Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Munich

(Posted from Paris)

The guys and I took a train from Pfortzeim to Munich.  We booked an 11:50pm train ride thinking, Hey, we’re college kids. We’ll get to Munich at like 2am or so. No big deal.

What we didn’t take in for consideration was that there was a three-hour layover in Stuttgardt, about a fourth of the way to Munich.

Big deal.

We arrived at Stuttgardt train station at around 12:45am or so, and prepared for a three-hour break. We were all quite tired by now because, remember, we had just gotten done with a big hike and a high ropes course a few hours earlier. Napping was the best idea, so we curled up on some benches at our train’s stop and tried to sleep in the open air, uncomfortable, cold train station. I didn’t get much sleep at all. Finally, our train came, and we made our way to our seats and couldn’t get to sleep fast enough.  I ended up draped over my suitcase, uncomfortably, but it didn’t matter because all I needed to do was be unconscious.

We arrived in Munich at 7:30am without a place to stay.  We found a nice hostel and luckily they had some beds open. We made our reservations and were all ready to jump in bed and sleep, but check-in wasn’t until 2pm. So we had many, many hours to kill. First we went to go get some food. This was the first time I had McDonalds in Europe. I was told by a fellow traveler never to be afraid of eating at McDonalds in Europe because it’s cheap and it’s pretty good food. I had a nice salad.

After lunch, we figured out the train system and took a nice, long train ride to Dachau because 1) we wanted to go there, and 2) we could take naps on the train. Dachau is a WWII concentration camp, by the way.

Here are some pictures from that trip. It was a sobering experience that, despite our fatigue, was very powerful. You can read and read and read about the Holocaust, but there's something even more disturbing about actually seeing one. 


We slept back to Munich, and by this time we could check in.

The beds were irresistible. We hopped in and said, “We’ll wake up at 4,” and konked right out. Our plan was to go to Olympic Stadium in Munich and the BMW Museum when we work up. It seems almost too characteristic of me to set the alarm incorrectly on purpose in order to get more sleep, but I didn’t do that. I did it accidentally.  We ended up waking up at six, totally refreshed, and realizing that Olympic Stadium and the BMW Museum were closed. I was fine with that because I didn’t really want to go to those places.

It was around dinnertime, so we decided to go to a nice beer garden that Tim knew about called Hofbreuhaus. This place was wonderful. It was huge and crowded and just great.

There was a great German band playing traditional tunes (nothing like the crap in Pfortzeim), and pleasantly-shloshed people singing along and yelling.


Something I found interesting is that there is a large wall of “stein lockers” (that’s the best name I can think of to call them)—people who are regulars at this place buy their own special steins, and since they come so often, they lock them up in the lockers and get them out when they come. Just imagine going through the keys on your key ring and saying, “Okay…here’s my car key…my house key…my safe deposit box…and my stein locker.”

I ate their signature veal sausages with a pretzel, which was absolutely delicious and comforting, however disturbing the sight of it was. I don’t know; there’s something unappetizing about sausages at the bottom of a white, porcelain basin. I’ll let you decide by looking at the picture.

I ordered my first liter of dark beer, which was quite interesting. I also ordered a coke, just in case I didn’t like it.  The beer actually wasn’t that bad—a lot better than the crap I’ve tasted before. I stopped drinking it for two reasons: First, I was completely full. Second, after drinking a third of it (that’s probably about a can of beer and a half), I was already feeling a little more than buzzed. Apparently I’m quite a lightweight.

On our walk back to the hostel, the guys were getting pretty tired, even though I was feeling fine. As we turned a corner, I heard some music coming from the other way. Given my obsession with street acts, I said, “Come on, guys!” And they were like, “No, no, we want to go to bed,” but I didn’t listen and ran to the music. Turns out there was this wonderful band called Konnexion Balkon (in English, Connection Balcony), that played wonderful music. They take classical music and rearrange it into jazz. I ended up getting their CD, Konnexion Balkon Goes Classic. There music is something different than most of the things I’ve heard before. I’ll put a video up so you can see and hear some of what they do. We ended up staying until the end of their street concert, and all the guys agreed that they were pretty darn awesome.


We got back and slept. As we were getting ready for bed, we were surprised to find that our room (which had two extra beds) was actually a coed room. Two women from Asia who are about our age and speak very little English walked in. That was awkward.

The next day we hopped another train (the rates for tickets in Munich are great) and went to Füsser.

 This is a little—and quite touristy—town in Germany that had only one important thing in my eyes: the castle from which Walt Disney got his inspiration to design Cinderella’s castle. Words can’t describe how wonderful it was.  Take a look at the pictures.


