Friday: dash out of office to make 1621 train. Get to Clapham Junction, find platform for train to Gatwick; realise that, against all bounds of sense, train operator has decided that rush-hour train to airport (and beyond) at the start of a long weekend should be four coaches only. Squeeze self and thankfully-squashable bag onto train; mentally curse woman with non-collapsible double baby buggy and wonder if she'd mind if I sat on it.
Get to Gatwick in plenty of time, stand in longish queue to check in. Could have done it with credit card on which I'd paid for the ticket, apparently, except I don't have it any more. Oh well. Manage to wander round (smallish) bookshop in departure lounge and not buy anything; find bar to sit in and read first of seven books (see next entry) I took with me. Plane leaves a bit late for no readily apparent reason (sheer weight of traffic?).
Get to Munich, find station at airport, buy ticket, get on train, swap texts with rotwang to let him know my progress. Find out, when questioned by ticket inspectors, that apparently one is supposed to stamp one's ticket before boarding train (somehow I can't help thinking that it would have been useful to have this information in English, as the station was at the airport; my German's not what it was). Avoid 40 Euro fine by looking blank and English. Train announcement (this time in both German and English) tells me that train is not stopping at the station I actually wanted to get off at, so have to go one stop further to main station. Mutter. Meet rotwang at station, stagger off to hotel, brief drink in bar, bed.
Saturday: mmm, hotel buffet breakfast. Flick through guidebook and make plans; some of the museums are closed on Mondays, almost all of the shops are closed on Sundays. I want to see the Victuallenplatz - big food market - because I'm a sucker for markets, even if I don't actually buy anything there. It is indeed big and impressive; perhaps not with the huge pyramids of stuff that we saw at similar markets in Ecuador, but definitely with a lot more variety. It was the middle of the asparagus season and every stall seemed to have large bunches of it for not-so-large amounts of money - I did, however, pass on the opportunity to have fruit juice drinks mixed with asparagus.
After the Victuallenplatz - sorry to any natives if I'm maiming spellings, I don't have a guidebook handy right now - we wandered up to the Marienplatz, famous (to us, anyhow) as one of the locations in Gabriel Knight 2. We went up the tower of the Frauenkirche to admire the view, and took a look round the inside - rather more sparse than one might expect, and more modern decoration. I surmise that the picture of the church minus most of its roof, dated 1945, would account for that.
Stopping briefly for more beer, we eventually fetched up at the ZAM; Zentrum für Aussergewöhnliche Museen. Or, to put it more simply, "wow, what a bunch of weird stuff." It's basically several smallish museums under one roof, with a ... shall we say, eclectic? ... choice of subjects. Pedal cars. The Easter Bunny. Perfume bottles. Chamber pots. It reminded me more than a little of Potter's Museum of Curiosities in Arundel (at least, it used to be in Arundel; I understand it's since moved). After much shaking of heads and giggling, we meandered back to the hotel where we dozed and read awhile.
In the hotel bar, the friendly English-speaking bartender was happy to recommend more places to get some food while sampling some more beer. (You may be spotting a trend to this. Look, we both like beer and Munich has plenty of it.) He recommended the Hirschgarten, which was indeed very pleasant. We drank beer, watched the deer, and ate sausages and chips for a couple of hours.
On Sunday we decided to attack the Deutsches Museum, which is basically the Science Museum-equivalent. The best bit for me, because I am nothing but a big kid at heart, was the demo of high-voltage electricity (see bottom of page). Yes, yes, the Science Museum have something similar, but this demo was bigger and better than theirs (probably because it had been recently upgraded). The other best bit was the shop. Science and tech museums always have such utterly stonking gift shops. This one had vast numbers of unusual dice, most of which we bought...
Later there was more beer - couldn't you have guessed? - at a local-to-the-hotel bierkeller. Lots of beer and more meat than you could shake a stick at; anyone on the Atkins diet would probably have had a field day with my plate of assorted roast stuff, had they ignored the potato dumpling. It was a lot like my memories of Prague's cuisine - this is not a bad thing.
For Monday we had two targets, Schloss Nymphenburg and the Residenz.
Nymphenburg turned out to require both an U-Bahn and a tram journey to get to - but luckily Munich's trams announce the name of their next stop, which means that trying to figure out where to get off isn't so painful (and in any case we were going to the end of the line). The interior of the Schloss itself is very ornate, mostly decorated in an 18th century style - rather less of it is open than you might expect from the size of the actual buildings. There are some terrific paintings by Joseph Stieler in the "Gallery of Beauties" - not just ladies of the court, but other women of all classes.
The castle's grounds are also lovely - a lot of it is set out as formal gardens but then there are bits of it which are wilder and more overgrown. We stopped at the old Palm House, now a cafe, for some lunch, then walked back up to get the tram back into central Munich, stopping to admire a mother duck and brood of small fluffy ducklings.
We decided not to try to do large chunks of the Residenz, but wandered round the outside to look at the architecture - that part of it which was not hidden by scaffolding or building works - and then went in to look at the Treasury. There followed some discussion about whether my handbag counted as a 'backpack' and why I wasn't exactly happy with the concept of 'oh, but you can carry all your papers round in a plastic bag'. Friends, I suffer that kind of thing only barely from the British Library, where there is at least the possibility that one might wander off with some of their items, but I'm buggered if I'll take it lying down from a place where everything on display is behind thick, alarmed, glass. What did they think I was going to do, put an entire display case in my handbag? It isn't that big. If they'd wanted to search it, that would have been just fine. And carrying one's passport, wallet, cheque book, etc. in a transparent bag feels just a little like painting a target on one's forehead (again, possibly I'm oversensitive to this stuff at the moment, but there were plenty of other people going round the exhibit wantonly displaying their handbags that they hadn't had to check. Grumble).
The last place we wanted to see was the Alte Hof (literally the Old House) and its famous turret. This would've been easier if said turret hadn't been covered with thick plastic sheeting as part of more building work :(
We sat with a drink in the Marienplatz and listened to the carillon from the Rathaus. It's quite impressive but I can see why they don't ring it every hour (three times a day during the summer) - if they did it every hour, everyone within hearing distance of Marienplatz would go mad, as it lasts for, oh, fifteen minutes or more.
We took a cab back from the hotel to the airport. On arrival at the terminal, there were people standing outside, fire engines, police cars... it turned out the terminal had been evacuated due to someone leaving their luggage unattended. Luckily they were letting people back in just as we arrived, so we checked in and went to hang out in the lounge for a while.
The time came to go to the gate, and we then had the interesting experience of wandering round various seemingly-deserted bits of the airport looking for gate D22. It turns out that D17 - D23 are in a completely different bit of the airport from D1 - D16. Why? I have no idea. When we got to that area we were greeted by a long queue... whether because of the earlier security incident or for other unguessable reasons, the security folks were being more thorough than I've ever seen them before (and this includes travelling to and from Egypt in October 2001). Outdoor jackets off before going through detector arch? OK. Laptops out of bags? Fairly standard these days. Shoes off before going through arch? What, everyone? Walk through arch, don't set it off (unusually; I wear underwired bras and that's usually plenty to make it ping), still get thoroughly wanded by security person. Hand search of all bags by security personnel, up to and including going through my washbag carefully. Fondle my pills all you want, mate, they are not made of nitroglycerine. What's this? Yes, it's a camera, that would be because I am a tourist.... Getting bored now - my only consolation is that they hadn't picked me specially, they were pulling this with everyone. How the plane got away even vaguely on time is beyond me.
And the final miracle; no delay on the way into Heathrow. That never happens.