Our six night stay in Munich was set in motion by our now very close friends Sigi and Paul who we first met in June of 2018 through an email connection initiated by our Boston neighbor Peggy Scott. We have gotten together many times since then both at their lovely home in Richmond UK and at our homes in London, Seville and Madrid. Subsequent to meeting Sigi and Paul we met two other mutual friends, again through Peggy, Judith and Anthony Howick. We had a wonderful dinner at their home in London in August of 2019. The four of them were going to the Passion Play in Oberammergau on July 31 of 2022 and invited us to join them which of course we accepted immediately. So here we are, all meeting up in Munich the end of July. We left Porto Portugal on July 26 and met up with the four of them for a group adventure.
First glimpse of the Bavarian Alps
Our first evening was dinner together with two additional friends from the UK, Andrew and Darryl. After dinner we all attended a piano duet concert at a music venue in Munich.
Lucas & Arthur Jussen are a dutch piano duo. The brothers who have been performing in public since early childhood. At the ages of 10 and 13 in 2006 they played Mozart’s Piano Concerto #10 with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra.” Under their hands, the two pianos form one flowing instrument” (De Volkskrant). It was one of the most amazing musical performances we have ever heard. Below is a video of the applause. Germans audiences love encores and this duo came out for several.
Picture from Wikipedia.
We stayed at this hotel in Munich which was conveniently located near the Metro for getting around Munich.
Masks are required on public transport as Anthony demonstrates.
Saint John Nepomuk is a magnificent baroque church built in 1733 and designed by two German brothers as their private church.
The town hall in Marienplatz which is the central square of Munich.
St Peter’s Church is the oldest recorded Catholic parish church in Munich.
The bejeweled skeleton of St Munditia, the matron saint of spinsters is housed in a glass ossuary. A most unusual relic.
Video of the Glockenspiel. Rather underwhelming.
We waited to watch the Glockenspiel performance. This 1908 clock chimes its 43 bells every day and consists of 32 life size figures which enacts two stories over a 15 min period that ends with a small golden rooster quietly chirping three times. See shortened version of the video above.
We rented a van to accommodate all of us to travel to Bregenz to see the performance of Madama Butterfly. This lakeside Austrian city is famous for its annual Bregenz summer festival, a major event, with opera and musical performances.
The Bregenz Festival House is one of the largest theater stages in Europe with an 11,735 seating capacity.
The floating stage for the opera is in Lake Constance.
It looks very strange but it is a very professional stage.
We arrived several hours early to enjoy the lovely lakeside town.
Sigi and his aunt Gertrud made all the arrangements for our five days in Munich which was so delightful. Here is the restaurant we will have dinner at prior to the Opera.
Sigi, Paul and Sandy spent about an hour roaming around the town. Others enjoyed sitting at a cafe or perusing the shops.
We spotted this blimp in the sky during our walk.
Beautiful well maintained Bavarian buildings, houses and gardens.
Sunset on the lake heading to the Opera which began at 9pm after sunset. Click on video below to see the beginning of the performance.
Eerie figures all in white moving very slowly on the stage.
End of the Opera with all the performers on stage.
This was another amazing site for us and we loved the Opera and its very tragic and haunting tale. It was of course in German but we did research in advance so to understand the story. It was quite a spectacle to behold.
Like Madrid, Munich also has gender indiscriminate street crossing lights.
We went up in the Glockenspiel Tower for some birds eye views of Munich.
The cascading flower boxes adorn most of the buildings in Bavaria.
The Munich Cathedral. This Roman Catholic Church is referred to as “Frauenkirche” by locals.
No trip to Germany is complete without experiencing a Beer Garden. Sigi and his aunt Gertrud prepared a picnic lunch of traditional fare for us to enjoy with our liters of German beers. Seated on left in order is; Gertrud, Sigi, Paul, and Andrew. On the right front to back is Anthony, Judith, Jim and Darryll. This crew is a joy to travel with. We love our newly acquired Brit friends thanks to our dear Beacon Hill neighbor Peggy Scott who united us.
We had a free day to ourselves since we opted not to go on a grueling hike and sleep overnight in the mountains with our friends. So we took the tram to explore Odeonsplatz. Pictured above is the Theatine Church.
We took a self guided tour of The Munich Residence which served as the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian Dukes and Kings from 1508 to 1918.
This is the largest city palace in Germany which can take hours to explore its many rooms. After an hour we opted to take the shorter tour for Jim’s sanity.
Bedroom which was never used.
Ancestral Portrait Gallery.
Jim had had enough and went outside while Sandy continued on to see The Treasury which she enjoyed more than the palace.
Exquisite etched crystal pieces.
Lapis lazulis platter. Of interest was information about this stone which is mined in Afghanistan and in ancient times it was pulverized into a powder and medicinally used to prevent gallstones, sleeplessness and melancholy.
Bavarian State Opera House is the largest opera house in Germany with over 2,000 seats. This is the third one which opened in 1963. The previous two were destroyed first by a fire and then again during WW2 bombs. Tours were limited so we were unable to take one this day.
Inside of the Theatine Church built in 1663-1690. It is now administered by the Dominican Friars
Old Residence Palace theater. Very plush and elegant.
