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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Munich Olympic Park

Tracy and I each had one objective for coming to Germany. Tracy wanted to find the place where she was born - the American army hospital in Augsburg. And I wanted to go back to the site of the 1972 Olympic Games that I visited with Inge.

Our hunt for Tracy's hospital was fairly comical. The American army pulled out of Augsburg in 1959 and the base has been mostly converted to other uses - rather like the old Stapleton airport or Lowry air force base in Denver. However, we knew the general location of the old base, and even saw some of the old barracks. They are unmistakable. We figured that something useful like a hospital building might still be standing - and might even still be in use. We found a German hospital in the neighborhood and wandered in. I spotted an older doctor and asked about the American hospital. He remembered it, but said that it was no longer in use as a medical facility. It had been converted to an apartment building. We drove around looking for it, and taking pictures of likely suspects, but were never sure if we found the right building. Oh well.

Then on to Munich to look for the Olympic Park.

I brought along a photo taken in Munich during that trip with Inge, and wanted to see if I could find the exact location and reproduce the photo. (Yes, I did have long hair once upon a time . . .)

We missed a turn somewhere along the way and ended up in downtown Munich. Not an easy place to park! However, we enjoyed the Marienplatz and ended up staying for the 5 pm ringing of the Glockenspiel.

Afterwards, we found the Olympic Park and drove around racing the sunset to try to find the exact location of the photo. No, this isn't the right angle.

Maybe over there? From up on that hill?

No, that's not it either. We circled around and around taking photos, and finally gave up. It was getting dark. Just as we got on the highway to leave town, we spotted an overpass. Maybe that's where we were! We got off the highway again and found a parking complex that was eerily familiar. I jumped out to check out the camera angles while Tracy waited in the car. This is close, but still not exactly right. Oh well.

I snagged a stranger to take one last picture before dark.

Darkness fell and Tracy and I drove back to Augsburg, thoughts and memories swirling. Tracy recalled her first six years spent in Germany, German words and indistinct images surfacing from the depths of her childhood memories. And I thought of Inge and Munich and the Olympics and our three month road trip in a vintage grey Volkswagen beetle.

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