Timeline: September 18th – 19th
We packed up camp that Thursday morning and drove back up through Munich, pretty much following the path we took to get to Thalkirchen and then crossed the Isar and found our way to the Sheraton Arabellapark. Kim and Marty had already checked in and he met us down in the lobby to assist with ours. We were fortunate that the property had a secure outdoor lot immediately adjacent, so we could leave the bikes locked on the car and not have to worry about storing them in our room or with the hotel.
Marty’s points level with Sheraton brought us very nice rooms that included a balcony with a commanding view of Munich and we all relaxed a bit before heading for our day trip to Dachau, sharing the first of what would be many bottles of Augustiner. We’d been trying to plan activities for the two days prior to the arrival of Jessica, Kris, and their friend John Greely Friday night that would include some outdoor activity, so weather was a critical consideration. Luck came our way in that the rain forecast for those days would be postponed until the weekend.
Accessing Dachau is not hard; we rode the U4 from Arabellapark (we’d use this line later to head to Oktoberfest) to the main train station (Hauptbahnhoff) and then took the S2 line for about 20 minutes out to the town itself. A brief bus ride landed us at the entrance to the camp, now a memorial. Joanna and I had visited here in 1984 and would find that much like our experience in Normandy, the intervening years had brought a more extensive display of information, one that requires a bit of time to ingest.
Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany and it was intended to hold political prisoners. In later years it was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany invaded.
We’d come to learn during our travels that the bulk of the extermination carried out by the Germans was performed at special camps in Poland, primarily Auschwitz where some 1.1 million prisoners died, approximately 90 percent of them Jewish with 1 in 6 Jews killed during the Holocaust dying at that camp.
As mentioned in an earlier post from Normandy, the exhibits at Dachau are extensive, chronicling the rise of the Nazi party, their treatment of Jews and the history of the camp itself. Ovens were constructed here, but used infrequently as most extermination took place at other camps. It’s a sobering visit and not necessarily one someone should partake of if it is their first trip to Germany, or if they’ve just gotten off a plane.
Fortunately Kim and Marty are resilient travelers and have been to Munich before (Marty’s business has a distributor there) and after a long afternoon on site, we returned to the Hauptbahnhof where we grabbed some dinner at the food court there. Nothing fancy, just camp food at the station, so to speak.
Before Kim and Marty retired early to recover from their long flight and tiring afternoon, we made plans for them to rent bikes the next day for a day out on the bike paths. We met in the lobby the next morning and the four of us walked over to the Arabellapark U station, Joanna and I bringing our bikes along. We disembarked again at Marienplatz, enjoyed a snack at Woerner’s, and then walked the few blocks over to Mike’s, which is located behind the Hofbrauhaus. Taking care of the rental was simple enough and we mounted up and pedaled a few blocks east to the Isar River bike path Joanna and I had used a few days earlier.
Like the day before, the weather was breathtakingly gorgeous with clear blue skies, traces of clouds, warm but not to hot temperature, another great day to be out on the bikes. We retraced our path up to the Arena with one detour; missing a turn I got us onto a narrow wooded path that ran along a small swiftly running stream. Shady under the trees it was difficult to clearly see the path ahead and at one section, Kim cleared a tree root running perpendicular to the middle, but I didn’t, with the result that my front wheel when out from under me and I crashed, at least at slow speed, into the underbrush next to me.
No real damage done we resumed the ride, made it off the path, found the Arena and then turned around to make our way to our reward, a mid ride stop at the Mini-Hofbrauhaus in the Englischer Garden. We parked the bikes and sat down at a long table, placing an order for a couple of wurst, a pretzle, and French Fries, all delicious and hard earned. Marty is a gregarious individual, making conversation and friends wherever he goes and he completely charmed the young woman who bussed our table.
It was one of those moments we won’t soon forget. The warm sun, a bike ride nearly completed, cold beers and good food to accompany a shared encounter, now a shared memory. We were all looking forward to our rendezvous with the kids a little later that day, Joanna and I quite excited, as it had been many months since our last meeting with them. It was a good day and it would get even better.
Sheraton Arabellapark: http://www.sheratonarabellapark.com/
Mike’s Bike Tours: http://www.mikesbiketours.com/munich/
Mini Hofbrauhaus: http://www.minihofbraeuhaus.de/minihb2/