Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

Impressions of Munich

People from Munich take Michael Jackson very serious.  How seriously?

 

It doesn’t matter if they're in a hurry or out for a Sunday stroll; folks in Munich will not cross the road until the light indicates “walk.”  A person who is mugged across the street from a crowd of waiting pedestrians is out of luck. 

For those who find stairs difficult, escalators are available.  Working escalators, however, are optional. (I've been informed since I wrote this that they start when you approach them - a green energy thing.  How embarrassing!)

When in a crowded restaurant, the word for pretzel, breze, can be mistaken for espresso.  My first ever.  It helped to counterbalance the four beers I’d had by that point.

You think that just because you were born on God’s Green Earth that you deserve water with your meal?  For free?

Museums can actually be cheap and well-attended – even the obscure ones.  Most cost about $8 to $10.  Compare that with the Shedd Aquarium.

Bike helmets are for sissies.  So, apparently, is head trauma.

The love affair with 80s music isn’t limited to Michael Jackson.  It was pumped 24/7 in our hotel lobby, and I saw signs - real ones - for a Toto concert!  

Mass transit really CAN work well in a city.  Munich’s transportation system makes New York’s look like a Thomas the Tank Engine toy set.  One fee per day for any subway, train, tram or bus you want to take.  And no turnstiles!  You ride on the honor system.  Could this work in the United States?  Hell, no!

Germans are tall.

It was comforting to know that none of the people I saw had anything to do with World War II.  I’m not sure that I would have been able to travel in Germany twenty years ago.

In Munich, Whitesnake is the headliner to Journey's opener.

You really can ride your bike as a viable alternative to cars when 1) there are legitimate bike lanes near the sidewalk – not squeezed onto the road as an afterthought; and 2) bike racks are plentiful.  Where I live, they keep pushing for more bikes, but you can’t find a bike rack to save your life, and it doesn’t really matter, because you’ll likely die before you get there.

How the heck do they shovel the cobblestone when it snows?  How?

Trains are on time.  Always.

In the Jewish Museum of Munich, various ritual items are displayed as if they were excavated from a cave of an ancient people from thousands of years ago and not a vibrant religion of today.  How sad.

So many expensive stores packed on a weekday afternoon in April.  Where do all the people come from?  What do they do for a living?

Walking up the steps of St. Peter’s Church has physical ramifications that last for days.

Also in the Jewish Museum, a timeline of Jews in Munich is presented, showing key years in the 800 years Jews have lived there.  About every hundred years it reads something like, “expelled” or “denied occupations other than moneylending” or “pogrom” or “murdered.”  On and on until the mass murder of the 1940s.  And now a majority of Jews living in Munich come from eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union, and I think, “800 years of persecution wasn’t enough of a reason for you to consider living elsewhere?”

Beer with lunch isn't just accepted, it's encouraged.  Ah, now I get why displaced Jews came here. Mystery solved.

Copyright, 2015, Paul Heinz, All Right Reserved