Ludwig, Maserati, and other anecdotes from Munich / by Naomi Yudanin

The Germans are serious about three things: beer, cars, and rules. Crossing the street on a red light earns you a disapproving glance; ordering a Czech beer at a German brew house—well, let’s just say its much more serious of an offense. Rules are rules: there are many, and they should all be followed. If not, a burly German will make it known to everyone that you are the Great Offender.

Herein lies the first anecdote: the line at the Deutsches Museum

We’ve visited three museums during our stay in Munich, including both Pinakotheks. The most unique of the three, however, was the Deutsches Museum which (according to Wikipedia, the Source of all sources) is the world’s largest technology and science museum. Judging by the line to get in, the museum is well worth a visit.

We stood in line for a long time.

Others stood in line for a long time.

Then came along a German man who decided to cut in front, in order to avoid standing in line for a long time.

Well—the Great Offender didn’t last long. A hoard of angry Germans (a scary sight in itself) started yelling at him to get out and join the back of the line (approximately a 1 hr. wait). They yelled, and yelled, and blew the house down!

No, just kidding—but the Great Offender tucked his tail between his legs and retreated, defeated and worn.

Most likely, the Great Offender realized he was no longer welcome in the Deutsches Museum—not until the Angry German Hoard was gone, anyway. Perhaps, he retreated to his car, probably a Maserati. Only people who are Great Offenders drive Maseratis in Germany, I think.

This brings us to our next anecdote: in the Land of BMW, who drives a Maserati?

The number of cars on the streets of Munich is barely matched by the number of killer cyclists speeding down the sidewalks. I would have imagined Bavaria, the Land of BMW, to be filled with the cars its own people produce. After all, in the words of my father whose dream in life is to spend a while in the Land of BMW, regardless of nation, “this car is perfected perfection!”

This is not so. Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of BMWs on the streets here (the new X5 is wildly popular: in WHITE). The thing is, these BMWs belong to Munich’s working class. Here, they’re not luxury cars.

Walking along Maximillianstrasse (Munich’s most posh boulevard) you’re much more likely to see strings of Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and any other car that evokes images of slicked back Italians. In fact, I’ve never seen so many cars that, if traded in, would easily be the equivalent of a small villa in worth.

I bet the Great Offenders that own these cars also order Czech beer in the Brauhaus.

Among Great Offenders of this Catholic state, there is a ringleader. With him, I’ll start the last anectode and end this post:

Ludwig II shows Catholic Germany the first flourishes of rebellion—with an emphasis on flourishes.

Germans love following the rules. They’ve loved following the rules for centuries—likely before anyone else even thought of the concept of rules. Ludwig was no exception. We learned a lot about him during our stay in Munich, as he undoubtedly left the most colorful mark on Bavaria: Neuschwanstein.

The tour inside Neuschwanstein is curt, and the tour guides are prohibited from mentioning the cause of Ludwig’s death (still unknown) as well as any potential theories as to why he was never married (or for that matter, around women).

We were warned against the English speaking tour, as the tour guides were said to be robotic and monotonous in their descriptions of a castle that was anything but. So, I opted for a Russian audio guide.

My guide, in a heavy St. Petersburg accent, began explaining with little subtlety just what made Ludwig, the devout Catholic, so incredibly un-Catholic.

"Most kings build statues of lions, indicating their triumph in war. Ludwig preferred swans. This should tell you something about his preferences."

"Ludwig spent much of his time with his close friend Richard Wagner. Though he had many friends, none were female. He always preferred male company."

So there you have it.

The greatest mark on Bavaria (or at least the one that brings in the most money to the Bavarian government)was left by him- the King of the Great Offenders, the flamboyant, eccentric King Ludwig II, who built castles from fairy tales and loved swans, all while living in the land dominated by Catholicism, beer, and burly German rule followers.