Tuesday, July 10, 2007

DE - Munich, Dachau

I toured Dachau and must say that this is certainly a highly-touristed destination, with my well-coordinated train and bus comprising of English speakers and the staff at hand trying English first, before German, with each person in queue. This time the rail and bus were a cinch to use and I had minimal layover of just a few minutes at each mode transition. Bravo, München, and yay day pass (München XXL – valid for everything I needed that day: tram, rail, and bus).

My tour guide and several people I spoke to prior all indicated that, sans travel time to and fro, I’d likely spend 2 to 3 hours at KZ Dachau, a former concentration camp (as opposed to a current concentration camp). However, arriving at 12:30, it was 17:15 before I knew it and I was still in the museum (pretty much the first place I went after passing through the gate). Not only that, but I was only halfway through the museum. The museum was absolutely captivating and the audio guide was well worth the three Euro. The tours are too quick for a subject as intense as this. The only catch with the audio guide is that you have to provide an ID for collateral. The facility closes at 17:00… and it was 17:00 when I was ushered out of the museum. Add another fifteen minutes of high-speed touring of the outside (I didn’t realise at the time that the entry building where the audio guide came from closed at 17:00) and you have an amazing bout of fortune that there was still an attendant within the locked building to return my ID.

I missed the crematorium and only had a passing glimpse of the rest of the facility. I will definitely need to return – it was very powerful. Auschwitz shall also be a must-see destination. For most, 2-3 hours should be plenty; but if you’re a WWII guru: show up very very early and perhaps consider spending the night in the town.

One note is that I was disgusted with the rudeness exhibited by the German-speaking school students. The American students may have been rather apathetic and visibly bored; but the Germans were outright disrespectful. I just wanted to grab one (or two since each individual was so thoroughly interconnected with another) and scream: “YOU STARTED THE WAR, SO PAY SOME ATTENTION!” I’d likely have inserted some more colorful words into that phrase, and people know how often I do that… I’m not exactly Mr. Angry, so that means I really mean it.

Therefore it is probably a good thing that I did not know the German translation of that phrase. That was the only thing holding me back, even though they all probably understood English better than native English speakers. I just didn’t want to risk a kid going “Was?”, me thinking (or rightly assuming) that the teen is being a smart-ass, and subsequently smacking him upside the head. Granted, it would have made a good story to have been kicked out of a concentration camp.

So at about 17:20 I arrive at the bus stop with the final mass of exiting tourists. About ten minutes later the bus arrives and we fill it right up – leaving several behind because people refuse to fill in the aisles between the doors. Now because I lost track of time at KZ Dachau, I am now in a rush to get to Olympiastadion for the Genesis concert – the whole reason I opted to tour about central Europe in the first place. They couldn’t mail my ticket to the USA, so I have to pick it up at the ticket office, open from 18:00 to 19:00. Genius me, I thought Dachau would take only 2-3 hours and so I left my ticket reservation info in my hotel room for retrieval later, before the concert. Why I opted not to carry a small piece of paper with me, I do not know… at that moment I was not particularly pleased with my thought process.

It’s 17:55 when I arrive at Dachau Hauptbahnhof. As the bus pulls into the terminal, I spot my train just pulling away. Ahh, good, I find it’s running on 10 minute headways instead of the usual 20. Don’t ask or wonder why; just accept it. I’m starved and consider my options, considering my rush. Suddenly the McDonald’s on the next platform over beckons. I hustle over and gauge the queue (all people from my inbound bus) to be more than the remaining 8 minutes (I was right, too); and also, I really did not want to succumb to McDonald’s whilst in Europe.

I skip chow, board the next train, and arrive into München Hauptbahnhof at about 18:20. Speedy walk south to my room & get my map and ticket info at 18:30. Speedy walk east to Sendlinger Tor to catch the U3 – I arrive at Sendlinger Tor at 18:35. I arrive at Olympiazentrum at 18:50 … ten minutes to get to the stadium and then locate a ticket office. Fortunately, a massive and endless stream of people leads the way, but slow walkers and stationary scalpers slow its movement. As I move, visions of the Capital Beltway floated through my head: the assorted slow vehicles amidst the endless stream of heavy traffic, with the assorted disabled vehicle here and there. I skirt the side and fly on by, approaching the stadium at 19:00 sharp. I find the ticket counter at 19:05 with one older lady still staffing a window. Five minutes later, I have my ticket and am inside – just as it begins to pour. Hooray for being in a roofed section!

Now it’s chow time. A huge bratwurst (very tasty), a huge bretzel (rather dull and dry), and a good-sized Coke in a souvenir cup all for € 5.70 – of which the drink was more than half of it. That’s cheaper than what you’ll regularly find anywhere near the historic sections of the main cities!

My seat was good: not close, but certainly not far; and more importantly – since I left my umbrella in my room (it was sunny at the time and it would have slowed my walking): sheltered and dry. The rain became pretty intense before the show, but ceased about ten minutes prior and lit a brilliant double-rainbow, the primary rainbow forming a complete arc across the sky, framing the tall Olympiaturm. The rainbows disappeared about two minutes before showtime and it was clear and comfy ever after.

And what a show it was! To put it simply: I could die this night and be at peace. The remaining three shows of mine will be a lovely bonus, but I suppose my next goal is now to see the band complete with Peter Gabriel and Steven Hackett also joining in – perhaps even Ray Wilson, for the literal completion of Genesis. I liked the camera style with Collins’ face in “Mama”, harking back to the style employed two decades ago.

My only resentment is to München for not demanding an encore. I had dearly hoped for “Cul-de-Sac” (often picked as the best song never released as a single), maybe “Me and Sarah Jane”, and a finale of “Supper’s Ready” – seeing as they did touch on some Gabriel-era songs and that last song is what jumpstarted the band’s career in the first place. However, of the, I believe, 3 Gabriel-era songs performed, only “Carpet Crawlers” (the last song played) attained considerable fanfare. The other two just seemed to confuse the audience, which was clearly there for the Collins-era pop songs rather than Gabriel’s more experimental designs.

Now I’m a massive fan of Phil Collins: individually, he is my favorite artist; but I can not disregard the Gabriel era. It was “Invisible Touch” which really got the crowd to their feet, jumping and singing along. It is that song, however, which is perhaps my least favorite of all Genesis songs solely because it is so pop-ish. It was as if the crowd didn’t even know there was a Genesis prior to Collins taking on the lead vocals.

I suspect this sentiment will likely be a recurring theme, so I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up for “Supper’s Ready”, though I am going to hold on to hoping for “Cul-de-Sac”. Something about its mention of ruling the world really strikes a chord with me, though I must say that “Supper’s Ready” is great for its spiritually apocalyptic themes. …Ooo or “Can-Utility and the Coastliners”: that’d be sweet. Norse history is pretty nifty (and it oddly syncs up with Atlantean mythology). Or perhaps something more from Trespass, as they snuck in the final chords of “Stagnation”; but I would have loved to hear more. Ahh, if only Gabriel tagged along, even though Collins can do Gabriel’s voice perfectly.

Still, a wonderful show which was packed; and Genesis’ limited edition 2-disc re-release of the Turn It On Again greatest hits album (tour edition) is in the top 10 of the worldwide album charts. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only fan out there, even if everyone else only likes the Collins era. What a great day.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
    The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.