Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An American in Germany / Part # 34 / Munich-3

GAPP Exchange Journal 2012
Tour of Munich - München / Part # 3

Relaxing in the Hofgarten
The city of Munich is the only place I have ever visited that goes by two different names on any given map.  Although Paris, London, Berlin, and the like are pronounced the same in any language, Munich is locally known by the traditional name of München.  Why?  Well, the best answer I could find has to do with outsiders changing the city's name because it was too complicated to pronounce in their own language, so they changed it to make it easy.  Munich is the English version of München and since many can't easily pronounce the sounds associated with certain letter combinations, they changed the city's name to sound like they thought it should have sounded all along!  Map makers jumped on the band wagon and the rest is history.  This is also common when the original people who founded a specific place-name are overthrown and pushed out of the geographic area permanently... To the victor belongs the spoils, including the preference of name spelling and/or pronunciation!  In fact, the state of Bavaria is also known locally as Bayren and the whole of Germany is also known as Deutschland!  Confused?  Good!  It's a German-Deutsch thing and you just wouldn't understand!  Ok, lets move on...  Now that we had just passed by the illegal Michael Jackson memorial on the Promenadeplatz, I thought my visit to Munich, München, or Whatchamacallit was complete.  However, Andy assured me there was so much more to see of the capital city of Bavaria, Bayren, or Whatchamacallit.  Lead the way my friend!  Let's go Andy, Andreas, or...

Munich Shopping Square
Although all the stores selling non-food related products were all closed because it was Sunday, the streets were still crowded with people walking about, enjoying the beautiful sunny day.  It seemed as if all of Munich were out and about, enjoying all the city had to offer before the last remaining hours of the weekend slipped away and the pending work week began anew.  Like the rest of Germany, most of the store fronts we passed were all uniform in style and construction.  It looked as if they were all part of the same parent company.  Many were even all dressed up with the same matching bright red flowers, neatly arranged in long parallel lines.  The effect was a neat and orderly flow, seamless from one street to the next.  I was enjoying window shopping, especially when passing shops specializing in the traditional cuckoo clocks of the Black Forest.  My grandparents once had a German cuckoo clock hanging on the wall of their den.  When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the hour when the small bird would burst through the door to utter his call.  Yea, I was easily entertained.  Anyway, you can buy them on the cheap via Ebay but I'll bet the "real" thing is real expensive, especially the traditional hand carved variety.  I considered purchasing a cuckoo clock but... since the stores were closed, it would be a difficult item to pack for the trip home, I was now running low on funds, such a clock would quickly annoy my wife, and said wife would probably make me take it down within six hours... So, I decided to find another way to keep myself entertained for the immediate time being.  Maybe an item to consider at a later time for the Man Cave I have planned but will never actually have... I'm sure my wife agrees!

 Führerbau / School of Music - Performing Arts
We left the main shopping plaza and continued to navigate our way through the organized maze of the urban landscape of Munich.  We headed back toward the beautiful gardens we previously passed by, the predetermined location where we planned to meet Andy's younger brother Thomas for some refreshment.  Along the way we entered the Königsplatz, the cultural center of Munich's art galleries and museums.  During the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, the square became the center of several large political rallies and became home to several Nazi Era buildings including their national headquarters known as the Brown House.  There were also two Roman styled temples known as the Ehrentempel, erected in 1935 to honor the memory of the 16 Nazis who were killed in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch when Hitler first attempted but failed to overthrow the government in 1923.  The temples were both destroyed by American troops in accordance of the policy of Denazification during the immediate aftermath of the war.  The foundation of the previous temples remained in place and filled with rainwater, eventually supporting some rare plant forms.  The spontaneous creation of the ecological sanctuary prevented any future development on the site and the temple foundation remains to the present day, continuing as a natural housing of green space for the city.  Close by, stand two identical structures known as the Führerbau, that previously housed former Nazi administration offices.  The twin buildings, which once contained the private offices of Adolf Hitler and his closest associates was also the location where the Munich Agreement was negotiated between Germany and England.  British Prime Minister Nevile Chamberlain met with Hitler here and later pledged in the fall of 1938, there would be "Peace in Our Time."  However, the pact was short lived and the world would never be the same again.  Today the buildings have been re-purposed to house a music school known as the University of Music and Performing Arts of Munich.  The former buildings are an excellent example of structures that stand as reminders to the city's dark past but now serve the community in a positive light. 

