A small group of U3A members travelled to Munich in April. Here are some accounts of the trip by 3 of the members of the group:
From Pat Gorie:
A party of seven travelled to
Munich on April 23rd and settled in at the very comfortable Hotel
Ambiente conveniently situated near to the excellent transport
facilities in the city. Marlene was an excellent
guide as she knew Munich well, having spent a year at the university
there and was able to tell us many details about places we visited. We had six days there so did
too much to go into detail. |Highspots were seeing the beautiful
architecture of the city; visiting the English garden; the Hofbrauhaus
with its ‘oompah’ band in Bavarian costume; meals at the
homes of Marlene’s friends, Franziska and Gerdi where we were
given great hospitality; and then two splendid days out to Salzburg and
Mittenwald, the latter a delightful alpine village surrounded by
towering mountains. Only Marlene and Rona ascended the Karwendel by
cable car, the rest of us indulging in retail therapy , eating cakes
and drinking coffee! Altogether a very happy and interesting holiday!
On a sunny Sunday morning three of us set off for the zoo, a very easy journey with the public transport in Munich. The origin of zoos in Munich
dates back as far as 1770 when the Elector Maximilian III set up an
enclosure for exotic animals, strictly for the nobility in those days,
of course. There were several attempts
at setting up a public zoo, but all failed until 1902 when Hermann von
Manz was more successful. It cost at least half a million marks and the
land was provided free of charge. On 1st August 1911 the zoo opened. The zoo was badly damaged after being bombed in the 2nd World War but it was able to reopen its doors in 1945.
We had a very enjoyable day
watching the animals being fed. The giraffes were very amusing. A baby
giraffe, only one month old and as tall as a tree was trying to get the
food and being chased away by what I presume to be his father. Then the
elephants gave us a display of acrobatics in their new enclosure which
was only completed in December 2007, just in time for Christmas. The
wide variety of animals at Hellabrun Zoo gives visitors a fascinating
discovery tour of animals representing every continent. The zoo has a successful international breeding and cross breeding programme of both wild and domestic animals. As usual, there was
insufficient time, but having seen the giraffes, penguins, kangaroos,
chimps, orang-utans, big cats, the aquarium and the large play area for
children, we certainly had a full day. By the way, did you know that
the gestation period for a giraffe is 450 days? Well, on that note,
I’m glad that I am a mere human being!
After having spent a
wonderfully varied, but somewhat lively week in Munich and its
surrounding areas, I was looking forward to the rather more restful day
that Marlene had planned, visiting the beautiful Alpine village of
Mittenwald situated on the borders of Germany and Austria.
This was to be the last day
of a very memorable week. Thanks to Marlene’s extensive local
knowledge and impeccable German, we were privileged to be able to
communicate with the local people (Marlene talks to everybody), and to
make our way round using public transport, thus avoiding costly coach
tours which can sometimes be too structured.
Monday dawned and we headed
for the railway station where we took a very restful couple of
hours’ train journey to Mittenwald. On the way we passed many
‘Swiss chalet’ type villages and magnificent scenery.
However, as we left the train
on arrival in Mittenwald, we experienced the most breathtakingly
beautiful view of an idyllic alpine village, nestling at the foot of a
range of magnificent mountains.
Narurally, being a group of
seven women, we first ‘hit’ the shops in the local high
street, which, because it was out of holiday season, we had to
ourselves. There were quaint little craft shops and some of us were
able to grab a bargain in the little boutiques, However, I digress.
It is sad that in England we
are generally unable to wander round our old churches in the way that
one can in other countries. Southern Germany, being largely
Catholic,means that there are so many examples of superb church
architecture, Mittenwald being no exception.
We paused for a drink in the
local specialist tea shop, where I had a Darjeeling leaf tea, served in
a very elegant teapot incorporating a delicate porcelain tea strainer,
which one immersed with German-like precision for exactly three minutes
in the teapot. I was provided with a timer for this purpose. However,
‘high tech’ comes at a price – nearly 5 Euros for a
cup of tea, but well worth the experience, and it tasted good after all
that coffee one is obliged to drink after leaving the UK.
Next came the big question
– Who was willing to accompany Marlene on the cable car up the
Karwendel? Now, I might be described as more wimp than daredevil, but
was surprised to find that I was the only ‘taker’ (must be
something in the air). I consoled myself by saying that it can’t
be much different from taking off in a plane. You are surrounded by the
enclosed car, and despite being told that the engineers initially
believed that to install a cable car up this mountain could not be
done, and that it has only one main support, I still considered that it
was well worth the risk for this once- in- a- lifetime experience.
It costs less to take the
cable car after lunch when there are fewer skiers using the service.
Coffee and cake is provided free of charge on reaching the mountain
The ascent was
surprisingly not unlike going up in a plane. We were surrounded by a
sturdy carriage, far less scary than a chair lift. However, as we
ascended more steeply, we could almost touch the sides of the mountain
and my courage began to waiver. It was a long way up!
On reaching the summit, one
can appreciate just how spectacular the views are and Marlene and I got
busy with our cameras. It is said that you can just cross the border
into Austria by simply taking a few steps, but I found that the banks
of snow were a little disconcerting as you could not be sure how much
solid ground was underneath. So we missed the opportunity of entering
I was surprised to find a
number of crow-like birds (alpine choughs) on the peak, although I
suppose the majority of birds would not suffer from a fear of heights.
An added bonus was that we
were taken to and picked up from the cable car by a friend of
Marlene’s with whom she lodged during her student days. She has
so many German friends, two of whom very kindly invited us to meals in
their homes during our stay.
After being picked up, we
were driven to an isolated spot in the hills to enjoy the last hour of
our stay. We sat on deckchairs stored in one of the little huts dotted
about the meadows. The sun shone down on us as we drank our water
and took in the view. I was disappointed not to see Julie Andrews come
down the hillside to greet us but we were in Germany,not Austria. There
were a number of alpine plants amongst the grass, but not being a
botanist, I was unable to identify them. This was a fitting end to a