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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Europe Trip Report – Day 5 – Around Munich

This morning, once again – I am giving the Hilton Munich City hotel serious accolades. Here’s why…….

Today is our last day in Munich before heading up to Berlin for a couple of days. We realized this morning, not really to our surprise that we had planned a rather aggressive schedule of travel the next few days and we were asking for some trouble. Tonight we planned on taking a night train (nacht zug) to Berlin to kill two birds with one stone – we will not have to spend 6 hours of daylight on a train and we can avoid having another hotel stay. Then we were planning on being in Berlin at the Hilton Berlin for one night before taking another night train to Heidelberg. The only problem was that we did not have a night train with sleeper and would be making changes at 3:30am and 5:20am in the morning. Finally reality hit us this morning. So, a quick change of plans meant that instead of taking a night train in a couple of days, we will take a late afternoon train to Frankfurt for the evening before continuing to Heidelberg in the morning. However, we did not have a reservation. This is where the staff at the Hilton Munich City really helped. They called the Frankfurt Hilton, made a rewards reservation and took care of the whole thing for us. Too easy, and great job!

We spent our last day in Munich seeing the sites that our previous walking tours had not taken us on. Our first stop was the Munich Olympic Park.

While we have not yet seen Oliver Stone’s new picture, Munich – about the events that took place back in 1972, we still wanted to visit and see the park. We took the friendly S-bahn out to the grounds and walked around. One of the first sites we saw entering the park was a street vendor selling white asparagus or spargel – a popular delicacy in Germany.

The park is expansive and covers quite a bit of space. As you approach it, the first thing you notice is the tower (spire) that sits in the middle of it. We immediately recognized it from a past Amazing Race season where the contestants took a bungee jump off the top of it. Beyond that you see the interesting architecture of the buildings that make up the park. Each building is covered what can be described as a glass drape that has been placed over the top of them. They appear fluid and are supported by a wire system that lifts and provides tension to hold them in place. Perhaps the thing I find most puzzling about the Park and main Olympic stadium is that there are no World Cup preparations taking place. To my eye, it appears that this Olympic stadium is every bit as capable of hosting several World Cup matches as the soccer stadium on the outskirts of town used by Bayern Munich. However, it will not be. We make our way across the rest of the park to a hill that overlooks the entire park and take a couple of pictures before leaving.

As we exit the park, we heading to the nearest tram stop to catch a line that is heading towards the Nymphenburg Palace, our next stop. The Nympenburg palace, while relatively young in age is impressive from the walk up and has a sprawling set of gardens. We explore the gardens a little before running out time before we need to head back to the Marienplatz by the way of Karlsplatz.

Marienplatz’s largest attraction and one that we were really looking forward to was the clock tower. We purposely planned a day where we could see the clock ‘perform’ specifically at noon, because it would naturally last longer than the ones at 10:00am or 3:00. Watching the clock tower realizing its age and how long it has been operating is quite amazing. It is well worth the wait and spending the time to see it.

Here are some pictures from the rest of the afternoon:

Isator gate.

2006 World Cup preparations.

As we searched for a place to eat dinner, we realized that we needed a little break from the typical heavy German food that one has while in Bavaria. So, we came across a very interesting Argentinean/Brazilian restaurant chain, the Maredo Steak. It is located just a couple blocks off of Marienplatz at Rindermarkt 5 – right next to the open air market. In summary, nothing to write home about or make sure you see when you are in Germany. However, it did have a non-smoking section which was a plus.

Now we are off to the Munich Hauptbahnhof to catch our night train (nacht zug) to Berlin. Perhaps the biggest oddity about the trip is that we will be going to Berlin via Stuttgart and Frankfurt, the longer way rather than going the more direct route.