Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Germany & Austria 2015

Here are some pictures of our trip to Germany & Austria. I'll do my best to give a description and some context. You may click on any image to see a larger one. If you do click an image to view the larger version, use the Esc (escape) button to return to this blog page (using the browser's Back button will have a different effect).

The Comments section is enabled. Feel free to leave a note or ask questions.

Day 1 – Sunday/Monday November 22/23, 2015

A few months ago we were informed that our flight, on Saturday, November 21, 2015, had been cancelled and that we had been put on the same flight, just one day later. We weren’t too happy because we had prepaid for a lot of the trip and this meant cancelling hotel reservations for one day. We figured we were out of luck but they were kind enough to provide a refund because we asked nicely and far in advance. In retrospect it worked out rather well because Chicago was treated to an early winter storm which dumped 11”+, on northern Illinois, on the Friday previous. It was that heavy, wet snow and it took several shoveling sessions to keep the driveway clear. Sunday was forecast to be sunny and warmer and it was. Our flight was not affected even though hundreds of flights were cancelled and lots of folks were trying to figure out how to get out of Chicago.

We arrived early and went thru security. We had a little something to eat and pretty much entertained ourselves until boarding time which seemed to arrive rather quickly. I was watching the Bears blow another game, to the Denver Broncos, when Kasey got my attention that we were boarding. There didn’t seem to be any groups being called, just get on the plane. Weird. I quickly learned why; the plane was two-thirds full, at most. This was an Airbus A320 with a seat configuration of 2-5-2 and yet the middle section was pretty much empty. After take-off we asked if we could move around and we were allowed to do so, as long as we didn’t stray forward into the rows that offered more leg room. That was an €85 upgrade.

There were two German gentlemen in the row behind us. They had spent a week in Tennessee (Knoxville, I think) installing a piece of machinery. One of them spoke fluent English albeit with a pretty thick accent. The other, who’s English was better than he gave himself credit, stayed rather quiet. I took the opportunity to figure out how much trouble we’d have communicating and asked the more chatty German. He told me that as long as we spoke with anyone 40 years or younger, we’d be pretty safe. Granted, this would be after using German greeting phrases. And, in retrospect, we had very little trouble, if any, at all. I also asked the Chatty German what he thought of Tennessee. He had a hard time figuring out why people asked; “how are you today?” when he entered a store. He couldn’t understand why on Earth they cared. Ha! The other thing he found difficult was people seemed to “mumble a lot”. After spending a week in Tennessee, over the summer, we could relate.

Kasey had started chatting with the gentleman in front of us. She convinced him to move forward, one row, which was empty. So, after a little “musical chairs” we each had our own row. I remained in the aisle seat so she could sit, and recline, in the window seat. The Silent German had taken to moving over into the middle section which allowed me to recline while the Chatty German stayed put. We watched a little TV, read a bit and then pretty much tried to get some sleep. Even though this shot has me in the window seat, I moved so Kasey could recline.

The overnight seemed to go by pretty quickly and I could feel the plane starting to descend before the announcement came. It was still pretty dark outside, even though it was around 6 AM, with just a strip of dawn sky towards the east. Soon it was pretty obvious that it was heavily overcast and it wouldn’t be getting much brighter. We flew into Berlin's Tegel airport which is the third airport in the vicinity and the smallest. It’s kind of rinky-dink, if you ask me. There are no jet-ways, as you exit the plane you walk down stairs, like in the 50s, to an awaiting bus. We were taken to Customs where we were given priority because of our connecting flight to Munich. We waited all of 30 seconds before going thru customs which involved a Passport check, entry stamp and we were off to another part of the airport, by foot. We easily found the terminal where a short, one hour flight, would take us to Munich. Strangely, each gate has its own security. So, the drinks we bought, on our walk, were discarded. =( Sitting at the gate and the subsequent short flight provided me some time to fully wake up and read a little (on my Kindle). That was nice because we were picking up the rent-a-car and driving to Salzburg after landing in Munich.

The man at the Hertz counter spoke English with an Italian accent. He was very nice and very competent. We had requested a car with a diesel and manual transmission. They didn’t have any manuals, unlike EuropCar, and only had diesels. Our choices were a Fiat 500 or Volvo XC60. We opted for the Volvo with four wheel drive and a lot more room. There was an upgrade charge but it was worth it (foreshadowing). We walked to the lot, found the Volvo and loaded up. We both walked around looking for any damage. We found none, not even stone chips on the hood, and I wasn’t surprised to see that the odometer read just over 1200 kilometers (~800 miles). It was pretty much brand new (and still smelled like it). We drove slowly out of the parking structure and let the GPS tune in the satellites and locate us. I had opted to buy a Garmin unit that has lifetime map upgrades as well as lifetime traffic reports. It works in both Europe and North America. It proved to be very helpful and worth the $250. Kasey plans to use it, daily, on her ride to work (with all of the construction, between home and her store, it’s nice to know what’s the quickest, traffic free route, on a daily basis). Kasey plugged the address of the hotel into the Garmin and we were on our way.

We stopped pretty close to the Austrian border to get some drinks, use the facilities and buy the Austrian toll vignette. The vignette allows you to travel on Austrian highways without getting a ticket. A ten days vignette cost $14. It was well worth it because I never saw so much as a pothole the entire time we were there. The toilet cost money to use, €1 if I recall correctly. Kasey didn’t have to go that badly. So, we bought some drinks and the vignette and headed back out onto the Autobahn. I applied the vignette to the inside of the windshield, in the upper corner, driver’s side. A little later we crossed the border. Austria and Germany have an open border system so there was no customs, no stopping, not much fanfare. I did see the “official” vignette stand had we not stopped earlier (all fuel stations, within a certain distance of the border, sell the vignette). We continued on to Salzburg which was now only 20-30 minutes away.

The GPS routed us directly to the hotel thru the alstadt (old city) which is quite tight with respect to street sizes. Additionally, the altstadt keeps traffic to a minimum by using retracting pipe bollards. These raise/lower when you enter a code into the keypad. It seems as if residents and delivery folks have access. Otherwise, you’re not allowed.

We used the keypad to communicate with our hotel. The proprietor gave use the code, the bollard lowered, and we were on our winding way to Hotel Weisse Taube. We were allowed to leave the Volvo opposite the hotel for 15 minutes, or so, as we unloaded. We had two parking options, underground, just outside the altstadt or above ground further away. We opted for the underground garage because it was close even though a little more expensive. After dropping everything off, parking the Volvo and unpacking a bit, we headed out to see what we could see.

We ended up walking down Kapitelgasse which is where the University of Salzburg is. When we got to the end of the street, it opened up into Kapitelplatz. The Salzburg Cathedral (Dom zu Salzburg) was to our immediate right (north).

Looking to our left (south) revealed an awesome view of the Fortress Hohensalzburg.

This is a view of the front of the Cathedral from the front from the Domplatz (Cathedral Square).

In the foreground, to the left, you can see the type of enclosure that’s built over public fountains and other statues/monuments. I’m guessing winter is very tough on some of these structures so they enclose them to prevent water/ice from doing (more) damage.

We wandered thru the altstadt, north of the Residenzplatz.

“In this house stayed, in August of 1825, Franz Schubert with his friend, Johan Michael Vogt , as a guest of Kausmannes Paurnfiend . Instituted by the Vienna Schubertbund June 1923”. The address plaque reads “8 Jewish Alley” or “8 Jewish Way”.

The Christkindlmarkt filled both the Residenzplatz and the Domplatz. The Residenzplatz is to the left, in the picture below. You can see some of the stalls. Interesting Aside: the Chicago Christmas Market is modeled on the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt. The stalls are very similar. Each city that we visited, no matter how small, had a market (even the Munich airport!). While they were all very similar, each had its own distinctive “flavor”.

We opted to eat dinner while we were out wandering. We ended up having a wurst from a cart located in the Alter Markt and then went back to the Christkindlmarket, in Residenzplatz, to have dessert.

“Schmarrn” translates to “mish-mash”. So, you had Kaiserschmarrn (the King’s mish-mash), Weinachsschmarrn (Christmas Eve mish-mash with apple, nuts, raisins and cinnamon) and Apfel-Lebkuchen-Schmarrn (apple-gingerbread mish-mash). We watched them make several batches before deciding to get one. Both chefs spoke pretty good English. They were fun to watch. Schmarrn starts out like a giant pancake and then is chopped into pieces, by hand, while it finishes cooking. I think we ended up with an order of Weinachsschmarrn with a sweet white sauce. Needless to say, it was delicious.