Unfortunately, one side was under construction, as many old buildings all over Europe are all the time. But it was still breathtaking. 

We wanted to see more, and given that there were more hills above us on the bridge, we took a hike up a semi-beaten trail to one of the cliffs. It was amazing.




After that we went back and checked in to another hotel, because our hostel was booked for that night. The guys decided to go to the BMW Museum and Olympic Stadium, and I decided to stay at the hotel for some much-needed—and I mean much needed—alone time. You can thank that alone time for giving you the Austria post. J

They got back far past dinnertime and we took another trip to the Hofbreuhaus. When we got there, though, it took forever for our server to even come to us, and he handed us a late-night menu that was printed in only German, unlike their regular menus. Since we couldn’t understand anything and were too hungry to wait, we decided to go across the street to the Hard Rock Café.

Very German of us.

But, at the same time, it was wonderfully delicious and home-like. I had a giant buffalo burger with fries. Can’t really beat it.

Then we went back to the hotel and the guys went to bed while I stayed up to talk to my Dad for his birthday (which, by the way, was Friday the 12th of June…so now you know when this actually happened. And when my dad’s birthday is).

And then I finally went to bed and prepared myself for a flight to Ireland in the morning. That’s an interesting story too.

Peace and Love,

Brian

Yes, just like I had to get a picture of me touching the Disney castle, I had to get one of me touching this one.  

This picture was hard to get without her noticing. She was so cute. 

 

 

6 comments:

  1. woah, i think i may have been the first to read this-- there are no other comments!!

    wow, that must have been intense to actually BE at a concentration camp. It's not just a story, but an actual place where such horrible things REALLY happened. yuck. but good learning experience, I'm sure.

    hehehehe i love the picture of my widdle brian holding a giant beer glass! a sight i have yet to see in person. (september 5th, anyone?)

    haha, i don't mean that in a condescending way, of course, just a joke.

    konnexion balcon sounds awesome! and they have a pretty cool website too, haha.

    wow, your cinderella castle pictures are amazing! i have an urge to make them my desktop background, just because they are so pretty!! i wish i could have seen it!

    did any wishes of yours come true after you touched cinderella's castle? do you have a fairy godmother or father now??

    i LOVE the nun picture too, i like her cute umbrella!

    you WOULD take about 5 naps in a day ;)

    love you!
    christie

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  2. Great photos Brian! I especially love the scenery and castle ones. Thanks! Cool that you actually got ABOVE the castle for that one shot.

    I gotta say you holding up a 2 liter beer was kinda a kick. Guess your first beer won't be a Key Dog Light! Was the mug plastic or glass?

    I wonder what the bartender thought when you ordered a beer with a Coke chaser?

    I've heard people who have gone to a concentration camp were completely overwhelmed. Incredibly sad that places like these actually existed.

    Were the brats in a clear broth or just water? Where are the mini buns?

    Can't wait to read and see more!

    Love you! Dad

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  3. YAY!! Two blog entries in two days! I LOVE IT!

    AH! So you admit to setting your alarm incorrectly on purpose! I KNEW it!!!

    What’s up with all of the statues of people standing on top of really high things? First that big gold ball….now the guy on top of the beer garden?

    I’m really hoping those veal sausage were really good, because the presentation of them (and your oh-so-witty description of them) really make them quite disgusting.

    You made your papa proud with picture of that huge beer stein!

    That street jazz/classical band is awesome! Hmmm… imagine YOU not listening to the people your with and running to the beat of your own drummer!

    The castle is amazing…so how is it in use now? Is it? Do they give tours? Does a princess actually live there?

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  4. Hi!

    The "Disney" castle is amazing! Germany has way better castles than Spain, apparently.

    Also, don't know if your friend who knew about Hofbreuhaus told you or not, but it's REALLY famous. Actually, it's where Hitler gave his first speeches and from where he launched the so-called "Beer Hall Putsch" which was his attempt to over-throw the government. From that, he was put in prison. While in prison, he dictated his book, "Mein Kampfh" (My Struggle) which became a best seller and in which he actually outlines what would develop into the "final solution" (i.e. the holocaust). Anyway...just a little Nazi history lesson (I took a class on the Nazi government in uni, it's not just that I'm a freak).

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  5. wow! i had no idea! hahaha, i thought it was just a cool beer garden!

    thanks, sarah!

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  6. I LOVED the picture of you by the castle, from my recolection you matched the pose perfectly.

    We talked a lot about the Hofbrauhaus in my H.S. German class, I was interested in reliving some more of those stories only to be disturbed by the fact that there are Hofbrahaus's locations all over the world now...at least the one in Germany is the first, unfortunately the original building was bombed heavily in WWII and only the original taproom was still in working order.

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