Tuesday, December 28, 2010

14 Dec 2010 @ Munich

 -3 C to -6 C

Dachau, the first of many concentration camps built near Munich, was the beginning of Hitler's final solution of the Jews.  This was also our day's target destination.

Based on the information at www.db.com , we bought the family Munich XXL ticket ( 12.80 e, from automated machine ) that covers transport within greater Munich and took the 9.10am S2 bound for Peterhausen. It was a slow 20 minutes ride to Dachau Bahnhof, where we transferred to Bus 726 at the stop labeled 'concentration camp site' outside the train station. ( Bus 724 no longer served the camp, contrary to online reports ) We alighted at the stop : KZ-Gederkstattle, which is steps from the Camp information building.
You will see this sign once you get off the bus stop. The camp is 100m beyond this.
Part of the camp compound that houses the prisoners
Camp as seen from the outside. German students visit such camps as part of their curriculum
10am. With scores of tourists, we walked under the iron gate that says in German " Work set you free ". A vast,  severe and austere compound lay before us, appropriately cheerless and foreboding. Covered totally in white snow, it is a reminder of the harsh condition  where prisoners resided and meet their death there.
A prisoner's view of the outside world.
We covered the camp site in anticlockwise direction ,starting from the reporting building, the maintenance building, the chapel, dorms and finally the crematorium. Even the strongest stomach and hardest heart could not stop the many visitors from shaking their heads at the Nazis' cruelty  and nausea that comes from the very sordid photos of tortured prisoners.
Barrier between the living and the dead, located outside the on-site crematorium
On a busy day, more than one body is shoved in to be cremated
Deadly showers of zyklon B

Of course, the last stop was  the summation of it all : the crematorium. The lies of the captors can be seen here with the fake shower heads disguising the gas chambers as shower areas. We left with deep sadness at the horrifying events that happened. Nothing will ever undo the wrong done to  those whose dreams were cut short.

12 noon. We took bus line 726 back to Dachau. Instead of waiting for the S2 line bound for Erding, we hopped up the Regional train bound for Munich Hbf. It was a good decision. We zipped into Munich with no stops in 10 minutes.

It was  lunch time by now. From the Hbf, we wormed our way underground to Karlstadt, the shopping center across the Hbf. We had lunch at the buffet hall at the top floor of the shopping center. It is a sort of Movenpick in style with hawker center pickings at restaurant price.

A little shopping around the Bayerstrasse later, we went back to Conrad hotel for a little rest. 5.30 pm, we got ready for the Opera at the state opera house in the evening. With the same ticket ( Munich XXL ), we took a train to Marienplatz. Whatever shopping we intended to do was made impossible with a sudden snowfall.

Walking north, we reached the National theater, home of the State Opera company. It will provide our highlight of the night ; Mozart's Magic Flute. I had requested for 3 tickets some many months earlier ( www.stateoper.com ) and it was only 2 months before the performance that my purchase was made successful and tickets mailed to Singapore.

Outside our gallery, Pat changed to a suit while H read the program notes detailing the show. I had printed a rundown of the opera from Wikipedia so that we can make sense of the opera performed in German later.

Our seat at 2nd right gallery, row 2 seats 32,34,36 was pretty decent for the price of 30 e. ( even numbered seats are located at the right gallery, odd ones left gallery ). However, as the performers were mostly singing at the right side of the stage, our location was hardly prime. Most of the singing was entertaining though Tamino's singing could have been stronger. Papagano, Tamino's side sick was a powerful tenor. The Queen's aria, the opera's highlight, was received enthusiastically.

Intermission came, 1.5 hours later. The second half continued for another 1.5 hours. It was a long night, with the show from 7pm and ending at 10.30 pm. Even though I regarded it an interesting night, it did not end perfectly. By then , we were totally famished and disorientated, aggravated by the cold night on wind our way back.  Restaurants were already closed and we bought the last of 2 pizzas at the train station. Next time, I will remember to have a heavy meal before an opera!

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