Thursday, May 29, 2014

Germany and Switzerland: Day 4...Rothenburg ob der Tauber

I had debated and debated on which day trip we would take from Munich.  Part of me wanted to go to Salzburg, part of me wanted to go to see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and the other part of me wanted to go to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  There are just too many options.  When it came down to it, I cut up little pieces of paper wrote the name down and drew out a name.  I thought to be fair, I should do the best of five.  Rothenburg ob der Tauber was the winner!

Rothenburg was a little over a two hour train ride from Munich.  When we woke up, it was raining so we were glad that this was our day to spend away from Munich.  Rothenburg had beautiful weather!

All aboard!

We really enjoyed the train and watching the scenery go by.  Plus, you can totally drink on the trains, not that we were drinking at 8:00 am.

Rothenburg is a medieval walled city that was said to be the most quintessential German city according to the Nazi's.  The Allies used Rothenburg as a way to negotiate with the Nazi's to keep the city from being ruined. 

We arrived to Rothenburg and made our way through the wall to find cobblestone streets and half timbered houses.  It was like we stepped back into time into Geppetto's village from Pinocchio.  Which ironically enough, Rothenburg was what the village was based on.

The streets were very quiet when we arrived.  We wandered around the city, stopped and had some lunch and just really enjoyed the city.  

This is the most photographed intersection in all of Germany.  And yes, Ken was lucky enough to get his picture taken there.

Quite honestly, this was probably the most forced picture of the entire trip.  :)

We walked around the wall for a while and took in the views

Such a cute little city

One of the well known things in Rothenburg is a Schneeball.  I knew I wanted to try one or two.  

Come to mama

After we stuffed our faces of Schneeball, we walked around and shopped a bit.  This is where things got ugly.  Apparently the Asian Invasion was dropped off on about 15 different tour buses.  They were running around taking pictures and had no regard for anyone else.  I apologize if I am offending someone that is Asian and has self awareness.  You clearly were not in Rothenburg on May 17th.  We decided to go ahead and walk back to the train station and take an earlier train to get back to Munich.

Someone took a little Theo nap on the train

Our only real transportation issue with the train happened on our way back to Munich.  We accidentally read the arrivals instead of the departures and did not realize the train we needed was right in front of us and we missed it. Oh well, we just waited about 45 minutes for the next one.  We walked around the little village and Ken saw a canoe and found a river on his phone so we walked to check it out.  Let me tell you, he walked faster trying to find that river than he did at any other point in the trip.  About a half mile from the train station, we found that river.

Um yeah, that was the beautiful river

This sign was on the path by the river.  Not cool.

What does one do with 45 minutes to spare in a remote German village?  Go into the train station and buy beer and what you thought was wine.

I thought this was Chardonnay but it ended up being a little bubbly.  Clearly I need to practice reading German.

Killing some time at the train station

Apparently downing a bottle of bubbly makes me need a little Theo nap.

We made it back to Munich and stopped by the Marienplatz again.  Next thing I know, Ken left my side and joined a tour group.

After Rothenburg, we had to have a good laugh about this one.  Back to the bus.

We decided to stop by the Hofbrauhaus for dinner.  Just like last time we walked in, walked around a bit and left.  It was just not our kind of place.  We felt like a lot of the people were in there put on a dog and pony show for the tourists.  We ended up at Augustiner again, which we really enjoyed.

I think it goes without saying that we consumed more dunkel from our favorite brewery.

The empty beers must mean it is time to leave Germany and head to Switzerland!

We walked back to the Marienplatz to get a few last pictures of the square and to see it at night time. The days prior we had already made our way back to our hotel before dark, so we really wanted to see it all lit up.

Good bye Germany!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Germany and Switzerland: Day 3...Munich and Dachau

On Friday we woke up feeling super refreshed compared to the day before.  Ken and I had both woken up at 3:00 am and were dying of thirst.  Ken went down to the hotel bar and paid like 7 Euros for two bottles of water.  It was the best water I had ever had!

We left the hotel to find a place for breakfast.  We could have paid to have breakfast at our hotel, but we wanted to have something a little more authentic.  Ken opened Yelp to see if it could provide any suggestions.  We ended up at the Dallmayr, which had great reviews.  The Dallmayr has a cafe but on the main floor they sell cheese, meet, and of course chocolate.

