Part 3 of Euro Trip 2011

Trip Start Oct 08, 2011
Trip End Nov 18, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Saturday, November 26, 2011


 Well, having a relaxing visit in Berlin turned out to be a real gift, as I hit Munich running and only had one day of chilling out! Hilde and I drove to Munich from Berlin. The trip was about 5 hours on the autobahn. One funny side note to this was when we stopped for a bite to eat and
a potty break. When I flushed the toilet, an arm reached out, the seat began to spin around in a circle and ran itself thru a little shower & quick blow dry. Hilarious!

 We found our way into town and after struggling with the “every street is a one-way” circle dance for about 20 frustrating minutes, arrived in one piece. My friend Gabi met us and took us out for a lovely dinner, then early to bed. The next day I gave Hilde a tour of the old city center area of MarienPlatz.  This is the crazy a busy tourist area with a huge number of historical goodies to enjoy. First is the New Town Hall, which is a completely over the top Neo Gothic building that looks older than the Old Town Hall.Go figure.

  As it was Sunday, everything was closed except the restaurants and … Churches! Munich has more amazing Cathedrals per square foot than anywhere else I know of and we saw at least 6 of them. All beautiful! We even sneaked in on a Mass for a few minutes, heard a couple of organs and a choir. All for free. Huzzah!

 After a nap and dinner, we went with my friend Thomas to a jam session at the Unterfahrt Jazz Club. It was nice and I met a couple of great people, but mostly it reminded me of being young and playing “Hipper-than –thou” games to impress folks. I understand that musicians’ trying to prove themselves is part of the early journey, but I am really glad to be done with that. It is exhausting!

 Later we went briefly to The Hot Shot, an after hours club where I would be doing a gig a few days later. Unfortunately no music after 10pm, but they serve booze till 5. Nice! The next day it rained, and I just chilled out and rested. It was a much needed break. Gabi has BBC & CNN
in the flat, so I caught up on what was on in the world. Since the news was pretty depressing, I napped a lot!

 Tuesday was a beautiful day and I walked to the large 19th century neoclassical Koenig’s Platz, which houses 2 antiquarian museums. ON the way I discovered a lovely Cathedral called St. Benno.  Surprising I could not find any information about it in the guide, so I know nothing about it, but besides being charming, there was a small market in the square next to it, so I had a quick nosh. After lunch I made my way to the Haupt Banhof (Main Station) to rent a bike for the
afternoon. I got a bit lost, but if you are not on a deadline that is half of the fun! I eventually found my way to the English Garden and saw the usual:  the Chinese Tower, the Eisbach surfers, the beer gardens and Diana’s Temple. The English Garden is HUGE, possibly bigger than Central Park. I didn't even see half of it, but I had to get the bike back by 5:30, so off I headed, via Marien Platz again. On the way I poked my head into the Theatine Church, which is a baroque beauty with a difference, instead of gold everywhere, it is predominately white stucco. Just
as elaborate, yet very peaceful. I got to the central square in time to see the city hall clock do its magical dance. Too charming!

 After dropping the bike I stopped for a very bad glass of wine, unfortunately all to common in Germany, and I noticed that the Xeroxed brochure I had picked up at the church cost 50 cents. I didn’t see a price when I got it, so I seem to have ripped off a church! Damn… I decided if I dropped 50 cents at the next one, maybe God wouldn’t be mad at me. Sheesh.

 On Wednesday I made my way back to Koenig’s Platz and went to the “Staatliche Antikensammlunger” (state museum of antiquities). The Glyptothek will have to wait for another time. The museum was fairly small and easy to do, which was necessary as I had a rehearsal that afternoon, followed by a trip of about an hour to get to a nice little jam session in a small village called Erding. This was a more pleasant situation than the first one as it was older pros and the testosterone levels were not as high. At first I was surprised that folks came this far for
a jam session, but it was a lovely village and the club was very cool, so by the end of the night it made complete sense.

 The gig the next at Hot Shot night went very well. We had a full house, and what was to be a duo, became a trio as a local drummer sat in. It reminded me that I really do love to sing. The piano player was a great guy named Carston who has a day job as a pilot for Lufthansa. He gigs on his off days. The drummer and his wife run a music school across the street from the club. Since very few people can make a real living as musicians anymore most of us have day jobs. That romance of the starving artist thing wears thin after a few years of living it.

 Another day, another museum, this time it was the Neue Pinakothek, local home of  19th
Century European paintings. I saw some favs, including Cezanne, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, some German Expressionists and Klimt. Afterwards I met Gabi for a lovely dinner at a high-end restaurant called H”Ugo, after which we strolled along Maximillion Strasse, which is the Munich
equivalent of Rodeo Drive. When I was in Paris someone told me that the French translation of window-shopping is “window licking”. Whether that is true or not, it is a great image. We had a lovely stroll “licking the windows” of Hermes, Yves St Laurent, Prada, Gucci, etc. Geez… what are the upper classes thinking letting me prowl around in their territory?

My friend Gabi is quite a character. She is fluent in at least 5 languages, and everywhere we go people know her and greet her warmly. She works very hard and LIVES her life all out when she has free time. Quoting Oscar Wilds’ “The best is just good enough!” she is astonishingly
generous and has introduced me to things I would never otherwise have been able to enjoy. She is also still trying to convince me to never, ever drink good wine from anything but crystal. I begin to believe her.

