Wednesday, 16 July 2008

really hanging out for the day when roaming wireless broadband is standard on mobile phones, and she can use google maps on the go to not get so lost.

Munich: Day 1, Monday

Up bright and early, caught the Catamaran to the other side of the lake to get my train to Munich. All went smoothly, but possibly because I was so busting the entire train ride that I really only had the brainspace to make the correct changes - not to overthink it and stuff it up, or to start panicking.

The panicking and the overwhelming sense of loneliness set in pretty much when I arrived in my (really very nice if basic) hotel room. I'm beginning to sense that this is just a permanent fixture when I'm travelling alone, and I'm just going to have to do my best to crumple it down into a tight little ball in the bottom of my abdomen and attempt to ignore it. I think today it was worse because the contrast with being somewhere comfortable with friends, having people to talk to, was starker than usual. Well, a valuable lesson has been learned - travelling alone sucks. But hey, it's only for two weeks, and I guess it's another friggin' growth opportunity. (Thanks universe, I've had enough for one year).

At this point, Dad chimed in and pointed out that it's a HOLIDAY and that means I get to do whatever makes me happy. If that means being outgoing and climbing all the churches in town then fine, and if it means sitting in my hotel room and reading the internet, well, that's fine too (although regrettably, the latter is a lot cheaper to do at home). So I did do the latter for a while, and eventually levered myself up to go and see a little of the city.

My first impression is that it's a little bit like Lyon, and we all know how much I liked it there. It feels pretty industrial, and all the people are a bit grey and harried looking. But I ventured into the city centre/old town, and found there's actually some pretty incredible buildings. Notably, the (new?) Rathaus which leaves the Paris Hotel de Ville (and in fact, every other one that I've seen) for dead and has a big 'glockenspiel' that plays 3 times a day. I also found the famous food markets here. They were mostly closed by the time I got there, but I think they'd be worth exploring another day. They seem a bit smaller than the central markets, and it's all outside in semi-permanent buildings, but also a bit posher, with more interesting specialty produce.

I found a soup place, and ordered something random, and had myself with a nice dinner of chicken broth with maultaschen (german ravioli). I also had an apfelsaftshorle which is apple juice with something fizzy mixed in (can't quite decide if it's soda water or lemonade) and it's quite a concept I can get behind. You can also order a wine shorle (sweet/lemonade or sour/not sure haven't ordered it) and there's a beer shorle (ie. a shandy) but it's got a different name. If the Germans do it to beer though, it must be ok.

Tomorrow I will try and get up at a suitable hour, and visit the Neuschwanstein castle.

Munich: Day 2, Tuesday
Actually, very little of this was spent in Munich. Just a tasty piece of pizza at about 7am when I got back to the city. I left at 9am to visit the Schloss Neuschwanstein, and due to the super incompatible train/bus timetables it took me the ENTIRE day to do a 35 minute tour. Talk about your tourist trap! So much for German efficiency... Anyway, the castle was pretty cool - cooler inside than out I would say, but no photography inside so I can't share that. Only about 10 rooms in the castle were finished, and all the walls are painted with scenes from Arthurian/Wagnerian type fables. And I do mean all the walls. There's some pretty incredible woodcarving going on there too. It's in a nice spot too, balancing on the top of a hill - a beautiful green foresty walk to get up there. It was the inspiration for the Disney logo castle apparently, and you can kind of see why. Although it goes both ways, because the castle was inspired by fables itself, so I suppose it's a bit circular. I'm tired now. That's all I have to say about today.

Except that 'Schloss Neuschwanstein' is a name clearly chosen to make English speakers sound like that episode of Lano & Woodley where Lano accidentally mocks the lady with the speech impediment.

Oh and also, American tourists. Oh. My. Gawd. Here's a (loud) moment from the castle today:

'You know, maybe crazy King Ludwig wasn't as crazy as everyone thought'.
'Why do you say that?'
'Well, he was obviously very religious...'.

Riiiiight. Becuase there have been absolutely no religious nutters in history. Ever.

Munich: Day 3, Wednesday
So today I actually got some stuff done, partly because the curtains in my hotel room were woefully inadequate and I woke up naturally at about 7am (unheard of) and partly because I realised I had less than a day left in Munich and had barely seen anything.

I had a (expensive, but at least big) coffee in the main square and watched the big glockenspiel/music box type thing at the Rathaus. It's an old mechanised scene on the front of the building that comes to life at 11am. There's chimes that play a song, and there's a king and queen who watch a joust, one knight knocks the other one off and wins, and then a whole heap of lower dolls do a little dance. Really moving (when you think about how impressive it must've been when it was first made) and kind of underwhelming all at the same time.

