|Date:||Friday, September 4, 1998|
|Location:||Munich and Dachau, Germany, to Reutte, Austria|
The Gasthaus Raidel serves a typical German breakfast: Cheese; salami; choice of rye bread, "kaiser" rolls, or crusty football-shaped rolls; coffee or tea; 4 blocks of butter (not mere pats, these 4 cubes add up to nearly 1/4 lb) per person; and fresh apricot or strawberry jam. And apple juice, if you know to ask for it.
Now we're on the bus to sunny (finally!) Munich (München). Gene gives us a brief orientation tour, leading us through the Viktualien Market (more on that, later), into the main square, Marienplatz, past the Weisses Brauhaus, and into the famous Hofbrau Haus. Big hall. Oompah band. Pretzels. Brig prefers the Weisses instead. Bill had taken her there when she visited Munich years ago. So, to the Weisses Brauhaus.
Note: This is where Hitler got his big start. He began his failed "beer hall putsch" (coup d'état) at this place. We decide that the irony begs for us to enjoy the fruits of his eventual failure. Besides, the best revenge is living well.We grab a sunny cafe table, and wrestle with the German menu for awhile. The waitress arrives, figures out our nationality, and quickly returns with an English menu. Our selections:
We walk through Viktualien Market on the way to St. Peter's, but decide to climb the bell tower before spending time in the market. Well, almost -- a pair of large, luscious, sweet, purple figs call out to us, so we buy them and devour them before charging up the tower's many stairs. Yes, the figs were as good as they sound.
The climb up the tower (DM2.50 apiece) stimulated each of our fears:
some of the stairways are quite narrow; and the walkway outside the tower
is crowded, narrow, and over 150 feet up. The view is awfully nice,
though. Here are some sample shots of Marienplatz and of central
Munich from the St. Peter's church tower:
That's as long as we can resist the call. Back down the stairs, and into Viktualien Market. We can't resist a good market, and this one is truly amazing. They've got everything: produce, fresh meat, sausages, cheeses, pickles, prepared foods, restaurants, flowers.
We covet all the goodies, especially the olives, pickles, and huge array of pestos. We focus on the fruits. Several of the stands have fresh lychee that only look so-so. Despite our passion for lychee, we pass on these. I buy some grapefruit (mundane, but my body seems to work better when I have them) at DM1.20 apiece, and each no larger than an orange. We pounce on some mangosteen (they turn out to be in poor condition, and we get only 4 good sections out of two mangosteen). There's an interesting fruit that I later remember having encountered in a produce market in Hong Kong: Dragon Fruit"). It's beautiful and tempting, but for some reason, we decide not to try it. (I wish we had. We passed on it in HK, too.) Brigid spots a display with small baskets of "wald erdebeeren" (wild strawberries). These are tiny berries, smaller than raspberries. They are sweet and very fragrant. The flavor is good but not astounding. And, many of them are overripe. We later pass them around the bus, for others to share.
Things we want to return to Munich for:
This is was Hitler's first concentration camp, and the model for the rest. Dachau is a suburb of Munich. The town residents claim not to have known what went on here, other than the public story of its being a prison for enemies of the state. Although the gas chamber (as usual, disguised as a group shower) was never used here, the Nazis did manage to kill at least 30,000 Jews, political prisoners, Gypsies, communists, journalists, unsupportive priests, and even war prisoners. The Krematorium was, at the end of the European war, unable to keep up.
I feel relatively little connection to this place. My father's sisters and mother, and his aunts and uncles, probably never reached the camps. Or, if they did, it was more likely to have been a Polish camp, such as Aushwitz. Mostly, the place just reminds me of how versatile the human mind can be. Too many of us seem able to rationalize any behavior that suits us.
On the bus, while traveling to Reutte, Gene shares an opinion offered by a member of a previous tour. This person felt that the lesson of Dachau is that the right of citizens to bear arms should not be infringed. His postulate, a common excuse for those opposed to gun control, is that an unarmed populace can be easily subdued by a well-armed government. I bite my tongue, considering that while nobody invited Gene to share this person's unrebutted opinion, nobody invited me, either. His intent was merely to share a novel view.On our way through Bavaria, we stop at the Wieskirche (Church in the Meadow). Built around 1756, it is an incredible place. Truly in the middle of working pasture and rolling hills, the insides are fabulous. Very upbeat painted scenes, intended to instill hope for salvation. Extreme ornamentation (i.e., Rococo style). Sorry, no photography was allowed inside. The outside is unremarkable, other than the dairy cows strolling around...
As we go south, so does the weather. By the time we reach Reutte (actually, the hotel is in nearby Unterpinswang), it's pouring. At Gutshof zum Schluxen (Hotel Schluxenhof), our room is beautiful. A balcony with flower planter, a view of the green hills, a bed with down comforters and pillows (no, the hotel has no synthetic pillows -- damn) a TV with remote control, and a 3/4 bathroom. This turns out to be the most plush accommodations of the entire trip, by my judgment.