OUR time in Munich was split over two days with a trip to Dachau in between.
A two-part historic tour through Munich with our local guide, Kathleen.
Group dinner at the Paulaner Brewery.
Viktualienmarkt. It’s a 200-year old market in the center of Munich where they sell all sorts of meats, cheeses, produce, pastries, and flowers. I had never seen so many choices of olives before.
There is also, of course, the Biergarten at the Viktualienmarkt, where one of Munich’s six breweries is on tap for six weeks at a time. We had lunch there on our second day. You can buy your food from any of the stalls at the market. Omar ordered red bratwurst with cabbage slaw from one place. I ordered a white bratwurst on a bun with mustard. That was best brat I ever had, too. We also got ourselves each a liter of Helles (light) beer.
Das Residenz – The Munich Residence palace museum, home to the Wittelsbach dynasty.
The Glockenspiel at the Marienplatz
Snack at the Hofbräuhaus. Still full from the brats and beer for lunch, we only ordered a half liter each of the Münchner Weisse and split a giant pretzel. But what was really cool about this place:
The oompah band playing off to the side
Spotting the highly-coveted beer stein lockers
Seeing a group of men dressed in traditional Bavarian garb
Meeting a couple of tourists from Switzerland, Patrick, originally from Kenya, and Antonio, who’s pure Swiss. They were on a five-day bus tour to Munich. It was Day 2 for them, and both days were spent at the Hofbräuhaus, haha! Antonio was already 2.5 liters in by the time we sat with them, too. Unlike their bus tour, our hotel was just a few blocks away; whereas, they had to take a 20-minute subway ride to get back to theirs. Thank you, Rick Steves, for the great hotel location!
Checking out cuckoo clocks. We had fun looking at all the different designs and their complications, but had no idea where we'd put it back home.
It would’ve been awesome to visit a castle, like Neuschwanstein, but there just wasn’t enough time. From Munich, it’s almost a two-hour train ride, one way. It would’ve required another full day and some advanced planning.
Crossing the street. In Germany, pedestrians have the right of way, always. Jennifer explained that you could be stumbling drunk, walk into the middle of the street, and run into a car. It would still be the driver’s fault. So if you start to cross a street, you’ll notice cars stop and give you plenty of space. She also pointed out that many people in Germany have really nice cars, and they don’t want to get into an accident, either.
Oompah band at Hofbräuhaus
At 11 a.m. and noon (and 5 p.m. between March and October) the Munich Glockenspiel recounts a royal wedding, jousting tournament and ritualistic dance. The chiming clock was added to the tower in 1907, when the building was completed.
Many Munich streets have marked bike lanes. The city has approximately 22,000 bike stands making biking a flexible and quick way to move around the city.
Fruits, Cheeses & Meats for Sale
Viktualienmarkt, Munich's best outdoor market, is located in the heart of the city. The market actually began in the Marienplatz but was moved to its present more spacious location in 1807. You can buy fresh produce, dairy, bread, and even some Bavarian specialties.
Leave yourself plenty of time to peruse the more than 140 booths and farm stands covering over 240,000 square feet. You can sample a lot of foods here so bring a hearty appetite!
Kathleen, our guide for Germany
Kathleen was wonderful. She was very knowledgeable about German history and she didn't shy away from it - rather confronted it head on. She also joined us for dinner where we learned about her point of view about a variety of current events!
Waiting on The Glockenspiel
Looking up at the clock, camera at the ready, from Marienplatz square. The show lasts about 15 minutes and includes different tunes from the clock's 43 bells! Make sure to get there early to get a prime location. We had to leave our tour of the Residenz early to be at the square in time to see the show.
A view of the Glockenspiel from the Marienplatz (left). The Mariensäule is a Marian column erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years' War. The column is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon as the Queen of Heaven, created in 1590 (right).
Details of The Glockenspiel
The Hall of Antiquities (Antiquarium) was built between 1568-1571 for the antique collection of Duke Albert V (1550–1579) by Wilhelm Egkl and Jacobo Strada. At over 200 feet long, it is the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps and is the oldest room in the Residenz.
My Kind of Garden
Beer gardens are very popular with more than 180 of varying sizes in and around Munich. Most beer is served by the litre. People of all ages socialized, ate and drank in the shade of hundred-year old chestnut trees. It's hard to believe this tradition has been going on since the early 19th century!
Breakfast of Champions
Partaking in the Bavarian food and drink in the historic beer hall, Hofbräuhaus. An oompah band entertained the crowed that was filled with many locals, some dressed in Bavarian garb, but also with many tourists from all over the world.
We all rested at bit on the second floor of the Hofbräuhaus earlier in the day. This big hall caters to group events.
You don't see this in the States
Three dirndls, a traditional dress worn in southern Germany, especially Bavaria, are for displayed in a shop window.
Adventures in German
There were only a few instances when we had to use German. Most of the people we came across spoke English well. This goes for both Germany and Switzerland. On occasion, we used it ordering food. But most often, we used it when greeting people.
Guten Tag/Guten Abend - Good Day/Good Evening; although in Munich, I heard and used Grüss Gott more often than Guten Tag.
Bitte/Danke - Please/Thank you
Ja/Nein - Yes/No
And just like French, numbers come in handy, too. Åsa often gave us our hotel room numbers in the language of the country we were in. Germany was no different. So knowing our hotel room number was useful whenever we had to pick up our keys from the front desk.
WE met with Kathleen the morning of our second day for our tour of Dachau. She did a wonderful job covering such a difficult subject, and it was interesting hearing it from her perspective. What struck me the most:
There were hundreds of concentration camps during WWII. We only knew of the major, more infamous ones. But there were many types of sub-camps that existed, too.
Since the end of WWII, all 15-year old German children are required to visit the concentration camp closest to their home. When Kathleen's son went, she noticed how being from a younger generation he was more removed from what when on there than she was at that age.
Kathleen said that citizens of Dachau “carry a heavy burden.” If someone from Dachau goes on a road trip outside of Germany, they can obtain a temporary license plate. Otherwise, they run the risk of getting their car trashed or worse, if those from other countries see their license plates are from Dachau.
BEFORE & AFTER
Omar took pictures of Dachau as well as some of the displays. He used them to put together these "Before and After" images.
Below: Roll call area in the foreground with the guard tower and partially reconstructed wall in the background.
Right: Crematorium or so-called "Barracks X."
Starting our tour of Dachau
Before we entered, Kathleen explained to us the history of the city and how since WWII it has ground around the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Entrance to Dachau
Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany in 1933. By war's end in 1945 there were 32,000 documented deaths at the camp. Many thousands of deaths were undocumented.
Infamous Gate into Dachau
People walk through the iron gates topped with the notorious Nazi slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" which translates to "Work sets you free."
Map of all the Concentration Camps
Kathleen asked the group how many concentrations camps we thought there were in WWII. We were all surprised the number was so large as indicated on the map of Europe behind her.
Barracks prior to World War II
Reconstructed Barracks Today
Many historical photos dotted the site. In most cases, landmarks on the photos were still around and easily recognizable making what happened here all the more sobering.
Plaque Honoring the Liberators