Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 2 in Munich

Yesterday we decided to mix things up from our original plan (which was to go out to Garmisch - the mountain area of Bavaria). Instead we decided to stay closer to Munich and apparently have an educational day!

The day prior, while we were at the Hofbrauhaus we met another American couple who were also our age from Minnesota. They have been traveling for 5 weeks and were wrapping up their last week! Talk about a long trip! They recommended that we go to Dachau, which is a small town about a 25 minute metro ride from Munich that is known because it was the first concentration camp, that most of the others were modeled after.

So we figured out the Munich metro, which seems quite simple. However I do believe we did not validate our ticket until the return trip because we didn't understand... Instead we just walked on and off the metro, looking like we knew exactly what we were doing!

When we got to the Dachau bahnhof we had to take a bus for about a ten minute ride. We decided to get up early and start the day, which was great because there were so few people there. The memorial opens at 9am, we were there by 9:30.

It was an interesting morning. I am not even sure how to describe it. I am glad we went, but of course you can't say it was a "fun" morning. I learned a lot. By the end of the museum part I just kind of felt numb. We could go into all of the buildings, each with a description of their prior purposes. By the end, at the crematorium and gas chambers I just felt ill with the whole thing and sat it out while Mike went in. Here are so photos -

(below) The map and details when we entered.

Their "uniforms" hanging in a prisoner's wooden locker.

I believe this was the bath room... On the arches there are spots you can see where poles have now been removed. Prisoners were often hung from these poles. The bench you see was a form of torture as well.

Bunks. Tons of tiny bunks.

The crematoriums.

All of these rectangular spaces were living quarters before. There was a whole field of them.

The original entry to the camp. Less than 75 years ago thousands of innocent people walked through this gate.

Phew. It's exhausting even going back through it! Next on our list was not anymore fun for me, but Mike loved it. We took the metro back into the city and got off at the stop for the German Museum. It was HUGE! Mike loved it because it was full of science, technology, physics, energy, motors, planes, light and sound, and so much more that I tried to block out of my college science classes. Here are a few if the 30 photos he took-

Since I have no clue what most of them are, I cannot describe them for you! You're on your own with that one! :)

See some of you tonight and tomorrow!!

Xo - Suz

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad - To view full size photos click on the picture and it will link to the full size version. Real pics will be posted when I return from vacation! Thanks!

Location:Munich, Germany

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Giant beers and even bigger pretzels!

Giant beers and even bigger pretzels!! Welcome to Munich, Germany. This is my first time in this city. I cannot tell you how many times I have said to Mike "I always thought Busch Gardens was just exaggerating! I had no clue they really had ______." All day long I ran into something else that was so totally German, it was terrific.

We got here last night around 9pm. Sadly, the information office that we rely heavily on when traveling was already closed. Luckily though, before we left Salzburg I was googling the hotel and purposefully left the site open to their directions page (and the iPad turned on)... Pretty sure I will remember to do that in the future for other places.

Anyway, when we got into the city we had no clue where to go. I knew the hotel was close (walking distance) from the train station. But rule number one when traveling in europe: when a European tells you it is a 10 minute walk, it is probably more like 20. (Unless that European is my Swiss uncle, then it is more like 2 hours!)

When we found our way to the hotel (Hotel Monaco) I think we were both pretty excited. The owner met us at the reception desk. She was so nice and welcoming! When she heard we didn't have a tour book she gave us one to borrow for the few days we would be here! Our room is ginormous and luxurious compared to everything else we have stayed in on this trip! And the breakfast spread... Oh. Em. Geeee! It was amazing. Meats, cheeses, homemade pound cakes, bread, fruit, yogurt, juices, teas, and coffee! It is sadly not included in the cost of the room, but it was so good I didn't mind paying for it.

They thought of every detail with the rooms! Even a cute Teddy Bear with a tag that reads "In case you get homesick..." So cute! Definitely thankful we are ending our journey at this hotel!

After breakfast we began our day of exploring. We started at the Leiben Frau Cathedral. We both agreed that it was nothing compared to the cathedral in Salzburg but it was still much nicer than most! For a few euros we decided to go up to the top of the tower so we could see the layout of the entire city from above.

We lucked out because when we got to the bottom of the tower and into the Marienplatz it was 11am, one of the two or three times a day that the glockenspiel plays it's show of figurines dancing around the clock.

We did a bit more wandering before we decided to head to the famous Hofbrauhaus for some German food and beer!

After lunch we poked around a bit and found up on the second floor was a free educational beer house area! Free is always good.

Next we set out to find the English Gardens. On our way there I saw this monument that i later learned was a war monument. But when I was in German classes in high school, this lion was on the cover of my book, so of course I had to get a photo with him!

Right in the middle of the city is the English Garden. Within the garden is a place for people to surf! So crazy!

We walked, and walked, and walked (only to learn later that we went probably 5 kilometers) until we reached the Seehaus, an outdoor beer garden right by the lake. Mike decided to eat his second lunch and I decided to go all out German and get my giant beer and giant pretzel! The girl who has had no bad carbs for the past couple of months decided she was going to go on a no carb left behind adventure! And so behind the photos of the experience....

Super happy about everything!

Working my way through both of the....