Hofgarten / Temple of Diana
I was surprised to see some shadows of the Nazi Regime still intact and even preserved, yet it serves as a powerful reminder of a time period we should never forget.  The former building that once housed the Nazi Party Headquarters known as the Brown House, was destroyed by the Allies and sat as a vacant empty space of rubble and weeds for the past half century.  However, the site has finally found a new purpose as an instrument of education, with the ongoing construction of the Nazi Documentation Center, which is scheduled to be completed by 2014.  The center will inform visitors of the causes and crimes associated with the National Socialism Movement in Munich.  A complete reversal of the building site's previous purpose.  We walked back toward the Hofgarten and once again entered the interior pathway leading directly to the small central dome topped Temple of Diana where a musician played classical music on a cello to entertain casual passersby.  Perhaps he was a student of the school of music we had just passed within the Königsplatz, publicly practicing the notes of his composition.  The classical music genera was certainly a fitting compliment to the Roman styled temple and surrounding ornate gardens.  Again, the day was warm and sunny, attracting many visitors who crowded the pathways.  We followed along with the flow of the growing crowd and passed into a massive public city park known as the Englischer Garten.  The park's German name easily translates to English Garden, which describes the informal landscaping style once popular in Great Britain.  The 910 acre park, first created in 1789, is among the largest urban parks in the world, even larger than New York City's Central Park.  It appeared as if most of the city's population was now filling up the park, as I had never seen so many people in a public space before without any real purpose, other than to relax and enjoy the sunshine. 

Englischer Garten / City Park of Munich
The large open space seemed to resemble a beach more than a park and with the nearest beach over 300 miles away in Italy along the Adriatic Sea, it was a nice local alternative.  There was a small river that ran through one area where kids of all ages were swimming and soaking within the cool water.  There was even a section of the waterway where effects from a pump created large rolling rapids that has become a favorite spot for skilled surfers to showcase their skills... Hang 10, whatever that means?   A sea of sunbathers were stretched out on blankets and beach towels soaking up the warm rays of the sun.  A few annoying seagulls, 200 tons of sand, and boardwalk were all that was needed to have the park closely resemble the Jersey Shore... maybe... sort of... not really.  Anyway, since all the stores downtown were closed, it was really a great setting to meet up with friends and family on a Sunday afternoon.  And, that was our key purpose as we went in search of Andy's brother Thomas within the expansive park.  As we left the lawn covered open spaces, the pathways were shaded by trees giving the impression you were submerged within the canopy of deep woods.  We occasionally crossed over bridges that spanned small creeks that snaked their way through the shaded pathways.  What a great place to take a break from the city, which was only a short distance away, yet seemed nonexistent from the sanctuary of the English Garten.  We soon arrived into another open space crowned by a large, five story pagoda styled tower made of dark stained wood known as the Tea House.  First constructed as a pavilion for performing brass bands in 1789, it was destroyed by fire during the war but rebuilt in 1950 according to the original architectural plans, which survived the war.  The tower is surrounded by an enormous tree covered biergarten that seats up to 7,000 people.  I was blown away by the expanse of the never ending tables that flowed outward from the tower in all directions.  There were several self-serve beer and traditional food kiosks located throughout the biergarten to keep all the patrons well fed and hydrated.  We searched for a open table and found some space to share with another family near the edge of seating area.
Chinese Tower / Biergarten
There was a large play area nearby and Leo and Amalie were happy to escape the confines of the stroller for some well deserved active play!  With his cell phone, Andy talked his brother Thomas toward our location in the crowded biergarten and he soon joined us at our table with his young daughter.  Like many others, he had arrived on a bicycle with child seat firmly attached to the rear, an easy and economic way to navigate the vast city and accompanying parks.  Thomas and his wife lived and worked in Munich and like Andy, was looking forward to buying or building a house.  However, the cost of living is so high in the Bavarian capital, he and his wife were looking into neighboring communities, where the cost of living was more within their means.  We left our seats and went to check out the food and beer kiosks, first deciding to seek liquid refreshment.  Original Hofbräu was on tap, served in the large traditional liter sized glass steins that were present on every table in the garden.  It was Oktoberfest in July and we all toasted the Americana's safe travel home to the States in a few short days!  Next, we were back in line, checking out the food selections and this was my kind of dining!  Stainless steel bins were full of steaming bratwurst, sausage, chicken, noodles, sauerkraut, and fried sliced potatoes.  Fried, Sliced, Potatoes!  Wow, that's something I haven't seen since I arrived in Germany. I ordered a hybrid transatlantic combination of German bratwurst and almost American fried potatoes.  They were equally delicious!

