1) back at the start of October, it was buh-bye Vancouver as I flew Air Canada on route to Istanbul and Munich
48,499 kilometers of flightime logged (for reference, the circumference of the earth is just over 40,000km)…
4 continents visited…
7 countries explored…
1 month travelling…
(I’m tired just recounting it)
The routing and stops along the way: Vancouver-Toronto-Copenhagen-Hamburg (courtesy of Air Canada and me missing my flight to Istanbul!)-Istanbul-Munich-Istanbul-Neveshir-Istanbul-Amman-Aqaba-Istanbul-Cairo-Dubai-Nairobi-Olseki-Nairobi-Dubai-Singapore-Taipei-Vancouver.
… yes, we became very familiar with Istanbul!
2) me SO loves the business class Air Canada pods … makes long haul flights, with these long legs, bearable
6) on route from Hamburg to Istanbul, I’m flying Turkish Airlines business class … which is very nice with pretty damn fine meals rolled out in a classic style
My flight landed in Copenhagen late, and, as fate had it, pulls into the gate right beside my connecting Turkish Airlines plane … which is already backed out and getting the go-ahead to depart. Grrrrr. But, must say, the ground crew at CPE do a superb job and I’m – running (why is it always the furthest possible gate in these situations?) – to catch a Lufthansa flight to Hamburg to make a connection to Istanbul, which is successful. After an overnight at the Radisson Blu right at Ataturk Airport, I’m flying again – courtesy Lufthansa to Munich.
After the shock and awe of negotiating Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, arriving at Munich’s oh-so-modern Franz-Josef Strauß International Airport is a study in contrasts indeed. Since I am in Munich to speak at a conference, the organizers have kindly arranged a car to whisk me downtown for a 4-night stay at Eurostars Grand Central Hotel right on Arnulfstraße in central Munich, with a basket of freshly picked crab apples to boot. And thereupon over the next few days I speak, and I meet and mingle, and I tour about, and I enjoy a spectacular farewell banquet hosted by the Mayor of Munich right in the ancient Rathaus, complete with umpapa band that, because its right in the heart of Munich, draws legions of tourists who become a gauntlet to wade through in order to actually enter the building and get oneself some champagne. All good fun mind you, in so much as Germans can have fun.
But, I must digress here, as folks living in and around Munich actually do not see themselves as Germans; they are Bavarians first and foremost with a religion (staunchly Catholic) and outlook to life (rooted deeply in all things cultural) that is the polar opposite of the cold ‘Germans’ (Protestant and dour) further north.
While in the Munich area, I toured King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s testament to idealism, Neuschwanstein. Constructed between 1869 and 1882 near the village of Hohenschwangau near Fussen, southwest of Munich, Neuschwanstein was intended to be a personal refuge for Ludwig and a homage to composer, Richard Wagner whom Ludwig welcomed back to the court. Only 15 of the nearly 200 palace rooms were ever completed, all of which ooze endless references to Wagner’s operas. Ludwig lived on site for about 170 days before being deposed. Ludwig was certainly eccentric and probably gay, but whether he was ‘mad’ remains debatable (he was deposed in 1886 and died under suspicious circumstances; reputably suicide by drowning though he was an expert swimmer). Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Bavarians today revere Ludwig and to them, he is known as the Swan King or Märchenkönig, the Fairy tale King.
After visiting Neuschwanstein, I also ventured to Oberammergau, which is world renown as the location of the Passion Play, held every 10 years since 1634. The bubonic plague was ravaging Europe at the time and the citizens of Oberammergau believed that if God spared them, they would commit to performing a play depicting the life and death of Jesus forevermore. From 1632 to 1633, the rate of plague in the town fell from 20 a month to one a month and voila, the Passion Play was born. What makes the performance unique is that only registered citizens of Oberammergau are permitted as actors. Outside of their once-a-decade acting duties, these townsfolk are farmers, craftsman and shopowners catering to the tourism aspects of the Play. Amazing isn’t it?! The next Passion Play is schedule to occur in 2020; start saving your pfennigs.
29) I lunched at Gasthof Zur Rose which had great food (and beer) but thoroughly indifferent service
38) I also stopped into Benediktinerabtei Ettal, the Benedictine Abbey of Ettal, now famous for the 50 or so monks who spend their days making beer
40) the boarding school which used to operate here was closed in 2010 as, it’s alleged the monks were physically and sexually abusing their charges …. naughty monks! …. the case before the German courts continues