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3 Weeks in East-Central Europe: Part 6: Munich

Other parts of my trip report can be found at these links:
Part 1: Budapest:
Part 2: Vienna:
Part 3: Prague:
Part 4: Castle Hluboka, Divci Kamen, and Cesky Krumlov:
Part 5: Salzburg:

Day 18
We arrived in Munich and figured out how to take transit to our hotel, the Munich Hilton Englischer Garten. After getting settled, we decided to take a walk through the gardens. It was a very hot weekend afternoon, and the gardens were filled with people enjoying the day.

We first followed the main road to the Chinesischer Turm that we’d passed on the way to the hotel. This turned out to be the site of a large beer garden. I was fascinated to watch one fellow carrying four huge glass steins, two in each hand, while he pedaled a bike through the crowds.

I don’t care for beer, so we kept walking. We passed some lovely duck ponds and stopped to buy ice cream. We followed a path that brought us around by the tower again, and we passed it and explored the other side. Here, dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people were sunbathing—some nude (males) and some not. At the edge of the gardens, we came across a little canal where some people were dabbling their feet. This looked appealing, and we did the same before exiting the gardens.

We came upon the Bayerisches Museum, and there seemed to be something happening in the courtyard there, so we poked our heads inside. Apparently it was some kind of special weekend. It was getting to be too late to go into the exhibits (unfortunately), but there was food and drink for sale in the courtyard. We were hungry, so we checked it out. They were serving wonderful sausages, salad, and beer or water at very reasonable (for Munich) prices. (I think it was 5 Euros a plate, including a drink.) So we stopped for a bite, and it was great to have a crisp, green salad on a hot day.

We walked along further and ended up at the Angel of Peace monument and fountain. After exploring around there for a while, we walked along the river, looking at the architecture, until we got back to our hotel.

Our hotel had a spa in it with a cool pool with jets and bubblers, a sauna, and lounge chairs. We took advantage of the pool at the end of a hot and tiring day. It was great!

Day 19
The next morning, we headed to Marienplatz, intending to see the Glockenspiel. We had a lovely breakfast at a café on a raised deck and finished with about 25 minutes to spare before the Glockenspiel time. However, it took so long to get our bill and pay it that we just missed the Glockenspiel. So, we decided to head over to the Residenz and see the Glockenspiel another time.

We arrived just as the Residenz was opening. It was amazing—room after room of treasures. Again, there were bridal couples having photos taken in the spectacular Antiquarium—a huge hall filled with priceless antique sculptures.

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We emerged from the Residenz more than three hours later, thirsty and starting to get a little hungry again. We walked out and looked for a place to take a break. One nearby beer garden was much too crowded, so we went over to the Englischer Garten and sat down at a beer garden near the entrance. I’m not sure if we did things right, because we sat there for about 15 minutes, and nobody acknowledged us or came to take our order, but it didn’t seem as if there was a counter to go and place our own order. So, we gave up and left. We went to the MacDonald’s near the Giselastraße UBahn station. There, Ronald was entertaining the customers and handing out gummies. We hadn’t realized Ronald spoke German. He’s a talented clown. ;^) After our break, we took a walk along Leopoldstraße to see the Siegestor-Arch. There was a photo shoot happening there—it appeared to be a fashion shoot--so we took a couple of our own photos and moved on. We walked around the neighbourhood and made note of a restaurant we wanted to return to later. Then we went back to the hotel for our afternoon spa time.

That evening, we headed back to the restaurant, Cavos Taverna, a Greek place that backs onto the Englischer Garten. What a great choice! The atmosphere was lively and friendly, the service pleasant and attentive but not smothering, and the food tasty and plentiful. We enjoyed it a lot.

It was thundering a bit while we waited for the bus back through the gardens. Fortunately, we did not have to wait long.

Day 20
Our last day in Europe dawned cool and grey. Our plan was to go to the Nymphenburg Palace and the Glockenspiel that day. I was tired and a bit footsore, and I seriously questioned whether yet another palace would be of that much interest. I am so happy that we did go, though.

As we approached Nymphenburg, we were taken with the size of it. The façade of the palace is enourmous—700 metres in length. Wow! The inside is only partially restored, but the Great Hall has to be the prettiest room I have ever seen, anywhere, ever. I just sat and soaked it in for at least 20 minutes. Loved it!

After the tour, we went outside to the back of the palace, to walk around the grounds and see the other palaces that we were told were there. Apparently, at Nymphenburg, if one is out walking or riding in one’s extensive grounds, and has a palace emergency, there is always one at hand.