I’m doing a little window shopping on Brodgasse or Goldgasse, just north of the Residenzplatz. We walked off dinner and then headed back to the hotel through Motzartplatz, where they had constructed an ice skating rink. Oddly, all Christmas songs were in English and I heard a lot of “oldies” that I heard, at home, in Ft. Wayne and Springfield. The DJ at the ice rink had an eclectic mix; Xmas and 80s songs. We made quick friends with Willowmina, the night hostess. She was Dutch but spoke four languages. She learned English, which was excellent, by watching Friends. (!!) We slept pretty well that night.

Tomorrow he head into the Alps to visit a salt mine, discover how good German beer really is and miss out on the Eagle's Nest.

Day 2 – Berchtesgaden

We got up as early as we could (9 AM?) with the intent of getting an early start to Berchtesgaden. I had forgotten what a European breakfast is like. While France’s is different, they were/are similar. Typical American breakfast items are available (yogurt, eggs, sausage, pastries) as are things we’d more typically consider “lunch”; breads and meats (cold cuts). I quickly got into a routine of yogurt with sunflower seeds, raisins, almonds and sometimes granola (there were always several types). Then, I’d have a piece of bread with a few slices of turkey. The usual beverages were; a little coffee with cream, orange juice and water. Kasey ate similar things but with eggs instead of ‘lunch’ meat and bread.

We headed out and were just out of Salzburg when we realized that we’d be crossing the Austrian/German border. And, we didn’t have our passports. So, we did a 180 and got them. Sadly, they weren’t needed but, better safe than sorry. The Alps just kind of just pop up out of the flat ground. As you drive south, out of Salzburg, you come around a corner and BANG, there they are. Our first stop was going to be the Eagle’s Nest which was Hitler’s Bavarian outpost. It was closed for the winter even though the Michelin Green Guide indicated it was open year-round. Boo.

Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg  (the museum on history of National Socialism) is housed in this building:

This is as far as we got, everything was closed for the winter. Later, Kasey discovered that there are tunnels that lead from this building down to the salt mine in Berchtesgaden. Since it was pretty cold, we headed back down to Berchtesgaden see what else we could find/do.

We opted to go to the Salzburgwerk Berchtesgaden (a working salt mine)!

You have to get suited up to do the tour:

They were nice, heavy jumpsuits and they added a layer for warmth. No pictures in the mine (verboten) but you work your way downwards, further and further into the mountain. There are actual wooden rail slides you can use to speed the process. There’s a very large underground pool that you traverse by a floating platform. They have a little light show as you float across. The salt deposit was created millennia ago when a seabed was covered over by the growing Alps. As the water drained, salt was left behind. We used an inclined tramway to climb out, a few hundred feet up, at the end of the tour.

By now, it was after Noon and we were pretty hungry. We managed to find the Hofbrauhaus Berchtesgaden’s Brew Pub. There were a few locals there but it certainly wasn’t crowded, by any means.

We asked for a menu, in English, but they didn’t have one. That was OK because we could pretty much figure out what was on the menu (a lot of menus had German and Italian or German and French or all three – most menus that had German and English also had a third language, usually Italian).

The waitress then came back to tell us the kitchen had closed but we could get something from the buffet. That was fine by us. We had our first, of many, Weiss beers here; Franziskanner. Unlike Weiss beer in the US, this was good (as judged by my palate).

We had our first encounter with clueless Americans here. All the tables were “picnic” style, which is large and rectangular. One table could accommodate six people. When we sat down, I didn’t see the two elderly couples, two tables away. I ended up facing away from them. As we were deciding what to have (we could see the buffet), one couple walked up to the buffet (it was actually more like a display case like you’d see in a butcher shop, there was an attendant that made your plate for you). The woman waited for the attendant to appear while she looked at what was available. When the attendant appeared, she said; “how does this work, what do I get?”  The look on his face was priceless, like he had just seen an alien. She didn’t even try to speak any German or ask if he even spoke English. Jesus. After some hand gestures, she was able to get what she wanted as well as for her husband. The second couple then proceeded to do pretty much the exact same thing. We were dumbfounded. I understand not being fluent but you should at least know a few phases of the language of the country. I was so tempted to walk over and tell them that you at least have to make an effort to be understood in their language. You can’t assume everyone speaks (or wants to speak) English. Kasey walked up to the buffet and had no trouble with a little German and a little English (after asking if the attendant spoke any – he did, a little). Needless to say, it was very, very good. We had warm potato salad that was very similar to the kind Aunt Helen used to make. Weissewurst also made it onto our plates. After we finished, we wandered outside and next door, to the brewery. The rushing water, from across the street, used to turn a water wheel. Whether it was to grind grain or produce electricity, I don’t know. We walked into the office and asked about a tour. They don’t have tours because no one is there that does that and/or speaks English. This is the (very old) German Purity law which governs all breweries:

This was a really cool house just outside, and up the road, from the brew pub. We had parked around the corner, to the right, on the other side of those bushes.

The gentleman we encountered, in the office, was kind enough to call a local distillery and ask if we could take a tour there. And, they said they would be glad to have us. We had some time before the distillery closed so we went up into the altstadt of Berchtesgaden. They were just setting up their Christkindlmarkt and we wandered for a bit. Parking was free for the first thirty (twenty?) minutes. Since they were still setting up, and the sun was getting low, we headed towards the distillery (and home).

It turns out we were going to the Grassl Enzian distillery. Enzian is a root that harvested high in the Alps. The mater distiller does this in little cottages in high alpine meadows. The root is dug up, then chopped into small pieces and then fermented, during summer months. In the early fall, the fermented root pieces are drained and then transported, by helicopter, to the distillery. There, they are turned into schnapps. Our hosts, who did not speak English every well, allowed us to sample pretty much any of the distilled spirits we wanted. We liked the Blood Orange so much we bought a large bottle. The Cherry was good, too and we got a couple of those mini-bottles of that flavor. The person that gave us a brief tour was insisted that I take two bottles of the unflavored liquor (which I disliked immensely). However, he was very nice and tried very hard to bridge the language gap. So, I accepted them.  By the time we finished, it was getting pretty dark so we headed back to Salzburg.

When we got back to Hotel Weisse Taube, we decompressed for an hour or so and then headed over to a restaurant, K+K, we’d seen the previous evening. Their menu sounded good. It was just on the other side of the ice rink in the Mozartplatz, in Waagsplatz.

Dinner was good and afterwards we wandered back over to the Christkindlmarkt. A co-worked had asked me to see if I could find some sweets made by a company called Manner. I bought some of their original Neapolitan wafers, some Mozartkugel (little chocolate balls with pistachio filling) and then got some vanillekipferl (Viennese Crescents!) in the Christkindlmarkt. Kasey found a stall that would make custom crepes. Pretty much anything you wanted. The young ladies that worked there spoke very good English and we chatted with one that was wearing an “infinity” scarf. She had it wrapped so that only her eyes and the tip of her nose was visible. She told us she was freezing. It wasn’t that cold out, 30s maybe, and she was working near two or three crepe pans (hot). So, we were a little perplexed. Regardless, she made Kasey a Kit-Kat and peanut butter crepe. Delicious.

Kasey liked her scarf so much, she bought one, later, from a shop that was close to where we parked the Volvo.

We found another stall that was selling chocolate bars.  Kasey like the chocolate so much, she bought fifteen bars. (!) She’s since discovered that she can get the same chocolate in the US. The young lady that worked in the stall was kind enough to explain Krampus to us.

From the internet: In Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts.

Willowmina later told us that on Krampus Night (December 5 in 2015), that people actually dress up as Krampus and visit the Christkindlmarkt where they’re liable to strike/hit you. I wondered, aloud, if you were able to hit back. Willowmina didn’t think that would be a good idea. She said something about “handlers” that make sure the Krampus (there's usually more than one - Krampii?) aren’t too aggressive and that fights don’t break out. Given the amount of gluhwein available, I would imagine that a free-for-all brawl is a possibility. We knocked off for the night.

Tomorrow we make our own "Sound of Music Tour" and throw in Mozart while we’re at it.

Day 3 – D&K Sound of Music Tour with a side of Mozart

We started our day in the usual way (breakfast) and then headed out into a blustery, chilly, grey November morning. We walked down Kaigasse to the Salzach River and crossed on the Mozartsteg (foot bridge). We walked on the bike path until we came to the Staatsbrucke (State Bridge) and then headed northwest on Schwarzstrasse (Black Street). Even though the shops weren’t open (most of them), it was still fun to window shop. And, I immensely enjoyed the fact that most of these folks were headed to work, and I was not. =D

We continued along Schwarzstrasse until Bernard Paumgartner Way (gravel path) came in from the right. That lead us to Schloss Mirabell and this view of the Gardens.

You may remember it more like this.

Kasey does it better.

Here I am attempting to annoy a stone lion. No reaction. =( That stairway is to the right of the Pegasus Fountain (which is directly above Kasey’s head, in the previous picture).

Kasey and Peg(asus)

Here’s the film maker’s view (from the second story balcony, I’d guess) of the fountain. Kasey would be at the bottom of the picture, while the stone lion staircase (and me) would be to the top.