Yep, still drinking...

All done! And started to feel it! For the record, I didn't eat the whole pretzel. I gave a little less than half of it to a hungry homeless guy who surprisingly could speak decent english...

Instead of walking back all of the miles we had just covered, we decided to spring for a bike guide. The guy had a bike that was attached to two seats for us to ride in. It was great. We really only wanted to do it because we did not want to walk, but in the end, he showed us some stuff we had not seen and made sure we learned a few new things. (below is all of the locals laying out by the cold water, old men nudists were further to the right!)

Touch the face for good luck!

In the end it was a good, long day. We got back with plenty of time to relax at the hotel this evening. Tomorrow our plan is to squeeze in a few more local sites...

Oh! And mike finally bought inserts for his crappy shoes! Hooray! We can walk even more now! :)

Xo - Suz

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad - To view full size photos click on the picture and it will link to the full size version. Real pics will be posted when I return from vacation! Thanks!

Location:Munich, Germany

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

After a great evening in Salzburg we almost had another entire day there. Up early we were touring the town by 9am. We pondered doing a tour or one of those hop on and hop off buses that stops at all the major tour sites. Luckily the timing was off and we did not do that tour. Little did we know that almost everything in Salzburg was within walking distance. Well, Suz-walking-distance. (apparently I do not have a problem walking long distances that most humans would snicker at.)

Our exploring began with THE MOST BEAUTIFUL cathedral I have ever seen. I haven't seen tons of them, but I have seen quite a few from the four months I lived and traveled from Belgium.

I recommend you clicking on these pictures and looking at the large version. The photos do not do this cathedral justice though.

After seeing several old buildings including Mozart's home, birth place, statues, and gift shops we decided to head to the Mirabellgarten. Tons of beautiful flowers everywhere. I am pretty sure mike wants his yard to look something like this when he gets home.

Next was lunch at a cafe in the square.

After lunch and a few relaxing seconds we decided to head out to the Hellbrunn Castle. This required a bus that took us about ten minutes out of town. We are learning to look for buildings with an "i" on the outside. That typically means tourist information and they are usually helpful. That's how we typically figure out how to get where we want if walking is not possible.

We got a little tour of the inside of the castle. But the fun part was outside. The archbishop that built the palace had a sense of humor. He decided to have trick fountains outside. As part of the tour we got to go through all of the fountains. You typically have no clue when the fountains were going to spray you! The kids around us loved it! I was just amazed that someone would've thought to do things like this 400 years ago! (and it was all powered by running water.)

After the trick fountains we walked the grounds a bit more. I was quite disappointed that we came all the way to Salzburg and I didn't get to do the Sound of Music tour. I was quite excited to learn that the gazebo from the movie was at this castle! For those of you not familiar, or need a refresher, this was in the classic part where they sang "I am sixteen going on seventeen..." Loveeeeee it!

I was SHOCKED when there were not hoards of people surrounding this! In researching this city I learned that The Sound of Music was not really a popular flick for Europeans. Another lady took a picture, and then one man walked by wondering what it was. When he read the sign he kinda mumbled "ahhhhhh." And since the doors were locked and I could not leap from bench to bench singing, I decided to leap around outside of it!

We wrapped up the day walking back towards the castle and then catching the bus back to the hostel. The hostel (Jufa) was so nice we got to leave our stuff there for the day. With some time to kill we relaxed for a bit, ate some lunch, and checked our emails before heading to the train station for our trip to Munich, Germany.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad - To view full size photos click on the picture and it will link to the full size version. Real pics will be posted when I return from vacation! Thanks!

Location:Salzburg, Austria

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday Afternoon in Salzburg

We made it to Salzburg this afternoon after a stressful morning trying to leave Venice. We checked out of our tiny closet hotel room and headed to the train station with plenty of time to spare. When we got there we were confused because our train time had a bus icon next to it. Not sure where eurail and I had misunderstandings but I did not book a 3 hour bus ride to Austria!

We asked an info lady who told us we didn't have enough time to get to the bus so we should hop on another train to the Venice mainland, then find someone else to ask where to find the bus we need. Long and stressful story short, we made it to the other station, ran across the street and saw a few other smelly backpackers waiting, just as confused as we were, for the big bus.

We took the bus for 3ish hours to Villach, Austria where we transferred to a train that we rode to Salzburg. The seats we had on the train were in their own little room. We met a nice Austrian girl and an older couple from Argentina.

When we got to Salzburg we had to find a bus to navigate to our hostel. Believe it or not, this hostel is nicer than any of our other hotels. It is huge and very clean. Unlike the hostels I have stayed at in the past.

After checking into the hostel we headed out to explore before it got dark. We walked through Old Town Austria, then headed up a funicular to a fortress that overlooks the city. The views were beautiful! It is such pretty city!

We had dinner in a restaurant by the castle fortress. The view was also amazing. Here are some photos of Salzburg so far:

Mike drinking the local beer.

Above - from the old town looking up at the fortress

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we hope to see the main attractions and old buildings of the town. We will train our way to Munich around 7pm.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad - To view full size photos click on the picture and it will link to the full size version. Real pics will be posted when I return from vacation! Thanks!

Location:Salzburg, Austria