I instantly fell in love with this place.  Of course I bought some chocolate!

We were seated for breakfast and we quickly realized that we were eating breakfast with locals and not tourists, which we were perfectly happy with.  Ken ordered the traditional Bavarian breakfast of Weisswurst, while I stuck with eggs, bacon, and a croissant.  

Let's pause for a moment while I mention that America is completely missing out by not serving croissants for breakfast.  They are delicious and a I may have had one every single day while in Europe.  

Now back to the Weisswurst.  We were so hungry that we forgot to take a picture of it.  It was interesting.  I tasted it and did not care for it.  It had an odd flavor.  It did, however, come with a Bavarian pretzel.  A pretzel at 9:00 am is a tradition I can totally get on board with.

We should all live in a world where Bavarian pretzels are served with breakfast.  Amen.

While we were waiting on our breakfast, we pulled out my Rick Steves book on Bavaria and he actually covers Dallmayr. Apparently one of the former Kings of Bavaria loved Dallmayr for all of his get togethers.  Dallmayr had so much tradition and so much of a back story, that I am glad we visited.

We left Dallmayr and walked back to the Marienplatz to get onto the S-Bahn to make our way to the Dachau concentration camp.

The Old Town Hall was such a gorgeous building!

Getting to Dachau was very easy.  We took the S-Bahn to Dachau and then took a bus from the main station to the camp.  On the bus ride we met a couple from Georgia.  They were the two most traditional Southern people I have ever met.  By the time we reached the camp, the man had told us about his sun marrying an unwed mother because the Lord had told him to.  I wanted to tell him that it is quite alright, we are not that judgmental in Kansas. It was pretty funny.

The gate to enter the concentration camp, which sadly means work makes you free.

Ken and I wandered around the grounds and took everything in.  It was really surreal to think of what all transpired at the camp.  It was so strange to think that it was real life back then and not part of a movie set or something.  

The grounds where roll call was taken

One of the memorials inside the camp

The barracks, the bunks inside the barracks, the prisoners lockers, and where the remaining barracks used to stand.

The crematorium complete with the gas chamber and ovens used to cremate the bodies

The fence that was around the perimeter.  If a prisoner was found too close to the unrestricted area by the fence, they were shot and killed.

A view of both sides of the barracks

After we left Dachau, we decided to walk back to the train station instead of taking the bus.  As we were on the walking path, we came across this.

You know, just in case you are out running/walking and need cigarettes

We got to the train station and made our way back to Munich.  We walked a few blocks from the main station in Munich to the oldest beer garden in Munch, Augustiner Keller.  It was a little too cold to sit in the actual garden area, but they had outside seating near the building with heaters.  Oh, they also provide blankets for you too.  It was a little bit of heaven!

We sat there with a few other tourists and of course many locals.  It was interesting watching the locals since it was a Friday night and many people were enjoying after work cocktails.

The funniest thing that happened at dinner was an Asian man that had a pretzel.  He approached one of the waiters and asked if there was a dipping sauce for the pretzels.  The waiter looked at him and said we have mustard.  The Asian man looked puzzled and asked for a traditional dipping sauce.  The waiter then told the guy look, it is a sauceless pretzel.  The guy felt like an idiot.  We had a good laugh over it!


We may have consumed our fair share of beer.  The dunkel at Augustiner was just too good!

This is how real men drink their beer

And this is how I drink beer, barely being able to lift the mug!

I almost kissed our waiter when he brought us the pretzels.  After all, a pretzel a day keeps the doctor away.

After dinner and beer, we stumbled walked back to our hotel for the evening.  We did stop a long the way for a little gelato.  

Me getting money out of Ken's wallet to pay for ice cream.  This is really not much different than our daily life.  :)

We did see a gas station about a block from our hotel so we stopped to get some water.  We ended up leaving with two liters of water, two beers, and a German Peanut Butter Kit Kat.  Hmm...

While in the convenience store, I was confused about the water and wanted to make sure we were getting still and not sparkling water.  I saw these two German guys about my age and I asked them if they spoke English.  It was pretty funny because they could not wait to help me and were talking to me and joking around.  Then, they realized that the tall guy scouting out beer was with me.  Ha!  

