Tag Archives: munich

Dachau, Berchtesgaden and headed home

After Friday night’s , Dan and I went light on breakfast Saturday morning. Besides, speaking for myself, I don’t think I could handle another sausage this soon.

Our first stop was the Dachau concentration camp.

"Work makes you free.:

I think we came out of it with mixed feelings. On one hand, it was a moving experience to walk on the actual site where so much evil was perpetrated. But on the other hand, the actual camp/memorial is fairly sterile. Much is simply a large open area of graveled ground. The museum is sparse.

The former administrative building, now a museum

The ovens inside the crematorium

The execution and crematorium area is landscaped and well groomed.

The crematorium

It is actually like a park. Maybe that is the idea. However, the sensory impact of Dachau contrasts sharply with some of the military museums, especially those with audio-video experiences, we visited last week.

By 11 am, we were on the road again, heading to the Bavarian Alps.

The trip was very scenic.

Along the road to Berchtesgaden

Most of our trip was through a country of rolling hills and small villages. We drove through Berchtesgaden and then up the mountain to Oversalzburg, which is actually the village where all the Nazi bigwigs had homes. Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest was not accessible.

Eagle's Nest is that little knob on the left of the photo.

Apparently the special shuttle buses don’t run for another few weeks. The restaurant was closed at the visitor’s center, but there was an interesting interpretive center, complete with Hitler’s underground bunker.

Dan (right) in the interpretive center

A tunnel in the underground bunker

The four of us at Obersalzburg (l-r) Poolman, Dan, Birdie and Ron

After a couple of hours at Obersalzburg, we stopped in Berchtesgaden. This is a pretty little resort town, but a bit on the touristy side.

Dan in Berchtesgaden

Birdie and Ron had a Berchtesgaden hot dog.

A Berchtesgaden scene. Note the Alps in the background.

It has a bunch of cafés, boutique stores and gift shops.

We headed back to Munich for our “farewell dinner” at the Hofbrau House, a famous, 400 year old beer hall. It was a fun time.

I think the band conductor has had plastic surgery to permantly put a smile on his face.

We were entertained by a Bavarian band, dancers (who looked very bored) and some guys with whips who came out and snapped them in time with music. The hall was filled with hundreds of people at long tables. The beer came by the liter. We all had wienerschnitzel  warn potato salad.

Dan and Poolman. Note the liter size beers..

On Sunday morning, we were out of the hotel by 8 am. bound for Munich airport.  That’s 2 am Savannah time. We didn’t land in Savannah, after three airline segments, until 9:30 pm. It was a long day. On the trans-Atlantic leg, I watched an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” and three movies.

The Tourist — Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie (Cute)

Morning Glory — Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton (Pretty stupid, but I enjoyed it because of my TV news background. dAt one point or another, I “knew” everyone of the characters in the film. They just had different names.)

Red — Bruce Willis, John Malkovitch, Richard Dreyfuss, Morgan Freeman, Mary Louise Parker (Pretty good. I love Mary Louise!)

I got a good night sleep Sunday night and was back at work by late morning on Monday.

It was a fun and interesting trip, but I’m glad to be home. Two weeks is a long time to be gone for me.

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Luxembourg to Munich

(It’s Monday, and we are back in Savannah. For the first time in several days, I have a reliable internet link. Here is a posting from Friday. I’ll try to post the trip’s final days later this evening.)

For Friday, April 8

In my entire life, I probably haven’t spent five minutes thinking about Luxembourg. Now I’ve spent the night there.

If I had thought about it, I probably would have envisioned Luxembourg as a set of bucolic, rural villages with lots of haystacks, ox-driven carts and buxom milkmaids in apron dresses. Not the case.

Luxembourg, at least Luxemborg City, is a bustling urban-commercial center, with serious central city traffic issues.

The view from our hotel window in Luxembourg City

Our hotel was right across the street from the train station.

