Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Munich, With Sleep

Part 2 of our Europe trip, which I promise contains more pictures and fewer words than Part 1.

Having gotten some much needed sleep, we ventured out into Munich the next day. We had planned this day only very loosely, figuring we might not be too ambitious after the flight. We had some places we generally wanted to see, but no particular timetable.

Our first stop was the bakery closest to our hotel. Sadly the photo above is not that bakery. It is a bakery in Munich though, so that's pretty close!

Our normal morning fare is bagels, but we had no luck at all communicating that concept to the staff. We ended up just picking something out of the display case - a little squarish piece of bread that seemed similar. Then we tried to get some cream cheese but apparently this is an unknown concept as well. But they redeemed themselves with the butter - no stupid little cup of faux-butter but rather a quarter stick of buttery goodness.

It turned out that our bagel-like object was some kind of magical bread that must've had the approximate caloric content of an entire turkey. We each at a little 6 ounce chunk of bread… and then literally forgot to eat lunch. After that Wendy took to calling it “Dwarven stout bread.”

After that we wandered around town a bit, ending up in a local market. They had a brass band playing, which apparently does not preclude beer drinking. We stayed for a while and ended up talking to a group of tourists from Minnesota because they saw my Anoka State sweatshirt.

Then more wandering to several churches and buildings in the area.

Finally, back to the Neue Rathaus to see the Glockenspiel – basically a mechanized merry-go-round that reenacts scenes from local history.

By midafternoon the Dwarven stout bread was wearing off, so we headed out the famous Hofbrauhaus. It’s probably the classic beer hall, dating back to its origin as the royal brewery of the Kingdom of Bavaria. It’s actually still owned by the Bavarian state government, which says something about their priorities. They do a damn fine job of it too!

Like many of the restaurants in Bavaria, it’s basically a big room full of communal trestle tables. So we walked in, found a nice looking table and asked the occupants if we could sit there. In our ignorance we didn’t realize that it was a “Regulars” table, with a sign and everything, so tourists weren’t supposed to sit there. But they said we could, so we got a prime seat right in front of the band. The regulars at the table were all dressed in classic Bavarian outfits, and had wooden spoons that they played along with the band, and occasionally on the each other’s asses (see photo!) We got a big pork knuckle with potatoes, and a big stein of beer. Yep, pretty much a Bavaria overload.

After that we headed off to the Englischer Garden. It’s a pretty huge garden, sort of a Central Park style setup. The major difference is that the surfing is much better than Central Park.

It’s not the best surfing in the world, but then Munich is not very close to the ocean so I guess you take what you can get. It is quite popular. There doesn't seem to be any official organization, but the unspoken rules are quite effective. There's a line of people on the shore waiting to use the wave. Each person uses it for a short time and then washes downstream so the next can take a turn.

So that was about it for the day. But a few other random photos…

Home Alone, Munich edition


Wendy’s maiden name translates as “Strength of the Wild Boar”, so we had to get a photo with this awesome boar sculpture.

So… Bacchus spitting endlessly on some poor kid? Sure, why not, sounds like a great fountain!

Big bike!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Europe 2015 Trip

So yeah, we went to Europe! Um, about, 5 16 months ago. I'm lazy, deal with it. Anyway had been 7 years since our trip to Peru, which was out last time out of the country, so it was time. I’ll just note ahead of time that part of why I’m writing this is to remind myself of the whole experience, so it might be overly detailed and a bit boring. Too damn bad, it’s my blog. Feel free to just look at the pictures, I won't be insulted.

Our first stop was scenic… Iceland!

Well, actually just the airport. Honestly it was not my favorite airport ever. That might have been related to the dense overcast, driving wind, rain, 40 degree temperatures, and firsthand experience we got with that weather while slowly stepping down a staircase on the tarmac. Also, the bathrooms are far from the gates. Really far. I suspect that they actually ran a tunnel to Heathrow so they could share bathrooms, but they keep it a secret because they want to keep selling flights. Ah well, I needed to stretch my legs anyway.

Soon enough we were crammed back into cattle class for a few more hours, and then arrived in Munich. I had heard that the best way to avoid jet lag is to not sleep on the flight so that you can adjust quickly when you get there. It seemed sensible, so when we finally landed in Munich I had been awake for about 24 hours straight. It was mid-day, but I really just wanted to find the hotel, drop my backpack, change clothes, and take a nap. I whipped out my copy of the trip plan, which conveniently organizes our whole trip for distracted and exhausted travelers, and looked up our hotel.

Whereupon Wendy says, “Oh no, that’s not the hotel. I changed it.”
I was nonplussed. ”You changed it but didn’t put it in the trip plan?”
She said, ”I thought I updated the plan, but I guess not.”
“Well, that kind of misses the point of the trip plan, but OK. What’s the new hotel?”
”I don’t know.”
”You don’t know... OK, where is it?”
”I don’t know.”
”Would you recognize the name?”
”So we have a hotel somewhere in Munich, but the only thing we know about it is that it’s not the one we have written down?”
”Great. That’s just great.”

Cue the giant facepalm. Regrettably there is no photo of that. I will say it took some effort to remain calm at that point. For lack of better ideas we hopped a train to Marienplatz, the tourist center of town, and spent the ride trying to figure out where we were going to stay. Thankfully there was an Apple store right at the Marienplatz train station, and we were able to use their free wireless to get into Wendy’s email account. After much dinking around she was able to ascertain that our hotel was… the one written down in the trip plan. So all of that running around and stress was pointless. Cue the second giant facepalm.

At this point we were both hungry, and I was feeling in need of a drink to drown the shame of our inauspicious start. So we plonked ourselves down at the touristy restaurant right in the middle of the plaza. This is when Wendy’s love affair with Bavarian cuisine began – it’s all meat and potatoes! I tried to out-Bavarian her by ordering beer and sausages. I think we both won.

The Marienplatz has the New Town Hall bordering it. You can tell it’s the new town hall because it’s only 107 years old. Really it’s just a baby, it might get up and wander off at any time. The actual German name for it Neues Rathaus. It amuses me to no end that they keep the politicians in a “Rat Haus.” I also has a mechanical glockenspiel in the tower - basically the 19th century version of a Disney ride. Thankfully they did not play It's a Small World on repeat.

That night we walked around near the river, and happened into a street festival with a number of bands and vendors. Surprisingly, all of the music was sung in English. In between songs the bands would talk in German, but then always sing in English.

We were lucky enough to wander up to one of the churches just as a Gothic choir was about to start singing. So we sat and admired the church, thinking that now for sure we’d get some classic German music. Nope, they sang in English too. You’d think it was an English language music festival! Anyway, after a bit of wandering about we headed back to home base for some real sleep.