After a quiet day parked beside a lake in the country surrounded by snow-capped mountains we headed for Munich.
Some parts of Europe are very easy to travel in in a motorhome. There are plenty of places to stay and they are in close proximity to the places you want to visit. The flip side of this is that some of the campsites are in places that you may not expect.
The campsite we stayed at in Munich is at the Allianz Arena, a huge soccer stadium and the home to FC Bayern (apparently a famous club). The arena is the only stadium in the world that can completely change colour; when we arrived it was red, so it certainly stood out. We were glad a little later in the night when they turned the colour off so everything was not glowing red.
Being parked at a major stadium means that it is close to public transport, so a little walk around the arena we got to the U (metro) station.
A quick trip and we were in the centre of Munich at the Marienplatz. Marienplatz is the location of Munich’s famous glockenspiel as well as its oldest Christmas market.
The Glockenspiel only goes off once a day so we were not sure if we would get there to see it as we had no idea how long it was going to take to walk to the metro, then when a train would come and then how long it would take to get into the city. We were happy to arrive just 5 minutes before it went off. As we had travelled in on the train we thought that if we had missed it we could come back the next day. We were really glad we got to see it when we did as we would have been a little disappointed if we had made a special trip to see it. The glockenspiel plays a tune on its 43 bells which lasts for about 15 minutes. While the bells play two sets of mechanical figures go to work. The top set enact the marriage of a local Duke, including a medieval joust, while the lower figures of barrel makers do a traditional dance.
Legoboy has been very patient during our trip as we have dragged him to countless palaces, castles, churches and other places that hold little interest for a boy his age. One of the major sites we had planned for Munich was the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest Science and Technology Museum with about 28,000 objects on display and Legoboy was pretty excited about going there. Once we had seen the glockenspiel we caught another U-Bahn train to the station for the Deutsches museum.
The outside of the museum does not look very interesting, but as we all know it is what is inside that counts and this museum has heaps inside. The plan was to pick a few different sections of the museum and check those out which we did. We visited the Aeronautics, Astronautics, Maritime, Aquanautics, Power Machines, Nanotechnology, Physics, Robotics, Astronomy, Electrical Power, and Kinderreich (Kids World)areas and I am sure that I have missed a few. We only had about 5 hours here, but I think we could have spent 5 days.
One of the highlights was the demonstration in the Electrical Power area where we got to see up to 1.2 million volts arced through various devices. We even got to see one of the staff get into a steel cage (a Faraday cage) and be hoisted off the ground while 50,000 volts passed through the cage. A guy standing next to us said they could have told us that they could do it but to see it is even better, I just wouldn’t like to be the guy on his first day in the job – “did we mention that you have to get in the little steel ball while we zap it”. The power of electricity is incredible and it was good to be able to see that in a safe way.
There were also heaps of hands on things to do as well as the kid’s area. Legoboy and the rest of us all enjoyed these and hopefully learnt something along the way. In the kids area was a giant guitar which Legoboy got inside while we strummed a tune.
For us adults the Nanotechnology area was fascinating. I know everyone knows this but Nanotechnology works with atoms and molecules that are measured in nanometres. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, so it is pretty small, for example a DNA double helix has a diameter of 2 nanometres. The most interesting and puzzling part of the exhibition for me was a quote I saw on one display which basically said that researchers are trying to use nanotech to build a nanostructure which is as complex as a living cell which to date they have done to a very limited degree. The part of the quote which baffles me came next where it said that what these scientists are struggling to make even the most basic version of happens in nature all by itself with no building master. I am no rocket scientist (or nano-researcher) but it doesn’t take too much imagination to think maybe if this is so complex that we struggle to put a few cells together let alone everything that is in the universe then maybe, just maybe there is a master builder. I think it is just sheer stubbornness and unwillingness to admit that they would be responsible to a master builder (God) that these people continue to believe that the incredibly complex universe we live in just happened. These people, of any of us on the planet, know just how complex every little bit of every little thing that is all around us and in us is so it must take a huge amount of “faith” to believe it just happened.
Another reason to stop in Munich was to visit the Christmas markets so we headed back to the Marienplatz and got started. In all of the travel photos the market is blanketed in snow, which of course is very romantic and beautiful – but not this year. The markets start in Marienplatz and then spread out into the surrounding streets and squares. It was interesting to see the different stalls and products. As we followed the markets we also got to wander past the Church of our Lady which has two onion domes spires (which were covered in scaffold) as well as St Michaels and St Peters. Unfortunately as we wandered it also started to rain which made things a little unpleasant but meant we sought shelter closer to the shops and got to check out some Christmas windows.
Once the markets were done we headed for home. Once we arrived at our train station the kids got into the soccer theme of the stadium we were staying at and found a bit of plastic which they kicked half of the way back to Max, taking their minds off the walk and the rain – it certainly made the walk more enjoyable than if it had been “are we there yet, my legs are killing me”.