08.12.2016 - 10.12.2016 10 °C
Alright, I'm just going to come out and say it. German public transport is not the epitome of efficiency that everyone makes it out to be. In fact, it's downright spiteful. There has to be something wrong with a system when the train arrives at the station, you can see the bus (the ONLY bus), but as you step off the train and onto the platform, the bus departs. Why? Why would they do that? Surely the bus timetable could be adjusted by one measly minute to make it align with the train? Anyway, first world problems aside, we caught the NEXT bus to our hotel for the next four nights and settled in to our new abode, which came with very comfortable beds and toilets that looked as if they should have been on a plane.
Jazzie and I decided to make the most of our day pass for public transport, while everyone else had some rest and tried to fight off the colds that were slowly but surely taking us over. We set off to the English Gardens, and found the right underground station, but then ended up walking in what may or may may not have been the right direction. There was no sign of the promised markets, so we backtracked and found a bus, which took us exactly where we needed to go. Because if at first you don't succeed, jump on a bus. That's what I always say.
The markets were gloriously festive, and we grabbed some pretzels and mugs of gluhwein (the rot stuff was okay, but definitely steer clear of the weiss stuff). Jazzie got some Christmas shopping done, we worked out the return-your-mug system and then jumped on the next bus. Which was going the wrong way. So we jumped off again, and tried a bus that was headed in a more homely direction, and with no further navigational mishaps, had dinner back at the hotel.
On Friday morning we made it into the city by noon to appreciate the markets and watch the dancing figures on the clock. We strolled the streets of Munich aimlessly before heading to the English Gardens with one great purpose - to find the river surfers. Never mind that Munich is inland, never mind that it was a river, and never mind that it was nine degrees, the surfers were out in force and kept us all entertained for a good while. We ventured back to the markets (a different ambience in daylight hours), and we snacked on various Bavarian specialties while Crawford rode the merry-go-round with varying levels of enthusiasm (depending on which vehicle he was seated on). We returned to the hotel for a rest (these colds were really cramping our style), and when we felt up to it, headed out for dinner. There was a two hour wait at the Hard Rock Cafe, but Bar Roma had plenty of tables available, so you can imagine which option we chose. Rugged up in our blankets, we sat in the arcade and Crawford tried to get high fives from passersby. Towards the end of our meal, two men sat at the table next to us and smoked to their hearts content, ordered beers and pizza, and then up and left. When the waitress arrived with said beers and pizza, they were nowhere to be seen. So we were offered their pizza in a takeaway box for free - score. I was just glad they hadn't ordered a seafood pizza.
On Saturday we set off on another expedition. We made it to Marienplatz easily enough, but getting from the U-Bahn to the S-Bahn proved to be a challenge. First of all, the girls took a lift with Crawford and the pram, and the boys took the stairs. The lift spat us out at ground level, nowhere near the S-Bahn. So we went back down again, only to find the boys at the entry to the lift as well because they had gotten lost and were retracing their steps. Together we found the correct lift - but only Clare, Jazzie and Crawford fitted in, so Simon, Paul and I relied on the escalators to get where we were going. After a little bit of confusion, we found our way to the correct platform. Except that there was no sign of the lifters. We waited for awhile, and then found Jazzie coming down the stairs, leaving just Clare and Crawford needed to complete the set. We called Clare and we texted Clare, and we went to the platform that Clare said she was on - but unless she had mastered some sort of invisibility spell at Hogwarts, she most definitely was not there. I can't properly explain the convoluted stair/escalator/elevator arrangement at this station, but believe me when I say it was bordering on labyrinthine. Eventually we found Clare - or more precisely, we saw Clare from the other side of the tracks, managed to get ourselves up to the same level and descended - as a team - to the correct platform. Phew.
The S-Bahn then obligingly took us out to the town of Dachau, where we grabbed lunch at a Bäckerei. The next step was refreshingly simple - get on the bus, and get off the bus at the Dachau concentration camp memorial site. We spent the next few hours at the memorial wondering 'how?' and 'why?' and hoping that the phrase under the sculpture 'never again' would prove to be true. I honestly wasn't aware how many atrocities occurred before the second world war had even started, but Dachau filled in some of the blanks for me. It was rather depressing to be reminded of the human capacity for awfulness. And as we caught the train back to Munich, the sunset seemed an appropriate scene to accompany our silent reflections.