The arched pergola.

We walked further into the gardens and eves dropped on a few of the tours. We didn’t learn anything and we overheard a couple of stupid questions. We took an opportunity to go back and walk thru the Schloss Mirabell. Most of it is closed off and being used. But, I guess you can have a wedding here.

We walked thru the courtyard and crossed Mirabelplatz. Kirche St. Andra was directly in front of us. We were pretty chilly from our stroll so we opted for some hot chocolate.

Afterwards, we crossed Mirabelplatz, again, to peruse the small Christkindlmarkt next to Schloss Mirabel.

We backtracked thru the Schloss and continued our tour of the Gardens. That’s one, of many, guided tours. We’re pretty glad we did this on our own. Schloss Mirabel is to the left with the spires of Kirche St. Andra in the background. The Christkindlmarket was just on the other side of the building to the right.

Here’s what the rest of the garden looks like (via the internet):

We headed down to the far end and this gate.

That puts you right into Makartplatz. At the eastern end of the square is Dreifaltigkeitskirche.

On the opposite side of Makartplatz, from Mirabel Gardens, is Mozart’s birthplace. We opted for the self-guided audio tour. This would be the first of a few audio tours where I opted to listen to EVERYTHING. Kasey had to remind me that, at my rate of progress, we’d still be on the tour well after dark. I decided to skip a few things from then on.

This is what the building looked like when Mozart’s family lived there.

From the internet.

We're talking about the salmon colored building, behind the fountain. The building was damaged during WWII. Everything from the middle of the arched doorway, to the right, was destroyed by a bomb. They did a nice job of restoring it.

Mozart was not a tall guy. Kasey has a good six inches on him.

Tour complete, we opted to find something for lunch. It was now early afternoon and the hot chocolate had long ceased working its magic. This is an interesting looking building across from where Theatergasse (closest lane) splits from Schwarzstrasse. We thought about having lunch at the Café Bazar but weren’t really impressed by the menu.

So, we ambled down to the walking/bike path.

From there, we crossed the Salzach River on the Markartsteg (foot bridge) where they like to put “love locks” (like on the Pont des Arts in Paris, or did anyway).

This is a nice shot of the Fortress and the Salzburg altstadt. Kasey did a great job with the camera, as always.

After crossing the bridge, we wandered down Griesgasse. This is where Griesgasse meets Munzgasse at Anton Nuemayr Platz.

We settled on having lunch at the Beverly Café. More weisse bier please! The dunkel (dark), on the right is mine.

Wurst, kraut & kartoffel

After lunch, we wandered around this old part of Salzburg with its narrow walkways and winding streets. This is the Sankt Blasiuskirche at the end of Getreidegasse.

Austria and Germany have a restaurant chain called, Nordsee. Each location is a bit different but their selection is something else. Temptation eventually overcame us and we had a lunch in a Nordsee location in Munich. this is what Salzburg's location looked like.

We had a great time wandering the alleyways of the altstadt, all the while window shopping. We worked our way back to the Alter Markt where we had dinner, from a wurst cart, the first evening in town.

As a continuation of our “Sound of Music” walking tour, we visited the Petersfriedhof cemetery. This is where Lisel’s Nazi boyfriend rats them out to the Gestapo. As you can tell from the picture, only certain elements of the movie were shot in the actual cemetery. Additionally, there is not enough space to hide seven people inside one of those gated areas.

From the cemetery, we walked up Festungsgasse and took the inclined railway up to the Fortress. I figured that the late afternoon would provide some cool viewing as the city lights came on. We were not wrong. We walked to the south side of the fortress where we were treated to this view.

Here’s where things get fun and having the Volvo was a plus. While taking in the view, we encountered three friends from Texas. Caitlyn and Meredith are living in Berlin while their friend, Ashley, lives in London. They were on a quick tour of Austria. Both Caitlyn and Meredith are photographers and we were a little bummed that we’d left our “good” camera at home. I’m sure either could have provided tips on how we could take even better pictures. This picture is courtesy of Caitlyn. Both Caitlyn and Meredith are very talented (as you'll soon see).

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

Our new friends had indicated that they were headed to Innsbruck next, as were we. Unfortunately, they’d not made train ticket reservations and the cost now was more than the cost of their airline tickets. After we visited the restroom we decided to offer them a ride. They gladly accepted.

Here’s a shot out of the north side of the fortress. The Salzburg Cathedral is in the center with the Christkindlmarkt just visible in the Domplatz, to the left.

This is the inside of a small chapel in the center of the fortress' courtyard.

This is the entryway of the actual 11th Century fortress. That chapel is directly behind us.

It was getting dark and Salzburg was starting to light up. Kasey went back to that small opening, on the north side, to get this.

Here is the courtyard of the Fortress. Their Christkindlmarkt was not opening for a few more days. The Fortress entryway is behind the second stall, from the right. The corner of the chapel is to the right.

We went into the Fortress itself and toured the cannon gallery as well as some of the upper rooms. They are excavating some areas and have found things dating back to the 1200s and 1300s. On our way back to the inclined railway, we encountered our new friends on the north side of the fortress. By now it was dark and snowing lightly. The following two images are courtesy of Caitlyn.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

Only an Englishman would stand under an umbrella, in the falling snow.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

Caitlyn, Meredith and Ashley agreed to meet up, at our hotel, around 9 AM the following morning. We headed to the railway station for the ride down. On Willowmina’s suggestion, we went to the Zirkelwirt restaurant for dinner. I recall a goulash soup which was very good. We encountered a family from California whose daughter was attending one of the schools in town. Strangely, she could not read or speak German very well, Considering that she had been in Salzburg for about four months and some of her classes were in German, we were not impressed. When I heard her trying to explain the Anschluss (the Nazi annexation of Austria) to her mother, and getting it all wrong, I tuned them out. We headed back to pack.

Tomorrow we drive to Innsbruck and whip up a Thanksgiving feast in spite of Austrian grocery stores.

Day 4 – Salzburg > Wattens > Hall in Tyrol > Innsbruck

Just after 9 AM, Caitlyn, Meredith and Ashley appeared, on Kaigasse, with their luggage. We had the Volvo loaded and I let Kasey play the Tetris game and arrange the luggage so that it all fit and I could see out of the rear view mirror.

This reminds me of a quick aside; parking spaces. Even though we would consider the XC60 to be a mid-size SUV, it really is large with respect to other European vehicles. The last parking spot that the Volvo was in wasn’t quite big enough to completely fit it. Kasey had to get out so that I could move it to the right side of the parking spot. She would not have been able to open the door, let alone get out. I had just enough room to open the door and exit. The Volvo had sensors in the front and rear bumpers so I knew I was close to hitting the wall in front. The rear of the SUV still hung out about a foot.

Packed up, we punched “Wattens Austria” into the GPS and headed out of town. What’s in Wattens, you ask? Swarovski Crystal World, of course! It was snowing lightly but traffic was pretty light. And, the autobahn was just wet, no accumulating snow. I wasn’t too concerned; we had snow tires and four wheel drive. Two hours later, with snow still falling, we arrived. The place was more like a gigantic outdoor park but some of the “playgrounds” were closed for the winter. Kasey and I opted to go into the Museum while our new friends headed to the cafe for something to eat. They had been out late, the previous evening, at the ice skating rink. They looked very well put together but I’m guessing they were dragging a bit and need some ‘breakfast’ even though it was close to Noon.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

The Museum was inside this hill. Caitlyn managed to get us walking in.

Some of the things inside the Museum are better viewed than described.

A wall filled with crystals.

Crystal embellished horse.

Largest hand cut crystal in the world with 100 facets (310,000 carats).

Keith Haring

Something right out of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (and, therefore, totally awesome).


After we toured the museum, we then went shopping in the enormous gift shop. Kasey found some things she wanted; crystal Christmas ornament, some ear rings and business card holder. Sparkly!

We met up at the cafe. Kasey and I had lunch while we related what we saw in the museum. Our server was a little surly but we managed to soften her up a bit. =)

Next stop: Hall in Tyrol. I found this little Austrian village on an AOL “bucket list” of places to visit. I wish the weather had been nicer. But, it was still a very cool place. We concentrated on the altstadt as it was very close to the parking garage and rather small, as you can imagine.

This is Schmeidgasse.

Caitlyn captures Ashley snapping a pic on her iPhone.

We walked up Langer Graben towards Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus.

Along the Oberer Stadplatz, opposite Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus.

Looking east down Mustergasse.

We reached the far end of Mustergasse where it met Eugenstrasse. The Herz-Jesu-Basilika was imposing.

Looking north on Schulgasse with the mountains just barely visible.

We then wandered back west on Rosengasse. The spire of Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus is in the background.

Once back at Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus, we went north on Wallpachgasse. This is looking back at Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus. Sparkassegasse comes in from the right.

