July 29, 2012

Eurotrip - Munich, July 29

Hostels. They are a cheap place to not sleep. The only real refuge in the hostel is the shower which is (thank god) a single stall. And the breakfast was decent, and everything was okay except for the actual sleeping. But we made it through our first night, squeeking out maybe 3 hours of sleep alongside the four other sweaty, hairy dudes in the building. I can't quite put my finger in what kept me awake, maybe it was the horrible pillow, the lack of ventilation, or the kids who played Alicia Keys' "New York" about 9 times on max volume. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot of times, but it adds up, especially when you're trying to sleep. Anyway, I actually feel pretty great today, despite the rain.

Things we've seen today so far:
A mural on the first floor of the hostel depicting a nudist beach (I have selected my favorite detail for eternal digital memory),

we saw this clocktower (glockenspiel),

and a brush made out of genuine badger fur!

The clocks ring for a very long time here. They were going when we entered the Marienplatz and then went again from 9:30 to 10 while we hid from the unholy downpour. I drank a coke in the Marienplatz. I know I don't usually drink caffeine but my god it tasted good this morning. We woke up at 7:00 because of the poor sleeping conditions so we're going to have a nice full day today. Stuff doesn't really open until 9 or 10 though so we had time to kill. It is Sunday though so places will close by 5 or 6.

Next up: the Royal Residenz.
Also, I haven't seen any sporthocking yet.

Currently listening to: inoffensive Starbucks music.

No one jaywalks in Munich.

We took a tram to the Duetsches Museum which bills itself as the biggest science and technology museum in Europe and as the most popular museum in Germany. While both of these thing may be true, they can't hide the fact that this museum is pretty outdated and boring. Now, I previously labeled museums as boring because they weren't in English, so I couldn't read any of the information. This museum had signage in both German and English but that didn't save it from being over encumbered with text and too devoid of interactivity. The size of the place was impressive, i'll give it that. It's six floors, and the ground floors are like airplane hangars, but the information is packed in too densely, and everything is static and lifeless.

I was a little excited to see that they have an instrument room but once we walked in I braced for disappointment. They had an impressive collection of keyboard instruments, from early virginals to clavichords and all the way up to modern concert grands. There was no explanatory literature on how they worked, what made them different, or what kind of music was played on them. It gave the impression that these instruments were just a natural progression of pianos, not the individual keyboard instruments that they are.

Additionally they seemed to be poorly maintained apart from humidity control (the place was tropical). There was dust collecting on the outside and inside of the instruments and I saw at least one big soundboard crack on a harpsichord. The keys were all covered by plastic cases (although I did see one kid just pull it off) so the keys weren't collecting dust but it did deprive the room of any sound, which was my biggest problem with the exhibit.

This collection treated musical instruments like pieces of furniture, to be moved around and displayed rather than used to make art. I understand that instruments themselves can be works of art, but they should he enjoyed for the sounds they make, not just for how they look. The fact that these rooms (there was another room of all the non-keyboard instruments as well) were so devoid of sound was frustrating. This combined with the lack of reverence for keyboard history in a music rich city like Munich made for a endcap to a truly disappointing museum trip. Well at least we got to talk in hushed tones about how superior the Minnesota science museum is. AND we got a nice view of Munich.

We're sitting in a Starbucks for the second time today avoiding the rain outside. I skipped over our trip to the Royal Residenz this morning. The Residenz was the former palace for German royal families. From what I understood it's best known for housing King Maximillian, or at least they mentioned him a lot on the audio guide. That's right, we used audio guides. They were really fun for a while until we figured out that it would take 5 days to listen to everything. Anyway, the palace was filled with all sorts of neat royalty stuffs plus some original rooms and reconstructions. Much of the place was destroyed in WWII, but they saved almost all of the artwork and furniture. Some of my favorite things are below:

A fountain depicting the defeat of Medusa. I loved it because water flowed out of her decapitated head and the neck on the body. That's really grisly stuff. Plus mixed with the rain this morning it looked specially dramatic.

The great dining hall just for its sheer size. The thing was huge and had beautiful artwork on the ceilings and walls as well as built into the architecture. They ate dinner here.

We found more of those pieces of saints that we saw in Dijon. I guess the royalty liked to collect them and had not only scraps of clothed but also skulls, femurs (see picture), hands, and entire child corpses. Great job!

What a long day. Starting off at 7:30 in the morning really makes you feel like you're getting every little bit out of the it. We basically started before the local Munich citizens were awake and ended after they had gone home. The restaurant wasn't even very crowded. Oh yeah, we ate at the same place that we did last night.

The rain today cooled everything off considerably, so hopefully the room tonight will be a bit more bearable. It's actually cool enough to wear pants now! Imagine that!

Our last action before dinner tonight was to walk a few miles in the Nymphenburg palace's gardens. I think this palace was the summer home for the Bavarian ruling elite, and as part of the grounds they have extensive English-style gardens with a beautiful stream and pond that runs its length. It was a nice way to end the day. I've posted a lot of pictures throughout the day, but what are a couple more?

Tomorrow we leave for Brussels and we'll be on the train basically all day long, getting in to Brussels very late at night. If I do make an entry it's likely to he pretty short, but we are planning on seeing the glockenspiel in Marianplatz before we leave.

Oh yeah, we also decided to stay in a hotel in Amsterdam instead of the hostel. We've given up on that front.

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