A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

Day 77, Frankfurt

sunny 25 °C

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The morning was still fresh and the sun had not yet shone on the little town of Gimmelwald when we left early this morning. Okay so it wasn’t all that early, it was 0800 when we took the cable car into the valley, but we had already remade our beds for the next visitors (lazy hostel buggers.) We took the bus to the train station in Lauternbrunnen and a train from there to Interlaken. From Interlaken we took a train to Bern and finally we connected to Frankfurt. We realized already back in Gimmelwald waiting for the cable car that we had neglected to write down the name or address of our hostel. How many times are we going to do this?
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We made it to Frankfurt at 1530 and immediately wished we had gone straight to Amsterdam, it was only 4 hours farther! (and a few hours wait.) When we found the hostel only 100m from the train station we could tell the area was not great, train stations usually gather a transient crowd. Later in the evening, when we got back from dinner, we saw a guy smoking a rock of crack in a pipe right in front of our door. The hostel itself was uber-ghetto, an office building turned into dorm rooms. We kept telling ourselves it was only one night!
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While getting Gary on and off the trains during the day the pulling handle had broken right off. Gary was getting harder and harder to deal with. We brainstormed what to do about him, duck tape? rope? tie him to a skateboard? In the end we used Shane’s belt and this seems to do the trick very well. The rest of the evening we did laundry, drank applewine and ate Chinese food. Oh. And dried not to go crazy.

Posted by s-a 21:54 Archived in Germany Tagged frankfurt Comments (3)

Day 72, Mainbernheim

overcast 22 °C

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Kathrin made us a wonderful breakfast this morning, she was out at the bakery before we even got up. We decided it would be nice to drive to Wurzburg and check out the town. Wurzburg has a lot of history since 1000BC when a celtic settlement was first formed and has many historical sites. We parked the car and took a stroll into the center of town. We found our way into the market and looked quickly as the shopkeepers set up. We peeked inside a church that was quite plain and not all that interesting. We walked across the Alte Mainbrucke or the old main bridge adorned with statues of saints. We glanced at the Fortress on top of the hill and decided it was not worth the work.
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The three of us bought drinks from the supermarket, we were parched from the sun. We sauntered into the modern Salzburg Cathedral. Most of the building collapsed in 1946 after a 1945 bombing and it was rebuilt to combine the remaining elements which were Baroque (think: over the top) with a Romanesque style, large imposing towers, semicircular arches and surprisingly white and bare walls. It’s an unusual combination to look at. It was very cool (and huge!) We toured the crypt and then left. We walked only a few blocks to the Residence. This was the house of the Wurzburg bishop, NOT a palace as you might think considering how big it is. We thought about a tour inside and again decided not to. We walked around the beautiful gardens out back before we left looking for lunch.
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Lunch came closer than we though. We left the Residence grounds and made a left turn before running into the Residence beer garden! We drank our beers and ate currywurst under tall (oak?) trees. It was an awesome lunch talking with Kathrin. Because the beer ‘masses’ we wanted were not available in Munich we asked Kathrin where to find them. We looked around not finding anything for a while. In a stroke of genius she called her dad and asked. We drove to the brewery he indicated only a few minutes from where we had parked. Success! It was a very nice beer garden and if we had more time we would have stayed. Now two very lucky people are getting these glasses and they better know how much we like them because they are HEAVY!
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When we got home everyone else already was. Our wonderful family was throwing us a BBQ! Fabi (Kathrin’s other brother) and his girlfriend Bianca were there to meet us. We said our hellos and started talking right away. Kathrin let me borrow their printer and use all their ink for various things we needed. Andi came out and we moved to the patio. The sky was darkening and we worried about rain. Before we knew it a feast was upon us. Tante made the most wonderful dinner! There were so many delicious salads! And Oom BBQed up many different types of meat. It all tasted so fantastic and mid way through we met the Oma of the house, Monika’s mother. We talked and talked and my wine glass was always full (very full!) The boys left and dessert appeared and disappeared quickly. Finally a plate of Opa Sigfried’s speck, sliced nice and thin surprised us. We devoured that plate in a hurry! They gave us a huge jar of Opa Sigfried’s honey that tastes SOO good! All these goodies made my head spin. The boys came back and we took a few pictures in the yard just before the light was completely gone.
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Finally as a last hurrah to the evening (and upon hearing we hadn’t ever tried shnapps) a bottle of Mirabella schnapps appeared. There was a round for everyone and it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. We said goodbye the Oom Horst before we went to bed, we wouldn’t be seeing him in the morning as he had to be at work early.
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Posted by s-a 19:56 Archived in Germany Tagged family Comments (3)