Basically we kept walking in circles (squares, really) coming back to the Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus. This house, at the corner of Krippgasse and Bachlechnerstrasse was really nice.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

Hanging with the Christmas sheep. About 5 minutes after we took this, the sheep became a main attraction for mothers with little kids. The sheep were ambushed!

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

Caitlyn took this shot on Sparkassegasse, looking back towards Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

This is Kurzer Graben.

We headed back to the parking garage along Salvatorgasse.

At the end of the alley, we asked a local to take out picture. From the left; yours truly, Caitlyn, Ashley, Meredith and Kasey.

With the afternoon light beginning to fade, we headed towards Innsbruck. Caitlyn insisted on paying for parking since we had rebuffed her efforts to pay for fuel. I think the parking cost €1.50 (about $1.60). She was perplexed, to say the least.

Innsbruck was only about 10 minutes further along the autobahn. Using the GPS, we easily found their hostel and dropped them off. Before we left, they mentioned possibly cooking something for Thanksgiving (after all it was Thursday November 26). It would be their treat. We asked them to let us know if they’d be able to shop and if the hostel had a kitchen to support all of the “chefs”. They promised to do so.

The Hotel Schwarzer Adler (Black Eagle) was pretty much a straight shot across town. We easily got there (GPS rules!) and checked in.

We got settled and waited to her from the girls. After what seemed like too long, Kasey got a message, thru Facebook, from Ashley. They were cooking and asked us to come over. We stopped at the grocery store to grab a few things, vegetables mostly. When we got there, they didn’t have any protein because turkey doesn’t seem to be a thing in Austria (or Germany for that matter). So, I went back to the grocery store, which was about ½ a mile from the hostel, only to find it closed. GPS to the rescue! I found another grocery store about a ½ mile away and navigated there. Again, no turkey so I opted for pork cutlets which were ridiculously cheap. I asked a woman, who was shopping, if she could help me. I was looking for sour cream and having no luck. She didn’t really speak very good English but tried to help anyways. I ended up with something that may have been heavy cream. Kasey ended up using it with the green beans. I paid, impersonating an Austrian as no one spoke a lick of English to me, and headed back. By now, Kasey was in full command of the hostel’s kitchen. I had some hard cider, cheese and crackers while she kept a watchful eye on Caitlyn and Meredith who were cooking. Ashley and I chatted some while other hostel guests wondered what was going on. We encountered an Aussie and a Kiwi who both declined our offer to join. Jeff, from Connecticut, travelling solo, took us up on the offer. We managed to do a pretty traditional Thanksgiving; green bean casserole, curried carrots, stuffing, pork cutlets (in lieu of turkey) and mashed potatoes.

There was so much, we couldn’t finish it all. The six of us were pretty boisterous and there were quite a few guests (we were eating in the common dining area) that looked rather jealous of our feast (especially the five Polish men who polished off a bottle of vodka, or three, while we ate – they were pretty loud, too).

from left: Meredith, Kasey, Ashley, Caitlyn, Jeff & me

We asked the hostel manager if we were too loud but he said no and was a little bummed that he couldn’t join us. 12:30 AM came pretty quickly so we called it a night and let the girls party on.

Tomorrow we tour Innsbruck and do Olympic things!

Day 5 – Innsbruck

After our typical Bavarian breakfast, we opted for a walk around the altstadt. It’s bigger than Salzburg yet still comfortably small. There’s more city “hustle & bustle” to Innsbruck yet an awful lot of folks that aren’t at work until after 9 AM.

The Liberation Monument stands at the Eduard-Wallnöfer-Platz (formerly Landhausplatz) The monument is dedicated to those who died liberating Austria from seven years under National Socialist control, from 1938 to 1945.

From the hotel, we drove to the Olympic Hall. This is looking west, on Olympiastrasse.

The Olympiahalle. Dorothy Hamill skated here.

Next we headed up to the Bergisel Ski Jump for some lunch and a look-see.

The parking lot of the Bergisel Ski Jump is part of Das Tirol Panorama. The Kaiserjagermuseum: The museum is an architectural masterpiece in its own right, and it offers a journey through the history of Tirol, building up to the key event that is the battle between Napoleonic troops and the Tyrolean rebels led by Andreas Hofer in 1809, which took place in the exact spot the museum is located today. The most famous battle was the Third Battle of the Bergisel in which the Tyroleans fought off the invaders.

Here's what the entire complex looks like.

courtesy of the internet

While it was a nice day, the low clouds kept us from seeing the Alps, on the far side of the valley.

This is the landing area, from below, for the Bergisel Ski Jump. It’s gated off but those are the Rings and the Torch that was used for both the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Games.

Kasey took this really cool shot of a roof top, just below the ski jump landing area, looking across the city of Innsbruck.

Here’s a shot of the rather modern looking jump tower.

We wandered about the park for a little longer and then headed back to the hotel. I was hoping to find some parts for my trials bike as well as the scooter (things you could only get in Europe). So, we spent the rest of the afternoon finding a local bike shop. While they were very helpful, they did not have the things for which I was looking. So, we headed back to the hotel with the intent of getting dinner at the Christkindlmarkt.

Swarovski was kind enough to decorate the “tree”, at the Chrsitkindlmarkt. Enamored, Kasey got these close-ups.

You could stand under the ‘tree ‘and look up at the inside.

This was the “star”, on the inside, at the top.

We, again, had ‘dinner’ at the Christkindlmarkt. I forget the name of the dish but it was cheese, spätzle and a little bacon. It was very good, as usual. We encountered more Americans here. They get easier and easier to spot. Nothing like red Chuck Taylor high tops, faded jeans and a leather jacket over a grey t-shirt to set you apart from the crowd, that and your Southern drawl. No pictures as I couldn’t sneak one.

Here’s our hotel. It won the “Best Internet WiFi Service of the Trip” award.

The following morning we packed and left for Fussen Germany. On the way out of town we drove up to the cable car to see if it was worth going to the top. Sadly, it wasn’t worth the trip as the low clouds obscured the view.

However, Caitlyn saved the day. She, Meredith, Ashley and Jeff had gone the previous day. Then, top of the cable car was above the clouds.

image courtesy of Augusta Leigh Photography

We took the “back way” out of Innsbruck, eventually merging onto the A12 headed west. Kasey got this cool shot of an at-grade railway crossing.

Next stop; Fussen and the inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle.

Day 6 – Fussen, Germany

The day started out like many I’d experienced in college; overcast with light snow forecast. A good day to stay inside, by the fire (or dive on the autobahn). It was one of those days where the snowfall is deceptive, light enough to not really be a bother but heavy enough to accumulate several inches by dark.

We arrived in Fussen, by early afternoon, after driving on twisty, two-lane roads thru the Alps. Fussen is quite small with our hotel being at the town’s major intersections and opposite the altstadt (or in it, as the case may be). We marveled at the local Asian restaurant with a line, all Asians, out the door. Either it was very good, the only “Asian” game in town, or both. We never found out but there was a preponderance of Asians in Fussen. The only reason, I could figure, was to see Neuschwanstein castle.

We drove down into parking garage only to discover that it was just as tight as the parking garage in Salzburg. We waited for another car to figure out how to turn around and exit before attempting to park in a spot near the elevators. As before, I had to let Kasey out as the Volvo was going to occupy 110% of the stall. We checked in and took our bags up two floors to a nice, spacious, modern room. Sadly, Wi-Fi was lacking and I had to sit near the door with the Surface on an ottoman just to get decent reception.

We headed out to see the altstadt and get some lunch. Fussen is very scenic and not unlike other Bavarian towns. This is Reichenstrasse. Our hotel was to our backs.

Our room faced the street and was one (of the two) with an open window (at the top).

There were quite a few buildings, in the altstadt, that had ornate, painted facades. this must be an easier/cheaper method to make a big impression.

This is the Hohes Schloss Fussen (high Fussen castle), behind the shops, at the end of Reichenstrasse.

We had lunch at a small restaurant on Ritterstrasse just down the street (to the right) from where the picture, above, was taken. We had Franziskanner Weiss beer, with lunch, again.

I took the opportunity to do a little clothes shopping just before lunch. One of the shops, on the opposite side of the street was having a sale. They had a nice (non-checked) shirt in the window. It fit well so I got it.

We wandered down Luitpoldstrasse back towards our hotel. Kasey opted to get a manicure while I watched The Game. So, she stopped and made an appointment at a shop just a block from the hotel. There was a small grocery store under the Luitpoldpark Hotel where we stopped for a few items. After the game, we went back to the Luitpoldpark Hotel to have a late dinner. It was bar food but quite good. I recall shrimp & pasta that we split between us. Being all of 100 yards from the our hotel, it was an easy walk back.

Tomorrow we schlep, up the hill, to a Fairy Tale Castle.

