Virtual Vacation: Explore Munich, Zugspitze and more from home

Borders may be closed to Americans and Oktoberfest festivities cancelled, but we’re heading for Bavaria anyway — virtually, that is, with walking tours of Munich, video festivals, an Alpine summit and some delicious beer, bites and blue-checkered fun.

Of course, Munich’s boisterous Oktoberfest, which originated in 1810 as a wedding celebration for Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, has always been a major tourist draw. Last year’s festival drew more than 6 million merrymakers to the Theresienwiese — Therese’s meadow. You can glimpse the sights and sounds of that revelry via YouTube, from the glittering lights of the Oktoberfest rides to the revelry inside the beer tents, the largest of which seats 10,000 people.

It’s a scene, for sure. But there’s so much more to this part of Germany than the continent’s largest volksfest.

On this mellow Sunday morning at home, we’re sipping coffee with our Bavarian-style breakfast of rolls, soft pretzels and aufschnitt — sliced sausages, meats and cheeses — and thinking a little virtual sightseeing would be just the thing.

First up, a whirlwind tour of Bavaria — 100 seconds of swiftly streaming landscapes, palaces, forests and sights, from the Zugspitze to the Bayreuth opera house, with wurst, yoga and dizzying muchness. The two-minute video, which is part of the tourism bureau’s “Bavarian Home Delivery” offerings, is narrated at breathtaking speed by Bavarian comedian Harry G, the amped-up alter ego of actor Markus Stoll, whose rapid-fire German patter is accompanied by English subtitles. It’s wildly entertaining, but fast. Did we mention it’s fast? We’re panting slightly as the video comes to a close.

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Need. More. Coffee.

Also, we need a closer look at many things in this video, starting with Germany’s highest mountain. Fortunately, it’s a breeze to reach that summit from home, thanks to tips from Google senior research scientist Daniel M. Russell, the author of the “Joy of Search” book we told you about recently. Russell says if you’re only using Google Maps’ street view to view streets, you’re missing out. Drop the map’s little yellow Pegman in the right spots, and you can climb mountains, dive beneath the sea or go inside buildings, too.

One Zugspitze map search later and Pegman is high in the Alps — and we’re there, too — on the observation deck of the Münchner Haus, a sleek Alpine hut at 9,700-feet elevation, just below the mountain’s summit, gazing at snow-capped peaks on

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle

      

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