Mountains and Monasteries

Trip Start Jul 07, 2005
Trip End Sep 03, 2005

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mountains and Monasteries

Pacifica's German textbook "Komm Mit!" includes a German "location opener" for every three chapters. One of the featured places is a small town in Bavaria called Mittenwald, so I decided to spend Wednesday getting pictures to show my students. Mittenwald is near the Zugspitze, so I had the option of trying to go there as well, especially since the day was gorgeous. I opened the BMW's sunroof and enjoyed the day.

Arriving in Mittenwald, I parked near the Bahnhof (train station) and set of toward the Zentrum. I went inside the Petruskirche, another of those stunning Bavarian Baroque churches. A statue of St. James was particularly interesting. He is pointing to a wound on his leg, almost as if saying, "Look at my owie!" I also browsed through "beautiful downtown Mittenwald" - all three or four blocks of it. The town's setting with the Karwendel range in the background is stunning. The pictures I took cannot do the scenery justice. Toward the end of my time in town, I went to the workshop of Herr Mallen. Violin making is the main industry besides tourism in Mittenwald. When I explained about our German text, Herr Mallen graciously let me photograph and film him working on a violin. He said he's been making violins for 30 years. Each one takes 150-200 hours of work. About 15 years ago BBC did a special on Mittenwald that included Herr Mallen. People still stop in and tell him that they saw him in the film. On my way back to the car I stopped at a Schnellimbiss and got some roast chicken, fries and mineral water. I took everything to the park and had a picnic lunch. Then I returned to the car and headed back toward Munich.

On the way back I stopped on the side of the road and took pictures of the Zugspitze. Although there were very few clouds in the sky, all of them seemed to cluster around the Zugspitze, so I decided not to go up. Again, who wants to look at the inside of a cloud? Still, the day was beautiful and the scenery was amazing.

Back in Munich at the hotel (no trouble getting there this time! The conference was over), I grabbed my dirty clothes, headed to the "Waschsalon" and did laundry. While things washed I wrote in my journal. Once I got back to the hotel, I realized that I needed to send an e-mail to Christ-Koenig Kolleg to let them know when I would be arriving in Salzburg, so I headed down to the common room to use the computer. There were two American couples already there using or waiting to use the computer. One couple was traveling with their three sons from Italy through Germany to France. The other couple was traveling the other direction, having come from Paris and heading for Rome with their two sons. We had a nice time talking and sharing experiences, but it meant I had to wait a while before I could get to the computer. Since all the instructions were in German, I helped some of the others navigate the computer as well. Finally I was able to get on and post one of my installments of the travel blog.

On Wednesday morning I made a much shorter drive to Andechs and visited the monastery there. It is another of those magnificent Baroque-Rococo edifices scattered throughout Bavaria. Driving to the monastery I had to make a detour and was unable to stop for some great pictures of the monastery sitting on the hill - but I was able to look! When I left, I went another way, so I don't have any exterior pictures. I do have interior shots, though. I also climbed to the top of the bell tower for a view of the surrounding countryside. As I ascended, the stairs got narrower and steeper. After about five flights the y used a one-way system with one staircase "just going up and one [even longer] coming down." (Hope you caught the reference.) At the very top, we were essentially climbing a ladder. The view at the top, though, was magnificent. (Am I using enough adjectives here? You get the idea, I think.) Also in the church was a memorial and the grave of Carl Orff (d. 1982), composer of "Carmina Burana." If I had been here in June I could have gone to a concert as part of the Carl Orff festival; they performed the "Carmina Burana." (Texts were found at the monastery in Beuren; Orff set them to great music.) From the church I browsed the monastery shop and bought a book entitled "Flüssiges Brot" (Liquid Bread). I know some people who will be interested in a history of Andechs' beer and how it's brewed. Then I went to the Biergarten for a lunch of Schweinebraten, Kartoffelsalat and Spezi (pork roast, potato salad and the cola/Fanta mix that Germans like so well).

Driving back to Munich, the car's navigation system took along some fun back roads before putting me onto the Autobahn just outside the city.

In Munich I stopped at the Olympic Park. This was the site of the 1972 Olympics, which were marred by a terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes. Unfortunately those sorts of episodes are still with us. I heard about the second set of bombings in London. The stadium was closed because of an event (listening to the speaker for a little bit I figured out that it was religious in nature but didn't listen further) that was going on, so I just walked around the outside. They say you should always have something that you haven't done in a place so you have a reason to go back. I guess going to the Olympic Stadium for a tour or event (FC Bayern München plays soccer there) or just to use the sports facilities will be my reason. That and renting a bicycle to tour the city. This time I covered everything in Munich by walking and taking the occasional tram ride.

After my visit to the Olympic Park, I returned the car (and sorry I was to part with it). Then I bought some gifts to take to my brother's family when I head for Kenya in a few days. After that I returned to the hotel to pack. I just beat the weather. As I walked into the hotel, it began to rain, eventually coming down pretty hard. After packing, I fell asleep listening to the sound of rain on the roof. (My room was on the top floor. In Germany that was the third floor; in the U.S. it's the fourth floor.)

So now my time in Munich has drawn to a close. Next time I'll tell you about my time in Salzburg.
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