Boris is teaching American law for two weeks in the Ukraine this coming fall so we are off for a training conference in Salzburg, Austria. The current political situation makes his assignment tentative, but he will be reassigned if his safety is in question. We are flying through Frankfurt to Munich where we will spend one night before taking the train to Salzburg.
Due to equipment issues our first flight was delayed in Houston. We waited along with two INS agents who were deporting two women to Eastern Europe. We made up all but 30 minutes en route, but we really had to scramble to clear passport control and make our second flight. We made it; unfortunately, our luggage did not. After a taxi ride to the Hilton Munich Park (near the English Garden), I gave into sleep and took a two-hour nap, waking in time to enjoy the sunset.
We made the short trip to the old city where things were really hopping. The shops were open and sidewalk cafes were reverting to inside service with the loss of the sun and its warmth. In spite of the bombing which devastated this city during World War II, the architecture of Munich is amazing. We walked around, Boris offering me a mini-tour and me snapping pictures. There is a large area of the old city that is pedestrian only and just made for walking tours.
Dinner was at the Ratskeller in the basement of the Rathaus (city hall). They serve traditional German food to tourists and locals alike. Within the restaurant, you can wander from room to room, each with its own character. Lots of tables are tucked into nooks and crannies. We ordered way too much food, but that happens when you want to sample everything. Boris also sampled his way through a variety of the beer offerings. The English language menu includes pictures, but for the complete list you’ll have to ask for the “picture-less” menu in German.
Full and sleepy we headed back to the hotel after dinner, noting that crowds had thinned. The shops were now closed, but I suspected that the restaurants and bars were full. We’ll return tomorrow to get some of the same pictures in daylight. During our absence, our luggage had arrived.
Boris’ Hilton points got us into the Executive Lounge on the 12th floor for breakfast. We had a drink in the same lounge before bed last night. The Lounge had lovely views of the river. From our room we could see the various clock and church towers of the old town. Munich is the capital of Bavaria and has the same flavor we had enjoyed in Passau in December. One thing I did note was the large number of cranes dotting the city skyline. Lots of construction is going on here. Another thing I noted was how clean the city was. I saw no graffiti or trash anywhere. Except for cigarette butts; they were everywhere.
After breakfast, we checked out and took our luggage for storage in the train station. After spotting the departure point for our 11:30 am tour, we went back to the old city and wandered around the pedestrian area. There were not too many people out early, but things picked up as the morning wore on. We didn’t know the mass schedule, but caught a bit of mass in one of the many Catholic Churches. No interior church shots this time. Boris wanted to conserve his strength for the walking tour, so he sat people watching for part of the time. Coffee and hot chocolate were enjoyed. After an ATM stop, we walked back to the train station for the start of our Third Reich tour. Munich is the birthplace of the Nazis and leave it to Boris to locate this unique tour. Ironically, our guide Kevin was a hopeful graduate student from Houston, Texas. What are the odds? The name of the tour company is Radius Tours and they offer a variety of walking and travel tours, along with bike rentals.
The 2.5 hour tour started with a subway ride back to the Rathaus and focused on the locations were the Nazi party met and experienced significant events. Kevin also recognized how present-day Germans deal with the history and on the German resistance movement. As necessary, he assumed you knew little or nothing about the history of the Third Reich and brought us up to speed.
At the conclusion of the tour, we had to go directly to the train station to catch our 2:55 departure to Salzburg. The train compartment was nice. It did not have the most plush of seats, but was very clean. The scenery along the way was beautiful and as the Alps came into view I started singing The Sound of Music in my head. There were several stops along the way, but the whole trip took less than two hours.
After a taxi ride, we arrived at the Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron where exterior shots from The Sound of Music were filmed. Welcome to Salzburg, Austria.