Where to begin? Germany is very modern and at the same time very traditional. The people are friendly and cultured. Much of Munich was destroyed in World War II, but has been restored.
We are divided into three groups by the tour director, blue, red and orange. Our blue group was first to leave early in the morning so we were supposed to eat and be ready. However, this didn’t go over well, so the tour director, with the soon to become familiar lack of planning, told everyone to go ahead and eat early if they wanted. This meant the groups leaving hours later crowded the lines at the buffet almost preventing us from meeting the deadline to leave.
After breakfast, we went on another hour-long bus ride getting back to Munich. Then we toured the city by bus. The local tour guide was knowledgeable and pointed out sites, most of which were behind a tree, another building, or a bus. There were no photo ops except what you could grab through the window as the bus whizzed by. We saw only a small sample of the architectural treasures and historic sites.
We left the bus at the New Town Hall and waited for the glockenspiel to chime. The glockenspiel is a chiming German clock with life-sized wooden figures that dance around in the clock tower while music plays, a giant-sized cuckoo clock without the bird. The plaza was crowded with tourists waiting to gawk at this silly clock, us included. The New Town Hall building was beautiful, however. It had elaborate architecture and resembled a baroque church. In fact, almost all the historic buildings in Europe seemed to resemble churches.
Next, we went to eat at a local restaurant which was a “famous beer house.” It might be famous for beer but not for food and especially not for service. Someone (wonder who?)decided to make it easy for those of us who had difficulty climbing stairs and let us use an elevator. We had to go outside and through a storage area to a freight elevator. We all packed on but the elevator wouldn’t work. And so they walked us through the entire beer hall packed with people to use a different freight elevator. By the time we got to the table, everyone else on our tour was already seated and had beer. Being late didn’t matter, though, as we soon found out.
We waited for the food, and waited and waited some more. Finally at last, the food came out a few dishes at the time — three servers for 160 people. When we finally had food, it was pork roast and a tennis ball. Okay, the ball was supposed to be a dumpling, but not what Americans expect dumplings to look or taste like. No one could eat it. I didn’t try, but I’m sure if I had thrown it on the floor, it would have bounced. The pork tasted good, though, and most people had thick slices. Mine, of course, looked like the pork butt and was two big hunks of meat covered with tough skin — lucky me. If I complained I would probably never eat, so I just did my best to consume some of it. There were no sides or veggies at all and the drink was your choice of beer, water, or nothing.
As soon as my Jewish partner saw the pork he went numb. When they had asked about special dietary needs ahead of time, he had specifically told them no pork or shellfish. Anyhow, he sent it back and they gave him a dish of mac and cheese that actually looked better than the greasy meat I had to eat.
The only good thing about this place was the bathroom, which you had to stand in line to use but didn’t have to pay. Most restrooms in Germany are pay toilets and you must have a Euro coin to use it. You get a coupon when you pay, and you can use that to buy something, a twist on “restrooms for customers only.” If you didn’t have change, you could buy something to get it, then pay and get the coupon. Two purchases to pee? What a place. I became very good at holding it. I though they made pay toilets illegal in the U.S. but we stopped at a truck stop on the Interstate the other day, and guess what? Apparently, they are illegal some places, but a few are still around.
These are some of the buildings of interest that we saw on our bus tour. I wish I could remember what they are, but I was too busy looking to listen, much less take notes.