Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Second Day Of Our Vacation: Munich

On our second day in Munich, Andrew and I woke at 3:00 a.m., four hours earlier than we had planned. Contrary to our hopes, we had not been able to sleep for twelve hours.

We had not been up two minutes when our telephone rang.

It was my sister.

“You want to do something?” were her only words to me.

“Like what?” I responded. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“We could come over and play cards and watch TV with you guys” was her answer.

“Come” I told her.

And she and my brother were at our door, in their pajamas, a few seconds later.

“How did you know we were up?” I asked her.

“We saw your lights go on” was her perfectly reasonable answer.

And we played cards and watched CNN and drank hot chocolate until 6:00 a.m., when our telephone rang a second time.

“Are Shelby and Jason with you?” were my mother’s panicked words into the receiver.

“Yes” I answered.

“Oh, thank heavens! I thought they’d been kidnapped!” was her response.

And, since everyone was now up for the day, we agreed to meet in the hotel dining room at 7:15 a.m., one hour earlier than had been arranged the night before.

The hotel’s breakfast was incredibly lavish. It was much, much more lavish than we had expected.

There were eight or ten different fresh juices from which to choose.

There were eight or ten different cold cereals from which to choose.

There were fresh fruits of every imaginable kind, from plums and peaches to pineapple and papaya.

There were eggs, cooked to order, and omelets, cooked to order.

There were pancakes, cooked to order, and French toast, cooked to order, and crepes, cooked to order.

There was American bacon, and Canadian bacon, and ham, and British sausages and German sausages.

There were breads and rolls and pastries of all varieties.

There were cheeses and cold cuts and hard-boiled eggs, items Germans like to eat for breakfast.

Finally, there was a giant vegetable bar, filled with cold, fresh vegetables, little different from an American salad bar.

Our breakfast was excellent—and so substantial we had no need to worry about lunch.

While my mother and my sister pretty much stuck with cereal and fruit, my father and my brother and Andrew and I ate cereal, fruit, eggs, bacon and sausages for our breakfast. It was a great way to start our day.


By 8:30 a.m., we were ready for our second day of exploration of Munich.

Our first stop was Michaelskirche, a large and historic church—and the largest Renaissance church North of the Alps. We explored Michaelskirche fully, but we did not visit the crypt, which was not yet open for the day.

Next on our list was Burgersaal, a small church on two levels. Only the lower level was open during our visit, and the lower level apparently is the less interesting of the two levels.

Saint-Anna-Damenstift, a Baroque church, was our next stop. We arrived during morning service, so we were unable to explore the interior fully. For ten minutes we sat in the rearmost pews, taking in the Baroque interiors, before we quietly left.

Next up was Allerheiligenkirche Am Kreuz, another Baroque church.

Allerheiligenkirche Am Kreuz was followed by Asamkirche, the famed Rococo church designed by the brothers Asam. I thought Asamkirche was grossly over-decorated, grievously unattractive if not outright vulgar.

After our visits to these five historic churches had been completed, we were ready for the main event of our day: Munich’s Stadtmuseum.

Housed in the ancient city arsenal, Munich’s Stadtmuseum is nothing on the scale of Musee Carnavalet in Paris or the Museum For Hamburg History (although the Stadtmuseum buildings are marvelous). Much smaller than the Paris and Hamburg city museums, the Munich Stadtmuseum was made smaller still by the fact that more than half of the museum was closed due to ongoing renovation.

We walked through the portions of the museum that remained open. It took us only ninety minutes to see everything. Andrew, who had visited the museum in 2003, told us that the most interesting and important exhibits were off view. We found the Stadtmuseum to be very disappointing, and we were sorry we had devoted time to it.

After our walk through the museum, we went to the museum café in order to sit down and have coffee and decide what we were going to do with the rest of our day.

We had no interest in visiting a second museum that day—and, further, we already had set aside time to visit the Residenz, the Alte Pinakothek and the Glyptotek on future days—so we poured over city maps, trying to decide what we wanted to see.

We settled upon a walk.

Our first stop was Gartnerplatz and the area around Gartnerplatz. We examined Gartnerplatz Theater, home of Munich’s Volksoper, and we walked around what used to be one of Munich’s Jewish Quarters.

From Gartnerplatz, we walked along the Isar River.

We stopped to visit Lukaskirche, a large and beautiful Protestant church completed in 1896. Lukaskirche was the only Protestant church we encountered in central Munich, the most Catholic of German cities.

Next was the Neo-Renaissance Maximilianeum, on the opposite bank of the Isar River. Maximilianeum, perhaps Munich’s most beautiful building, is now home to the Bavarian State Parliament. We approached the Maximilianeum as closely as visitors are allowed and marveled at the noble structure.

From Maximilianeum we strolled the length of Maximilianstrasse, formerly one of Munich’s four “royal” avenues. Maximilianstrasse begins at the Maximilianeum and ends at Max-Joseph-Platz, and is lined with monuments and stately buildings.

It was only 4:00 p.m. when we arrived at Max-Joseph-Platz, but—like the previous day—we all were spent by late afternoon. We had been out and about, walking or standing, since 8:30 a.m., and we were exhausted. Our fatigue was exacerbated by the fact that we had not yet adjusted to Central European Time—and, further, because we had not caught enough sleep the previous night. In fact, upon reaching Max-Joseph-Platz, we were ready for bedtime.

We decided to have an early dinner, and to return to the hotel and to go to bed early for a second consecutive night.

We ate dinner at a different German restaurant, and once again we all ordered schnitzels and German potato salads.

After dinner, we turned in very early once again.


The highlights of our second day were examining the structures of the Munich Stadtmuseum and the Maximilianeum.

The Stadtmuseum’s home is unique. Set upon a trapezoidal property, the Stadtmuseum occupies four separate, connected buildings—three built in the late-Gothic style—surrounding a large central courtyard. Behind the four main buildings lies a fifth building of modern vintage (not visible from the street façade).

The Stadtmuseum is a distinguished and noble complex that, at present, does not have much of interest on display. It is regrettable that the parts of the museum now open contain the least interesting and least significant portions of the museum’s holdings.

The Maximilianeum is a stunning structure, stunningly situated on a rise above the Isar River. It dominates Maximilianstrasse. The eye is drawn toward the Maximilianeum from any vantage along Maximilianstrasse.

Alas, a view of the entire structure may now be obtained only at very close quarters. At a distance, tall trees on both banks of the Isar River block the view of all but the very central portion of the structure. In order to see Maximilianeum in all its glory, one must stand immediately before the building.

The photograph below, a hand-painted photograph from 1900, provides a view of the Maximilianeum superior to any that may be enjoyed today from ground level.

The watercolor below provides another view of the Maximilianeum from a slightly different perspective.

It was painted by the man who, two decades later, would become Chancellor Of Germany.

No comments:

Post a Comment