for nothing... it never played that day. The Benetton is still there, but Jen didn't feel the need to stand under it this time. At least this time she got to see it running. Jen was right, it was worth seeing at least once. You're may be wondering, "What is a Glockenspiel?"  If that's what you were thinking, click here.  This one is 94 years old (it was built in 1904), fully automatic, and when the mechanism is activated (at 11am, noon and 5pm), brightly coloured figures in enamelled copper emerge and enact the Dance of the Coopers and the Tournament which accompanied royal weddings.
After seeing the Glockenspiel we realized that we were getting a bit hungry so we started hunting around for a place to eat. We decided on the Augustiner Bierhaus and we all decided to get some nice hot soup.  Gulashsuppe to be exact. Here's an excerpt from Jen's trip journal: As I'm writing this, I'm hearing rumblings of "yummy, yummy, yummy" from the rest of the peanut gallery.  We may have to go back. I think my goulash is better, but whatever.  (Note to Jen)
I must say, Jen pretty much summed it up. The food was just what the doctor ordered. Hot and tasty and did I mention hot?  After lunch we got down to our real reason for being in Munich ... SHOPPING!  Actually, it's not the reason we visited Munich. There's so much more to see.  We moved up our trip schedule to be here on a Saturday so the stores would be open. As I said before, stores aren't usually open very late on Saturdays.  But this was the first Saturday of the month so most places were open late.
We hit the H+M, Karstadt, and Kaufhof (some of the big stores in Munich) Jen was looking for some specific things while Andrea and I were simply looking for gifts for others and ourselves. Despite all our searching, we weren't able to find the wedding goblets that she was looking for. We did, however, find the movie Jen S. asked for (Good Bye, Lenin!).
After searching for our gifts and other random items we headed back to the Karstadt to satisfy our need for chocolate. Actually, our quest for a little candy to take back turned into a mad candy spree.  We each spent about 30€ on candy (mostly chocolate). Milka, Milka on the wall... I think I'll try to buy them all.  As you can see from the photo we made a good sized dent in the chocolate population of Germany. I had about the same amount of stuff but I had to set it down to take the picture.
I'm not much of a shopper but we had a great time. I kept my eyes peeled for Eiswein while Jen paid attention to all of the dogs.  She saw lots of dachshunds, mainly wire hair, walking around town with their owners.
We finally found a place with Eiswein and it also had a market inside it. It's called Alois Dallmayr and it's one of the most famous delicatessens in Germany, sort of a millionaire's supermarket. We didn't make it to the famous restaurant upstairs (something I'm planning on doing the next time) but it was still a really neat place. We went in with nothing but many kilograms of chocolate and came out with the chocolate and about 9 bottles of wine. I got one really nice bottle of eiswein and a few other bottles, including gluhwein.
Now burdened with candy and wine, we headed back along the plaza towards the rail station to get our things. We stopped outside of Karstadt and got a pack of freshly candied, hot nuts - pecans, almonds, macademias, brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Snacktacular!!!  In fact you can just see the Karstadt in the rightmost picture. Even the statues and fountains were feeling the cold. Pretty neat, isn't it?
We got to the bahnhof to make reservations for the overnight train to Brussels and get directions to our hotel along with whether or not it was within s or U-bahn reach. We got to see the local wildlife down there in the bahnhof. Once the reservations were made we looked at the S and U-bahn routes to see if we could get to the hotel. Jen suggested riding the U for in the right direction and hopping in and out for a peek at the streets
to see if we were close. Andrea and I weren't keen on wandering around with all our stuff.
Standing discussing what to do next wasn't getting us anywhere and we were all tired. Jen wasn't in a pleasant mood, partially because her shoulders and feet hurt, and partially because she was frustrated that we weren't getting any closer to our beds. So Jen went to the Bahnhof café and sat down, as did Andrea. That left me to deal with things and find out how to get to the
hotel. After some hunting around I found the S and U-bahn information desk and started asking directions. Unfortunately, the two women there didn't speak English so I was forced to dig deep and remember what Veronica taught me in my German classes all those years ago. I managed to cobble together enough German to get the transit map you see on the right along with which trains to use to get to the Holiday Inn.
I got back to where the girls were sitting and sat for a bit while Jen looked over the my directions and memorized the map. Then we reviewed the train itinerary, and one of us realized it had us going through France - a country our pass wasn't valid on. So, I was back on my way to get things straightened out. The English-speaking agent at the travel office was on break, but the woman I got managed enough English while I managed enough german to get our situation explained.

After some extensive discussions with another agent, then the agent who had booked us (he returned from his break), she agreed that we would need to change the reservation. It took quite a bit of searching, but she found us the only seats available from Munich to Brussels for the next night. Actually, the seats were on a train leaving at 01.04 (1am!) on the morning of the 5th. The earlier trains were all sold out, even for the first class couchettes.
I got back to the slightly rested ladies—it's amazing what a soda and some time sitting quietly did for their dispositions. I didn't even get my head handed to me for coming back with the news of our upcoming travel schedule. They may have simply been too tired, but I'll take what I can get.
We bought ourselves some S-Bahn/U-Bahn passes to get us to a stop near the hotel. I checked us into the hotel (revervations were in my name) while Jen and Andrea explored the lobby. Jen, of course, found a bar (see image to far left).  Once again we rode the elevator in shifts because we couldn't fit any other way. It took the elevator a while to get
to the lobby, and once it arrived, it decided to try and eat Jen's luggage. The doors shut on it and took a while to re-open. That's one elevator you don't want to try to hold by using your hand.
We set our stuff down in the room and decided to spend a little time to rest and clean up before seeking out a place for dinner. I went down and asked the woman at the desk for some suggestions for a place to eat. I watched a little German TV before we left for dinner. We got to watch reruns of old US shows (MacGyver, Columbo, etc.) translated into german. Pretty funny, really. Another amusing point ... Andrea was impressed at the niceness of the European Holiday Inns.
Then, out to forage. Walk, walk, walk. It was still pretty cold out and we found that someone else has my sense of humor with snow. For the record I did NOT build this snowman. We had passed this car before but this time I pulled out my camera to record it for posterity. I think it's really more of a snow-alien than a snowman. See the antenna?
We stopped at a This and That that was still open and found a 2 euro bottle of Lambrusco, which I promptly bought. I played around with one of the little animals in the store, and Jen managed to snag a picture. I figure if I post it here, then she can't use it to blackmail me later. By the way, it wasn't until we got back and looked closer at the pictures that we noticed what was over my left shoulder.
Yep, we're still walking... I found a ROBOT in Germany and had to snap this picture. Jen found a new friend
and stopped for a photo shoot. Then we found a Greek place - Papatakis. Oh, my! We got an appetizer of Saganaki (Greek fried cheese). The gyros were excellent — a heaping of lamb and onions, with a side salad. We ended up staying and chatting for hours just chatting and having a good time. The people in the restaurant were friendly as always.
It was pretty late by the time we finally started back for the hotel. I attemped to take the picture on the left with my gloves on, but they're a little bulky. That's a fingertip in the left of the image. We got back to the room and popped open the wine, then Andrea and I settled in while Jen called home. Jen's parents were glad we were doing well. Andrea and
I passed on our parents' numbers to Mrs. Hite so she could contact them to let them know that things were going just fine. We finally decided to call it a night and get some sleep. With the long day and night ahead of us we needed our rest.

02 Jan 04 European Vacation 04 Jan 04
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