Continental Drifters - Day Eight

Sadly, the rain of the evening prior proved to be the harbinger I had feared. Hoping to fit in as much as possible before it started to rain, we headed first to the Asamkirche, considered by many to be a Baroque masterpiece (Munich is somewhat of a center for Baroque architecture) only to find it completely closed for renovations. Dejected, we pressed onward towards the Gothic spires of the Neues Rathaus, where a series of figurines seemed poised to move on the hour. Having seen many such clocks with moving displays all across Europe, and never having been near one near the time of a new hour, we were excited to finally catch a show. Alas, the church bells chimed, and the clock remained stationary.

One of the things I love about buildings in Central Europe are the quaint flower boxes full of vibrant red blooms, even if they weren't looking very vibrant on such a gloomy day.

We had decided to bear east down the Kaufingerstrasse (the main street through the old part of the city) and visit a number of small churches, but first we attempted to stop in at the Peterskirche, adjacent to the Rathaus. The sign on the door read that a mass had been held an hour earlier, so we entered thinking we would be safe, but the sermon was still in full swing as we struck out again.

We diligently headed down the Kaufingerstrasse, discovering, almost to comedic effect at this point, that the facades of Munich's landmark cathedral, theFrauenkirche, the Michaelskirche, and the Burgsaal (a Marian church), were all under restoration, and that they were saying the rosary at the last of these. We just couldn't catch a break!

The distinctive onion domes atop the spires of the Frauenkirche dominate the city skyline, making the church the symbol of the city.

At the Frauenkirche at least, I got to enjoy the interesting fragments of the original stained glass, which had been framed in cheaper plain glass after the majority of the originals were destroyed in World War II. The Burgsaal had a touching museum in the basement dedicated to Rupert Mayer, a Righteous Gentile and anti-Nazi activist who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987, and who is buried there. At that point, I was so frustrated by our day that I took a picture of the Baroque interior there even though they were still saying the rosary. Disrespectful, I know...

I'm probably going to hell for this photo...

From there, we decided to take a different approach, and headed over to the Viktualienmarkt, the outdoor central food market in Munich, to get a sense of how the locals live. It may have been drizzling slightly (it alternated between that and 97% humidity the entire day) but the brightly colored produce and aromatic early Christmas wreaths made of spices and dried flowers made for a nice reprieve from our frustrations. The jaunt through the market placed us back at the Peterskirche, so we did get a chance to scout it out after the mass had ended.

Scenes from the Viktualienmarkt.

Having assuaged some of our morning annoyance with some retail therapy, we stopped briefly back at the hotel to drop off our cargo before heading a scant block down the street to see the Residenz, palace of the Kings of Bavaria. I think Dad enjoyed the Baroque excesses of the Bavarian monarchs more than the more restrained appetites of the later Hapsburg rulers. He was particularly enamored of a room known as the "Antiquarium," which was filled with dozens upon dozens of busts of the Roman emperors. I, however, was more impressed with the intense religious devotion expressed by the Wittelsbachs, as expressed by their lavish personal chapels.

I'm pretty sure this is how Dad envisions heaven.

And this would be Mom's version of heaven -- an entire hall devoted to family portraits and the genealogy of the Wittelsbach family.

We finished our day of sightseeing at the Feldhernhalle, site of the police intervention that ended Hitler's failed "Beer Hall Putsch," and the Theatinerkirche, which was filled with incredibly detailed plaster ornamentation. At that point, I was mostly just happy that only a small portion of the exterior was covered up for repairs.

After all the gilding and marble we'd been looking at all day, it was nice to give my eyes a break with the monochromatic palette at the Theatinerkirche.

The saving grace of the day, and perhaps the entire experience in Munich, was our dinner, for which we were met by Mom's German pen pal, Julie. We ate at the famous Hofbrauhaus (although in the quieter upstairs restaurant space, instead of the raucous traditional beer hall portion) and had a very pleasant evening with them, although everyone was feeling Mom's absence acutely.

Jerzy, Julie, Me, and Dad at the Hofbrauhaus.

Meeting Julie and her husband was the perfect capstone to a great trip. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to see the world, and create these precious memories with my father (even if he does drive me crazy sometimes.) Now all that's left to do is start thinking about where we should head on our next adventure!

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