Sunday, January 24, 2010

Flashback 2b: My Christmas Break- Linz and Munich

We arrived in Linz and dragged our bags to the hotel. I wasn't feeling that great at the time- long, long story- having gotten sick at Klosterneuberg and was really sore, so we made it in and I just kinda chilled. A couple of the guys took off running, while Matt (pictured with the Snow White dwarf) and I just wandered a little, prayed a holy hour in their cathedral, and went back to the hotel. I took a nice, hot shower and popped a couple motrin and took a nap until the other guys got back. We went to dinner at this interest little joint. It was very American punk and rock inspired and there were a lot of young people there- the average age in the room was probably 19 or 20. We had some dinner and the waiter came over and practiced his English with us. It was quite good, since he had spent some time in Pittsburgh, if I recall correctly.

Just look at the detail in these stained glass windows- it's really quite spectacular. That being said, the ones in the front of the Church which follow... look like they were designed to be deciphered by cryptographers... the mathematician in me was more than a little intrigued, but they don't really quite fit with the rest of the Church...

The next day we packed our bags and headed to Munich.
I still wasn't feeling great but was a little better than before and was at least up for a little exploration. We got in early afternoon on New Year's Eve, dropped our stuff off, got settled in a little, and went off exploring the city. I made a point to find the cathedral, which was right next to the main square and the rathaus- the Town Hall. Before that, though, we appreciated the little wooden fort surrounding an ice rink which had both been set up in honor of Christmas and New Year's quite near to our hotel. I was a little surprised by the price of our hotel room until we got there- it was literally a 90 second walk from the ice rink and only about 10 minutes from the town center, which was awesome. At to that the fact that we were only two to a room instead of four to a room like we did in Linz, and it was well worth the extra expense. After converting from the Euro, which hurt a little during the trip, it came out to about 85 or 90 dollars per person per night for the hotel room, which, given the central location and the fact that it was New Year's Eve in downtown Munich, was quite reasonable. We found a nice place to eat for dinner then just hung out and wandered around, engaging in some good people watching and firework dodging.
That was the really interesting and memorable part of the evening. New Year's Eve is an excuse for everyone under the age of thirty in Munich to spend all their money on fireworks and shoot them off, at the sky, at the spire of the rathaus, at the roof of buildings and other people, whatever. We enjoyed watching this in the main square until one misfired near us and sent jets of red flame shooting toward us. Thankfully we were already mostly behind a large column and just inched back a bit and missed getting nice and singed. It provided an occasion to get talking with the couple standing next to us, though, who were a retired couple from the Southwest somewhere- New Mexico, maybe. They made a pact to visit someplace new and exciting with each other every New Year's as long as they could. They were excited to hear our story, since it turned out they were both Catholics. It was a very providential and enjoyable conversation.
After things got a little too hairy, we went and prayed and listened to an organ concert. After that, a couple of them stayed and prayed, one went back out into the chaos, and I ducked back to the room. I didn't feel like dying that evening and it was 11:30 already. The fireworks and firecrackers were being shot off and thrown in full force. It was to the point where people were actually hitting the outside of the Church during our holy hour and organ concert and I didn't feel like sticking around to get hit- I had seen it and enjoyed it, but it was time to call it a night.
We just relaxed the next day, really. There was a little sight-seeing, but nothing particularly of note. I don't think I even brought my camera with me. Our last day before the night train home we bought a subway pass and took off for the BMW headquarters and museum. It was a pretty cool tour- I learned a great deal about car manufacturing and cars in general. At the end they had a new exhibit on prototype cars, and I have a few good pictures from that. After that, we took a short walk over to the Olympic Village from the Olympic games in Munich. The pool there is still a functioning natatorium, which is kinda cool, though we didn't go swimming. They also had a plaque and monument to the Israelite athletes killed in the act of terrorism at the olympic games. Finally, we made our way to the train station, ate some dinner en route, and got on our train home.

Here's a picture of the cathedral, then one of the stained-glass inside, to give an idea of how tall this church really was. The window went most of the way up, and the whole things was decorated. It must have been immensely expensive and taken untold days to complete. Following that are the rathaus and a nice picture of both the cathedral and the rathaus.

Here we are enjoying dinner in a German pub.

It finally snowed for me! I was so excited. Living in Rome now, we never get a chance to see snow, except on the distant mountain tops. I was beginning to go through withdrawal, so it was nice to get to stomp around in it a little before heading back to Rome.

Here are the shots from the BMW Museum

I was impressed to see that they had an exhibit on this... lest we forget...

This was one of the more unusual concept cars. It kinda looked like it belonged in Star Wars. One of the guys mused about whether his bishop could be persuaded that such a car was a necessary business expense for a priest... I suspect not... [:)

Now this one was awesome. The 'skin' on the car molded and reshaped itself according to the current action of the car. The headlights actually blink open, the door pulls ajar with the skin reshaping around it, the seat readjusts from within, the dashboard just opens up- no latches. It had a very organic feel to it. I'm not sure if I'd want to own one like it, but it was pretty awesome to see, nonetheless.

Then we were off to the Olympic Village.

May they rest in peace...

Overall, it was a really great trip. It was nice getting to spend some quality time with some classmates and it was a very culturally and spiritually edifying trip. That was an interesting element of the trip- we hear all too often about how spiritually dead the Church is in Europe, but we didn't quite get that impression in our travels. Admittedly, Austria is supposed to be almost entirely Catholic so there should be a lot of people attending Mass, but I was very impressed by the numbers of people who showed for daily Mass, even. The cathedral in Vienna was completely packed for the daily Mass at noon, and not just with old people. There were a lot of younger people, as well. It was very impressive and spiritually heartening to see, truly. I'm quite certain things aren't great in Europe, but the Spirit is still moving strongly amongst His people. Praise God.

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