At the Tourist Information Office, I learned of a walking tour of Munich to occur later in the morning and booked a room; a private room, a room of my very own in a pensione. The pensione was an old, converted inn within walking distance of the train station, somewhat shabby, poorly lighted, no frills. Nonetheless, it was blissful luxury after all these weeks of dormitory sleeping. I dropped off the pack and set out to join the walking tour.
I joined a group of maybe 2 score people consisting of tourists from all over. We started in the Marienplatz, right in the heart of the city. There stands the tower with the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in the New Town Hall. At 11am every day, the glockenspiel chimes and mechanical puppets emerge from within the tower to perform their cuckoo-clock dance. The display was amusing and playful in a uniquely Bavarian way.
Walking the streets, listening to the stories, watching the locals go by, I learned. Bavarians are very different from their Prussian brethren. They are happier, more prone to laughter, less insistent on order. All the more curious then, that this was the place where Hitler staged his Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, the birthplace of National Socialism. But, by 1945 the Bavarians had had enough of it. Allied armies rolled into Munich without a fight. Not like Berlin, where Wehrmacht soldiers made their last stands against the triumphant Red Army.
When the tour ended I had a long distance to cover in a short amount of time. I had another event scheduled, another tour. German trains leave on time, so I made a headlong rush through crowded squares, over crowded sidewalks. Yes, I would make it. I would make the train. Happy-go-lucky Bavarians made way for me. It was time for me to see another example of German efficiency. An efficiency of an altogether different nature . . .
|Dachau prison yard|
|Fence and guard tower|
We toured the grounds. Few words were spoken throughout. There was a somberness, akin to the stark emptiness of a morning-after hangover, but much deeper; profound.
That night, alone in Munich, the questions came percolating to the fore. I am here, living the life. I’m traveling through foreign lands. To learn. To learn about people, about truth and the nature of things. I stood amid a flood of stimuli and data, but no answers were taking shape. Surely, there must be some answers. Somewhere. Drift away . . . shabby room in shabby pensione, let darkness descend . . ..
The next morning, I drifted from sleep to a dream-laced moment. I had been on the road, changing bases for a while; and it took a full awakening to remember that I was in Germany, in Munich, in a shabby pensione in a shabby room. Then, I was proud. A proud international traveler.
The imperative for the morning was to find a laundry facility. As I wandered about, laundry sack in hand, Germans did their best to guide. But instructions were invariably delivered in German. So, I just had to keep looking. Walking through the Banhopf, I came upon an elderly couple, holding hands. They walked in front of me, through the crowded station. Then, the woman suddenly fell back, still clutching her husband's hand. Her head cracked against the concrete floor. She stared, mouth agape, her eyes rolled, a pool of blood formed beneath her head. "Scheisse!" gasped her husband. Then I was tearing through the station, a sack of dirty laundry in hand, shouting, "Doctor! Doctor!" Paramedics came and took her in an ambulance. No conclusion to this story; the actual outcome, unknown. Choose a happy ending.
|Musical instruments in the Staat Museum|
And then, another night in my shabby room. On the morrow, I would hop on the train for the quick ride back into Austria, to Salzberg.
To be continued...
- Pt. I Amsterdam - Arnhem - Copenhagen
- Pt. II Copenhagen - Oslo
- Pt. III Bergen
- Pt. IV Flam fjord - Goteborg
- Pt. V Stockholm - Gavle - Stockholm
- Pt. VI Berlin
- Pt. VII Prague
- Pt. VIII Budapest
- Pt. IX Vienna
- Pt. X Munich
- Pt. XI Salzberg - Innsbruck
- Pt. XII Venice - Florence
- Pt. XIII Siena
- Pt. XIV Rome
- Pt. XV Naples - Pompeii
- Pt. XVI Cinque Terre - Geneva
- Pt. XVII Avignon
- Pt. XVIII Arles
- Pt. XIX Barcelona
- Pt. XX San Sebastian
- Pt. XXI Bordeaux - St. Lo
- Pt. XXII Paris
- Pt. XXIII Brussels - Waterloo
- Pt. XXIV Brugge
- Pt. XXV Amsterdam at last