Now this day starts off daft, goes through bad & ends up just plain
I started off by deciding that its time to do something about my excess
baggage, including my tankbag. The damn thing has been getting on my
nerves all the time. Now there's also some clothing and so on to deal
with. A short walk into Grafelfing, past the stark white combined
ambulance and fire station and the neat little shops, until I reach the
post office. They have a healthy stock of boxes and tape. I buy two
fairly big, stout boxes and a roll of brown tape. Back at the hotel
these swallow my old riding kit, my tank bag, the suite protectors for
my new kit and some other bits and pieces that I haven't needed &
won't now need (like a book about Poland). Back to the post office and
I'm free of them as they wing their way back home. Hurrah!
We pack up and set off for Dachau. Its just across town really. Well,
West then up and back across to the East, so we can avoid the central
area of Munich.
is a fairly ordinary town-cum-suburb. There's new bits and there's
older bits. And right in the middle of the older bit is a huge car park
and a path that leads along the wall of the Dachau
At the start of the path is a bus-stop looking thing with a plaque.
Alongside the path are the foundations of a long building. It reminds
me of something I remember from my childhood - some ruins that are
along the beach at Lepe. Not that
there's a beach, mind you. But there is the same concrete floored,
long, straight building only now visible from its foundations. This
one's a guard house for the camp. Ironically, the one at Lepe is one of
the places that they built the Mulberry harbours for the D-Day invasion.
In front of the entrance is what's left of a small railway yard.
The concrete ramp and the rails are more depressing, in a way, than
those awful marshalling yards at Birkenau. Those were almost a grand
statement of designed deadliness. These more speak more of misery, of
despair, of shuffling souls and petty despots.
Turning to go in, we're confronted by gates and that inscription again:
Macht Frei'. Its a creepy feeling, not made better by the giggling
girls taking turns to stand behind the gates and have their photographs
taken. It may be bright and sunny but those gates make things darker.
We walk through and into the yard of this ex-munitions factory. Most of
the buildings remain but the wooden prisoner huts have more or less
gone. Like Birkenau, just one row remains. All the guard towers remain.
administrative blocks and the prison camp's prison (is there a
much more absurd concept?) are now the museum. This is a substantially
better presented affair than that at Auschwitz, although without the
dramatic and hard-hitting items like the wall of hair. Jerry notices a
grimly satisfying fact: the town of Dachau welcomed and wanted the
camp. They thought it would bring employment and money into the area.
It didn't - everything was run centrally. Dachau gained nothing except
a nasty reputation.
After this thoroughly well done museum we walk through the huts that
remain and down to the back of the site. The
people that were everywhere seem to have mainly left. Almost empty,
somehow the place feels worse. Thing is, this place is a labour camp,
not an extermination camp. It
was the first of the camps, a model for many of the others. The
prisoners still died in large numbers, although only a comparative few
died in the gas chamber (yes, there is one). Living here was no picnic,
no cakewalk. No cake at all. The camp staff were brutal and the rations
were short. There were torture facilities in the prison blocks (they're
The path goes off between the trees in the corner of the site. Walking
through there, we pass a statue to the
prisoners. Its a sort of "statue to the unknown prisoner" and a
curiously powerful image.
Round the corner, there's a low, single storey building.
This contains steaming units for clothes, a changing area, the gas
chamber and the ovens. Walking through
the gas chamber is a decidedly unpleasant experience. Nevertheless I
felt it would be cowardice to walk away. The ghoul behind me took
photos in there. I couldn't. Things were too brutal. They used to hang
prisoners right in front of the ovens. More convenient for disposal,
I need to get out of this place and head for the exit. I can't cope
with the contrast between the camp and the town and I want to leave
We get back on the bikes and head off. The roads are, well frankly I
don't remember. Dachau camp filled up my memory banks. We get onto an
autobahn fairly quickly and munch miles down to Lindau
(Bodensee) where we turn to follow the edge of Lake Constance. Its
getting towards the latter part of the afternoon now and we're
wondering about places to stay. A hasty side-of-the-road confab shows
we agree that stopping somewhere soonish would be OK.
Not much further and we enter the edge of the not exactly remarkable
looking town of Friedrichshafen.
Not remarkable until we stop at some lights and Jerry says "did you see
the sign to the Zeppelin museum?" My reply is simple "we'll stop here
for the night then!" After Dachau we both need something slightly
absurd like a Zeppelin museum. I know I certainly do.
We find a hotel across the road from the waterfront with a curious long
wooden panelled entry hall. We park the bikes out the back, directly
below the window in our room as it turns out. Showers, change of
clothing and we're off out to see if we can get a meal and find the
museum to make sure it'll be open in the morning.
We find the museum near the quay for the ferry, which comes in while we
wander. The on-board PA is very load and pumping out music. Truly
We grab a coffee & then go looking for food. Just about everywhere
so far its been a doddle to get a meal in the evening, but not here. Ice
cream, yes. There appear to be hundreds of ice cream and coffee places
but restaurants? Oh no. We end up in a Chinese where we have
undoubtedly the worst meal of the trip. After about 3 mouthfuls Jerry
says "oh yeah, I'd forgotten that German Chinese restaurants are
universally awful." My meal has congealed lumps of what I suspect is
MSG lurking it it. And its not the warmest of meals either. I don't
Afterwards we walk along the lake embankment for a short while &
see some odd statuary, a little park and, oh my God we're cursed, a
fscking OOMPAH band. And not just any old oompah band, oh no. There's
about 40 of them. Its more like a bloody oompah orchestra & they're
playing in the bandstand facing the lake. Sitting on the edge of the
stage is an astonishingly miserable looking man. He must have heard
them play once too often. Poor git.
Back to the hotel. Sleep beckons. If I can't sleep I'm willing to drink
myself into oblivion to get the oompah band out of my head but
fortunately such drastic methods are not required.
Mapsource .gdb file of track