Day 71, Mainbernheim

sunny 34 °C

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I woke up nervous. Today was the day we would meet Shane’s family, the day we had thought about so long. I could hardly eat my breakfast and was in a hurry to pack up and leave. We finally did around 0800 (we tried to buy 1L beer steins as we signed out but alas there were none.) We went to the train station and looked for flowers. In the single flower shop in the sprawling station there was there were no bouquet to be found. I left my pack on the platform and went to find a store. When I did stop one I had my work cut out for me. Wildflowers? Edelwiess plants? Orchids in pretty glass vases? I ended up with my favourite, two bunches of vivid coloured wildflowers.
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We boarded the train to Nuremberg and I grew more and more frightened. Would they like me? Would they judge me? We left the train and ran to the next with only two minutes to spare. I became frantic. Do they even like white wine? What if someone is allergic to flowers? I was nearly crying by the time we reached the Mainbernheim platform. We stepped off the train and looked around. There was Kathrin, waiting as she promised. We said our hellos and hugs, I handed her the flowers, both obviously relieved that the hardest part was over.
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We hopped in her car with our packs in the back and stopped at a bakery on the way home. The towns we drove through were picture-perfect Germany. “There is where I work, and there is where I used to work” Kathrin pointed out. “Historical site number 1 and 2” we joked. We got to her house, the place she lives with her mother, father, one brother and grandmother. It is beautiful. She showed us to our room, by far the nicest place we’ve stayed! The house is gorgeous! Wood ceilings in every room, a kitchen made by the hands of her father! We sat down at the table in the kitchen. Andi came in. “My smallest brother” Kathrin introduced, we quickly corrected, her youngest brother, Andi is tallest out of all of us.
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The four of us chatted over lunch Kathrin prepared, an excellent hostess. Andi is writing his 12th grade finals and we talked about our trip. After lunch we threw in our laundry and hit the town. Actually, we drove to near by Iphofen. Iphofen is a teeny-tiny town built within the old town walls. Around it actually exists a large wall complete with turrets and gates. We wandered in and out admiring and talking. We got back home and hung our laundry to dry. As we were finishing the parents came home. We met and said hello, Tante was making dinner so we left with Kathrin for the pool. We didn’t know what this meant when we left but we soon found out. About a five minute drive from the house we stopped in front of a large garden. She unlocked the gate and let us inside. Behind the hedges erupted a large yard equipped with a kitchen a bathroom and a pool. It had a dining area and a trailer. Kathrin brought out the lounge chairs and took the cover off the pool.
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Because the day was so hot (hottest recorded day of the year) we actually say down up to our necks in the pool. Then I fell asleep in a chair in the very hot sun. When I awoke I quickly moved to the shade and ate a delicious ice cream cone. At 1645 we headed home to try and phone Shane’s mom. We tried her once and didn’t get her (she is allowed a birthday sleep-in after all.) Dinner was served, tante made us a typical franken (the region here) meal with amazing braised beef and large dumplings for soaking up the gravy. It was delicious, it had been so long since a home cooked meal!
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After dinner and a nice round of conversation we hit the road again. This time we left with oom, tante, Kathrin, Shane and I. We drove to Sommerach, though it was a maze to get there! We left the car not knowing what to expect. A few minutes later we were shaking hands with Daniel the owner of Then Wineries. He is a small scale producer here in Franken, the wine making region in Germany. We walked around the vineyards lined up the hills. He told us all about the wines he grew and produced, how to become trained in his field and what he does differently than other growers. We talked about labour practices and organic farming. Along the way we sampled different wines, a sparkling wine and rose, a white (Muller-Thurgau), a local grape called Silvaner. By the end five of us had drunk three full bottles of wine and few more halves!
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We learned a great deal through their attempts at English and our little game of verbal charades. We finished the walking part of our tour in the Then cellars learning about the aging process of the wines and how the addition of sulphates is the difference between wine and vinegar. He handed us two little bottles of white wine “for the next train ride” he said. The tour was tailored to us and essentially was for us as we were who Daniel talked to. We ended the night sitting in the courtyard with large glasses of red wine talking about this and that. We bought a bottle of Silvaner from Daniel for a price we thought was not enough for how good the product was. We headed home.
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When we got there we tried skyping mom again. This time it worked! The family said happy birthday and then she was off to work. I really don’t know what I was so worried about, Shane’s family is so fantastic. I’ve never met hospitality as kind as theirs, my cheeks still hurt from laughing so much!
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Posted by s-a 22:09 Archived in Germany Tagged family Comments (1)

