I am going to start my post this week with a rant. Not a political rant this time, just a rant on poor behavior.
I would consider myself pretty well traveled. This weekend, for one of the very few times, I saw how we “Americans” get such a bad reputation. I have decided it comes from High School kids. The problem comes from arranged trips for High School students. These trips are normally arranged for schools either through a language department, or maybe history. Anyway, Julie and I are waiting with at least another 500 people at Marianplatz in front of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. We were waiting for the Glockenspiel to start the evening performance. There was a group of maybe 30 students WITH PARENTS standing nearby. They were rude, loud, and obnoxious. None of them even bothered to look up at the display as it was happening. They were all to busy being in their own little world. Finally after about 5 minutes, the tour leader tried to get them quiet, but it was no use. I actually felt embarrassed to be an American at that point.
One lesson I learned is that if a parent wants their kid to experience Europe, then bite the bullet and travel with them. That kind of trip is wasted on a group of high school kids. They might soak up some of the experience if they are with their parents, but no way in a pack; like what happens on these trips. Unfortunately, this was not the only time we ran into these groups last weekend. Munich must be on the must see Europe itinerary, because we ran into three more of these EF Groups, and unfortunately none of them were well behaved. (Side note: This is actually a pretty common occurrence when local schools do field trips as well. HS kids are pretty much the same everywhere. When the group is speaking the local language, it is just kids being kids, but when they are all speaking English, it is easy to blame the bad Americans.)
The name Munich translates roughly as “by the monks.” I do not know if the city was founded by monks, but based solely on the number of large churches in the city, it is safe to say that monks played a very important role in the early history of the place. There has been some kind of settlement at present day Munich since the Bronze Age. The first reference as being named München occurred in 1158 by Pope Frederick. Which also leads credence to the fact that monks played a very important part in the early history of the city.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria. Today Bavaria makes up about 20% of the German landmass. Munich took A LOT of damage during World War II, but the heart of the city was rebuilt with a lot of care taken to recreate the buildings as they stood before the war. We took a tour through the Residenz and if we were told once we were told 200 times, that “the Residenz was almost practically destroyed during WW II……”
It is a fascinating city, and I cannot wait to go back.
I had my first experience on the German Autobahn. One misconception that is in the United States, is that there are no speed limits on the autobahn. This is not really true. Most of the autobahn has speed limits in place. The majority of the autobahn is an 80 mph limit. However, there was one long stretch on the highway, where the heads up display in my car went blank, and all of a sudden I was being passed like I was standing still. I figured, what the heck!!! The speedometer on our car reads 300 kilometers per hour. I got it up to about 250 KMH. That means a speed of about 145 MPH. I do not think our car would go any faster. I only ran like that for about 5 minutes, but WOW!! WHAT A RUSH!
You have to constantly be watching your mirrors, and certainly look before changing lanes, because even at that speed I was still getting passed! There are a couple hard and fast rules for the autobahn: 1. No passing on the right 2. Double check your mirrors before changing lanes. 3. Stay in the right lane when not passing. 4. Use indicators. 5 where applicable OBEY THE SPEED LIMIT! 6. If traffic is backed up you MUST create a Rettungsgasse. (This is a safety lane for emergency vehicles. If in the left lane you have to drive as far left as possible, and if the right lane drive as far right as possible.
The only thing I wish is that the autobahn was always three lanes wide. The right lane, for the most part everyone was driving about 130 KMH. Having a middle lane would make it so much easier to drive faster, and not have to worry nearly as much about getting overtaken by someone driving even faster. Final thought on the autobahn. For the most part it is really not much different than any interstate highway in the US. The only real difference is the Germans do something different for maintenance. There were no ribbons of blacktop, or other joints where part of the road has been rebuilt. The construction crews make sure that any joint is very smooth. Anyone that has driven on US interstates knows that is not the case anywhere.
The last thing we did, before driving home, was to visit the Olympic Park. This is the 50th Anniversary of the Olympics held in Munich. For you youngsters, the Munich Olympics are best known for a hostage situation. A group of Palestinian terrorists killed two athletes initially and then held nine more of the Israeli athletes hostage. The situation was eventually resolved but it resulted in the killing of all the athletes and most of the terrorists. The officials only suspended the games for ONE day!!! As Hoosiers the secondary thing those games were known for: 1. The Soviets beating the US in basketball. It was the first time the US had lost a game. There was a lot of controversy because officials added time to the game and allowed the Soviets a final shot. There was so much animosity that the US did not even show for the medal ceremony. 2. Mark Spitz (a Hoosier swimmer) won seven gold medals. The most by any Olympic athlete at the time.
The park is stunning. This summer there are some Europe wide events taking place, but then the park will be closing in sections for renovations. Based on the crowds it is a very popular spot when the weather is nice.
I am only going to list about 1/2 my pictures again. I will do one more post with pictures from the Residenz.