Keeping in mind Dad's advice about doing whatever I want to do, even if it's not what you're supposed to do on holiday I went to H&M. And tried very hard not to spend any money since it's rapidly dwindling, but was quite unsuccessful. At least the average item price was about AUD$10. Anyway, I suppose I should point out that I'm feeling a lot better today than on Monday. Still not totally comfortable (and Oh how exhausted I am already), but maybe I'm slowly getting used to this solo travelling gig.

I went for a quick tour of the Schatzkammer which is the little museum where they keep the old crown jewels and stuff. Pretty impressive and my camera totally cracked under the pressure of a million photos of shiny things. You can visit the rest of the palace too, which looked pretty awesome but I was on a time budget and I'm kind of getting over looking at old and beautiful places right now...

I walked through the English garden, which was sort of cool, and again, sort of underwhelming. It's a huge big park in the middle of the city, and if I lived there i'm sure i would love love love it. But as a tourist was just a big park really. Grass and trees. Not as impressive as central park, purely because the city surrounding it is not nearly as mad, and not as pretty as a lot of the other (admittedly smaller) gardens I've seen (including the ones next door in Munich!). There were also these guys surfing on the river that runs through it - mad mad mad. There was really only one (repetitive) wave, and it kind of smelled pretty funky too.

I went to the Deutsches museum, which is a big science museum. I had only an hour and a half left, and I really wish I'd had a whole day (and a German/English nerd friend to explain it all to me). There were rooms for everything scienc-y, from the history of paper making, to the extraction of oil & natural gas - all with actual historical machines (yes, some of them were very very big). There was a section for musical instruments, and there must've been at least 50 pianos (or piano type things), and even a bassoon section with a paper-mache contrabasophon! I also really liked the room with the wind & water mills. Apparently there's even a coal mine shaft that goes 200m underground but I didn't find it. Anyway, that was super cool and I would really recommend it.

Heading back to the bahnhof to get on my train to Munich I grabbed a falafel from teh Viktuelenmarkt as a late late lunch.

In the end I actually quite liked Munich. There are surprisingly lots of grand old buildings (not sure how many have been rebuilt and how many are original) and the streets are wide and there's lots of green. It's still a big stinky city, but I think it's a bit more elegant than many. I particularly liked their system of bike lanes too, whereby the footpath was extremely wide and the half of it (or 1/3 or whatever) closest to the road is divided off for cyclists. It seems a lot safer to me to have the cyclists on the foopath not the road and there did seem to be a lot of cyclists. (I wonder if maybe this is acutally a German thing, not a Munich thing).

Actually, I think maybe it is. I'm in Nuremberg now, and it seems the same here.

Have I mentioned the flags? European countries seem to love their flags, and in France and Spain their respective flags were everywhere. In Germany there are flags everywhere but it's always a big bunch from lots of different countries. Apparently they're still scared about seeming too nationalistic... I guess that's understandable, although kind of a shame, but it does feel a lot friendlier as a visitor to see all the flags of the world around the place, and not just the one that's not your own.

I'm beginning to think there are two kinds of places: the first where people rush around so busy that they don't remember to enjoy life, and the second where people go a bit slower and enjoy being out on the streets, seeing what's happening, having a coffee in the sun and reading a book etc. Usually the big cities are the former and smaller places are the latter, but not always. But I think the former kind, even if there are heaps of amazing things to see, doesn't feel so good, even to a tourist. I'm wondering now which kind Adelaide will be interesting to see when I get back.


young actress with big ideas said...

do you believe?

Lauren said...

Damn, I should have told you about the free walking tour of Munich. There's one in Berlin too, if you're going there. You see everything cool without getting lost. :)
Have you thought about staying in youth hostels to combat the loneliness thing? If you stay in a dorm, there's always people to talk to and they're usually very nice and normal. hostelbookers,com and will help you find the hostels that have cool facilities and won't rip you off.
Keep enjoying yourself!

m∃ said...

Hi Lauren,
I actually did know about the Munich walking tour - I was just too disorganised to do it. But I'll definitely try and do the berlin one, since I'm there for a little longer.
I spent a lot of time tossing up between single rooms and dorms and eventually just decided I like my privacy. But I booked into a 4 female dorm for Berlin because it was the nicest (non hideously expensive) thing I could find. So hopefully I will make some friends there. But I think it's slowly getting better anyway.

kate said...

I think Adelaide is defiantly the later Emily! Sydney is the first. Thus, I'm coming home too! It's funny- I rushed away from Adelaide, only to realise that it really does have a lot of endearing qualities that are super important to enjoying life! See you in Adelaide!