Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 3: Nymphenburg Palace and Dachau

Tea had read that breakfast at K+K is overpriced, especially considering that Café Kitchenette is just down the road. Well, it's hard to imagine how any hotel breakfast could compete with this quaint, warm, home away from home.

The owner is a gem; a fact that became apparent before drinks had been ordered, when, in response to Stephen's asking whether they served Coke Light, she emphatically replied, "No! Only good things here!" regaling us with tales of the good ol' days of something she referred to as 'afric coke'. [With the benefit of hindsight, she clearly said Afri-Cola.] Stephen switched his order to orange juice, so we never did set eyes on this elixir.

When asked for recommendations -- the menu, written in German, was a bit of a slog, even with the help of my pocket-size Getting By In German -- she speculated, "You want big breakfast? Eggs?" Satisfied with our eager nods, she said, "I'll bring out tray; then another tray."

Palace Nymphenburg

Shortly thereafter, we were presented with a three-storey centrepiece of delicious meats, including smoked salmon, prosciutto, and other cuts of ham and salami, olives, many varieties of hard and soft cheeses, melon, tart red berries we recognised but couldn't name, honey and jam, breads of all sorts, and, of course, hard-boiled eggs. By the time we packed that down, we were all getting rather full. It was at that point that she replaced our decimated tiers with a fresh one, much the same as the first, but with one of the layers replaced with dainty cups of sliced fruit topped with a ground cherry.


From there, it was on to Schloss (Castle, or, in this case, Palace) Nymphenburg. The great hall and all of King Ludwig's beauties were impressive -- the portraits of the latter struck me as photographs, such was their attention to lighting and detail -- but it was the English Garden that I enjoyed the most. And I loved how many local joggers there were who clearly felt the same way.

For the afternoon, we decided to head to the former concentration camp at Dachau [as it's closed on Mondays -- the next day -- and, at this point, we were thinking about spending one more day in Munich]. First, however, we stopped at the gasthaus of Würmtalhof pension for some lunch.

We were clearly the only tourists in the spot, but the owner's English, while limited, served her very well. We had a fantastic meal of various sorts of schnitzels, and then got back on the road to Dachau.

As we pulled into the parking lot, there was something about the young man posted at the simple wooden hut, in his stance, dress, and the way he waved us on with his cigarette, that was just so German, and, more importantly, military; it really set the tone for the visit.

We had a little over an hour before closing, which was still plenty of time to explore the museum and get a glimpse of what the camp's prisoners went through. Even without the pictures and commentary, standing in that vast pebbled square, surrounded by simple barracks, was enough to drag you down; down in ways that I might imagine as even worse than the physical restraints those poor people had to suffer.

"Never again" one of the plaques read. I hope so.

10:30 p.m.

We went out for Italian that evening -- Pizzeria Europa -- which felt like a little slice of said country to the south thanks to all its expat waiters. Ours was from Milan -- I think he was a bit offended when he learned we'd been to Rome, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Capri, the list goes on, but not there -- and while I couldn't comment on his German, I'd bet he rarely needs English -- which isn't a criticism, incidentally, but simply an observation on the EU in action.

Walking back to the hotel, I was feelin' no pain. While waiting outside for Stephen to grab a "bed-time Diet Coke" at the nearby McDonald's, a poster for a new burger distracted me -- it was called some four-digit number, and, upon deciding it couldn't be a year, I struggled to fathom its meaning.

Slowly it occurred to me that Tea was saying my name; at that point, I looked up, into the expectant face of a cyclist I can best describe as the German 'Bubbles'. Three, maybe four, seconds passed as we stared at one another; then, without uttering a word, he deliberately gave his bell a double ring, but made no other move. Still in a bit of a daze -- "The rest of the sidewalk's free, dude," hindsight says -- my body obeyed his command, stepping back, before my mind entirely grasped it. And so, off he went again, like he has a dozen of these encounters a day.

Up next: Salzburg, Austria

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