Day 7 – Schloss Neuschwanstein, Oberammergau and onto Nuremburg

We got up early, packed and then headed down to the very good hotel café for breakfast. It was pretty busy and then I remembered that it was Sunday morning. The table next to us was packed with three generations of one family. I’m guessing they were coming back from church and meeting for brunch. We ingested the usual fare and then headed out to Schloss Neuschwanstein. A quick ride out of town on Fussenerstrasse got us to the parking lot just below Schloss Hohenschwangau (which is King Ludwig’s parent’s place).

The day was beginning to degrade into a damp, grey day with occasional rain. That was a shame, really, because the light snow that had fallen overnight had given everything a very Christmas-y feel. After parking the Volvo, we opted to skip the ride up to the castle, by horse-drawn cart. The walk up was highly entertaining. There were quite a few Japanese tourists that were very well dressed. Watching them tip-toe thru the muck (a thin slime of dirt and horse manure) while giving road apples a wide berth was a game unto itself. The walk is a good 45 minutes but soon the castle comes into view. This is about at the two-thirds point:

Getting closer to three quarters of the way up now:

Here we are at the observation deck with the main entrance (portcullis) behind us:

Even though there’s a tree messing up the shot, this gives you a good idea of the size of this place.

As you can tell by Kasey’s hair, it was a blustery day. A group of Italians asked us to take their picture (Kasey obliged) and they, in turn, were kind enough to take ours. On the opposite side observation deck was a really nice view of the open plain below the castle and the Forggensee beyond.

Kasey gestures towards the tallest spire on the western side of the castle.

I really liked this drainage gargoyle.

Me, acting like a dork, and the eastern end of the castle. We’re on the way to the portcullis.

This is inside the portcullis, in the courtyard, where the tours start.

Kasey really liked the outfit this tour guide had on. We saw him later in the day, in Oberammergau. So, we’re pretty sure he didn’t actually give tours as part of the castle staff.

Sadly, the Marienbrucke was closed due to a rock slide. This is what it looks like from the same courtyard.

And here’s what the castle looks like from the bridge’s vantage point.

We were not allowed to leave the courtyard as all of the stairways were not shoveled (and looked a little icy). I guess you can in the warmer months though. Here’s what the back side of the portcullis looks like, from one of the upper terraces.

Now inside, our tour was about to begin.

I’m particularly stoic, for some reason.

Those windows are original to the castle. I figured that most passages were left open. They weren’t and the windows were purposely made so as to not be visible, from the exterior. Kasey was chastised by our tour guide, Stephan, just after she took this. I’m not quite sure why, she didn’t use a flash but they did post that photography wasn’t allowed. We took pictures anyways. Because we’re Americans. That’s how we roll.

This very ornate barrel vaulted ceiling was in the same room as the bust of Ludwig II (above).

Our first stop was the Throne Room. Stephan hovered ominously so Kasey could only fire off a couple of unfocused, and poorly framed, shots. The one of the throne was really blurry. It’s unfortunate because that room is crazy ornate and the back wall, behind the throne, was cracked due to an earthquake a few years ago. I recall my ears being audibly assaulted by Americans, on the tour, from North Carolina. Kasey did get this somewhat better image of the chandelier.

I think it was something like fifteen feet in diameter and made of iron. At least it could be lowered to be cleaned.

These stained-glass windows were in the King’s chamber. They were stunning.

King Ludwig was personal friends with Richard Wagner (the composer). He had this room built especially for Wagner’s performances. Most of the time, only Ludwig attended these performances.

The fabric of the Fairytale King. King Ludwig II’s favorite color was blue. He used this primary color for the textiles in his parlor in Neuschwanstein Castle. Table cloths made from blue silk velvet, furniture covers and curtains from silk satin of the same color. The embroidered motifs of the swan and the lily correspond with the legend of the Grail King Lohengrin, with whom Ludwig identified.

At this point we were done with the tour, yep, all nine finished rooms. The rest of the rooms are unfinished. The castle is relatively new, being started in 1869 and completed in 1880. It was designed to look like a castle built in the 12th or 13th centuries. Ludwig II had had a rather privileged upbringing, as you can imagine, but his parents kept their distance. He ascended to the throne when he was only 18. He later acknowledged that he was much too young to be King. So, it’s no surprise that Ludwig lived in a fantasy world. Unfortunately, for him, his creditors came calling in 1885. He ended up being declared insane, by the government, and interred in the Berg Palace in Starnberg Germany. The following day he was found floating in Lake Starnberg along with his psychiatrist (who had declared him insane). An ignominious end, to be sure.

To complete the tour we went thru the kitchen which was damn impressive. Check out that counter space.

This is what the rest of the castle interior looks like; bare brick and doors to nowhere.

From the castle’s base (north side), you get a nice elevated view of the restaurant.

We took the opportunity to revisit the courtyard and leave some of Jackie’s ashes behind.

By this time the courtyard was deserted and we let the wind do the work for us.

On the way down you also get a nice view of the Schloss Hohenschwangau.

Kasey took some interesting shots of Schloss Neuschwanstein from the area around the Museum of Bavarian Kings.

On the road out, you can get this view.

We took Colomanstrasse back to Münchener Strasse (Route 17) to head for Oberammergau. At the intersection of the two roads is this.

I can only guess that’s some type of guild pole. Each icon stands for a certain guild and those guilds could be found in the town ahead (Fussen, in this case). They were very cool and we had seen others.

Oberammergau was about 20 kilometers due east of us. But, “you can’t get there from here”. So, we took the only route available which was a 45 minute ride. On the way, it decided to start raining. =( So, it was pretty wet when we arrived. Oberammergau is known for performing the Passion (of Christ) Play after the town was spared from Bubonic Plague. It is also known for the ornamental painting of its buildings. We had good parking karma and found a spot in the central business area. We had lunch the local stube (I’m pretty sure you can guess what we ate & drank, at this point). Kasey scrambled and managed to come up with a couple of travel (small) umbrellas so we wouldn’t get soaked. We wandered for a bit, took some pictures and then headed north towards Nuremburg.

A local shop made these sweets. We got a chuckle out of the cookie monster as well as the pink pigs (which were ubiquitous). We later discovered that the pinks pigs were good luck.

This shop had a unique sense of humor when it came to their woolen products. Those slippers sure look warm, as does that head rest………

Tomorrow we revisit some Dark Times in the course of World Events.

Days 8 - Nuremberg

The ride to Nuremberg was a little arduous. It was rainy and we managed to go thru Munich right at rush hour. The GPS also managed to route us off of the expressway at one point (or was it me not paying attention?). However Kasey got us back on track after a short jaunt on local streets. When we arrived at the Hotel Elch (Elk), it was still quite damp and now long past sunset. There was no parking at the hotel (as was common) but there was a parking garage close by. After off-loading we managed to find a parking lot (that was not the structure we were looking for). It ended up being cheaper.

The next morning, we took the Volvo back to Hertz, at the airport. There was no reason to keep it as we would take the train to Munich and walk or take the train to sight-see. We took the U-bahn, back from the airport, to the Barenschanze stop and walked the rest of the way to the Memorium Nürnberger Prozesse (where the Nuremburg Trails took place). It’s a somber spot, to say the least.

Inside the actual court room, which is still active to this day, is this door. It’s the door through which the defendants entered and exited the court room. It’s pretty chilling to stand in the same room as some of those monsters.

This is the door at the rear of the court room through which judiciary members entered and exited.

This image shows the court room as it was in 1945-46 (left) and how it appears today (right).

We also took the self-guided tour which was rather extensive. It was quite dark and there wasn’t much that was photo-worthy. Interestingly, there was a small section of the original switchboard that was used for translating:

The Nuremberg Trial was an early experiment in simultaneous translation. The Charter of the International Military Tribunal stated that the defendants had the right to a fair trial, and that all proceedings be translated into a language that the defendants understood. Because of the trial's complexities, the subject matter, and the different languages spoken by the defense, prosecution, and the judges, it was decided to use a simultaneous translation system would work best.

IBM developed the translation system based upon the Filene-Finlay system and an earlier translation system they had developed and installed at the League of Nations in 1931. In this system, speeches were pre-translated and then read simultaneously in the various languages. This set-up, however, would not allow for the extemporaneous exchanges that generally occur during a trial. In Nuremberg, there were five channels in the translation system. The first channel contained the verbatim transmission of the speaker. The other channels were English, Russian, French, and German. Each participant in the trial had a set of headphones and could dial to whichever channel he/she preferred. There were six microphones placed in the courtroom, one for each judge, the witness stand, and the speaker's podium.

After a few hours we headed back out into the chilly, windy, grey day and walked back to the U-bahn station. We found ourselves back in the altstadt where Kasey really liked this Kitchen-Aid display.

Wandering aimlessly, we found this herb/spice shop.

