Home > Germany, Personal > Culture Overload in Munich: 2 Days, 3 Museums

Culture Overload in Munich: 2 Days, 3 Museums

I hate the idea of wasting time. Even though I was feeling rather wretched after a great night in Munich, I pushed myself to shower and change, chug a cup of tea and head back into town. That train ride is starting to annoy me. It’s not bad when I’m with someone but traveling alone from Garching to Marienplatz is not very enjoyable after you’ve done it so many times. Still, once I was there I was very happy I made the trip. It was chilly but nice out and the fresh snow made a pleasant crunching noise under my boots as I walked the few blocks to my destination: the Residenz. Former home of the Bavarian kings, largest palace in Germany, nearly totally destroyed in World War II and painstakingly (and incompletely) restored to a semblance of its former glory, the Residenz is a glut of art and culture. I wandered through room after room of usually wonderful baroque architecture. I gazed at neoclassical paintings and sculptures, scenes from history, allegories on justice and nature, and endless portraits until I thought my head might explode. And that was just the stuff I liked. I do not care for Rococo gold, fake marble stucco, and the tedious genealogies, but in a palace this big and old, the good very much outweighed the bad. I wandered about (occasionally redirected by the many, many ushers) for hours, absorbing it all. It made me think of the Russian palaces I’ve seen. It’s pretty obvious what the Russians were trying to imitate, only even more garishly. Once I’d seen enough, I headed next door to the Treasury, home to an incredible wealth of former royal jewelry and gold art. I particularly liked the St. George slaying a dragon statue. Also, I must say those crowns look distinctly heavy and uncomfortable, which I suppose is part of the point. Eventually I decided I’d had enough culture for the day and took the train back home where I collapsed into bed rather earlier than normal and slept like the dead until 10 the next morning.

I had convinced Roberto by dint of sheer perseverance to come with me the next day into Munich for yet more museum fun. He agreed and we headed into town around noon. The trains were running oddly and it was a nice day so we got off the train about half a kilometer from Marienplatz and walked, taking occasional funny pictures as we went. Since it was Sunday, I decided we should go to the Munich Museum, which is free on Sunday, and check out some of the culture and history of the city.

The museum was quite impressive. Exhaustive in detail sometimes, but the exhibits were mostly very interesting. The constant give and take between Bavaria and the Holy Roman Empire, the politics of Napoleon and salt, and of course the story of beer in Munich all got their exhibits. The most powerful exhibit to me was the separate building housing a collection and history of the Nazi movement in Munich. While it’s a story I know well, the terrible scenes, probably involving the grandparents and great-grandparents of people I saw on the street, still hit hard. I very much admired the unflinchingly honest approach the exhibit took though, pointing out how the people of the city contributed just as much as Hitler’s inner circle, and even acknowledging that there are companies extant today profiting from the Nazi seizure of assets in the 1930’s.

After all of that, Roberto and I decided we could use a drink so we went to Hofbrauhaus, the world’s most famous beer hall. Also, the world’s most touristy beer hall. From the Japanese family attempting to chug a liter of beer to the waitresses (in traditional Bavarian costumes that made me think of Halloween in Tucson) passing around pretzels and the brass oom-pah-pah band, the whole place was like a scene from an American movie. Nonetheless I still had a lot of fun. The beer was tasty, the decor alarming and the scent of pork not quite overwhelming. The beer was also rather strong and made Roberto and I feel rather sleepy so we dragged ourselves out (after a quick stop in the gift shop to gape at the 40 Euro mugs) and made our long and winding way back to Garching.

Work goes on and has its highs (hopefully writing a press release this week) and its lows (going through the press releases yet again, this time to add hyperlinks). I like what I do though, and I’m not wasting my time either in or out of the office and that’s what matters. Now I can look forward to Toytown on Thursday and a big party on Saturday. Plus of course, next week is my birthday and it’s time to start planning the brouhaha. Skydiving?

Categories: Germany, Personal
  1. Alexis B
    February 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Eric, I really enjoy reading your blog. I had no idea you were in Germany, so this is quite a surprise. Keep up the good work and I look forward to keeping in touch with you.

  1. March 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

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