Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day Nineteen – Monday, June 18 – Munich

Given our busy day yesterday, we decided to sleep in a bit and got up around 8:30. Our first order of business, after showering and dressing, was to take the car to the Munich Auto Drop-off Agency (MADA) of the shipping company, E.H. Harms. We set the address for the Nüvi for the last time on this trip, with a quick stop at, what else, a McDonalds (!) for breakfast. Once we found the parking area for MADA, which turned out to be not on the main road but up a ramp at the end of the road, the rest of the process for turning in the car was easy. We removed the front license plate and first aid kit from the trunk (as had been suggested on bimmerfest), took a picture of the windshield nick, and only had a short wait behind some other people dropping off their cars. While we were waiting, we chatted with an American couple who we had seen yesterday on the Linderhof tour, who were enjoying a short trip with their college age grandson and now shipping their car to Ohio. The guy at the Harms office was a tall German who looked like he belonged in Texas rather than Munich, with his expensive cowboy boots and boot-cut jeans, but he certainly had the full German efficiency going on. We were through the paperwork and out by noon.

We walked a short distance to the nearby bus, which took us to the U-Bahn station and swiftly to Marienplatz via the #6 line. We wanted to spend one last day of full-packed sightseeing, and followed one of the guidebook suggested walks around the Marianplatz area. We saw the Alte Rathaus and Neue Rathaus (which was partially covered with scaffold for some renovation work), and walked to the Frauenkirche.

I would imagine that Munchiners are proud of their cathedral, and the Frauenkirche is often pictured on posters and guidebooks about Munich, but in our eyes it’s got to be one of the uglier churches we’ve seen! Like people trying to find a kind adjective to describe an ugly baby, we found ourselves searching for words: “well, it’s certainly…monumental!” “yes, and very…brown!” After a fairly quick walk around the inside, we decided to go up the tower, bracing ourselves for what would probably be about 400+ steps. It turns out that there were only 92 steps and then – an elevator. That was unexpected! The views from the top were great, and we could use our Eyewitness guide and the labeled panoramic photos to identify some of our objectives for the afternoon.

After we descended, we embarked on an unsuccessful search for restaurant that was recommended in the Eyewitness book. Fortunately, the attempt to find the place revealed some other areas beyond the Karlstor Gate that we might not otherwise have seen. We finally gave up, and having almost walked a complete circle, settled for the outdoor seating area of the Augustiner Restaurant. In our usual way, Annette had a Radler and Paul had a helles (light) beer. As I write this, it’s been a couple of weeks since we were in Munich, and neither of us can remember exactly what we ate (thus the need to chronicle promptly!)…but think it was a goulash and dumpling and perhaps a cutlet of some sort with a mixed salad. One the other hand, we remember that the couple sitting NEXT to us were both eating Leberkäse mit Spiegelie with the fried egg on top, and we remember that our dumpling was doughy and pasty and got us talking about why, unlike pizza, sushi, burritos, hamburgers, Chinese food and other regional specialties that have become international favorites, the German/Czech style dumpling had never made it big outside of this area.

After lunch, we headed toward the Residenz by way of the marigold colored, baroque Theatinerkirsch (St. Cajetan) and the Feldherrnhalle, the Florentine-looking, tri-arched logia housing statues of Bavarian field marshals, which we had seen on our first evening in Munich as we walked to the Hofbrauhaus from the Odeonplatz U-bahn station. A trip to the Residenz was an opportunity to extend our picture of the living spaces of Ludwig II from yesterday, although as the primary urban residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty over many centuries, it was only his crib for a few decades at best. We wandered around several courtyards trying to find an entrance before heading back onto the street and eventually finding the proper entry. After hooking up with our audio guides, we toured around a fraction of the enormous palace complex. We mostly saw areas of the Alte Residenz built under Maximilian I and Ludwig I, including the Grottenhof courtyard with its odd grotto of seashells and volcanic crystals and the Persius fountain. We both loved the Antiquarium, the huge Renaissance hall built to house ancient busts and other artwork, which is the oldest surviving part of the Residenz. We were amazed to learn how much of the Residenz was destroyed during WWII bombing raids and has been restored to its former state.

After the Residenz, we re-fueled with a java chip frappacino and a mango passion frappacino at a Starbucks (!) off Max-Joseph Platz. Then we walked down Maximillianstrasse and took a detour to check out the Bavarian State Chancellery, with its mix of old and new architecture and walk through the Hofgarten (with a quick opportunity for a silly picture of Paul with the Temple of Diana centered on his head like a giant headdress a la Beach Blanket Babylon). We then headed toward the Isar River, following another of the DK Eyewitness walking-tours up Maximillianstrasse and along the Isar. When we found that it wanted us to cut through what appeared to be someone’s backyard, we veered back and made our own way to the Maximilianeum, which now houses the Bavarian parliament. Eventually, we caught the U-bahn for the short hop back to Odeonplatz station.

Book-ending our vacation with an encore trip to the HB haus had struck us as the right thing to do several days ago. Usually we’re anxious to try new things, but in this case, a return to the familiar was appropriate. This time, we sat outdoors in the central patio area, which lacked the proximity to the oompah band, but was significantly cooler on this warm evening. Our order was pre-destined: radler, helles, pretzel, schweinshaxe! Yum…

After chatting with a group of French guys who were in town for a convention (they were in precision laser cut manufacturing) and enjoying the evening, we headed back to our hotel for the last time on this trip – already getting nostalgic for the past few weeks of travel. We don’t want it over :-(.

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