Inside, it looked like a gigantic card catalog room from a library. The scents were overpowering however, and we soon went back outside for some fresh air. Their selection had to be second-to-none.

On our way back to the Hotel Elch, we went thru the Christkindl markt. This is a market stall with the Frauenkirche-Männleinlaufen in the background.

This guild pole appears to be advertising Nuremberg's Old Town Fest which will take place September 15th thru the 26th, 2016.

We headed back to the hotel and decided to have dinner at a small place across the street; Restaurant Prison St. Michel. It was very, very good. We delighted ourselves by observing the chef and sous-chef, on our way out. They worked in a very small area, just behind the front glass.

Day 9 - Nuremburg

After sleeping off our awesome meal, we headed to the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Documentation Center, Nazi Party Rally Grounds - the building and grounds where Nazi mass rallies took place). We took the U-bahn to the Frankenstrasse stop and then walked (a long way, about a mile) east on Frankenstrasse.

As the Nazis fully intended, the building is imposing.

In the lower right hand corner of this picture (under the word “Geländeinformation”), is the layout of the Rally Grounds. We’re standing below the Documentation Center (the “U” shaped building in the very lower right). The area above and to the left of the Documentation Center is a pond. Beyond that is a large rectangular area. That’s the Zeppelin Field with the Zeppelin Tribunal to the left. To give you some scope, the Tribunal building is over half a mile away.

You may have seen the video of the swastika being blown off the top of the Tribunal Building, by the Allies.

Inside of the Documentation Center is this long hallway which intersects several of the internal spaces. It’s a symbolic arrow thru the heart of National Socialism.

During construction of the museum, various bits of Nazi memorabilia were found and saved.

This is the “inside” of the Documentation Center. It was meant to have a roof and house representatives from various areas inside of the Reich (kind of like Congress). The place is huge and you could easily get several football fields in there. If I recall correctly, seating capacity was around 60,000 (but it looks bigger). It was never finished (like most of the Rally Grounds), due to the outbreak of war.

We’re all pretty familiar with the yellow “Star of David” patch that Jews wore while interned. What I didn’t know was that there was an entire labeling system for concentration camp prisoners (I should have known better as the Nazis were very detail oriented and structured). I would see a reference to this in Dachau.

The top reads; “Identification of prisoners in the concentration camps” (kennzeichen fur Schutzhaftlinge in den konz.Lagern). The columns, left to right, read: Political, Criminal, Emigrant, Bible Student, Homosexual and Anti-Social. The colors, left to right, are: Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink and Black. The rows, top to bottom, read: Simple (tri)angle, Repeat Occupant, Member of a Disciplinary Unit, Marks for Jews, Special Markings.

Additionally, the (tri)angle could be designated with a letter to indicate country of origin (B-Belgium, F-France, I-Italy, N-Netherlands, P-Poland, S-Spain, T-Czech, U-Hungary). By looking at the way the various markings were arranged on the camp uniforms, guards could easily identify the prisoner type (example in the lower right hand corner).

On the walk from the Frankenstrasse U-bahn station, Kasey liked these blocks of flats because of their color scheme.

Returning to the aldstadt, we’re pretty sure that Hitler was photographed at this spot (in front of the Hotel Drei Raben) on Königstrasse.

We thought that this sign, with an eagle’s head, was really cool.

Here I am in front of the Nuremburg Christmas Eve sign over the markt. That stall just over my left shoulder had truffles for a very good price. Kasey contemplated smuggling some home.

Here’s the Frauenkirche-Männleinlaufen again.

This is the ChristKind (Christ Child) who is chosen, every other year, by the citizens of Nuremberg. She opens and blesses the market. She was very popular and lots of folks wanted pictures with her, or picture of her with their kids.

This is the historic Nuremberg Rathaus.

This is the Nuremberg Municipal Museum just north of the Nuremberg Rathaus, on Burgstrasse.

This is a view looking south on Burgstrasse, toward the Christkindl markt. The Nuremberg Rathaus is on the left, in the distance.

Here’s an elevated shot of the Nuremberg Rathaus, from the Municipal Museum.

We’re now up (literally) by the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, looking west on Am Olberg.

Here’s a look at the Imperial Castle. Holy Roman Emperors lived there.

Looking west on Am Olberg with the castle to the right.

This is Albrect Durer’s house.

And, turning around, looking at Albrect Durer Square.

Walking home on Albrect-Durer-Strasse, we came across a distillery that was having a tasting. So, we busted in and made ourselves at home.

Day 10 - Nuremburg to Munich

At breakfast the following morning, I’m perusing the guide book.

The Hotel Elch was decorated for Christmas (if you consider hot pink elk to be Christmas-y).

This is a crazy view of the Hotel Elch stairwell. We traipsed up and down those steps too many times.

The Hotel Elch actually encompasses two buildings, the stone one to the right and the Tudor, timber framed building to the left. Our room was the one all the way to the left in the second (top) row of the timber framed section. The left window is slightly open, at the top.

We bid Nuremberg adieu, took a short ride to the Bahnhof and we’re off to Munich!

Kasey was intent on getting pictures while we were on the platform, waiting for the train. She kept backing up and at that rate; she was going to tumble onto the tracks. I made some snide comment and we both had a good laugh.

The train ride to Munich was nothing special. I think it took about an hour. We managed to get ourselves and our luggage outside where we took a cab to the Hotel Schlicher

After dropping off our things (the room had already been cleaned and was available), we opted to wander the area around the Marienplatz, to get our bearings We walked west on Tal and turned the corner onto Viktualienmarkt. As you can tell by the name, the markt was going full tilt.

This guild pole is celebrating the Munchener Reinheitsgebot (Munich Beer Purity Law) which dates to November 30, 1487 (and pre-dates the Bavarian Beer Purity Law by 28 years – 1516).

Here are more images from the Viktualienmark. We revisited this particular stall because of their selection of olives and other goodies. I was impressed enough by the apples (I’m sampling one) to consider trying to make apple pie. I couldn’t figure out how to pull that one off, sadly.

After getting our fill of the markt, both visually and "intestinally", we headed to Marienplatz (north & west of the hotel) to partake of the Christkindlmarkt. Most, if not all, of the stalls were just chock full of goodies.

After checking out most of stalls in the Marienplatz, we expanded our search radius. This is the Rindermarkt.

This is the Mariensäule.

Here's more images from the Christkindlmarkt (which sprawled throughout Munich).

Just like in A Christmas Story, these kids couldn’t get enough of the toy displays.

This is the outside of the Hirmer building on Kaufingerstrasse. They’re a men’s outfitter.

A shot of the old town hall. Our hotel is just on the other side of this building, about 50 yards down the street.

And, here’s the world famous Hofbrauhaus. The number of (Asian) tourists flooding out the front door made us want to avoid the building altogether (not that we have anything against Asians, we just prefer to avoid tourist traps).

This was some interesting interior design, which we wandered past, on the way back to the hotel.

And, that’s it for Day 10. We were pretty tired and decided to call it a day. We’d need the energy, tomorrow he head to Dauchau.

Day 11 - Dauchau, BMW World & Olympia Park

We jumped on the U-bahn (subway) and took it to the Ostbahnhof (East train station) to catch the S-bahn (regional train) to Dachau. While waiting for our train, to Dachau, we noticed how similar the commuters were to the ones seen at Union Station in Chicago. Everyone is in a little bit of a hurry; everyone has headphones on and seems to be in their own little world. We’re not so different, are we?

The day was bright with a deep blue sky and a few high clouds. There was a chill in the air; it was early December after all. Our train came in, disgorged its contents and we boarded. It was a quick, if uneventful, ride. All urban train track rights-of-way seems to be similar; industrial, disheveled and graffiti encrusted.

Upon arrival at Dachau, the weather seemed to change. It was no longer a bright day, there seemed to be more high clouds and I felt a distinct foreboding. We walked down off the platform, along with quite a few teen-aged people, clearly on a field trip. While waiting for the bus, I was struck by the fact that no matter where the inhabitants went, in the world, people knew of their town;

“Welcome to Los Angeles, where are you from?”




We bought our bus tickets, validated them (“franked”) and waited patiently for the bus to fill and be on its way. There were some Americans behind us. They were saying some weird things and we looked at each other. We knew we wanted to be as far away from them as possible. I wanted to go and yet I didn’t want to go. We navigated the pleasant streets of Dachau. The camp memorial sits in a very pleasant neighborhood. In fact, the bus stop is very nondescript and the only clue are the signs leading towards the (new) entrance building where you can rent audio tours and guide books.