We came upon the first of these, Amalienburg, a pretty “little” palace very much in the style of the Great Hall in the main palace. The kitchen, with its blue and white tiles, was so charming, it almost made me want to cook. (Almost.)

We left Amalienburg and headed toward the next palace. By this time, it was starting to rain steadily. Fortunately, I had an umbrella and a rain poncho, and my husband had a water resistant jacket, so we continued. The next palace, Badenburg, overlooked a little lake with what looked like a Greek temple across the way. Its most impressive feature was a swimming pool (now empty) in the lower level. We were the only visitors there. I guess most of the others were scared away by the rain. We walked over to the temple—actually called the “Monopteros”—and it was actually a sort of Greek or Roman gazebo. We enjoyed the view over to Badenburg from there.

To see the other palaces, we had to leave the wooded area and cross through the more open area running down the centre of the grounds. By this time, the rain was driving at us sideways with a drenching force. Even with our umbrella and poncho/jacket, our legs got very wet and we were getting cold. However, we were rewarded when we arrived at the “tiny” and charming Pagodenburg. This 2 story palace was so exquisitely decorated, it made me think of the interior of a Faberge egg.

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After Pagodenburg, we slogged through to the amazing and mysterious Magdalenenklause. The exterior of this palace looked a bit like a ruin—I understand it was made this way intentionally. Inside was an antechamber and chapel in which the walls were encrusted with thousands upon thousands of shells and stones. The effect is quite breathtaking. (There is a similar room in the Residenz.)

We were ready to eat after the palaces and the soaking, so we took the tram to Karlsplatz and found a warm and dry spot at Café Stacherias. While we warmed up over hot coffees and a light lunch, I tried to do online checkin for our flight home the next day, but I kept having trouble. I decided to wait until I got back to the hotel and could try using my iPad.

We then travelled to Marienplatz to try once again to see the Glockenspiel. This time, we were more successful, but I have to say it is a bit difficult to watch it with rain pouring into one’s face. Ah, well. We saw it.

We went back to our hotel and hit the spa one more time, this time spending more time in the sauna than the cool pool. Then we went to our room to pack.

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Day 21
Although our flight was not until the afternoon, I was concerned because we still had been unsuccessful at checking in online, so I wanted to get to the airport early. We took the train to the airport and arrived with plenty of time to spare. It was a good thing. First of all, we had to go to two different counters to check in and get boarding passes for the two different legs of our flight. When we got to the Lufthansa counter to check in for the long portion of our flight—from Munich to Vancouver, the attendant told us the only place where there were two seats together was in the middle of the centre row of the plane, between two other passengers. I was just grateful that we were able to check in and get seats, and I said something like, “Oh, well. That’s all right. At least I can lean on him,” and I pointed at my husband. I’m guessing this must have charmed the attendant, because of what happened afterward. When she went to print our boarding passes, she said that those seats were no longer available. She must have seen the consternation on my face, because she said, “Don’t worry,” and she got on the phone with her supervisor. They had a conversation which we could not understand, except we did hear her say the words, “Super, super!” a couple of times. She told us to talk to the supervisor at our gate. So, off we went, through security. Let me tell you, they mean business at Munich security. I was given a stern lecture by the man who checked my luggage, because I hadn’t put my lipstick in my liquids bag. (I had actually looked this up before we left for our trip and found information that said that lipstick is not considered a liquid, so for the first trip since liquids have been restricted, I had not put my lipstick in my liquids bag. I hadn't had any problem flying to Europe or from Frankfurt to Budapest, but in Munich, it was a problem, so lesson learned.) My husband had it worse. He had been wanded and patted down on each leg of our trip, so he was resigned to that happening again. (He is Cree and Blackfoot, but is mistaken for many ethnicities, including Middle Eastern.) But he was very upset when they stuck the wand down the front of his pants in full view of all the other passengers going through security. So, by the time we got to our gate, both of us were embarrassed, stressed, and frustrated. There was nobody manning the desk at our gate yet, so we went in search of food. My husband stopped for a sandwich, and I bought supplies for the flight (which turned out to be unnecessary). When the supervisor came to the gate desk, a bunch of people jumped up, but I ended up second in line. When she printed out our boarding passes, she handed them to me and said, “You two can go and sit over in the priority section. You will be in business class.” My husband and I could not believe our luck. We had always hoped for this to happen, but it never had before, and what better time than on a 10-hour flight? All our stress and annoyance evaporated, and we had the loveliest flight home ever—pampered at every turn (“Oh, you can’t decide which dessert to have? Why not just have both, madame?”) and able to stretch out and lie down in comfort. It was a fantastic end to a truly fantastic holiday.