My plan after Prague was to go to Berlin for a few days, then Munich. While in Prague, my client in Germany asked me to help him do interviews for new developers in Munich. The interviews were happening right in the middle of my Berlin trip. And with travel time (4-5 hours train each way), it would essentially eat up all my Berlin time. So I decided to skip Berlin and go straight to Munich.
I managed to catch a football match at their fairly new Allianz arena. It's really pretty from a distance at night. There's nothing else around to compete with it, so it looks like a giant red-lit bubble. It was snowing quite a bit. It's an outdoor stadium but designed with a curve at the top that covers the fans. Imagine a hollow bundt cake. With the snow coming down, it looked like an isolated snow storm just on the field. I had excellent seats: center field, row 4, so I did get a little snow, but I consider that a good thing. I felt like I was in a snow globe. (Sorry the video quality isn't very high after uploading it to youtube. Plus, I was using my old iPhone.)
When I bought tickets online, there was a checkbox that said "I understand the terms and conditions. I also confirm that I am not a member of the opposing team." This instantly made me worried. I packed only one piece of warm clothing: my stand-out-like-a-sore-thumb red OU hoodie. Thankfully, both teams' colors were red, and the home team wore solid red jerseys.
The game was a good one. FC Bayern München (Bayern = Bavaria, München = Munich) was hosting Bayer Leverkusen (Bayer = Bavarian). München was undefeated and at the top of Bundesliga. From the very beginning, München dominated, attacking always with only a few bursts of offense by Bayer Leverkusen. But time of possession means nothing when it comes to scoring. One of the bursts of offense by Leverkusen ended up being the game's first goal. But there was plenty of time left.
In the second half, München continued their onslaught, and finally got a goal. But Leverkusen got a little lucky and a shot deflected off a München player, sending the ball in the opposite direction the goalie went and into the net.
There was a little more than a minute left in the match including stoppage time, and München was desperate. That's when they brought their goalkeeper out of the box and up to the frontline. When the ball came to him, he took matters into his own hands and dribbled past many defenders as far as 3/4 field. A good opportunity came around, and a good header sent the ball towards the goal, but clanked off the top goal post. And that ended up being the final play of the game. I didn't know much about the importance of the game except that München was undefeated, but seeing players lying on the field with hanging heads told me enough. Still, the clearly most rowdy fan base behind the goal with flags kept chanting and jumping up and down the entire game, even after the opposing team scored and even after a disappointing loss.
Of all arenas I've ever been to, Allianz arena had the best crowd control. The arena holds 70,000 fans, and the only time it was a problem was at the end when everybody left at the same time. Everything else was managed beautifully. Even getting into the arena was incredibly efficient despite pat-down security for everybody. After the game, it seemed like the majority of fans were taking the metro like me. It looked like a Serengeti migration to the station. But I didn't have to stop until I got to the platform where I waited less than a minute to get on the next train.
The metro system is the most efficient and organized I have ever seen. There are 8 S-banh (suburban) trains and each one of them runs through several stations at the heart of the city. So you can be at any one of the stations and eventually catch a train that goes where you need. In addition, there is the typical U-bahn (underground) train that is already better than what a lot of world cities have. The Munich train system in city center is also the only place I have seen a train allow passengers exit on one side while other passengers can get on simultaneously. Seems pretty obvious, but I've never seen it before Munich.
The concentration camp memorial in Dachau is not far from Munich. This concentration camp was a blueprint that the numerous others were modeled after. There actually wasn't a lot to see. But the information inside was excellent. I especially found it interesting reading about how the Nazi party came to power and how fast they took control of everything. Hitler really was a political genius. Germany was seriously desperate and suffering from World War I. The inflation was astronomical. In 1 year, the cost of an egg went from 180 marks to 80 billion marks. They were desperate, mad about how they were being treated from their World War I punishment, and turned to a man who really knew how to take advantage of the situation with propaganda. Germany named Hitler the chancellor in 1933. And he took control FAST. In less than 2 months, he made it so that he could pass laws and change existing laws without anybody's (particularly Parliament's) consent or agreement. LESS THAN 2 MONTHS!
I also learned that there were many more kinds of prisoners besides Jews. There were criminals, Soviets, political dissidents, known homosexuals, and even Jehovah's Witnesses. It's scary how some things that went on then still sound familiar today. There may not be a Hitler today, but some of his views are still shared by some today. It's a good thing we have a government in place that tries to keep someone like Hitler from ever coming to power. I've never felt so strongly about the importance of learning history than when I was at Dachau.
There are several memorials at the site, but I really liked the Jewish one.
I took a day trip to a town called Füssen. Nearby, there are some castles built in the middle of rural Germany. In 1869, the king decided to rebuild the ruined medieval castle Schwanstein. It took them a few decades, and didn't even finish it, but Neuschwanstein is pretty nonetheless. Cinderella's castle is modeled after it. My family came here when I was very little. I have a very faint memory of sitting inside. It's the earliest memory that I can remember, but I have no idea if my memory is even of the right place or maybe even made up. After reading some bad reviews of the tours, which are necessary to see the interior, I decided to skip the interior and just see the exterior. So my first memory will remain a mystery.