We walked up to the desk and got our headphones. Guess who was in line just behind us? Right, The Americans. After listening to us, they pretty much told the woman behind the desk, “We’ll do what they’re doing”. Crap. Tag-A-Longs (and not the Girl Scout cookie kind). Unfortunately, we had to use the restrooms so there was no way to get out of that building and leave them in our dust. Afterwards, on our way towards the Gate House, there they were. They made some comments regarding our ability to deal with Germans and they wanted to hang with us. Uh, no thanks. I made some remarks that left no doubt that we weren’t there to be their tour guides without being ‘New York’ rude. They seemed to get the hint and we didn’t see them thereafter. That may not have been very nice but damn, we did our homework, we learned a little German, and we figured it out. Why can’t you do the same?

After a short walk down the gravel path, past buildings that no longer exist (just foundation markers), we found ourselves in front of the Main Gate House.

Originally, camp inmates walked the 3.5 kilometers from town, to the camp, before the war broke out. After September 1939, they ran. That wasn’t efficient enough; eventually a spur rail line was put in. If you spun around from the main gate, 180 degrees, you saw the remnants of the rail line and platform.

“Work makes you free”. The sinister implication, no doubt, was only apparent only after you were in the camp for a while. Work makes you (die which makes you) free.

This is just inside the main gate, looking north (left). In the middle ground are the camp hut foundations. Only two buildings have been re-created for the memorial. If I was a prisoner, I’d be dead. Why? I’m on the grass between the perimeter fence and the crushed gravel. It was verboten to be in this area. In the background is one of the memorial chapels that were built more recently. That building was not part of the camp. The memorial grounds are only a portion of the original camp. Beyond the chapel was more of the camp (now a forest which contains a monastery).

Here’s the original fence line with a guard tower in the distance. This is not actually what this area used to look like. We’ll get to that in a bit. Again, you weren’t allowed to be this close to the fence. You’d be shot until dead and probably more, just for good measure.

This is a better view of the remaining building foundations. One of the reconstructed buildings can be seen on the right. See those popular trees? Yes, they were saplings when the camp in operation. Look at the sky. That grey haze seemed to linger over the camp. The sun doesn’t shine here.

This is what the real fence line looked like. That’s electrified barbed wire strung between concrete posts. On the sloping ground, over the gravel, is more barbed wire. Then, came a trench which was usually filled with running water (that water source has been diverted and now runs behind the trees, to the left). Lastly, was a grassy area. You had to remain on the gravel.

This is the crematorium. I had a strange thing happen to me here. I could smell burning wood. I shrugged it off as remnants of what the equipment was used for. A while later I mentioned it to Kasey. She had not smelled anything. That was eerie.

This was one of the many memorials; it happens to be behind the crematorium (and can be seen at the far right of the image above).

This is looking South thru the center of the camp. All of the exposed foundations are filled with rounded stones. There is a grounds crew that keeps the dead leaves from gathering. To the right, in the distance, is the main gate house, partially hidden by trees.

This is also looking south, towards the Administration building. The sculpture, in front of the building, is of frail human forms trapped in barbed wire.

Remember that matrix of symbols, used to identify camp inmates, as seen in the Documentation Center? Here they are again.

We went inside the Administration Building as there were more displays inside. At this point, though, we’d pretty much had enough of this miserable place and decided to head back to Munich. We turned in our headphones and waited for the bus. Once back on the S-bahn platform, the sun was shining again.

We took the S-bahn back to the Ostbahnhof and then took the U-bahn north, to BMW World.

Inside were all sorts of awesome cars, motorcycles, engines and paraphernalia.

Here, I’m reading about the BWM jet engine that was used on an Arado AR234 Luftwaffe bomber. There’s an image of the plane, on the wall behind the engine.

This is a BWM that was sent to Italy for special bodywork.

These are some really nice old posters and programs for motor-sports events. Note the swastika banner in the poster for the Mille (1000) Miglia.

Here’s the evolution of the BMW 3 Series starting with two of my favorites; the 1500 (foreground) and the 320i (second in line, in gold).

These are some really nice art-deco posters.

Now that BWM has resurrected the MINI brand, there was a Mini display as well. Here, Kasey crams herself in.

This is a very cool pop-up camper built on an original Mini.

You thought Minis were small? They can get even smaller.

This was a really different marketing display. I believe that’s an early version of the BMW X1 (which may not have come to the US).

We had “wound” our way up to the top and it was time to head outside and across the street.

There were more cars across the street. Here, you could actually discuss the purchase of a new Bimmer while ogling fun vehicles. These are two BMW Isettas.

This appears to be a subsidiary of Flying A Gasoline?

Here’s the outside of that building with the corporate tower behind. We’re on our way to Olympic Park, which is to our right, over a bridge which crosses an expressway.

This is some really interesting Olympic Park architecture and a functional sun shade as well.

A plaque dedicated to the Israeli Olympic Team.

Here’s the original Olympic housing complex. It’s apartments or condos now.

With the shadows growing long and the temperatures dipping, we headed back to our hotel. Here we are outside of the Hofbrauhaus, again.

Kasey really liked this store's button display. The walls of the store were all like this.

Dinner that night included wine and a dark beer. It has been a long day.

Tomorrow, we go visit a paper factory and get a tour we’ll not soon forget.

Day 12 - Gmund Paper Factory, Gmund am Tegernsee

After our usual, by now, breakfast fare we headed to the Hauptbahnhof, via U-bahn, for the train to Gmund am Tegernsee. The train was at the platform but not ready for boarding (the doors were closed), or so we thought. Kasey noticed that the display boards, above the doors, had different destinations. That was a little confusing. But, we found the car(s) destined for Gmund and got on (after watching another passenger push a button to open the door). Unlike the Metra trains that we’re used to, the Bayerische Oberlandbahn (BOB) closes their doors to maintain the heating (in our case) or cooling inside the cars. The doors close automatically after a few moments.

The ride to Gmund is just about an hour and the countryside is very familiar to Midwesterners; relatively flat with lots of farmland, interspersed with small villages. When we arrived in Schaftlach, about ¾ of the way to Gmund, something interesting happened; the train split apart! I don’t think I’d ever seen this happen. The first half of the train continued on thru Schaftlach while we backed out of the station. A little ways outside of town, a switch had been thrown and we were now on the spur line to Gmund and Tegernsee (albeit riding backwards – which will usually give me motion sickness). The rest of the trip was only 15-20 minutes which is something I could handle. I was aided by the fact that German Rail provides a significantly smoother ride compared to what I’m used to. That certainly helped.

We got off the train and started our short walk to the paper factory (buttenpapierfabrik). The Gmund bahnhof is on Wiesseer Strasse. A short three block walk later we were at the intersection with Tegernseer Strasse. We picked up Mangfallstrasse here which would take us to the paper works.

This is the Mangfall river looking back towards the bahnhof. The spire of the Pfarrkirche Sankt Ägidius can be seen (top center). The green building has a water wheel so it must have been an old mill or power station (I would guess). The spillway can be seen further upriver, to the right of the small white building that’s partially hidden by vegetation. The intersection of Wiesseer Strasse and Tegernseer Strasse is just beyond the two tall pine trees.

We walked another ½ mile down the road, past a lumber mill and crossed a bridge. The paper mill sits on a 90º bend in the river.

We met Laura, our tour guide, in the building behind the delivery truck. Our tour would be exclusively in the building on the left. The building in the background appears to be offices and administration. One of the first things Laura demonstrated was how to make paper by hand. Here, she’s mixing up water and pulp.

Here’s how she adds pulp to the mix bin.

Of course Laura’s had lots of practice but here she shows us how it’s done.

This press would be used to squeeze water out of the pulp mat, to accelerate the drying process.

Kasey gives it a go. You take a wooden frame, with a fine metal screen, and slide it down the side of the mix bin. Then, slide the fame along the bottom. Now, slowly pull the frame upwards (collecting pulp as you go).

When the frame emerges from the water, carefully break the suction by removing the level frame from the water VERY slowly.

Once the frame is clear, you’re ready to ‘dump’ the pulp mat from the frame.

Kasey prepares to put the pulp mat onto the drying ‘rack. Note the curved surface. That makes it easier to roll the pulp mat off of the frame.

A little pressure…

…and, it comes right off!

There’s one piece of handmade paper.

My turn!

I managed to take a small nick out of my pulp mat with the finger nail of one of my fingers. Laura was kind enough to complete the drying process and ship the completely dry paper sheets to us. Since my sheet had a nick in it, it was easy to tell who made each sheet. We got the paper sheets about a week after we got home. Thanks again Laura!

Here are some retired equipment pieces. From left; mix bin, drying rack and color mixing mill.

This is the bottom of the current pulp mixing tub. I would guess they are about ten feet deep. Raw paper is mixed with water to create pulp.

These are bales of raw paper, waiting to go through the pulping process.

This is one of the color mixing mills. It’s a bigger version of the one we saw previously. It was being cleaned.

Here’s an old dial telephone that is still in use. You can not only make internal calls but it still works to call outside the factory.

This was the maintenance area. I believe one of the color mixers was being repaired.

