Munich Flughafen Besucherpark

Almost every time I’ve gone to or from the Munich airport in the last few years, I’ve used a route that includes a train between Regensburg and Freising, and bus 635 that goes from the Freising Hauptbahnhof to the Munich airport a few times each hour.  One of the stops on bus 635 is the München Flughafen Besucherpark, or Munich Airport Visitor’s Park.  I could see from passing by that it had a bunch of old aircraft to look at, and an observation hill that looked over the airport, and I made a promise to myself to actually stop when I had time, instead of just noticing it on the way to or from the airport.

That opportunity finally struck in July, when I had a ticket to go into Munich to see Sarah from Regensblog in the ESME summer concert.   The show was in the evening, so I set out a little bit earlier in the day.  Instead of taking the train all the way into Munich right away, I stopped in Freising, got on the old 635, and hopped off at the stop for the Besucherpark.

The bus stops are next to the S-Bahn stops, and there’s a little bit of a walk between public transport and the visitor park.  If you drive there, you get to park closer, but you miss out on some of the groovy trail decorations.  I especially like the nod to the Statue of Liberty in this one.

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Getting a little bit closer, there’s a helicopter on a stick!  I wonder if this exhibit is sponsored by a roadside assistance company of some sort… maybe ADAC?  This air rescue helicopter was stationed at the Munich hospital 36 years ago, and was retired here in the visitor’s park.

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This is the bit that got my attention from the bus as it passed by-  the Lockheed L-1049 G Super Constellation.  This is an original Super Constellation from 1955, with Lufthansa’s classic livery colors.  This was the first aircraft to have a pressurized cabin, and it was the first aircraft that Lufthansa used for transatlantic flights.

For a euro, you can go up into the aircraft.

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Passengers had quite a bit more room in the 1950s!

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There are fewer seats than in a modern aircraft, but the space per seat is much greater.

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They left the auto pilot on!

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Next up, there’s a Swissair Douglas DC-3.   This one was closed up when I visited, but the DC-3 has a reputation for being a great cargo plane.

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The Junkers Ju 52 was used for airmail service to South America and for exploration flights in the 1930s.

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This is the back of the Junkers Ju 52, also referred to sometimes as Auntie Ju.  The obseration hill and stairway are visible in the background.

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There were historical broadcasts playing inside the Ju 52, but I didn’t stick around to hear them.

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This is the cockpit of the Junkers Ju 52.  Vintage 1930s technology!

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At the top of the observation hill, you can see all the aircraft from above.  You’ll need another euro to get through the turnstiles at the bottom of the hill.

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From the observation hill, you can also see the entire airport spread out in front of you.  Lots of people brought their kids up here, and there are coin operated telescopes to get a closer view.  I saw one guy with enormous binoculars and a notepad writing down every aircraft type he spotted.  Interesting hobby, I  think.

I watched several aircraft taking off and landing before I climbed back down.

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The Besucherpark is designed to be family friendly.  It even has a pretty good sized play area for the smaller children.

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Naturally, there’s a restaurant and a souvenir shop on the premises.

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The restaurant is named Tante Ju’s, which is the German for Auntie Ju’s, named after the Junkers Ju 52 aircraft pictured above.

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Once I was done at the visitor’s park, I walked back to where I started and took the S-Bahn the rest of the way into the city for a nice burger and a concert.  That’s another story, though.

The Visitor’s Park can be reached by Bus 635 from the airport or Freising, or it can be reached by the Munich S-Bahn (S1 or S8 to Besucherpark, about 40 minutes from the main station.)

The Visitor’s Park and viewing hill are accessible around the clock, year round, and the information center, shop, and historical aircraft have the following hours: March to October, 9:30am-6pm.   November to February, 10am-5pm.   Tante Ju’s Restaurant is open daily 9:30am to 6pm.

And according to the website, there’s minigolf there too, but I never saw it.

Have you ever been to the München Flughafen Besucherpark?

Christmas Market Season Is Here!

Last week, the Christkindlmärkte opened all over Germany.  It’s time for Glühwein (hot mulled wine), hot fresh festival food, gingerbread, and the warmth that comes from spending time with your friends.  The markets will be open until just before Christmas.

I didn’t take this picture of the Regensburg market on Neupfarrplatz, but I wish I had-  I’m pretty sure that this view was taken from the spire of the Dom, and I really want to go up there.

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These next nine photos, on the other hand, are from the Marienplatz Christkindlmarkt in Munich.  I took these yesterday, while I was hanging out with Cliff before Sarah’s concert.

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Yup, they were singing.