Day 70, Munich

sunny 24 °C

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This morning sunlight was welcome after five dreary days. We had our breakfast and awaited our 1045 tour. It was a very entertaining way to spend our last day in Munich. Our Irish tour guide is the funniest we’ve had yet, by far. We learned about the rise of socialism which started here in Munich and about Hitler’s cowardly ways. We saw a few churches all rebuilt after the war when 90% of Munich was rubble. We drank a beer half way through the tour with the rest of our group. We did not enjoy however, the extremely annoying young group of girl from Philadelphia (or Philly as they kept referring to it as.) We won’t got into details but oddly enough though their old man accompaniment wouldn’t let them drink a beer (they were under age of course) he did allow them to wear short with their bums hanging out.
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As we were walking back in the direction of the hostel we came upon a really nice supermarket (in a large ground shopping mall beneath a very busy road.) We walked on in looking for a bottle of wine. We finally settled (because who really knows before they open the bottle?) on a bottle to bring with us the next morning. We ate lunch at the train station, is there a cheaper place? We sent some postcards, though it was a challenge to find stamp and headed back to the hostel to chill out.
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Later on in the evening we made the walk to Augastiner Keller. This is the site of a former gallow. As our tour guide put it “come for the entertainment, stay for the beer!” The garden seats 5 000 and they were full! There was both a football game and a live band playing (on the same stage.) We got our beers and dinner and found a spot where there was no view of the football game, that also meant there was not many people there. We chatted and drank and ate great food. Late that night we made our way home and crashed for the evening totally exhausted, as usual.
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Posted by s-a 00:53 Archived in Germany Tagged munich Comments (2)

Day 69, Munich

overcast 19 °C

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Staying in the moment is getting harder and harder everyday. We are both exhausted from this constant moving around and the feeling that we always need to be seeing something. It’s so easy to be lazy and not do anything, just dream about what we’re going to do one we get home, planting a late garden, building compost bins, baking wonderful goodies and training our dog. Walking around trying not to spend money on silly things is getting old, paying 10 euros for a castle and 7 euros for a museum we feel we’ve already seen isn’t interesting anymore. It’s the food and the drink we’re waiting for everyday and even that is feeling rough. All I want is a salad and it shouldn’t cost me 5 euros! I want cold tap water without a side of dirty looks and a cookie from my oven that is perfectly sweet. Walking in the hot sun shouldn’t be a chore, it should thrill us (like it would for you at home!) We’re taking it easy walking and resting, not rushing anywhere, trying our absolute best not to complain and to throughly enjoy every moment, in a month from now we’ll wish to be back here!
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We were asking ourselves what to do this day. A walking tour? No, tomorrow. Flea markets for cool souvenirs? Yeah sounds good, and it’s a Sunday. (P.S. souvenir IDEAS ANYONE!) Now what else? We decided on a museum, the Alte Pinakothek or the Old Museum. You can imagine why it’s referred to as old, the paintings were ancient of course! Some we saw were painted in the 13th century. Because it was Sunday admission was 1 euro as opposed to 7 euros and thank goodness for that! The museum should have been called “The Gallery of Paintings of Jesus.” Very few paintings did not share this theme, if Jesus was missing Mary was there. We got bored awfully quick, we’ve seen it far to many times.
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We left and got to the train station we rode all over the city until we reached our destination, a flea market. The only issue was the lack of market! We walked for quite some time poking around the address we had. Unfortunately it was not to be found and we snuck back on the train going the other way (Munich transit is EXPENSIVE and we were still within 90 minutes.) We headed back to the hostel disappointed and tired. We rested for a few hours, until we found our second wind.
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Dinner was eaten at Hofbrauhaus a gigantic beer hall first opened in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria. We indulged in 1L beers and far to many pretzels! Our tour guide told us the next day that this beer hall is made of 90% tourists and the food and service were to be atrocious. To bad really, because we had a great time! We ran home because we both had to pee so bad after all that drinking and wouldn’t you know, its the longest walk I’ve ever made. Shane had another beer at the hostel and we chatted on facebook (not with each other) well into the night.
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Posted by s-a 00:44 Archived in Germany Tagged munich Comments (1)

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