Here's is a color mill used to make paper dye. Looks similar to a mill to make chocolate, doesn’t it?

This is the “old” paper line. A run of black had just been completed and we were able to see the line up close while they cleaned it.

Interestingly, the line is still belt driven.

There is a new(er) paper roller at the end of the “old” line. This area had to be added to the building to create enough room for the roller.

This is the building extension, from the outside.

I believe those are cutter wheels.

That entire area of the mill was rather loud. So, it was impossible to shout questions at Laura. We just walked along and kept our hands to our sides (the black paper dye will stain EVERYTHING) and our thoughts to ourselves.

This is the new line. It’s about 2-3 times longer and much, much faster. What appears to be dirt on the floor is actually used paper dye. It’s going into a recycling machine (just out of frame). It reminded me of old blacktop or bits of coal.

This is the recycling machine being loaded with used dye.

Back to the new line.

Here’s roll of paper off of the new line. They are big and heavy. A gantry crane is used to move them.

One level down is the storage area. It’s mostly paper rolls but there are some dye containers as well.

Laura and I are discussing that pink roll. There was something wrong with it (hence the orange sheet). I forgot if it was the wrong color or if it was supposed to be used before other pink rolls.

This is a neat way to display the colors of paper that are produced.

This was a machine that cut and stacked paper. The yellow tabs are inserted every 50 or 100 sheets (to facilitate counting). This picture makes the stack look bigger than it is. They’re usually no more than about 4 feet high.

Ombre coloring

These are orders that are cut and ready to be shipped.

This is an old texture press.

This is the texture sample board. Each sample provides an idea of what the paper will look like once run thru the texture dies.

This is a modern texture press, in use.

I believe these orders were returns. They needed to be inspected for imperfections.

The women in this department checked each sheet for imperfections. Only women worked here. Their eyes are much better at picking out imperfections than men’s eyes are (apparently). This particular woman was going thru paper sheets at about one sheet every two seconds. She encountered an imperfection and set a sheet aside. We asked Laura to stop her to see if we could find the imperfection. It took us about 30 seconds (she did it in less than 2).

This is a very small part of the paper archives. Any color Gmund has ever made is here (along with the color “recipe”).

This is one, if not the, original cutting lines. It’s now a display in the gift shop.

Merry Christmas!

More of the of the gift shop.

Kasey and Laura. If you ask me, Laura is channeling Lady Gaga, just a bit.

Our tour has ended. The sun was so bright, I had to close my eyes and ask Laura to let us know when she was going to take the picture. I’m glad it only took two or three snaps to get this as I was getting a headache from squinting.

Laura spent some time, as a high school exchange student, in Idaho. While there, she took, and passed, her driver's license test thus depriving the German government of about $2500. That's what it costs to take, and pass, all of the tiered licensing requirements. Well done Laura, you're more American than you know!

There’s a nice little park across the street.

We wondered who owned this beautiful Mercedes-Benz 170S cabriolet.

You can see the paper factory reflected in the trunk lid.

This is another shot of the Mangfall river. The factory is directly behind us.

This is the BOB rail bridge over the Mangfall river. The bahnhof is on the other side of the bridge, to the right.

This is a little chapel in front of the Pfarrkirche Sankt Ägidius

We asked the ladies in the Gmund office where we might go for lunch. A quick poll between them revealed that the Italian bistro "Rosso" was the place to be. It happened to be across the street from the chapel. I opted for Diet Coke (and pizza).

We were back at the bahnhof just before 2 PM, waiting for the train.

This was taken from the bahnhof, looking toward the Tegernsee.

Back in Munich, we wandered around the rest of the afternoon, mostly just people watching.

We shopped the Viktualienmarkt and had another “hotel room bed picnic”, like we did in France. I had to dilute the Bacardi Rum & Coke, with more Coke, because Bacardi is.....not good......

We got a kick out of something on the “In Case of Fire or Emergency” placard in our hotel (disclaimer, emergencies are no laughing matter). Under “Behavior in case of accidents”, #3, Further Measures: Keep out rubbernecks. Ha! Good luck with that.

Tomorrow we pack it up, wander a bit, shop, see a bridal party and then head to the flughof.

Day 13 – Munich

On our last day we took our time in the morning; we cleaned up, packed up, had breakfast and then bid the staff, at the front desk, adieu. They had been great. We checked our bags with them and then headed out to wander. We purposely had no plans for the day.

We strolled back to the Marienplatz where Kasey got a picture of the arch under the glockenspiel.

That’s the flag of Munich on the left (gold & black) and the flag of Bavaria on the right (blue & white). We headed north on Weinstrasse (Vienna Street) where we encountered this wurst booth, just west of Marienhof (Marien Park).

These guys hammed it up for us. Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor? Further north, Vienna Street turns into Theatinerstrasse. Kasey got this neat shot of a shopper headed east on Viscardigasse (Viscardi Alley). The building in front of her is now a state owned museum, a former royal palace.

These are the famous lions of the Feldherrnhalle, a monument to the Bavarian Army.

Opposite the Feldherrnhalle is the Odeonsplatz. On that day they were selling Christmas trees there. And, they weren’t cheap, either. Here I am perusing the goods. That’s a 12” high tree for 12 Euro. I think a 6 foot tree was close to 80 Euro.

In this image I would be facing the lions. Behind me is a nice courtyard with another Christmas market. Kasey found a really nice sweater and scarf set in a booth inside.

We really loved these paper stars. They were everywhere but we finally decided to get one. If I remember correctly, we bought the red patterned one that’s directly above the dark blue and white star in the bottom row. We opted not to get the light kit as the folded star would fit nicely in our suitcase. We ended up with a bulb guard even though we won’t need it. We plan to use an LED which is cool when lit.

Kasey liked the silhouette, of the carousel, created by the morning sun.

Here are some things we encountered at other booths. I thought the elves were a little creepy.

This glittery cherub made for a neat image, in the bright light.

Back out in the Odeonsplatz, we noticed this pattern in the cobblestones. There’s a name for this pattern, which escapes me, but it’s not uncommon.

This is the Munich Residenz which is a former royal residence (17th Century). It’s all state owned museums now. We wandered down to the limo to discover that the chauffeur was inside waiting, for someone. It was a nice old Mercedes-Benz.

And, here’s what the limo was waiting on. A wedding party! The ladies are standing under the Dianatempel in the Hofgarten. We hung close by but were careful to not be in the photographer’s way. We tried chatting with the mother of the groom but she was a little gruff and didn’t speak English well, if at all. The groom eventually wandered over, with one of the groomsmen. They spoke English and chatted with Kasey while the ladies did their thing. When the groom learned what Kasey did, we all had a nice chat. After that, Mom warmed up to us quite a bit. I’ll bet Kasey’s pictures were better than the photographer’s.

Just west of the park was a Starbucks. We opted to take a break for some drinks and a pee. This small tree was outside, in the bright sunshine.

From there, we wandered west on Briennerstrasse and encountered the Platz der Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (a plaza dedicated to those who suffered under the Nazis).We ambled southwest on Maximiliansplatz to the BMW Lenbachplatz. Here, they had cars and bicycles and other accessories on display. It was like a BMW boutique. We crossed Maxsburgstrasse to walk along Herzog-Max-Strasse. Here we encountered a monument to a synagogue that had been burned on Kristallnacht.

From there we headed further west and found ourselves at the Munich Haupbahnhof. Incredibly, we happened upon the wedding party we had seen earlier. They were exiting the Mercedes limo and heading in for dinner/reception (from the looks of things).

It was now mid-afternoon so we decided to head back towards the hotel to get our things. We crossed the street into Karlsplatz and then walked back thru the now crowded markt.

From the top of the Cafe Rischart we killed some time by people watching in the Viktualienmarkt. We then headed back to the hotel, gathered our bags and headed back to the Marienplatz S-bahn station.

The S-bahn would take us all the way to the airport. As we got further and further away from Munich, the train car became more and more empty. Soon, there were just a few of us. The sun had set on our vacation.

At the airport, we encountered another Chrsitkindlmarkt. And, after asking many people how to get to our hotel, we located the correct bus stop. It seems we could have gotten off at the train stop just before the airport and walked to the hotel. Oh well. We had some drinks in the hotel lounge, had dinner at the hotel restaurant (as there was nothing else remotely close by) and then called it a night. The flight to Berlin left very early in the morning, around 6 AM. So, we had to be up around 3 AM to get cleaned up, back to the terminal and thru security. That made for a long day. The flight to Chicago was almost as empty as the flight to Berlin. I moved to the (mostly empty) center section to stretch out and get some sleep (and to give Kasey some extra space). It had been a great trip.

If you're interested in Caitlyn and Meredith's travel blog, click the image below:

They are exceptionally talented and we're lucky to have met them (and Ashley).

No comments:

Post a Comment