Marvelous, Madcap Munich: Words and Pictures

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Where to start with an account of our recent trip to Germany’s third-largest city?

First, words about Munich, the Bavarian capital and gateway to the Alps.  Here are some random thoughts jotted down in my journal.

Outside the Munich visitors center in the heart of Altstadt.

Overall Impressions:  Munich is a thoroughly modern metropolis with much of its centuries-old architecture and history intact. It’s a multicultural place, also very orderly and remarkably clean, especially given the throngs of people strolling its streets and plazas. Church towers, especially the twin domed spires of the Frauenkirche, dominate the skyline rather than modern office buildings. Quiet places, like small, well-maintained parks, were easy to find.  People were respectful — most didn’t even jaywalk! While in Munich, this Chicago guy knew he was in a much, much different place.

Beverage and Food:  Yes, there is beer available everywhere — in the famous bier gartens, in restaurants, in the outstanding Viktualienmarkt outdoor market and in the Hauptbahnhof train station. The beer tastes really good; but we also sampled wines from Germany and nearby Italy, and many venues featured gin-focused cocktails. And, we certainly dined on sausages and kraut, and enjoyed snacks of big pretzels.  All were delicious, but some of our best meals were had in Italian restaurants or outdoor venues. A highlight: Braised beef with fresh vegetables, whitefish and sausages with goat cheese at an outdoor wine festival in the Odeonsplatz.  We also favored soups from a vendor in the Viktualienmarkt.

Transportation: As a transportation guy, I found Munich’s public transit network of UBahn, SBahn, trams and buses exceptionally clean, safe, whisper-quiet, fast and reliable, although navigating the system required thought and patience.  Munich transit operates on the honor system: There are no turnstiles at the subway stations, and tram and bus operators don’t ask for a pass or ticket. (Better buy one, as it’s a 60 Euro fine if you’re caught.)  We traveled using a day pass that cost 12.8 Euros for the day — for both of us.  And, then there’s bikes; Munichers take their biking seriously and travel on bike lanes installed between the sidewalk and street.  Most ride well-equipped cycles with fenders, lights, racks and bells. I did not see a hipster-favored fixie while in Munich.  Motorized vehicles leaned sharply (as you’d expect) toward German manufactured-cars and trucks, especially BMWs.

The Outdoor Spaces:  As noted, there are plenty of green spaces between the 18th and 19th century plazas within most neighborhoods of Munich. But two stand out for their size and prominence. One day, we took the the UBahn to the Olympia Park, site of the 1972 Summer Games.  We visited the impeccably-maintained grounds, with its iconic space needle-like tower, on a flawless Sunday afternoon while a carnival was underway. From an outdoor bar near the site’s lake, we enjoyed our drinks while people boated or piloted paddle boards along the shoreline. At the nearby BMW Museum, we fantasized over gleaming sedans and sports cars. Getting back on the UBahn, we made our way to the Englische Garten — Munich’s large urban park. This is an example of an urban oasis that works:  Harmony of man and nature, with walking and biking paths, a river with waterfalls, vast open spaces, stands of trees and — you guessed it — a beer garden!  On our visit, we were serenaded by a traditional German band while enjoying our beverages.  Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of our Sunday in the park: Everyone was respectful, everyone was courteous.

The Day Trips: As much as we enjoyed Munich and its environs, we ventured on three day trips, using the Deutsche Bahn regional train system; like the local service in Munich, these trains were an outstanding value, comfortable and set-your-watch-on-time reliable. Our first excursion took us to Nuremburg, a walled medieval city around a two-hour ride north.  En route, we enjoyed vistas of farms and small towns. Upon arrival, we strolled through a gate and were enthralled by the charm of this city, bombed heavily during World War II, but remarkably restored. Susan was fascinated by the small shops, including one operated by a toy maker. Another day, we ventured east to Saltzburg, home of Mozart and flanked by the Alps, a river and lots of natural beauty. This Baroque gem in nearby Austria is defined by music, as one would expect. Unfortunately, we missed a classical performance, but enjoyed modern interpretations of songs by the Foo Fighters and Tom Petty at an outdoor festival. The views from the 900-year-old Hohensaltzburg Fortress  were truly breathtaking.  And, less than an hour away lies Augsburg, an historic smaller city that was founded by the Romans.  Augsburg was surprisingly cool and compact, with buses and trams that led us to the Fuggerei, the oldest housing settlement for the poor, the home of Mozart’s father and the most spectacular church I’ve ever entered — the Cathedral of St. Mary.

I could go on, but I encourage you to visit marvelous, madcap Munich. I’m sure you’ll cultivate memories that will endear long after you return home.