After exploring Odeonsplatz we took the U Bahn (a rapid electric rail system) to the Olympiapark site of the historic 1972 Summer Olympic Village in Munich .
The Olympic Swimming pool is open for Public use.
Unlike other Olympic Parks around the world that are never used again this one is still actively used for a number of sporting events.
This floating and transparent roof is the most extraordinary part of the stadium. There is an option to climb this roof but the stadium itself was closed the day we visited as they were preparing it for the upcoming multi sport European Championships.
This is the Olympic Village Memorial. Tragedy struck the 1972 Olympics in Munich when eight Palestinian terrorists invaded the village and killed two members of the Israeli team. Nine other athletes were held hostage as the terrorists bargained for the release of 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israel. Germany was unsuccessful in rescuing the athletes and Israel refused the Palestinians demands so the athletes were executed and a west German policeman was killed in the crossfire. Three of the eight Black September Arab militants survived and were released weeks later from custody by the West German government in exchange for the crew of a highjacked Lufthansa jet. The most amazing thing about all this was the Olympic committee decided after a 24 hour suspension of the games and a memorial service for the slain athletes that the games would go on as they felt that is what the slain Israeli athletes would have wanted for their fellow Olympians. As a result of this decision swimmer Mark Spitz won seven gold medals and gymnast Olga Korbut won two gold medals. On a side note our friend Judith who we are with in Munich now was at this 1972 Olympics as her brother David Hemery was competing in the hurdles and won a bronze medal.
Read the story above of this brave Olympic wrestler who sacrificed his life allowing just enough time for his roommate to escape over the balcony of their room.
Athletes housing in the Olympic Village. The male housing section is now a residential complex and the female one serves as student housing. A total of 6,000 people now live there.
Nothing marks the entrance to where the Israeli athletes were captured and killed at bungalo #33-31 pictured here. In 1972 Golda Meir hired a group of Mossad agents to track down and kill the remaining Arab Black September assassins. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this tragedy.
We strolled through a lovely Victorian Park on our way to the White Rose Museum.
University where the White Rose Museum is. Sophie Wallin-Steen our Swedish daughter in law told us about this Museum so we researched it and decided to go.
Above is a brief explanation of The White Rose Museum so called because the symbol of a white rose was intended to represent purity and innocence in the face of evil which is an apt description of these young, brave, determined students.
The White Rose Museum is a memorial to those resistance group students who in 1943 risked their lives in a fight against tyranny and stood defiant as they payed the ultimate price. Above is the balcony where brother Hans and sister Sophie threw down their sixth anti Nazi leaflets. They were arrested after a staunch Nazi supporter student saw them and reported it to the Gestapo. The seventh pamphlet was still in Han’s pocket when they were arrested and they caught him trying to rip it up.
These are the 6 other resistant students who were executed by beheading after Sophie and Hans.
Sophie was 21 and her brother Hans was 24 when they were beheaded by the gestapo.
A walkway outside the University depicting distributed Anti Nazi pamphlets.
On our last day in Munich we took the train to Oberammergau Germany for the highlight of our Munich stay, The 2022 Passion Play.
First sighting of our destination today.
This play has been performed every year from 1634 to 1680 and every 10 years since 1680 by the inhabitants of the town. Interesting is the fact that the only years it was suspended was 100 years ago for the Spanish flu and then again for the Covid Pandemic.
We attended an English speaking introduction by one of the directors as well as main actors in the production and we learned much intersting information about the play and how it has evolved over the years. For instance originally you had to be either a practicing Catholic or Jew in order to be in the play and you had to be at least a 20 year resident of the town. Today they accept all who want to participate despite their religious affiliation and length of time they lived in the town. The second director shown above is a Muslim and plays a major role as Caiphus. All the performers are mostly amateurs including the Choir.
Judith and Jim chatting outside the Performing Center.The Passion Play is performed every ten years because of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague they would perform a passion play every ten years. After this vow was made nobody in the village died.
Again we arrived early to explore this picturesque Bavarian village.
Sigi and Jim in Oberammergau Center where we killed time walking around before the play which lasts for 5 hours. There is a 3 hour break between the afternoon and evening performances to allow people to have a dining break. It was a very long but worthwhile day. We started out around 8am and returned to our hotel around 1am and left the next morning around 8am to fly to London.
Aside from the Passion Play the town is also famous for wood sculpture artists.
The Koftel ( 4,403 ft ) in the Bavarian alps is the signature mountain of the town only 1km away.
This scenic town has only 5,500 inhabitants and is situated on the Ammer River in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.
Many of the town building exteriors have motifs of the Passion play.
We cannot say enough about how we feel this event should be on your bucket list. Despite the fact that neither of us are actively practicing the religion that dominated both of our early years (Sandy, Catholicism and Jim Seventh Day Adventism) for us it was a combination of experiences that have befallen us in our later years of life ; starting with our Pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago followed by Semana Santa in Seville and now this Passion Play in Oberammergau. Our deeply religious parents would be proud. Perhaps we have inadvertently come full circle.
Next stop is still our Favorite city in all the World, London England.
We absolutely loved Munich, so much that we are thinking of returning here for a few months next summer.