Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The First Day Of Our Vacation: Munich

My parents and my brother and sister had a very good time on our trip, which pleased me immensely.

In the back of my mind were several fears: that my father would be unable to unwind and relax and allow himself truly to enjoy a vacation; that my mother would become fixated on an isolated detail (such as some minor hotel annoyance) and allow it to ruin her vacation; that my sister would become bored outside of the major cities and proceed to poke fun at everything relentlessly (which always gets on my father’s nerves); and that my brother would become bored in the major cities and tune out what he was seeing.

My fears were not realized.

Everyone behaved himself and herself. Everyone had a wonderful time.

Our connecting flights were NOT delayed, so we were all able to fly on the same plane from Chicago to Munich. This relieved my mother more than I can say.

Moreover, my mother’s luggage did NOT get misrouted, delayed or lost. This fact alone made the vacation a success in her eyes.

Once the above hurdles were surmounted, she was able to stop worrying and enjoy her vacation fully.


The first day of our vacation was perhaps the best day of all. I think we saw more interesting and new things on that first day than on any other day of the entire trip.

We arrived at Franz Josef Strauss very early Friday morning, and we immediately took the train from the airport into the center of Munich.

We took our luggage to our hotel first thing, intending only to deposit our bags. To our surprise, our rooms were ready for us, and we were able to check in. This was good, because it allowed my mother to inspect our rooms, and to see that the rooms were perfectly satisfactory. She was pleased with the rooms—and I was pleased, knowing that we would be able to explore Munich all day without my mother worrying about the quality of hotel rooms that lay ahead of us at the end of the day.

We deposited our bags in our rooms, and left within minutes. Our plan was to be out and about all day in the fresh air, walking and gawking, so as to ward off fatigue.

We had a walking itinerary prepared, an itinerary that would allow us to explore a good portion of Munich from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Our plan was to conclude our walk in the late afternoon, at which point we intended to get a bite to eat and return to our hotel and turn in for the night. We hoped to be able to sleep for twelve hours and to wake up at 7:00 a.m. the next day, finding ourselves fully rested and operating on Central European Time.

From the hotel, our first stop was a café, where we each had a strong coffee and Linzer Torte, providing us with caffeine and sugar to fuel our walk.

Our first real stop was the massive Frauenkirche, Munich’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and most important church. We explored Frauenkirche inside and out, and we explored it in depth (but we did not attempt to visit the towers). We were surprised how plain was the interior of the Frauenkirche.

Out next stop was Marienplatz, home of Neues Rathaus and Altes Rathaus. We hung around Marienplatz until it was time for the display of the mechanical figures at Neues Rathaus.

Next came Peterskirche, whose interior and exterior we explored. The Bavarian Baroque interior of Peterskirche was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. At Peterskirche, we DID climb the tower. The views over the city were marvelous.

Nearby Heiliggeistkirche was the next item on our itinerary, and we examined the church’s exterior and interior.

We spent half an hour wandering around Viktualienmarkt, seeking out a place to have lunch. We settled upon an al fresco lunch of Munich sausages and rolls, which we ate while continuing to explore Viktualienmarkt. To my astonishment, my sister liked the sausages—and did not complain about grease.

After Viktualienmarkt, we walked to Hofbrauhaus.

Next we inspected the ancient buildings of the old Wittelsbach palace complex, known as Alter Hof and Munzhof, today occupied by various governmental and administrative agencies. We stepped inside to see the old courtyard, which was very beautiful and very impressive.

From Alter Hof and Munzhof we walked to Max-Joseph-Platz, on which is situated The National Theater, home of the Bavarian State Opera, and the Residenz, last home of the Wittelsbachs before the dynasty abdicated at the conclusion of World War I.

We inspected the nearby loggia, Feldherrnhalle, and we inspected the exterior and visited the interior of Theatinerkirche, a magnificent Baroque church with an all-white nave and chancel.

We walked around Hofgarten, the gardens at the rear of the Residenz, for an hour.

The final portion of our day of exploration was to stroll the length of Briennerstrasse from Odeonsplatz to Konigsplatz, along which are situated numerous plazas, monuments and historic buildings, several associated with (and even built by) the National Socialists.

This was a great walk, and a great way to spend our first day in Munich, but we were all spent by the time we arrived at Konigsplatz.

It was only 4:30 p.m., but we had walked more than five miles by our estimation and we were bushed—and we decided to end our day. We took the subway back to our hotel, where we freshened up and went out to have an early dinner.

We had dinner at a German restaurant. We all ordered schnitzels and hot, sour German potato salads, preceded by German garden salads with all sorts of vegetables soaked in different brines. We all enjoyed the dinner enormously.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

It was not even 7:00 p.m. when we fell asleep.


The first day of our vacation was a great day because my parents very much liked the city of Munich and because my brother and sister very much liked the city of Munich.

I liked the city of Munich, too.

For my mother and for my sister, the highlights of their day were the interiors of Peterskirche and Theatinerkirche, both of which were stupendous in completely different ways.

Peterskirche is Munich’s finest example of Bavarian Baroque design.

Theatinerkirche is Munich’s finest example of Italian Baroque design.

My father most enjoyed seeing Feldherrnhalle (famously the scene of Hitler’s unsuccessful 1923 Putsch).

My father also enjoyed seeing Hofbrauhaus (much-associated with the early years of the Hitler movement) as well as the many buildings along Briennerstrasse affiliated with the period of National Socialism.

Ironically, the 1930’s Briennerstrasse edifice built as headquarters for the Munich Nazi Party was to become headquarters of the American occupation force after the war. The structure now serves as home to Munich’s high school for musicians. One may still observe where Nazi emblems were formerly attached to the building.

My brother enjoyed everything.

It was his first day on foreign soil.

Everything was an adventure for him.

He had the best time of all.

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