Luxembourg City train station from our hotel window

Just getting the bus loaded with luggage and people was a challenge this morning.

Our only history-related stop today was at the Luxembourg American Cemetery.   It’s most famous resident is General George Patton.

George Patton's grave

Then we got back on the bus for the long haul to Munich.

We arrived in Munich in the early evening. We got settled into our rooms and Dan, Birdie, Ron and I took off to the central part of the city. Our hotel is nice enough, but it looks like the neighborhood around it has gone downhill in recent years.

The Drei Lowen (Two Lions) Hotel in on Schillerstrasse in Munich

We are only a block or two from the main train station, but our hotel is surrounded by strip clubs and mid-eastern gold buyers/sellers. Not the kind of place you go walking alone at night.

Somewhat surprisingly, within a couple of blocks, we were out of the rough section and into a wide pedestrian mall leading to the Marienplatz at the center of town.

Part of Munich's central city area.

Munich's City Hall with a Glockenspiel. We did not see it perform.

We were all impressed with central Munich. The pedestrian malls, surrounded by historic buildings were great. Even after dinner, at around 1030 pm, it was hopping.

A string quartet (plus flute) playing late at night on the Munich pedestrian mall

We did some final souvenir/gift shopping and headed to a beer hall recommended by the hotel desk clerk.

We had a good dinner. We all had the same thing – a sausage sampler with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes…and of course, beer.

Birdie, Dan, Ron and Poolman

Bavarian sausage, etc.

We did have a little trouble with Birdie, who insisted in playing with his food and making “food sculptures.” It was sausage; use your imagination.

Tomorrow, we are off to Dachau and Berchtesgaden.

Bon Voyage!

This blog is going to take a different slant over the next two weeks. I am joining my brother and two friends on a two-week tour of Europe. We are visiting Paris, Normandy, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Bavaria. I am going to use this blog platform as a way of keeping our families up to speed on our “adventures.” Here is the story.

Last Memorial Day weekend, my friend, Birdie, pulled me aside at a backyard pool party at our house and said that he and his wife were planning a trip to Europe in 2012. They were looking for another couple to go along. Like me, Birdie is a bit of a military history geek. The prime purpose would be to visit the D-Day beaches at Normandy, but with additional travels from there. Details to be worked out later. We agreed in principal that we would go along.

Less than two weeks later, I got a call from my brother, who is an attorney in the Harrisburg, Pa. area. He told me about a tour he had read about in the local newspaper. He then went to an introductory meeting. Essentially, this tour is a “Band of Brothers” tour. The official title is “In the Footsteps of Maj. Dick Winters.”

For those of you who might not be aware, the book by Stephen Ambrose and the subsequent HBO mini-series followed the World War II action of one specific company of paratroopers in the 101st Airborne Division, from Normandy, on through Holland, Belgium and Germany. Dick Winters was the company commander for much of the war, and the center point of much of the narrative. Winters was a resident of SE Pennsylvania, and something of a local hero. All that explains why a historical society from Hershey, Pa. would put together this specific of a tour. (FYI – Winters died just a few weeks ago.)

So I got off the phone and talked with Mrs. Poolman. She said she had no interest in going on this military history tour, but I should call my brother back immediately and tell him to count me in.

That put me in the awkward position of having to go back to Birdie and tell him that “I have a better offer.” To make long story short (or shorter, anyway) Birdie found himself a roommate, Ron, and the two of them joined up with the Band of Brothers tour.

(l-r) Birdie, Ron and Poolman

As I write this, I am sitting in the Charlotte (NC) Airport awaiting our flight to Charles DeGaulle Airport.  Birdie, Ron and I will be spending two extra days on our own in Paris before meeting up with the rest of the tour group on Thursday.

None of us are world-travelers, so this should be interesting. I already described my less-than-successful efforts to learn a little French. The only other time I went to Europe was on an Air National Guard junket back in my TV news days. So this should be interesting.

I’ll be posting more updates and photos as time and WiFi access permit.