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 GERMANY

Deutschland

 

Eine Prosit

der

Gemutlichkeit

From October 1967 to October 1969 I was a young GI stationed near Nurnburg and we lived on the economy in the village of Neundorf, thus I am not a stranger to this country.  But at the same time I am not a native and I have been gone for 37 years.

We visited our Insurance agent and his American wife near Frankfurt where we conducted a little business and had a nice lunch in an outdoor cafe.  Then we proceeded to 

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg is one of the best preserved late Medieval towns in central Europe.  With intact city walls and towers it draws huge crowds of tourists and the town has enacted statues that limit the property owners to maintaining that characteristic look.  Thus the entire town has a museum quality about it.  Always spotless and with quality shopping and restaurants it is an absolute must see town.  In April that is easy to say.  In July, the crowds can be overwhelming.

 

Here to the right is one of the most photographed scenes of the town.  The crooked house in the center separates the streets leading to 2 separate town tower gates on two different levels.

 

The town hosts a number of festivals to promote its history, including the famed Meistertrunk.  This is a reenactment of a moment of whimsy from the otherwise very grim 30 Years War of 1619-1648.  (30% of Germany's population died from war or starvation or disease in those years).  The Swedish Army Commander, Tilly, after having taken the town agreed, after a wine or 2, to leave if a city councilmen could chug-a- lug a 3 quart glass of wine.  One councilmen stepped forward and did his very best for the town, and Tilly, good to his word, packed up his Army and departed.

 

We continued south down the Romantischer Strasse (Romantic Way) passing towns like Nordlingen, Donausworth and Dinklesbuhl.  All towns with substantial city walls and a charm of their own.

Here is a entry gate into Dinklesbuhl.  The top 3 floors of the 6 story building served as warehouse space for agricultural crops in earlier times - at the very top a pulley is still in evidence and use today.  The small garden plots in the foreground are owned by townsfolk who seek a little dirt of their own to grow mostly vegetables but also some flowers

 

Enroute to Munich we began to follow signs that led us to this site.

 

 

Don't Ever,

not even for a moment, think that it did not happen!  

Don't ever, ever allow someone to say that it did not happen.  Repudiate with authority and vigor anyone who says it wasn't so.

On the Wire

And the big bell intoned

Barracks foundations

Dachau was a Concentration Camp for political and occasional military prisoners.  In the 12 years of operation some 200,000 souls passed through this camp that could house 12,000 at a time.  At the end of the war in April, 1945 over 32,000 persons were behind the wire.  Over 45,000 people perished here because of maltreatment, disease and starvation.  This was not designed, nor did it serve as a "Death Camp" along the lines of the big murder factories that were constructed in eastern Poland.

 

The big city of southern Bavaria with the starkly simple interior of the twin towered Dom to the left, and the very over the top Rococo of this Asam Brothers church interior. 

 From Beer and Oktoberfest to the grandeur of the Imperial Residence, all under the watchful eyes of the Bavarian Alps a few miles to the south.

World Class City!!!

 

Mud Monster

The campground at Thalkirchen is one of the most well known campgrounds in Europe, if not the world because it is the closest one to the city center.  And in the early fall the whole world comes to Oktoberfest.  I first came here in October 1967.  From the campground one walks to the former streetcar lines which now connect with the U-Bahn subway.  When returning from town or the Fest, usually in happy spirits, you make that walk in the dark through a small patch of woods.  And in this woods is where the Mud Monster lives.

He is not necessarily an evil monster, no, he is more of a devilish sort.  A fellow with a somewhat warped sense of humor.  For you see he waits for the return of "overspirited" visitors to pass down that dirt path in the woods and then he pounces.  He will reach up and pull you down into the mud and roll you over a few times and then gently deposit you back on the path.

That's my story.

And I'm stickin' to it.

 

New Friends

The Hofbrauhaus in Munich has been a gathering place for Germans and tourists for a century.  More touristy now than ever, it still draws some locals.  Here we are with an engineering manager from Hamburg, and a Swiss businessman and his 3 customers in town for a training course.  The common language was that we all spoke Beer.  (Actually 3 of them spoke English).

Guess which one was the least talkative?  

It is not readily apparent.

The guy on the right.

 

!       @       #       $       %       ^       &       *       (       )       +

 

And south we did drive.  To the mountains and beyond.  But first a stop in Fantasyland.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Built over the ruins of a medieval fortress, this building was begun in 1869 by the order of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.  Construction was halted in 1886, the day after the political leadership determined that he was insane and removed him from office.  (Strangely he died that evening under mysterious circumstance).  Never completed, there are whole floors that are empty.  What is completed however was magical.  The throne room for example is 2 stories high with views of the surrounding mountains and interior decoration fit for a king.

In early April the tour of the interior was a somewhat rushed affair with over 4 dozen people in our group.  Other groups of the same size were pushed onto our heals.  The sad truth is that there are only 6 or so rooms worth seeing and literally thousands of tourists who want to see the inside.  I can only imagine the crush during the height of the tourist season.  We are loving our world class sites to death.

Touring the exterior grounds is another matter.  Trails lead high into the mountains in all directions, as well as sideways and down.

 

Next - Austria

Munich Oktoberfest

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