Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Summer Holiday 2005, Part I

This is the first part of the report on our summer holiday to München (Munich) and northern Italy. Apologies for the formatting. All the photos here (including larger versions and a few more) are available at our photo page at Flickr. More from the holiday will be added a bit later. We've also tried to include many interesting details in this post to give you a feel for how it was. We had a really wonderful time and saw many new and interesting things!

München: 1st - 3rd Aug
1 August
We had invested in a GPS-based navigation system and one of the main components arrived a few days before we were due to depart. Unfortunately, it was a slightly different model to the one needed and was unusable. The supplier (internet-based) was located in Frankfurt which was more or less on our way. So the plan was to depart early-ish Monday morning and pick-up the GPS gear on the way. Frankfurt is about three hours away. The plan went swimmingly well (i.e., we found Frankfurt) until the directions we had expected us to follow a non-existent sign! After a 2 hour unintentional tour of Frankfurt -- including the city centre, a lengthy traffic jam and the same stretch of autobahn 3 times! -- we got where we needed to go, made the exchange and were finally on our way. Subsequently we arrived in Munich later than desired (but the navigation system worked beautifully!) and set up the tent in the dark in record time.
The campsite was pretty crowded and the owner of one of the tents that we set up very close to came out to point out how close we were. Her concern was that having too many synthetic tents so close together was a fire hazard. In my most diplomatic manner I tried to reassure her (I wasn't going to be re-pitching the tent then!). She wasn't that difficult and once she got to know Gaynor a bit she was much happier about matters. Turns out she was an Englishwoman stranded in Munich with a blown car engine and 4 young children. We got to know her and the children well over the next few days.

2 August
Our general rule of travel is to try to see a few things well rather than more things with less time. So the plan of attack was to see inner city Munich one day and the Deutsches Museum the next. Though before touristing got underway in ernest we started the day with present opening for Ariana's 6th birthday.
A shot of Ariana opening a present in the tent.

We caught public transport around Munich with a unlimited family day ticket setting us back 8 euro. Quite good value we thought. A bus to the nearby underground train and then half a dozen stops into Marienplatz itself.
The boys and Bryna (foreground right) at Marienplatz. This photo (boys and Bryna in foreground right) shows the old town hall (very Gothic with plenty of fabulous gargoyles) facing onto the square and the twin onion-domed towers in the background belong to the Frauenkirche (Women's Church). This is the main (certainly the biggest) church in Munich and was the cathedral for the current Pope when he was First Bishop of Munich. Photos show some interiors of the Frauenkirche as shot by Joshua including looking down the central aisle and the elaborate tomb for King Ludwig Some-Or-Other. Looking down the central aisle of Frauenkirche. An elaborate tomb for King Ludwig Some-Or-Other.
Other highlights included the street performers (see the photos of the children's favourite and them watching him) Children's favourite Munich street performer. Children mostly watching their favourite performer., wandering the English Garden and sitting on a rug listening to some light jazz at the old Royal Residence. Gaynor also squeezed in a bit of shopping and Mara and Ari went to the Toy Museum.
The trip home was eventful since we were now travelling with the English woman (Wendy) and her four children and had a desperation to obtain a suitable birthday cake for Ariana before the shops closed (She can 'kitchen sink' with the best of them and we didn't feel the need for the ongoing grief). Rain and public transport did not improve the mix. Fortunately all turned out well with some creative train-hopping by Fenton and (since there wasn't much pre-planning before separating) a good working knowledge of Gaynor's thought processes (also by Fenton).

3 August
This day was reserved for the Deutsches Museum (go to your preferred language and check out Exhibitions for a listing of the Museum's contents). We didn't take many photos of this fabulous and large place, instead purchasing a guide in English. It is a technical museum and if you'd like to know more I'd encourage you to check out the website and then book your airplane ticket! Remember, there's always free accommodation (for selected guests) in Juelich a scant 6 hours away.
Family favourites included the complete V2 rocket (Joshua), the solar-powered plane (Elijah), the gondola (Mara), the history and techniques of glass and ceramic manufacture (Gaynor), flying the model plane (Ariana and see photo below) and pressing any button within reach (and many out of reach, Bryna).
Met up with Wendy and her children just before closing and joined them back at the campsite for a barbeque dinner. Elijah at the controls of the remote model airplane.