Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beer & Brats, part 2 - Munich & Nuremberg, Germany

Stats:

Destination:  Nuremberg & Munich, Germany

Number of Days Spent:  3 days

Where we stayed:  1 overnight flight from Tel Aviv to Munich & 2 nights at our friend Leann's house

Best restaurant:   Bratwursthausle served up the famed Nuremberg sausages, weisswürste (the little white ones).  Bonus, they have spicy horseradish sauce (our favorite brat topping)!  This place is located on a side street off of the main square and is terrific for people watching.  For those that want to eat on the go (and on the cheap) they offer 2 Euro sandwiches which are available for take away only). 

Best of:  As much as we missed the hustle & bustle of the Middle East we loved getting back into the efficiency of Europe.  We were also impressed with our wander around Nuremberg.  It was a much cooler town than we originally gave it credit for.  

Worst of:    We were so exhausted after our short overnight flight from Tel Aviv to Munich that once we grabbed our bags we decided to catch a few winks of sleep in the airport.  We were so tired  that we both actually slept soundly on a hard bench in the airport for several hours (loudspeakers blaring and all). 

Most Memorable:  There's nothing like a beer & a brat, especially in Germany!

Useful Tip:   The Munich airport has free showers that are very clean & offer plenty of hot water.  They were a welcome respite after trekking around Jerusalem all day and taking an overnight flight.  After a nap & a shower we were ready to stash our bags at the train station & wander around Munich for the day before heading to Parsberg. 

With such limited time in Munich (our second time around) we decided to take the free Munich tour (http://www.newmunich.com/nm/) to get some historical background on the city and perhaps catch a few more tidbits of info that escaped us the first time.

This time around we were able to make it to the Marienplatz (main square of Munich) to watch the famous Glockenspiel (big clock, drunk dancing figurines spinning around, dsmusic, etc.) go off at 11am.   The clock surviving the allied bombings of WWII which destroyed much of downtown Munich and most of the buildings around it has more to do with stategy than historical preservation.  Since GPS had not been invented yet, allied planes left the taller buildings of cities standing as a way of navigation.

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From there we headed over to the Frauenkirche, a pretty church with the two brick towers topped with Ottoman style domes that now dominate the Munich skyline.  Much like the clock tower, the towers were saved from allied bombs, but the church itself received a significant amount of damage.  Aside from the unique towers, the threshold of the church contains a darkened footprint with a curved like tail coming off the heal.  Legend has it that the devil made a deal with the builder that he could only build the church under the stipulation that it contains no windows.  Staring down the church from the door, one cannot see the windows because of the unique positioning of the columns.  Upon realizing that he has been tricked, the devil stomped his foot and left this mark.

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After the church, we headed over to the famed Viktualienmarkt, or just simply the Market.  This particular stall was selling unique decorations using only all natural items like twigs, leaves, etc.  After a visit to the market stalls, we headed down Maximillian Street, home of the chic stores ala Rodeo Drive, we made it to the site of a darker time in human history.

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In 1923, a young Adolf Hitler took to the streets when he tried to shoot his way into power during the Munich Beer Hall Putsch.  Although unsuccessful, the movement set forth a chain of events that would see Hitler and his Nazi party rise to power a few years later.  With a judge sympathetic to the Nazis, Hitler was able to broadcast his message across all of Germany throughout his "trial".  While serving about 8 months, Hitler wrote his book Mein Kampf ( "My Struggle") spelling out how to "fix" Germany.  During the reign of the Third Reich, the Beer Hall Putsch was celebrated with a parade every year and a memorial was set up honoring the 16 men who died in the march.  Anyone who passed the memorial had to give a salute or risk being arrested.  The alley way just before the memorial began to receive a lot more traffic and before soon the SS started arresting people for choosing to avoid saluting the memorial as anti-Nazi with the punishment being concentration camps in many cases.  To commemorate the brave men and women who chose to walk around the block and thus, in many cases, their death, a golden line stretches silently down the alley. 

After such a heavy and depressing subject there is but one thing to do...drink some beer!  The tour guys offer to take you to a place for good sausage and beer.  We took them up on it, but given the distance from the main square and the eh quality of sausage, we would recommend looking for a good beer and brat elsewhere.  This is Bavaria, and having to walk out of the way for beer and brats seems, well, silly.  They are on every street corner after all.     

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With only a couple of days this time around, we also managed to make it up to Nuremberg for a day.  The city is known best for three things - sausage, Nazi trials and Christmas markets.  Despite the city being a modern metropolis with nearly a million people living in and around the city, it's center is a colorful and well designed collection of cobblestone, gingerbread like houses and red roof churches.  

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The city grew in importance due to it's location along major trade routes during the Middle Ages.  A castle was constructed and the city became the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire - a collection of territories that lasted from around 900 AD until Napoleon took over in the early 1800's. 

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The city became the headquarters of the Nazi party due to its location and the amount of support they received here.  With large rallies and tons of propaganda, Nuremberg became the hot target.  When allies reached the city, bombing raids left the city in ruins.  Nearly 90% if the city was destroyed.  It was only fitting that the allies chose here to hold the Nuremberg trails.  The trials were the war crimes tribunal that tried Nazis for marching off and killing millions of innocent lives.

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Of course, it simply would not be right to leave Nuremberg without having one of their famed sausages - and what better place than the afore mentioned "House of Sausage" followed up with a nice beer!

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We could spend weeks exploring all the small towns of Bavaria, drinking beer and eating various forms of pork products but alas, the Euro is strong and thus we move on.  Next stop, visiting friends in Amsterdam!

To see more photos from Munich click here!

To see more photos from Nuremberg click here!

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