Thursday, May 08, 2008

Europe Recap Part 4: Germany (part 2)

The last couple days of our adventure were all about being tourists in touristy places. Following the Springfest excitement, the next day we walked around Munich and took in the sights. Last time I was here I was only in Germany for 4 total days, including travel time, so I never really looked around Munich. I knew Munich was a great city so I was stoked we spent the day sightseeing with a local, Sebastian.

Best view of Munich, from atop a church tower

Old architecture abounds in Munich and whatever is new or looks new was where a bomb landed during WWII. Good times! Munich is a very pedestrian city with many streets blocked off to auto access and public transportation everywhere; buses, trains, subway/underground, taxis, there's no need for a car here which is good cuz the parking sucks and is rather expensive! The shopping here is great, too, if you're into that sort of thing

One of 4 original entrances to Munich from around 1175 A.D

We stopped for a quick break at this permanent farmers market sort of thing right in the heart of the city called the Viktualienmarkt and ate the best brats, ever. These Germans really know how to make sausages. After our pit-stop it was up, up and away into this church tower that overlooks the Marienplatz. The view of Munich was wonderful, even though it was overcast and chilly.

Marienplatz from above

Our final stop in downtown was to this store that sells tracht; don't let the strange people and website scare you away, it's the real deal. Tracht is traditional Bavarian clothing like drindl dresses and lederhosen. Sebastian explained that this shop was the good stuff and the place that people from Munich go to buy their clothing, not tourists, and the quality showed; it was the best I'd seen. I tried the full get-up on (sorry, no photos were allowed in the shop) and ended up coming back the next day to buy the outfit! Yeah, it's crazy and I don't know how often I'll actually wear the stuff but I loved it and felt like it needed to be part of my wardrobe...for those special Bavarian occasions...I guess.

The best tracht in Munich, period!

A quick U-bahn train up to BMW Welt later and we were checking out the incredible BMW Welt facility near Olympiapark. They spent 500 million Euro on this facility and it shows; it's amazing. All they need to do is walk you through here once and you're a BMW customer for life.

I heart BMW

We walked through the Olympiapark on the way back where the '72 Olympics were held. It's a really nice park and facilities are everywhere. I guess you could call this Munich's Central Park and from what Sebastian told us it is used for all sorts of concerts, sporting events, festivals and so forth; it's a wonderful gem in this beautiful city. Bayern Munich used to play here until the Allianz Arena was built just a few miles from here, which is certainly a step-up for Germany's best football (soccer) club.

Katie attempting communication with swans @ Olympiapark

Hofbrau Haus for dinner that night. I wanted everyone to see HB cuz you kinda gotta see it but it's such a tourist trap and so isolated from the true Munich experience that you're cheating yourself by not going elsewhere (which we had). Everyone speaks English (hell, our waiter was Japanese), the menus are in English, it's just not "real" ya know? The traditional band was good but that's about all we enjoyed here; we'd take Lowenbrau any day of the week.

When you wish upon a star...

Our final full-day in Germany was spent near Fussen at Newschwanstein Castle. This is the castle that the Disney castles were modeled after, built by King Ludwig in the 1800's. It's about as fairytale place as you could ever imagine. The castle is nestled in the mountains with waterfalls around it, towering pine trees, a beautiful valley below and the most incredible views. The castle inside is pretty bland; I'm sure there are castles in Orange County that are more nicely appointed. But, you come here for the view and the surroundings and they were incredible. It was a damn shame that the weather was rainy and the roads were really wet because the drive down from Munich is on some killer winding roads through beautiful countryside. Next time I'm totally coming back to this stretch of pavement and having a little fun!

Not a bad view, eh?

Afterwards we drove to Oberammergau for a quick stop and shopping and then back to Munich in a big rainstorm. With the wipers going full speed and me keeping up with the traffic around me, I glanced down and we were going 100mph...might want to slow down :) I bought the lederhosen in Munich upon our return to the City, everyone did a bit of shopping and then it was back to the hotel to pack. Jen and Ben had a train to Stuttgart in the morning and we had to drop off the uber-wagon and catch a flight home at 11AM.

Location, location, location

So the following day we dropped the uber-wagon off at E.H.Harms for shipping back to the states, boarded our flight to Heathrow and 1/2 a day later we were back home. The trip was over and all that was left was some jet lag, great souvenirs, around 1000 photos combined and great memories.

Jery Springer-style final thoughts? I think so. We'll hit it tomorrow...

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