And, now, some pictures.  I’ve just selected a dozen. But visit my Facebook page to view more.

The Marienplatz blended people, history, modern retail, street music, and more — but no cars.

The Theatine Church on the Odeonplatz, one of many houses of worship within Munich.

While we failed to take in a classical performance, we enjoyed the musical stylings of street performers.

The freeway near the Olympic Park did not at all resemble the highways I’m used to driving.

The twin towers of the Frauenkirche are visible from many points throughout Munich. For us, they served as a point of reference.

Ah, if I only had access to a kitchen. Produce available at the Viktualienmarkt.

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music.” The view of Saltzburg from the Fortress.

The grand garden of the Nymphenburg Palace, the summer get-away for the Bavarian royalty. Not too shabby for a summer place.

A tranquil view of the river in Nuremburg. Hard to believe much of this city was destroyed; glad it was rebuilt.

Preparing to board a UBahn, or perhaps and SBahn.

Revelers at a street fair in the Sedlinger Tor neighborhood of Munich.

Prelude to our final meal in Munich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Question Posed in a Song Written a Long Time Ago

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

For decades, music has been a big part of my life.

I’ve played guitar and sung (arguably with relative competence) for some 50 years, at home, with the band Love House and during music classes.

For more than a dozen years, I contributed articles and reviews to music-based publications, most notably the Illinois Entertainer.

And, I’ve composed my own music.

Starting in the 1980s, I’ve written lots of rock, pop and blues songs, some 70 that I still have lyrics to and can remember the melody line.

The lyrics to the song within this post is especially poignant today.

Yes, I still love rock and roll and all that goes with it — the freedom, the expression, the emotions. But over the years, my personal musical pallet has embraced bluegrass, Western swing, jazz and even classical.  (Still can’t grasp opera, but can appreciate the work and talent involved.)

“Will I Still Be Rockin’ at 63” was written in 1985 or thereabouts.  I probably recorded this composition with my now-gone but well-used Tascam Portastudio, a marvel in audio engineering at the time, as it allowed unschooled enthusiasts like me a platform to record voice, guitar, drums and keyboards on a multiple track cassette tape machine, then mix the sounds to two-track.

In those days, arranging and recording songs in my apartment on Chicago’s northwest side, I felt akin to Todd Rundgren. It was just me, my instruments and gear, and my music.

Back in day, I first scribbled the lyrics to a song on a yellow legal pad or sheet of paper, then typed out the final version on my then trusty Smith Corona manual. These days, I still initially scribble lyrics to songs on paper. For some reason, I kept both the original handwritten and printed versions of this song.

 

Copyright, Edward M. Bury, August 2018.

As for the melody to this composition, perhaps I’ll record it the modern way — digitally of course — and post on my YouTube channel.

As for the question posed in the song, I guess I have 364 more days to determine the answer.

Time Unplugged: Perhaps the Best Part of Summer 2018 Vacation

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

It’s the third week of August of 2018, and this is the first post of the PRDude blog.

Wonder why?

Striking a somewhat pensive pose before boarding Lufthansa flight 434 to ORD.

Well, from the attached image showing a pending flight from a foreign nation — and my somewhat disheveled and unshaven appearance — perhaps you ascertain that I have a solid reason for not contributing thoughts on public relations and other stuff: I’ve been away from Chicago.

Munich, the capital of Bavaria and a truly fascinating German city, has been my abbreviated home the past several days.

As you can expect, I’ll contribute a few “travelogue” posts on our vacation to this historic city, known for its culture, architecture, museums, parks and public spaces, food and — you guessed it — beer gardens, or more precisely biergartens.  (Yes, we visited a few.)  Along with our time in Munich, Susan and I boarded the local trains for day trips to Nuremburg, Saltzburg and Augsburg, fascinating destinations of their own.

But along with the sights, people, places and atmosphere, all enjoyable, enlightening and full of personal enrichment, one of the best aspects of our Summer of 2018 trip was this: I basically unplugged from digital communications.

Well, I sent a few emails from the hotel computer and kept up on how my Chicago Cubs were faring in this pivotal month of the 2018 Major League Baseball season.  But I stayed off of work email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. (Just realized that I really don’t use Instagram much anyway.)

My handheld spent its time in the hotel safe, and it still worked when we got back to Chicago last night.

For more than a week, I was able to experience marvelous Munich and its surroundings untethered to technology, free from the now incessant and seemingly unrelenting bombardment of instantaneous news, information and stimuli, now part of the world as we know it.

While many around me snapped selfies with centuries-old structures in the background, I just soaked in the charm of Munich. I not only plan to follow this unplugged vacation regimen during the next pleasure trip out of town, and hopefully on many, many days in between.