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Oh crepes, lovely lovely crepes…

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The crepe under construction here was a Schafskäse (feta cheese), tomato, pesto, and balasmic crepe.  It was incredibly delicious, and really piping hot.

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There are a bajillion Glühwein stands in Munich.  They’re easy to spot, too.

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Have you ever been to a Christmas Market?  What’s your favorite flavor of Glühwein?

Oktoberfest In The Rain

It’s Oktoberfest time!

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair, and it runs for sixteen days every year from late September to the first Sunday in October.  (It runs for seventeen or eighteen days on years when the first Sunday in October is the 1st or 2nd of the month, because the 3rd of October is a holiday here, German Unity Day.)  It was started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Therese

This year’s Oktoberfest started on September 22nd and runs through Sunday October 6th.  In Bavaria, its often referred to simply as die Wiesn.  This refers back to the name Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow),  the fairgrounds in the center of Munich where it takes place.

Many of my bloggy friends in Germany have written about Oktoberfest.    LLMW wrote “Best Bets for enjoying Munich’s Oktoberfest & the Parade” and Alex wrote about how to get a seat at oktoberfest in munich.

Factoids for everyone!

  • Oktoberfest receives more than six million visitors each year.  That’s more than four times the population of Munich itself.
  • In the first week of Wiesn in 2012, more than 3.6 liters of beer were consumed.   This also led to an increase in Bierleichen, or “beer corpses” — a term referring to people who have drunk themselves into a state of unconsciousness .  (I love that there’s a specific word for this.)  According to the Red Cross, most of the Bierleichen were below the age of 30.
  • The price of a Maß (one liter) of beer in 2013 is €9,85.  That’s more than $13 per liter.
  • For beer to be served at Oktoberfest, it must be brewed within the city limits of Munich.  It must also conform to the Reinheitsgebot (the German Beer Purity Law.)

I went to Oktoberfest on a Thursday with Jenny.  The day before, it had been sunny in Munich.  Not so on our chosen day.

This is the Hippodrom tent, one of the first tents seen when you enter Theresienwiese.  It’s very popular with the younger crowds.

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Inside the Hippodrom tent, at around 4pm on a Thursday:

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A percentage of the tables in each tent can be reserved.  Often, companies reserve these tables and food is on standby for these reservations.

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A job I would not want:  Dishwasher at Oktoberfest.  This is one of many racks of beer steins ready to be filled.

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The Hofbräu Festzelt. (Zelt means tent.)

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The Augustiner tent.

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The Löwenbräu (Lion’s Brew!) tent.  The Lion is mechanical-  it lifts the stein and drinks, then roars.  Highly entertaining.

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The Paulaner tent.

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Sekt is champagne.  This was a wine tent.  As a result, it was a bit more mellow than the other tents.

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Theresienwiese is adjacent to the Bavaria Statue.

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As with all festivals in Germany, there are places to buy Lebkuchenherzen (gingerbread hearts) on ribbons.  They’re decorated with various phrases, and it’s traditional to buy one for your significant other.  It’s not uncommon to see people walking down the street wearing these.

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This carriage was pulled by six of the most enormous horses I have ever seen in my life.

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This one had slightly smaller horses.  Still big, though.

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Jenny and I found a table for lunch in the Schottenhamel tent.  The Schottenhamel tent is where everything begins-  on the first day of Oktoberfest, no beer is allowed to be served until noon.  That’s when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent, proclaiming, “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!)

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Prost!

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Bavarian men always seem to have such jaunty hats.

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Just one of these is heavy.  This woman must have incredible upper body strength.

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Children in Tracht (traditional clothing) are pretty much always adorable.

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I do love the giant pretzels…

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After lunch, we went back outside, to check out the rest of the fest.  There’s a lot of rides.  This is the view as you’re approaching the front of Theresienwiese.  That ride with the airplane on top goes much higher and faster than we expected.

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I’m still trying to figure out why a) this one has American flags all over it, and b) the breakdancer is a Gremlin.

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There are several places to ride bumper cars, which is a great idea after drinking a few liters of beer.

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The ferris wheel at the back seemed like a good idea, because the gondolas are covered.

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These next two pictures were taken from the ferris wheel, during one of the many rain bursts.

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You can just barely make out the white balloon with a red cross in this picture.  That balloon made it easy to find the first aid tent from a distance-  kind of ingenious, in my opinion.

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While most of the locals went with traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, a few people went with a more modern take on Bavarian garb.  I like to think of the guy on the left as Bavarian Jesus.

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Do you have any fun Oktoberfest stories?