 On Saturday I made my way to a flea market on the other side of town. It was an annual festival event and was pretty cool in a down home kind of way. I found the antiques area and even managed to find a little wooden bottle stopper for my collection. I was a bit surprised as I expected to find more, but they are old and very scarce now, so I was lucky. After a cup of
coffee I went to the Karl Valentin Museum in the towers of the  Isar Gate. He was a
much beloved comic from Munich, kind of along the lines of Keaton, but also an accomplished musician and artist. It was a really sweet place and upstairs was a small tavern in the old risqué
cabaret style. Great stuff! (Side note: There is a statue of him in the Viktualien Markt near Marienplatz, which is the HUGE outdoor market in the town center.)

 I headed home via Marien Platz and I found 2 demonstrations at opposite ends of the thoroughfare. In the center was a neo-Nazi demonstration, complete with riot police and people tossing vegetables at the Nazis. (Yay team!) At the other end in Karls Platz was a very peaceful Occupy Wall St related protest. It runs the gamut here in the course of a few blocks, dirndls
to drag queens, street artists to beggars. I haven’t seen dirndl drag yet, but I bet it is right around the next corner.

 I went home and took a nap for an hour then I met Gabi’s hubby, Dieter for “The Long Night of the Museums”. This is a great annual event; a 15-euro ticket gets you free bus transportation and entry into all the museums in town, which are open until 1:00 AM. YAY!!!!  We made it to 4 of them; The Alte Pinakotek (The Masters; Durer, Raphael, Rubens, etc), The Museum Brandhorst, (Modern Art, including Warhol, Twombly, etc), The Mineral Museum, (which sounds boring but was fascinating), and the Deutsches Museum, (all things technical). Obviously we didn’t explore any of them in depth, and we barely scratched the surface at the Duetsches, but it was a WONDERFUL evening! I made it to bed at 3:30, pooped but happy.

 The next day was my last real day in town, and exhausted or not, I was determined to go to one more museum. The Munchner Stadt Museum (City Museum); Oh my gawd! It had a fabulous puppet and carnival collection, as well as a very cool ancient instrument collection. Their current exhibit about the city “Typically Munich” was great. I learned a lot about the city history, traditions and art. They even covered the unfortunate period when homeboy Adolf began his hot mess. A very touchy subject, but well presented.

 By this time I could barely walk, but I had one more dinner date with Gabi; monkfish with truffles at Il Mulino… Wow, fabulous! Went home and collapsed. The next day I packed, lunched at the hotel across from the flat and went to Gabi & Dieters for dinner. They fixed me a wonderful pork dish that was delish! Since they are near the airport I stayed the night and hit the
sack early for my morning flight.

 Bleary eyed I managed to get the shuttle to Munich airport the next day and went through the security check to the gates. Then I went through another one AT the gate, both quite thorough. I am not sure exactly what kind of explosive they think I may have found on my way from the ticket desk to the gate, but I am very glad I got there early. I arrived in good time at Dulles, and had to go through ANOTHER security check to get on my flight to LA, having been exactly nowhere but on the airplane and walking from one secured gate to another. The lesson here is to be early, have an iPod and bring your sense of humor!

 My arrival at LAX brought to a close another wonderful adventure for me on the other side of the world.  For those who only think of Munich in connection with Oktoberfest, think again! There is MUCH more to this city than an annual bacchanalian romp. While it may not have the hip edge that Berlin offers, it is filled with history, art, music, quirks and warm friendly people that I have come to love. I ask a local how he would describe the difference between Berlin and Munich, as I was having trouble putting it in to words. He said “Berlin is like New York, Munich is like Texas.”  There you have it, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

 If you do plan to make a trip over there anytime soon and you need some tips, be in touch, I will be happy to share anything I know that may be of use to you. I may even lead a small tour next year; so if you are interested, let me know. Until then …

Happy Travels Friends


 General Travel

 Be sure to bring plenty of OTC pain relievers if you use them. Aspirin & Ibuprofen are very expensive all over Europe. If you need prescription meds, bring plenty. If you need to refill there, be sure you know the generic name of your drugs, they may not be called the same
thing there.

 Bring an empty water bottle thru security and then fill it once you have cleared. Otherwise you will pay dearly for water in the shops. 

 I always seek out the City Tourist Info spots. They have lots of good free info and are generally helpful. Nowadays they sometimes charge a nominal fee for maps and detailed info, but it is completely worth it. Plus, you can generally buy tickets for events & sites in advance there.
But, before you buy a city “Tour Card” check out whether they will really save you time or money. Sometimes they look good on paper, but to make them pay off you need to hit 3 or 4 sites a day.

 Drop by the public transit offices to pick up info about the various metro and bus lines. These are usually near a main rail station and at airports.

 Learn to read a map… AND… a Metro plan.

Comfy shoes … Comfy shoes … Comfy shoes…

 Pack your patience. Travel has always been tiring, and occasionally frustrating, but nowadays, just plan on it being a drill. Put a smile on your mug and fake it till you make it!

ALWAYS have a plan B. To be safe, have C & D as well. Things get delayed, places close, schedules change, and problems often occur. Learn to relax and go with whatever is happening. I have stumbled into some truly amazing things when I got lost, or had to change plans at a moments notice. Trust me, getting angry will not make it better. Try to be patient and stay calm.

 Most Importantly...Have fun!



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