Walking Munich

With only one day to explore Munich, we chose to take a historic walking tour offered by InMunich.  My brain is in overload with all the cool facts and interesting stories that our tour guide, Hein, shared with us.  Meeting in Marienplatz Square at 10:45 a.m., we got a quick summary of the history of Munich before the glockenspiel went off at 11 a.m. serenading the huge crowd with music, bells and the moving characters that illustrate the history of Munich.  Fantastic.

Hein guided us over the next three hours through the streets of Munich, pointing out the beautiful buildings and giving us the backstory of each one.  Admittedly, I am the ignorant American who obviously never paid attention in history classes as I learned more about Hitler and WWII from Hein than I did in school.  Munich lost 80% of their buildings to the war but they rebuilt beautifully.  The few buildings and parts of buildings that did survive the raining down of bombs were on the tour.  As Hein asked various questions, the answer was always “beer”.  To distract a pet monkey who saved a royal baby from a rampaging baboon, what did they offer?  Beer.  When the town folk didn’t have enough gold to get the Swedish King to leave them alone during a takeover, what did they offer him?  Liquid gold, aka beer.  And so on.

Along with six other couples, all Americans, we learned of Hitler’s early years as an aspiring artist.  Hein told us that if he could go back in history, he would make sure Hitler made it into art school vs. getting rejected which led to his career in government and killing.  Most powerful moment was seeing “dodger alley” where the Resistance would run to get around the mandatory saluting to the Nazi regime off the major square where Hitler made campaign speeches.  Seeing the beer hall where Hitler had one of his first major oratory moments as he came into power was also chilling.  So many times over the course of the tour, Thom and I would look at each other and mouth “Trump moment” because it feels like history is repeating itself with our lying, power hungry, amoral POTUS who would rather let citizens die if it meant his agenda was approved.  Terrifying.

At our break halfway through the tour, Hein encouraged us to make use of the public bathrooms and Starbucks but I chose a different path.  Cold and needing an instant warm-up, I got a shot of good whiskey at an Irish pub.  No ice just whiskey.  My friends, Kurt and Ernie, would be so proud of me.  Later, we would fill up on a good German dinner of sausages/sauerkraut/potatoes for Thom and white asparagus/potatoes with hollandaise sauce for me with a side of pretzels, of course, and a carafe of wine.  Cheers!

Walking the history of Dublin

Our first day in Dublin, we had decided to take a historical walking tour with a highly recommended company, www.historicaltours.ieThey do two tours daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for 13 euros per person.  You can pay online which they prefer or just show up and pay the guide.  We also tipped her as she did such a good job.  Really a bargain given that Grace, our tour guide, has a PhD in history from Trinity College and knew her stuff. 

We had to brave the “Freshers” (incoming freshman college students) in the main square of Trinity College to meet up with our tour group.  All very Hogwarts feeling with the medieval buildings and packed with students talking to the various club members in tents attracting rowers, rugby players, magicians, political, etc.  Our tour group ranged in age but mostly couples and a nice size of 12 people so we could all huddle around Grace to hear the tales of the religious wars and many invasions that Ireland has experiences throughout the ages.  Damn, they’ve seen a lot of turmoil on this small island.

Heads up, cobblestone streets are repaired to stay with Dublin’s historical look but are hell to walk on even with sensible Uggs.  I can’t even imagine navigating in a heel.  Be warned and dress appropriately including a rain jacket. 

Group introduced, off we went throughout Trinity College, Temple Bar, and the Viking neighborhood where ruins were plowed over to make way for a new government building.  The Irish seem good about preserving many buildings but since the Vikings were marauders and invaded them, they weren’t so particular about preserving their ruins.  Shame.

Temple Bar, the lively bar area, used to be under water and it still runs under the streets.  Close to the river, it is now the hub of pubs and shopping.  Grace pointed out many historical sites here and then off we went to Christ Church and Dublin Castle.

After the two hour tour, we were famished and just happened upon a place I had read about as having the best fish and chips in Ireland, Leo Burdock’s.  The counter guy greeted us and when Thom asked how he was doing, he replied, “Living the dream.  I work here” and gestured to the humble abode where they dished out the best slab of fish and hearty chips I have ever eaten.  Funny.  Sharing the 10 euro special while sitting on a park bench at Christ Church, we chowed down, gaining our energy back before we meandered home through Temple Bar and back to the hotel.  I was beat and jet lagged!  With the awesome Westin bed to tuck into, it was an early evening and 12 hours of sleep for me after our first day in Dublin.