BMW World

I visited BMW Welt (World) with Jenny and her merry band.  BMW Welt is a tourist attraction in Munich, at the entrance to the  Olympiapark.  It showcases the company’s cars and a lot of people bring their children there because there’s a lot of interactivity.   There’s also a full service restaurant upstairs.

I found it all to be kind of underwhelming.  It was an interesting way to kill an hour, but I can’t imagine spending much more time there.  I think this is a place for people who love cars.  I’m not their target audience.

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There’s some random kid-oriented stuff like this stilted police-woman.

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In the kid’s section, there was a giant contraption with balls on tracks racing around the wirework in the center.  I watched this for quite a while because it was kind of fascinating.

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There’s a giant Mini section.  (LOL, I said “giant Mini.”)  You can sit in most of the cars- only a few are behind ropes like this.

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For no reason I can adequately explain, there were a bunch of little girls in yellow and black facepaint on inline skates.

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The facility is kind of like a giant showroom.   The deck on the top right in this photo is brand new BMWs which are awaiting pick-up from their new owners.  BMW-Welt is right next to the BMW headquarters, so picking up your new car here is something of an honor, I think.

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That tower there?  That’s the BMW headquarters.

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Here’s another shot of the yellow-faced kids on wheels, because why not.

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There were also several rows of BMW motorcycles bolted to the floor so that you could get on them and see how it feels.

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Have you ever been to BMW-Welt? Did you get in any of the cars?

 

Munich X-Games: Ford RallyCross

Last weekend, I went into Munich with Jenny and her boyfriend Robert, to see a portion of the X-Games.  Specifically, we went to see the Ford RallyCross races.

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The race itself was really interesting.  The cars were small and fast: Ford Fiestas, some sort of Subaru, some Volkswagens, and one Mini Cooper.  The cars were kept under tents for the mechanics to work on them between races.  Each tent had the driver’s picture on a banner next to it.

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Most of the races we saw were qualifying heats, like this one with seven cars starting out.

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I mentioned the Mini Cooper.  Here it is, number 33 with the Monster logo on the side.  The Mini actually won this heat; it was a really fast car.

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Here’s some other cars from various races. Part of the track was dirt and gravel, and it really kicked up a lot.  On several of the races, the cars had their windshield wipers on despite it being a perfectly clear day.

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I kept thinking this driver was Italian for some reason, but he was actually from Brazil.

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A lot of these cars were fast enough to do a little jump on one of the gravel sections.  I took a lot of pictures of cars in mid-air, but none of them were sharp enough to be worth posting here.  Here, pretend this car is flying through the air.

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The gravel section had some sharp turns, and the cars kicked up a LOT of stuff. This car is in the middle of a turn.  Also, this car kept stalling later in the day, so I suspect that he’s getting a lot of stuff in his air intake.  Not that I’m a mechanic or anything.

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One of the best parts of watching this event was actually the wrecks.   Some of them were pretty subtle, like this one.  I didn’t see him go into the wall, I was looking at a different part of the track.  Note all the spectators on the hill.

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Here’s what that car looked like when they pulled it out.  I suspect the hole in the side behind the door is from whatever impact shoved him into the wall in the first place.

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After every wreck like that, they had to stop to pull the disabled car out, and then crew members would clean up the track from debris.  Here they are, cleaning the track.  We were hoping they would do a dance number with their brooms, but it never happened.

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One of the qualifying heats started with nine cars.  Once they cleared the wrecks, they restarted it with seven cars.  They cleared the wrecks again and restarted it with four cars.  Two cars actually finished that qualifying heat.  Very entertaining.

They did a lot of car-on-car violence, like this bumper kiss.

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In the final race, there were ten cars at the start.  They did the entire thing without having to stop, reset, and restart the race.    There was plenty of damage and mayhem, though.

Early in the final race, this happened.  That blue and green car was run into the water barrels. It went up on two wheels, as you can see here, and the crowd did a “whooooo” sound.

Amazingly, the car came back down onto all four wheels and kept going.

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He did suffer some damage from the two-wheeler moment.  He went a good long distance dragging his bumper behind him.  There were plenty of other bumpers on the track, and yellow flags were used to warn the drivers of debris.

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At the end of each run, a white flag would indicate the last lap, and a checkered flag would indicate the race is over.

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This is the third place winner.  He left his rear bumper back in the gravel.  The second place winner was the guy in the Mini Cooper.

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The winner of all of this was Toomas Heikkinen, a 22-year-old from Finland.  Follow that link to see video from ESPN during the race.  This was his car.    It flew over this track.

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Have you ever seen a RallyCross event?  Did it make you want to drive faster?