Day Eight - Munich, take 2

Munich Travel Blog

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Entrance to Asamkirche in Munich.

Wednesday was another beautiful day.  It required some strategizing to figure what was the best way to spend what was probably going to be our last day in Munich.  There were several things that sounded appealing, but all in all, there seemed to be less to see and do in Munich than one would think.  Aside from several churches and a famous market, there are some large palaces and the like.  But having already seen a number of similar sights on previous trips, and still planning to yet go to Neuschwanstein, arguably one of the most recognized castles in the world, we didn’t feel a strong press to visit the palaces of Munich.

Detail of sculpture on doorway to Asamkirche.
  So we instead headed for Asamkirche (Asam’s church), which was supposed to be stunning and the large city market, because if you haven’t seen it, you haven’t been to Munich - at least according to the locals as quoted in our guide book.

We took the U back into the city and not knowing the city that well, decided to use the Oktoberfest location as our starting point, since we were familiar with how to get there.  Then we could use our little guide book map to find our way around from there.  Coming up out of the U though, we realized we were on the wrong side.  So, as the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, our path went through the heart of Oktoberfest to access the sights beyond.  Neither of us could believe how many more people were on the grounds.

Front of Asamkirche.
  And it seemed that we were nearly the only ones trying to go in the direction we needed to be.  I asked Derik if he felt like he was spawning, and he said, “No, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’m spawning, but I do feel like I’m going upstream.”

We finally made it across the grounds to arrive at the church we’d seen the day before.  Its large façade gave promise of great things inside, so we made another diversion.  As it turned out the promise was hollow and I was rather disappointed.  It was incredibly modern inside, though clearly it wasn’t built recently.  Apparently in 2004 it was remodeled, though the modernity vanished when you began to ascend the stairs to the tower which offered views across the city.

The round staircase is the usual cramped European sort, with stairs so old, they’re nearly slick.

Cross at Asamkirche.
  I forgot to count stairs on the way up, and lost count on the way down.  But their information sheet suggests that to the first landing there are 252 steps.  I’m not sure why if they bothered to include that information they didn’t just say how many more it was to the top, but then maybe it was just lost in translation.

Rounding the last corner we stepped through the door and into the sunshine.  Munich was laid out before us.  It was so clear you could make out the Alps in the distant south.  And thanks to being adjacent to the Oktoberfest grounds, we got a bird’s eye view of just how massive the festival is.  The broad avenues were literally jammed with people and again we remarked at how many more people there seemed to be.

Climbing back down the stairs, we stopped to assess the time and make a plan for where we were headed next.

Which way is up?! Painted ceiling of Asamkirche.
  We decided to first find the Asamkirche (Asam’s Church), and then if there was time visit the market.

Now that we were aware of where we were, we decided the best thing was to take the U to a closer stop at the center of town.  Once we got there we came up beside what we thought was another gothic looking church, also shrouded in tarps for restoration.  At its base was a tourist information office, but it was closed.  At that point I realized that everything was closed.  Looking up important dates in our guide book, I discovered that October 3 is a national holiday in Germany.  So we now understood why SO many people were at Oktoberfest.

As it turned out, what we thought was a church was actually the new town hall.

Another perspective of the interior of Asamkirche.
  Its large clock tower is called Gockenspiel and every day at 11am and 5pm when it strikes the hour, there’s an entire menagerie of tin characters that begin putting on an automated show.  Knights fight and cannons blast.  Unfortunately we were there between 2 and 3.  Our luck is nothing if not consistent.

After briefly getting turned around in the square (this would seem difficult, but it’s not a square at all - instead it’s a knot of streets going every direction, with very few normal corners) we stumbled across an internet café, and while we didn’t really have the time, we decided it would be prudent to check in on the real world.  30 minutes later we headed towards Asamkirche and unfortunately along the way we passed a street side restaurant which was packed with patrons, all enjoying HUGE steaks.  Derik was the first to notice and made some comment about how good they looked.  I then had to take note and was chagrined that he’d even mentioned it.  They did indeed look great, and after several days diet of food out of a box, it seemed very inviting.  But given the time, not to mention what I’m sure the expense would have been, we neither one even discussed stopping to try one out.

Fortunately this time we walked right to Asamkirche as though we’d been there all our life.  And it is indeed a standout place.  It’s actually two adjacent homes that one of the Asam brothers purchased umpteen years ago.  He wanted to turn the smaller of the two homes into a church for a recently canonized saint.  And he did a bang up job.

Having apparently gutted the interior of the house, what remains is relatively narrow and tall - about 5 stories.  What’s amazing is there is not a single centimeter of it that hasn’t been covered in marble or paint or gold leaf.  The frescoes which adorned the ceiling are amazing.  The crucifix which hangs at the front is jaw-dropping.  And every available nook and cranny is filled with more of the same.  Fortunately, while there was a steady stream of tourists coming and going, it never felt crowded.  And as in any church, everyone is nearly silent.  There is something about the awe-inspiring aspect of a church that typically turns the even the most verbose into mutes, and this place was no different.

After taking a few pictures, Derik and I left and got some exterior photos, and then headed back towards the town square.  All thoughts of visiting the famous market were now gone as given the holiday, it wasn’t even operating.  But Derik did decide he couldn’t pass up the opportunity of visiting a nearby Starbucks.  20 minutes later we left.  The baristas there need a bit more speed training or perhaps they just need more of their own product!

Getting back on the U, we headed to our camp.  Back by 3, we tried to see what our next move should be.  At this point we made the astonishing discovery that we’d literally driven past Neuschwanstein castle when we re-entered Germany.  So the question became did we really want to see it.  I left it entirely up to Derik, as I’d already been.  But since this is most likely his only trip here in his lifetime (inside joke), he decided he really couldn’t NOT go.  So, we packed up, dumped out, paid up and left on our way back south to Neuschwanstein.

It was a scenic drive and while we covered some of the same road we’d been on before, we were going the opposite direction, which actually afforded a much better view.  Additionally we cut across a swath of countryside to reach a more direct route to the castle and that stretch, while slow, was quite breathtaking.  Once again we were in the Alp region and that combined with fall colors made everything even more memorable.

We arrived in the Neuschwanstein region at dusk and began the daily process of locating a place to park.  After some hunting and pecking, we decided to head for Austria, a mere 8-10km away and find a camping site there.  We parked for the night, plugged in, had dinner and anticipated what Thursday would hold.


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Entrance to Asamkirche in Munich.
Entrance to Asamkirche in Munich.
Detail of sculpture on doorway to …
Detail of sculpture on doorway to…
Front of Asamkirche.
Front of Asamkirche.
Cross at Asamkirche.
Cross at Asamkirche.
Which way is up?! Painted ceiling …
Which way is up?! Painted ceiling…
Another perspective of the interio…
Another perspective of the interi…
photo by: AleksandraEa