Munich / München, aka huge photo post
Welcome to Munich, Germany! Deven and I visited lovely Germany last week from June 11–14. But I've had spotty internet and a million and one adventures since that time, hence the late update. Anyway, so Germany was home to the Olympics in the 70s. The grounds are still open for wandering and sausage-n-beer picnics. This is Deven throwing an invisi-javelin in front of the stadium, which is like a giant crazy tent, or some kind of plasma cell magnified a million times.
In the Einglisher Garten, which is like Munich's Central Park, the river comes rushing in at one point over a rock sledge. This creates a wave, which the Germans have (naturally) taken to surfing. I sure hope those wetsuits and surfboards actually see saltwater at some point.
Also in the Einglisher Garten, there are several beer gardens (naturally). So (naturally) we had to eat lunch at one of them. You can probably imagine my opinion of German food, if you know me well enough. Or even if you've just eaten a meal or two with me.
Anyway, this looks like I'm taking a hearty swig from a stein fulla beer. Truth be told it was more like a dainty sip. And it wasn't even my stein, it obviously belonged to Deven, who has more German blood than I (eg, "Burks"). So he finished it off.
Before leaving, I looked up Art Nouveau / Jugendstil sites in Munich. One recommended museum was the Villa Stuck, former house of Franz Stuck, who I'd never heard of before. He was a Jugendstil artist and friends with many of the luminaries of the turn of the century. Above is Die Sünde, aka The Sin, painted in 1893. His house was amazing — all gilt and mosaic and taxidermied peacocks.
The Deutsch Bahn metro system is efficient, incredibly confusing, and reminiscent of Penguin Classics.
We took a trip out into the boonies of Germany, to the town of Füssen, where the cows actually wear bells. I may or may not have squealed with delight prior to taking this photograph. Please notice also the wildflowers. I collected as many examples of colorful specimens as possible and pressed them in my Moleskine pocket notebook. People should press flowers more often, you know?
From Füssen we hiked to the Austrian border, just so we could say we've been in Austria. It totally counts if you have a half-hour lunch in the Austrian woods. Above: Deven in nerd shirt showing The Way. He was a good guide and especially patient with a certain constant complainer lagging behind him all the time and finding the scariest looking insects possible...
Against Deven's advice, I poked it with a stick, assuming it was poisonous, then looked it up online a few days later. Apparently this is a common European slug. It can grow up to 5 inches long and comes in a variety of colors: black, red, and white. The ridges on its back are not toxic spines but rather its version of a shell. It secretes a hard substance that protects it from predators, such as stick-wielding fraidycats. The circle behind its head is not a poison gland but rather a breathing hole. And the red bits at the bottom are a "foot fringe", the explanation of which I cannot find but also sort of don't want to.
Deven: "If I had to build a fortress in Austria, I would totally build it on this hill. Wait here, I'm going to scout out the premises."
This tree was hungry.
This really was the color of the water in Füssen (depending on the color calibration of your monitor)!! Isn't the aqua color totally bizarre? It wasn't even full of chlorine, it was just that hue.
On our epic hike from Füssen to Austria to Füssen to Königsschloss Neuschwanstein (castle), we stomped through many a meadow where we saw many a butterfly which reminded us of both Nabokov and W.G. Sebald. We reveled in our illusionary literary pretension and talked about the subtle symbolism of the butterfly, referencing Greek myths and German history. Around us, normal people rolled their eyes.
This is the view from the topic of an incredibly exhausting hill. It was loads more gorgeous in real life and did not include the pink sky, a result of a Photoshop filter. I suddenly understood why so many European painters depicted landscapes. How could you look out into this valley and not want to save it, preserve the view on canvas? Like pressing an enormous flower.
Finally, after hours of hiking many kilometers (Deven in enthusiasm, I in my hole-ridden, odor-emitting Keds), we reached Neuschwanstein, a castle built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He was eventually deposed because he drained the national budget building fantastic castles. We went inside and pretended to be princesses and castle defenders (I'll let you guess who was whom). Then, as I devoured an ice cream bar, Deven hiked some more to get this picture of... scaffolding. The castle may well be under constant construction. Even some of the postcards and puzzles featured a bit of scaffolding. Regardless, Beauty & the Beast, y'all!
Back in Munich, we followed directions from this website for a Jugendstil tour of the Schwabing quarter. Most unfortunately my camera's battery died right before the good part, but here's an example of a typical Schwabing building. Check out the turquoise balconies! On one of the streets we strolled down, we saw plaques commemmorating (I know I just used too many Ms but whatevs) the former living places of Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Rainer Maria Rilke. NEAT.
Last picture: this poster, advertising a band or maybe a party, reads "THE DEATH PANTS" in German. What a funny country.
Conclusion: Munich the city wasn't that great, IMHO. However, Deven's idea to hike from Füssen to the castle was inspired! It was one of the best times I've had this whole semester, poisonous slugs and all. Deven, if you're reading this, you're great. I'm glad we flirted our way through a month of French study sessions freshman year. Let's stay together, yeah? Yeah, yeah! (Bonus points to whomever can name that song/movie[s]!)