Beer Gardens and Castles

Trip Start Jun 06, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Friday, August 7, 2009

I arrived into Munich early in the afternoon and as always made my way to my new hostel. I booked a bed in a place called the "The Tent" because it was cheap and had good reviews. I am basically in a 100-man tent that literally has 50 bunk-beds. The place is kind of cool because itīs a different type of hostel then Iīve been around Europe. The place have spaces for tents and also have a bon-fire nightly.

My first day in Munich, as usual I was trying to plan my time there. My original plan was to do 2 nights in Munich, then 3 in Prague, then 3 in Berlin and fly out from there. But there is just too much to see and do here that I decided to take a night from Prague and stay in Munich a day longer. I figured that I really couldnīt do too much the first night because it was getting late and all the museums and other tourist sites were probably closing soon. BMWs Headquarters is here and also a factory which you can tour. So I called them up to schedule a factory tour because I heard it was really good. But since it is August the tours donīt run until the end of the month because of vacation time here in Germany. So I headed out to Olympic Park and just walked around a bit. The place was pretty much an amusement park with all the carnival rides, games, and other activities. Not sure if itīs just a summer thing or permanent. I was surprised to learn there was no Olympic museum there but a rock museum instead. And not the kind with instruments.  I did walk around the Olympic Stadium which had some pretty cool design to it. The place is still used today for different events like concerts and sporting games. Afterwards I headed to a beer-garden in the park and ordered me some food. I ordered the Bavarian meat loaf and potato salad. New Discovery: Bavarian meat loaf tastes suspiciously like Spam. The potato salad was just as it was advertised....Potato Salad.  And the wheat beer was tasty.  The servers were dressed up in the traditional German clothing and some of the guys were carrying way too much beer at one time to various tables which was neat to see.  Then I headed back to the hostel to get some early shut eye so I could wake up early and hit the town.  I went to bed early and was woken up by the drunkards again at 2 am.  I tried to put in ear plugs but I since they were the of the hard variety, I had to cut the stems off of them but they were still hurting my ears.  I did my best though.

I woke up early and decided to do an all-day castle tour.  We were going to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.  It's the castle that inspired Walt Disney for the movie Sleeping Beauty.  It was only built about 150 years ago by "Mad King Ludwig."  The majority of the rooms are actually unfinished because he died prior to its completion.  I was doing some research on how to get there and how much it would cost and I really only paid a bit more and there were a ton more activities throughout the day which were fun.  And I met some cool people along the way too.  The bus ride was 2 hours away from Munich and the castle is actually about 1 mile from the border of Austria.  We arrived and we first took a very easy bike ride around the country side and to Swan Lake.  At Swan Lake we had a chance to go swimming for a bit.  The lake was formed by glaciers back in the day and was pretty cold to swim in but felt good.  Afterward we had lunch and then had a chance to do some Alpine Slide ride.  It's pretty much a bobsled run that has a lot of twists and turns.  You ride on top of a cart thing and have complete control over how fast you go down with a hand brake.  It was pretty fun and I could see the potential to fly off of it if you weren't careful.  Finally it was time for the castle tour.  We had to hike up about 30 minutes up to the castle but saw some cool waterfalls along the way and a sky-bridge thing that let you see the surrounding area and the back of the castle.  We had a pre-scheduled tour time and had to be there for it.  The tour was only a 35-minute tour conducted by a pretty mean German lady.  Pictures were strictly prohibited inside the castle and of course some tourists tried to take a picture secretly.  And she made a point to quickly put down the idea of picture taking.  Walking through the castle was pretty much like a medieval fairy tale.  It's pretty much like you would think some castle should be decorated like.  Most of the walls were painted with enormous paintings, big wooden doors, and big chandeliers with I think fake gem stones in them.  His royal bed was carved out of wood by 14 carvers and took 4 years to complete.  To tell you the truth, it looked no bigger than a queen bed.  The top of it was where all the really cool intricate woodwork was at.  Like I said, the tour was short because most of the rooms were unfinished and will remain that way. 

