Today’s a travel day, as we’re heading from Munich to Prague. Our bus from Munich didn’t leave until later in the afternoon, so we had the morning to explore some more. We settled on the Olympic park, but before we headed out we got into a conversation with our hotel’s owner, Mathias, who it turns out is a passionate collector of posters.
We had noticed the various posters in the hallways and in our room, and it turns out that they are all part of a collection of over 1500 posters — many of them rare and valuable. We did notice a poster about a Micheal Jackson/Pavarotti performance in the stairway, and some other pop and rock concert posters. Mathias knows all the back stories to every poster he owns, so he filled us in on a few.
The most interesting is a set of 15 posters who were commissioned by a Jewish businessman for the 1972 Olympics in Munich. After the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes, the posters were ordered destroyed by the businessman. In the early 2000’s, though, someone found a box of unknown content in the Bronx, which it turns out contained prints for each of the 15 designs. Mathias went and bought one copy of each of the designs. Due to their value, these posters are not on display, because he said there has been a problem with guests helping themselves to posters in the hotel. He has some other 1972 Olympic posters, though, one hanging over the doorway to the breakfast room.
In the breakfast room, he also has drawings of costume designs from the opera, some of which have textile samples with them. We had noticed the framed drawings during breakfasts, but never knew their significance. What a nice surprise to find all this cool stuff in the place we called home for a few days.
We left our luggage at the hotel and hopped on the U-Bahn to the Olympic park and took walk around the stadium. We tried to get in, but all entrances were locked, we were told, because Bruce Springsteen gave a concert the night before and they were tearing down the stage and cleaning out the stadium. Halfway around the stadium, however, there was an open gate in the fence through which they transported palettes and other bulky stuff, so we snuck into the stadium and looked around. The roadies already had most of the stage torn down.
We also took a detour through a flea market in a parking lot near the stadium before we kept walking to an artificial hill near the lake on in the park. I had been to flea markets in Germany before (as a kid), and I always viewed them as selling Schnick-Schnack, little trinkets that nobody really needed and that were in bad shape. Turns out at this one, people were actually shopping for clothing and other stuff. Maybe it’s because my home town had a population of 18,000 instead of over a million.
Continuing our hike, we noticed an artificial hill, which we couldn’t resist climbing. From the top, there were nice views of the area, including a view of the old town with the Alps as the backdrop.
I knew Germans were known as strong hikers, and now I saw why: As we were walking up the hill, we had a hard time keeping up with an elderly gentleman. I chalk that up to us looking around and him having his daily workout. Can’t really compare the two, can you?
Walking down the hill on the other side, we walked to the Olympic swimming hall and along the way stumbled on a temporary outdoor movie theater, which shows movies at night, and a Hollywood-light walk of fame, where famous people had left their hand prints in concrete. Unlike Hollywood, these were more folksy and less glamarous, but included Elton John, members of the band Kiss and some German stars like Peter Maffay.
Since time was running short, we took a quick peek inside the swimming hall, which is now being used by locals for their exercise. Membership to go swim there and use their gym is 59 Euros a month.
We then picked up our luggage at the hotel and walked through the neighborhood to the bus terminal to catch our bus to Prague. Lugging around our folding bikes in their suitcases and our luggage proved a little challenging for the distance, but we got to see a nice part of Munich and got a sense of where we might want to look for housing, should we move here later in the year.
When planning this leg, I was amazed that the bus was both cheaper (at 19 Euro per person) and faster than the train. Always up for something new, we decided to take the bus. Once on the bus, we sat next to a Slovak woman named Veronika, who was very outgoing and spoke fluent German and English. Over the course of the 4-hour long drive, we had a nice long talk with her, and she wrote down (and tried to get us to pronounce properly) various phrases that she thought would be helpful in Prague.
Once our bus rolled into Prague and dropped us off at the train station, we had some difficulties getting oriented and finding our way through the station to the old town. Google maps was my friend here. For whatever reason, we had decided to walk to our hotel, which turned out to be an interesting adventure in and of itself: We ended up dragging our suitcases through packed pedestrian areas in the old town, over cobblestone streets, narrow cobblestone sidewalks, dodging cars.
We eventually arrived, relieved, via a circuitous route at our hotel in a quiet part of the old town, about two blocks from the river. Our room was deep in the bowels of the place: Up an elevator, several turns in hallways, up an incline, more turns – and we finally arrived at our room overlooking a 30×30′ “court yard.” There wasn’t much to do in our room so we headed out for a stroll to the river and across the Charles Bridge. Even at this late hour, the bridge was teeming with tourists, vendors, street musicians, which was quite the change from the serene neighborhood we stayed in in Munich. The atmosphere was really nice, though, and we were ready for the next step in our travels.
Once across the bridge, in the new part of town, we stopped in a little street cafe on the plaza of St. Nikolai church for a little snack: A beet salad with goat cheese, a beer, virgin mojito and ice cream with strawberries as a night cap.