Super Bretzel in the Biergarten
There were maidens walking about the crowded garden in traditional dress carrying baskets filled with my favorite pretzels in super-sized form.  They were also for sale in the kiosk and I had my eye on them and was now happy to buy a bretzel as a perfect compliment to the Original Hofbräu remaining in my stein.  With Andy, Angela, Thomas, and their kids all gathered around the table, I was suddenly really missing my family.  It was happening more and more and I realized at that moment, I was indeed... ready to go home.  Leo and Amalie were starting to run out of gas and were now back lounging in the comfort of the stroller.  Within minutes, Leo was sound asleep but Amalie is a much tougher nut to crack!  We parted ways with Thomas and his daughter, who quickly disappeared from view on their bike as we began navigating our way back toward the city's edge.  Despite the late afternoon hour, the park's open spaces were still crowded with people as far as the eye could see... seemingly unwilling to submit the end of their weekend to the approaching and inevitable work week!  We exited the peaceful greenery of the park back into the city from a different location and were now quite a distance away from our ride home.  Andy and Angela decided the best way to get back to the car was to take the tube (AKA: subway) back toward the city's center of the Marienplatz.  We could even see a few more sites along the way to the station.   

Englischer Garten / Sun and River Bathers
We stopped by to quickly check out King Ludwig's Church known as Ludwigskirche which is easily recognizable from the street by the tall twin sharp angled white bell towers, which flank the church's main entrance.  The interior is famous for having the second largest alter fresco mural in the world that stretches 62 feet high and 38 feet wide.  The Neo-Romanesque styled church was beautiful and inspired the design of countless future religious structures around the world.  However, to be perfectly honest, I was getting worn out by this point and all the churches I had seen over the last three weeks were all starting to run together and look the same.  I was in agreement with Leo at this point and was ready for a nap.  Is there room in the stroller for one more really big but tired kid?  Was I getting cranky?  We arrived at the subway station and descended the stairs to the rail platform and waited for our train to arrive.  Like the rest of the city, the subway was neat and spotless.  In fact, I had never seen an urban space so clean, well maintained, and orderly.  I hadn't seen a single piece a liter the entire day and I was beyond impressed.  It was obvious that the people of the city took pride in the appearance of their capital and pitched in to keep it picture perfect.  Maybe the people value their city so much because it was once completely lost to war and was painstakingly rebuilt over the past half century.  Looking back on the film footage of the allied aerial bombing raid damage, the obvious question is where and how do you begin to rebuild?  Where do you even start such a mammoth task?  The past and present residents of Munich know.  They have succeeded in their mission and the end result is beautiful.    

 Munich Subway / Train Platform
The trains were silently flying by in both directions causing an underground wind gust in their wake.  Our train arrived, came to a smooth stop, and we were soon gliding along as if on air covering distance at speed.  Within a few minutes we had arrived to our destination and were soon walking the city streets above in search of the familiar Galneder Opel minivan.  We turned a corner and we came upon the van as a beam of sunlight descended from the clouds above illuminating the family car!  Within minutes we were snug in our seats and my final Bavarian adventure had come to an end.  A big thank you to Andy, Angela, Leo, and Amalie for another spectacular day I will never forget.

Hey Leo... Wake Up!
Please stayed tuned for the next installment of our adventure!


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