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munich trip report part 2

2005-03-02 - 2:33 p.m.

All photos © 2005 by Elaine Radford
me with the munich mammoth
me and the munich mammoth
Note: You are reading Part 2 of my Munich, Bavaria trip report. For Part 1, please click right here.

Feb. 23, 2005

Skull-themed internet cafes are not found in Mexico alone. We braved a collection of Captain Morgans and other pirate statues to get our email fix and then headed out to the Paleontology Museum, where we photographed each other with the Munich Mammoth.

fake internet skull, not a saint's skull or anything

The crowded collection of fossils and petrified woods proved a fascinating although difficult-to-photograph sight. A specimen of the famous Archaeopteryx bavarica was there, along with a reconstruction of how the bird might have looked in life. Hmmm. Do I spy some lovebird feathers in the mix?

archaeopteryx bavarica
the famous fossil
the reconstruction with today's bird feathers
the reconstruction
are those lovebird feathers?
the suspicious blue and black feathers in question
After a restorative beer, we continued onward to the Glyptothek, with its well-curated exhibits of Greek and Roman statues. Although you couldn't use flash, I have to give this museum two thumbs up for having one of the most photogenic collections. The exhibits were well-lit and well-spaced, and I went a little nuts photographing the various faces of the ancient Romans.

keepin' it real in this roman face
keepin' it real...too real...
D. wondered if artists were ever executed for a too accurate likeness
We then explored the Kingdom of the Crystals Museum (also called the Reich der Kristalle). It was a little overhyped, but I think it's because the cut gemstones had been moved elsewhere. The 4 foot diameter Septarian and the multiple splendid specimens of Smithsonite were well worth the seeing, however, especially since most of the specimens could be seen for free.

a roman necker/escher cube
here's escher in the original roman mosaic at the glyptothek
The last museum of the day was the Neue Pinotothek. We entered backwards, so the last two or three rooms actually held the most important works including a couple of nice Van Goghs. I showed D. how to back and back away from Bück and Arles by Van Gogh, and we could watch how the brushstrokes that looked so bold and random up-close jumped into near-photographic perspective from across the room. Here we were left in no doubt that Van Gogh knew exactly what he was doing and how to get it done.

monkeys as judges of art
detail from Monkeys as Judges of Art by Gabriel Von Max...bitter much?
I had been warned about the rich yuppies of Munich tying up all the restaurants and how you really, truly needed reservations, but I guess I didn't believe it. I mean, it was Wednesday night, and we were eating early, and maybe the Bavarians eat late at night like the French, right? Ha! We decided to treat ourselves to a well-regarded wine and gourmet restaurant called the Geisel Vinotek, but we had only an hour to eat because we had to be slipped into a table that someone else had already reserved. That's OK. We each had a glass of wine, and D. had the rabbit appetizer while I did the pressed duck appetizer, and it was an absolutely delicious way to get a gourmet taste without breaking the bank or the calorie budget. Then we went to the train station, where I picked up some apple strudel for dessert.

detail, dining room ceiling, linderhof
detail of the frightfully tasteful dining room ceiling at linderhof
Feb. 24, 2005

Today we took the Royal Castles tour, which included tours of Linderhof and Neuschwanstein, both built and decorated by Ludwig II, who was apparently a little different from your normal run of Bavarian kings. It was a great opportunity to ride through the snow-covered Bavarian Alps and enjoy some of the gorgeous scenery. And I even snagged a few birds -- including lifers Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Eurasian Nuthatch, and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

As we entered Linderhof, D. sniffed that it was not a castle but merely a large mansion. I believe he might have changed his mind after realizing that most of the interior was lined with gold. True, there was a sterling silver room, but that was a servant's hall of some sort. Ludwig also had a one-person dining room with a table that could be raised and lowered into the kitchen so he could dine without having servants hovering all over him.

just another gold-crusted interior at linderhof
yet another room at linderhof decorated in the quietly restrained style of ludwig II, who never met a page of gold leaf he didn't like
I might as well tell you right now that you can't expect to get a photo of Neuschwanstein, the Sleeping Beauty Castle, like it says in the posters. There is a sheer drop-off the mountain right in front of the castle, so you can only photograph the side unless you want to hire a helicopter or something. They say that Ludwig didn't finish this castle, although the structure was finished, it's just that he didn't finish decorating and gold-leafing each and every room of the place within an inch of its life. He about bankrupted the Bavarian nation as it was, which probably explains why he was declared insane and suicided (along with his psychiatrist) a mere three days later.

pure ivory chandelier, linderhof, bavaria
fergeddabout your gold-encrusted piano/organs and your 24 karat gold living room walls, the most valuable single item at linderhof is said to be this pure ivory chandelier, which the guide gushed was "literally" priceless
In the evening, we visited a beer hall that had been recommended to us, the Augustiner. I could not read the menu at all. You know how in Spanish and French, you can figure it out and sort of point to a word even if you can't say it and you'll probably get pretty much what you pictured? In German, or Bavarian German anyway, I had no clue. The phrase book was useless. Fortunately, the waiter told us to "trust me" and brought us a plate of mixed meats (pork, chicken, beef), dumplings, and red cabbage. WWWWWAaaaaaayyyyy too much food, but unbelievably tasty. I still don't know how we ate it all -- and still had room for a huge mug of beer apiece.

old castle
the castle where ludwig was raised was not open to the public when we visited but it made a nice photo anyway
You have just read Part 2 of my trip report to Munich. For Part 1, please click right here. To continue onward to Part 3, click right here.
dwarfism in snowmen
i didn't build this snowman, but D. was bitching that the cynical children of munich who see snow all the time did not build snowmen, and shortly thereafter we passed 2 different snowmen, and this one was better, so I posed with it

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