The next day I went to the Dachau Concentration Camp.  It was the first one constructed by the Nazis and was also the training grounds for the SS guards that were deployed around at the other concentration camps.  It was only designed to hold 6,000 people but when the Allies found it it had over 40,000 people there.  Along with piles and piles of bodies waiting to be cremated.  I could of taken the tour but decided to just go solo on this one and got the audioguide and walked around.  I first went to the documentary movie that was playing in English.  For some reason I didn't want to get stuck behind Shaquille O'Neal so I planted myself in middle front row.  The movie was about how the Nazis came to power and the steps leading up to the opening of Dachau.  The final few minutes of the film were of all the carnage that was inflicted upon people of the camps.  After the surrender of the camp to the Allies, local farmers were hired to cart away the naked dead bodies to a mass-grave site outside of the camp.  Upon seeing those naked dead bodies just lying there, I came real close to crying.  I'm sure I've probably seen similiar videos before back in school but for some reason I was deeply taken aback by what I saw, but I managed to keep my composure.  After the depressing video, I made my way to the museum which was in an old original building.  I learned that since this was the first concentration camp, it has home to many of the first political opponents of the Nazis.  When the Nazis were trying to eliminate the opposition by jailing(killing) them off.  Then I wandered about and came upon the perimeter fence.  Apparently they had a cement wall, then an electrified fence, a chain-link fence with barb wire, a moat, then some nice soft green grass.  If you tried to make a break for it and stepped into the grass, you were going to be shot dead.  Many prisoners just ended their life by walking into the grass on purpose.  Then I came up to the crematorium.  It is only 1 of 3 that are left that were in service back then.  They had 4 separate burners for burning bodies.  Next to the furnaces was the gas chamber which the Nazis claimed was never in use.  The Nazis tricked the prisoners into the room by placing shower heads in the room to pretend their were going to take a shower.  Instead, they would rain poisonous gas on them.  Afterward I made my back around the musem and came upon the courtyard.  There the Nazis would string up people on poles for torture for hours.  They also had a bunch of jail cells that you could see and walk in.  The Nazis had a way of torturing people by splitting a cell into 4 cells by putting up dividers.  That would enable the prisoners to only stand up and couldn't sit down.  They would make them stand for up to 72 hours for torture.  And that's pretty much the grand tour of the place.

Afterward I met up with two girls that I met on the castel tour the day prior.  One was from Czech and the other from Poland and were both living in England.  We ate some dinner and just walked around the city a bit for the night.  They were pretty funny.  Ironically enough they saw the same Dachau video I say that day and I asked them what they thought about it.  They thought it was a pretty light film.  "Light" I thought?  They say light because they thought the Germans didn't really expose the full atrocities for which they unleashed on people in the video.  They said the Germans used to film/document everything they did and weren't showing enough.  That may be so but I sure got the point. 

My final day in Munich I took a free walking tour of the city since I really hadn't seen much of it yet.  It rained for most of the day but that didn't deter us.  We walked about the city and learned a lot about its history.  80% of the city was leveled in WWII, went to the famous Hofbrauhaus(Massive Beer Hall) where Hitler have his first speech to 2,000 people, and where Hitlers bodyguard was shot 11 times saving Hitler.  We also saw the world-famous Glockenspiel clock.  A few times a day this procession happens with bells ringing the whole time.  The show is of life-size metal(I think) figures that do this dance way up high on this tower.  They even have jousting knights that battle.  It's a pretty cool spectacle and I have it on video but the PC here would take too long to upload.  Youtube it!!  I also found a BMW showroom that had a new BMW M3 simulator game.  It's pretty much a real car that is hooked up to computers and your race around the track in it.  I filled out my obligatory card(My name is John Smith) to get a free ride. The thing was fun as hell but hard.  You actually had to shift and everything which was cool!  Your windshield had the screen that was displayed which was mostly the wall because I was gunning it too much. 

I ended up taken a much later train out of Munich because I didn't want to miss too much.  I really liked Munich and feel that I didn't get enough of the city.  There just isn't enough time!  Some is better than none though.
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