We had a wonderful full day in Germany.  We could not have asked for a better day! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Germany and Switzerland: Day 1 and 2...

Ken and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Germany and Switzerland!  It was seriously the best vacation we have ever taken.  I am sad that it is over, but happy to be able to share pictures.  And boy, do I have a lot of pictures.  I am warning you now, I have a ton to say about our trip and share in photos.

This was our 5 year wedding anniversary and 10 year anniversary of being together trip, which is super hard to believe it has been that long!

We had decided a few months ago that we would do carry-on luggage only in the form of a backpack.  Yeah, just think about that for a second.  I was able to pack 10 days of clothes into a backpack.  That in itself should earn me some type of prize.

Clearly a Christmas miracle

We arrived to the airport on Wednesday and learned that our flight from Kansas City to Chicago was delayed.  Apparently the fire near O'Hare the day prior had left many flights delayed.  The delay would have given us 4 minutes to get to our next flight.  We got past security and went to the gate and spoke to the agent.  During our conversation with her, we learned our flight had been delayed even further and there was no way we could catch our flight once we got to Chicago.  The agent worked some magic and ended up getting us re-routed to London from Chicago and we would arrive in Munich at 3:45.  This was quite a disappointment because we were supposed to be in Munich at 9:20 am originally, but there was nothing we could do.  We got to Chicago and killed our layover with drinks and dinner.

It was quickly realized that Ken was in love with his backpack.  

Clearly I do not feel the same love for my backpack.

Backpack and beer, he is ready to board the plane!

The flight from Chicago to London was absolutely horrible.  Because we were one of the last to get on the flight, we did not have the seats I had originally selected for our original flight.  We had two middle seats.  Somehow the very nice Italian lady next to Ken offered to switch seats so Ken could have the aisle.  I think she saw the panic on his face when he saw he was in the middle.  Even with the moving around, neither of us slept at all.  Maybe it had something to do with all the wine we were drinking?  We learned that wine is free on international flights, so it seemed wrong not to drink it!

Ken may have had a few more drinks than me. 

We had a four hour layover in London.  I was bummed because if it had been even an hour longer, we could have gone to see at least one site in London like Buckingham Palace.  Heathrow was a super clean airport, but we were both miserable while we were there.  We started our time there by taken a horrible shuttle to our terminal that was jam packed full of people.  It was so hot.  You know, the kind of hot where your boobs start to sweat and you feel a drop of sweat falling down your bra.  It was awful.  The people watching in the airport was pretty fun.

We got aboard the British Airways flight from London to Munich and Ken and I had aisle seats right across from each other.  One of the funniest things of the entire trip happened when we landed in Munich.  The British man sitting next to me (in the middle seat) told me he needed to get his stuff out of the overhead compartment.  People were already standing in the aisle, including Ken so there was no room for me to get out of my seat.  I told the guy that there was no room for me to get up and he told me that it was quite alright, he would just climb over me.  Climb over me he did.  He proceeded to get out two large suitcases and stand practically on my lap all while his wife was barking orders at him from the window seat.  It was kind of like the twilight zone, but we were finally in Munich!

We quickly figured out the S-Bahn system and made our way from the airport to our hotel.  By the time we got to our hotel we had been travelling for 26 hours and neither one had slept for more than an hour.  We decided instead of showering and changing, we would walk around for a bit, eat, and call it an early night.

We started making our way to the Marienplatz to see the main sites in Munich.

We were starving, so we set out to get something for dinner.  We found the famous Hofbrauhaus and went in to check it out.  It was chaos, pure chaos. 

A private party in one of the upstairs rooms of Hofbrauhaus

We decided that we were not quite in the mood for the loud atmosphere of Hofbrauhaus and we made our way over to Augustiner am Platzl instead.  It was the perfect place for dinner.  We were seated with a nice retired couple from San Francisco and enjoyed talking to them.  

We loved the beer from Augustiner!

A view of the restaurant and our cute German waitress


After dinner we walked around and made our way back to our hotel.  We were so tired that I declined the offer for ice cream.  That should tell you how exhausted I was!

It was a great first day in Munich!