Apr. 10th, 2011

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I made it to München (Munich) last night, relatively late. Once I arrived, the Deutsche Bahn people directed me to the Hauptbanhof Lost and Found office... which, as I had suspected, closed at six. The DB staff said they couldn't do anything about this despite that they were the ones who had told me to come down.

However, while I was standing forlornly outside the Lost & Found, a random stranger named Gabrielle introduced herself and asked what the problem was. I explained my situation, and she marched over to the DB info desk, had a long conversation in German of which I could not understand a word, and someone unlocked the Lost & Found and got me my suitcase. I thanked Gabrielle profusely, she told me to do something nice for someone, and I was on my way.

It was now around 7:00pm, and not only was I exhausted (having now been awake for 27 hours plus standing for 5 at the Nürnberg Hauptbanhof), I was also starting to feel sick, which continued through the evening. I now have a pretty nasty deep chest cough, as well as the usual nasal symptoms of a cold. Not really wanting to go through another 3 hours of trains in this condition (ending with a 10-block walk at 11pm in Erlangen), I stopped into a Courtyard hotel to try to get a room. No luck there, but they referred me to the Best Western Hotel Mediocrity, where I was able to procure a room that had the bare essentials (bed, shower, Internet.) The hotel lobby had some pretty spectacular 80's-ness, and now I wish I had gotten a picture, because it looked like the entrance to a disco.

I dropped into a nearby restaurant (I don't even remember what it was called; it was an open-air bar named something that started with M) for some mushroom, truffle, & arugula pizza and a pint of Weissbier. Now, I don't like beer, but it turns out that Weissbier, the national brew of Bavaria, is actually very good. At least, it is when it's on draft, and in Bavaria -- I'm not sure if this would hold true everywhere.

The hotel room had enormous windows that open all the way and have no guardrail or screen or anything -- in America they would need to have warning labels not to throw babies out of them. This was quite pleasant as the one thing for which I've had absolutely no cause for complaint this trip is the weather, which has been mid-60's, radiantly sunny, with a light breeze the entire time.

I got a rather miserable night's sleep as my cold had gotten worse, to the point where I have a fever with alternating chills and sweating. Managing temperature was challenging since the bed contained no covers save for a 3-inch-thick down comforter (and I mean no other covers, not even so much as a sheet.) I did finally manage to get 8 hours of sleep over the course of the 11pm-9am period, though, which felt better.

Once I managed to get up and showered, I felt good enough to get out of the room a bit, figuring I didn't come 5100 miles to sleep in a hotel room and did not intend to let a common cold change that. (I would take something for the cold, but so far as I can tell, stores in München do not open on Sundays. Like, any stores -- not only did I pass six different pharmacies that were closed Sundays, even the tourist trap stores full of souvenir kitsch were closed. Hopefully tomorrow I can get something.) Given where my hotel was, I had an easy time walking around downtown München, which is a beautiful city of old Baroque architecture and huge breweries. After going from Karlsplatz to Marienplatz, I noticed a tour bus company offering loop tours of München that stopped at Schloss Nymphenburg, so I paid the fare and hopped onto the open-topped double-decker bus.

At first I stayed up top, which gave a beautiful view and exposed me to the spring breezes that would have been very pleasant if I weren't having chills, so I went down inside the bus. Schloss Nymphenburg is a spectacularly enormous Baroque/Rococo palace built by the Electors of Bavaria as a summer home (each of them making it bigger), surrounded by a "garden" which is so huge it basically serves as München's version of Central Park. I toured the palace, which was interesting albeit very typical of the period, which isn't one of my favorite architectural styles (huge paintings of people covering every surface, etc.) It is exceptional more for its sheer size than uniqueness. The park was lovely and had several outbuildings, some of which could have been considered palaces themselves from their size and ornateness.

The most impressive by far, though, was Magdeleneklasse, a chapel/meditiative retreat for the Electors. The building was deliberately designed in the style of a late-Roman ruin on the outside, with the chapel in the style of an undersea grotto done in concrete and seashells. I've never seen anything like it -- it looked like something out of a fantasy story and not a real place at all. I took tons of pictures; seeing that alone was worth the trip to Schloss Nymphenburg.

Having been walking two hours while sick and feverish, I was pretty near collapse at that point, so I got back on the tour bus and rode it back to downtown München (passing BMW Welt along the way; had I been feeling better I would have checked out the museum.) From there I retrieved my luggage from the hotel (having had to check out at 10am), walked to the Hauptbahnhof (which I gather means "main train station"), and grabbed some quiche to eat. There are actually a lot more places serving either Italian food or various German fusion stuff ("currywurst" was everywhere) than straightforward German food.

So now I am on a train back up to Nürnberg, where I will transfer to a train to Erlangen and finally check in where I was supposed to be last night. Since I'll have my suitcase I can't really tour Nürnberg today, not that I really feel up to it anyway, but trains between Nürnberg and Erlangen are more or less continuous (several times per hour), so I'll get a chance tomorrow. The Bavarian countryside out the train windows is quite pretty, with little villages of white-walled, red-tile-roofed houses and churches surrounded by rolling farmland and pasture; it's still a little early in the season for all the vegetation to be present, but it's still nice. I wish I had an additional day to do a tour of Schloss Neuschwanstein, as I'd love to see the Bavarian Alps and it looks amazing, but I guess that will have to wait until my next trip to Germany (whenever that is.)
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As is probably obvious by now, I have moved my journal over to Dreamwidth, because LJ barely works anymore. (Also DW has a lot of nice features to it now and is still actively developing things that don't require Cyrillic mode to use.) I'll retain my LJ account for following/commenting, and will crosspost all public entries, so you're not likely to miss much on LJ, but at this point the LJ version will be only a copy of the DW one. If any of my LJ friends are also on DW, let me know so I can friend you there.

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