Sunday, 12 June 2011

Munich, Germany

Interesting introduction to Munich, arriving at 7pm to find our first night’s hotel booking had gone awry and the town was full to overflowing with 75,000 visitors to the Intersolar Exhibition. Complicated somewhat by leaving our booking confirmation in the information centre while we were looking for the hotel. When we went back for it, the next customer had taken it with them. The backup copy was meant to be on the website, but there was no sign of it. The nearest available accommodation was 125km away for a 200 Euro taxi ride and their phone was not working.

So we resigned ourselves to exploring the nightlife of Munich and raging all night. That included dinner at 10.30 while watching a local soccer match, a fruitless search for the cinema, a stiff drink in a nice hookah café at 1am and 3 hours of fun playing the roulette machine at an all night casino for a total investment of 10 Euros – with free coffees. We started with a winning streak turning our 10 euro investment into a 50 euro win which we spent the rest of the night losing on all the other pokie machine games on offer before returning to roulette to win our original stake back. Considering I have never understood pokies in English let alone in German we did very well.

The Exhibition was huge, with 15 halls about the size of the Adelaide convention centre and 2200 exhibitors. The larger ones had full bars and had built mezzanine floors with offices to do business in a relaxed way. At the close of the day, some hosted rock bands for the chosen to party on.

Anna survived two halls before retiring to the coffee shop as her foot had had enough from being up all night. We took the afternoon sleeping before tackling the local Bierhaus and some Bavarian food. For some reason pork does not sound quite so appetising when it is called schweinfleish, but we had a great meal – and then slept for 12 hours.

Next day Anna tackled the 3 Pinketheke –art galleries – the  Alte /old, the neue/new,  including Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and the new modern, which includes galleries on design and architecture and is housed in an impressive vast building, while Sandy took on some more of the exhibition, looking at the latest solar technology. Some highlights were the off-grid and rural electrification companies, the combined solar PV and solar water heating modules, plastic film flexible solar modules, high temperature hot water panels to run chillers for cooling. He also talked to the various PV module testing and certification companies.

We found another Bierhaus for dinner which was enormous, and staffed by old gentlemen carrying heavy trays of beer steins on their shoulders. Anna claims never to have seen Sandy drink so much beer. Honest, it was only one, but it was large. We are still puzzling over the hotel bed, which was two singles put together, and fitted with individual bedding. When we asked for a double sheet the staff rolled their eyes and said it was not possible. Oh well!

The next day Anna took off to the Alps to visit King Ludwig II’s fairytale castle Neuschswanstein – the castle Disney based his Sleeping Beauty castle on, set on top of a relatively small mountain at the foot of the alps across the valley from the Royal summer castle. Unfortunately the Alps were shrouded in cloud all day but the foothills were very impressive as was the beautiful castle, although it is only a third finished inside as work halted after the King’s untimely death in mysterious circumstances and it became a museum just 6 weeks later. It is a tribute to visionary artistic expression without regard to constraints like budgets.

After 2 excellent German dinners we went in search of different fare and found that a Chinese menu in German held no appeal, while the Italian menu sounded delicious and so we enjoyed the best meal of many good meals so far in Ein italienisches restaurant – which also solved for Anna the mystery of why the German language course teaches travellers to ask for an Italian restaurant in Germany.

And so we are travelling today to Hanover on the ICE train past many large solar power systems in fields and on the steep roofs of houses barns and businesses – an interesting juxtaposition to the huge stacks of firewood alongside – a mix of old and new technologies.  

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