Oh, hi! Long time no talk. Long time since being home.
This past week, thanks to a nomination from a friend and mentor who’d done the program a few years ago, I was fortunate to be a delegate at the American-German Young Leaders Conference in Germany. The event brings together early-to-mid-career folks from both countries to learn about and discuss transatlantic issues, including communication and technology.
Before moving onto Berlin and the heart of the conference, the trip began in Munich, gathering the American delegates and giving them two days to beat their jet lag and begin to get to know the country and each other.
It was an amazing trip, one I feel very lucky to have done. Another couple posts will capture the Berlin leg of the journey, and the awesome mix of other delegates on the trip. But first, here’s Munich, or at least what I remembered to photograph. I missed lots of good moments, including all moments where one puts down the phone and has good conversation. A fair trade! So, here the moments that did make it to the lens.
We arrived Friday and had a bit of time to explore our neighborhood.
I love a serious statue, and they dotted the main nearby road.
Also, serious room keys. To speed the bonding, we were all assigned roommates from the group. My roommate, Andy, was a major in both Army JAG and most excellent friendliness, and — small world — his brother was a priest arriving the very same day for a stay at… Blessed Sacrament, my family’s church, where my mom of course met Andy’s brother two days later.
That evening, we went down to Augsburg, the third-oldest city in Germany and home to the Fuggerei, a walled part of the city providing housing for needy citizens since 1516. Continuously.
With us was Alexander Fugger, descendent of Jakob Fugger, AKA Jakob the Rich, who founded the Fuggerei and basically invented modern banking. The current Fugger, whose title is technically “Count,” was a conference delegate several years ago and is one of the leads of the Fuggerei foundation today.
Here was our guide with Jakob the Rich, one heck of a nickname.
How old is the Fuggerei? Some of its house numbers don’t exist anymore, which is a thing I didn’t know existed in the Western world.
This painting has no historical significance but was amazing.
This man was also amazing.
The chapel on the Fuggerei grounds was beautiful. Exempt from modern Germany discrimination rules, residents have to say prayers every day.
Augsburg was a great little town. Even the manhole covers were great.
And the cars.
The graffiti, too. “I don’t understand,” says the German response.
We walked through town as the sun went down…
… and ate dinner inside what was, for centuries, the Fugger bank.
The next morning, back in Munich, we headed out for a bike tour.
The weather was pretty much perfect.
Well, not pretty much perfect, but actually perfect.
I decided on my new German pseudonym.
The names of a number of Munich establishments were winners.
Most, really. Hello from Americanos City!
We biked to Munich Residence, once the city’s palace, now a museum.
Destroyed during WWII, the building’s facade is now mostly sketched.
Our bike-tour guide, who was interesting, had us act out the statues in the neighboring square. We were game. We were jet-lagged. But game.
Some of us were very game — the lion sculptures, especially.
The square turned out to be full of chairs for an performance, but we circled to Theatine Church. They don’t make them like they used to.
Or do they? Allied bombs hit parts of the church hard. But here we are.
From there, we went north to the Bavarian State Chancellery. Also hit hard during the war, the wings are now glass, representing transparency.
Our next step was the English Garden — the Central Park of Munich — and, after we’d taken a few photos, before our guide said anything, its Nudist Meadow. We paused our photography.
For lunch, I ate schweinshaxe — a deep-fried roasted ham hock.
As a traditional band played, we ate under China Tower, dating to 1790.
The last of the bike tour saw the English Garden’s main river…
… and its surfers.
My first ride in 20 years was last year. This one was a success too.
Successful, yes, but look at this guy! So relieved to be done.
After the ride, I sat on the porch, read and took a much-needed nap.
The last of the day was dinner, back by the China Tower. Rain sent us all scrambling at one point, but then it stopped and we ate delicious food.
The sun came back and at last, after a long day, went down.
Early the next morning, we headed to Berlin and our next adventure.