Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - Part 1

Welcome back Readers,
This past week we knocked off our final heritage country - Germany.  Not only was it my last heritage stop I was really looking forward to seeing Germany - real meat, good beer, mountainous sights, driving on the autobahn... I had high expectations.  The trip was a little differently planned than most of our other trips as half of this trip involved seeing the surrounding area while the other half was spent in  Munich.  In order to keep the posts somewhat short I divided them up into part 1 (the surrounding sights) and part 2 (Munich).  Enjoy.

Our trip was from Sunday to Sunday for better air prices so after making last preparations on Saturday we finished packing on Sunday and left for Birmingham.  We opted for the Lufthansa direct flight from Birmingham to Munich which went very smoothly.  Plus Lufthansa serves Warsteiner beer on their flight free of charge  so the flight was enjoyable and tasty.  Lori had the bright idea of arriving late, getting a hotel near the airport the first night, then starting fresh the next morning with our rental car.  It worked perfectly except for my newb traveller mistake of boarding the public transportation bus to the hotel and not having the proper currency in my wallet.  You'd think I would be better than that by now but nope.  So Lori quickly dug out some Euros from the backpack and we boarded the bus for our five minute ride.

Kevin Coleman Pic - The start of my week long tasty beer tour. 
Dana Johnson Pic - For dinner I opted for a club sandwich which was very good.  The fried egg and guacamole was a refreshing touch.  The other dishes were a Caesar salad, king prawn and mushrooms, and a soup which were all good.
Monday - We started the day with breakfast, then a bus ride back to the airport to pick up the rental car.

Dana Johnson Pic - Breakfast at the Novotel.  Ummm, real meat.  So depressing travelling and always coming back to the food in England. 

Our ride, the Mercedes-Benz C220.  Nice, very very nice.  Don't settle for a Beemer Dana - go first class and get a Mercedes-Benz.  (Sorry Becky.)  We even had in-dash GPS which was beyond convenient. 
Driving on the autobahn was great, as a matter of fact I think they should rename it the awesomebahn.  It's reputation is well deserved, it was like driving on an American highway.  Wide lanes, no meathead drivers going slow in the fast lanes, great road conditions (not a pothole in sight), conscientious drivers slowed down to the posted speeds... I really enjoyed driving on it.  In good conditions I was motoring around 90-95 mph and loving it.  I made it up to 175 km (almost 110 miles) per hour and still felt safe.  Lori's eyes were closed then for some reason but she didn't complain.  She actually wasn't talking at all - strange coincidence.  As for the speed limits the GPS helped us figure out where the speed limits were posted; on the free run areas the speed limit disappeared from the GPS screen and reappeared as we entered speed zones which was very helpful as I acclimated to driving on the awesomebahn.  But usually I just took off the reins and let the horses run.
Our first stop was in Austria for vignettes.  I think Austria at least.  The border crossing were not what I expected.   No sings identifying when you are exiting or entering Germany, Austria or Switzerland.  There are booths kind of in the road (a picture on one later) but nothing stopping you from passing through.  If the GPS hadn't told us we were entering a border crossing I wouldn't have been sure that we actually were crossing a border.  I saw a vignette stand exiting Germany but it was around a corner and poorly identified so I ended up blazing past it before realising what it was.  So we crossed the border and I stopped at the first gas station we came upon.  As an FYI Vignettes are road tax stickers required in Austria and Switzerland which are relatively priced considering the enormous fine if caught driving without one so we stayed legal.  The station sold ten day Austria vignettes and year long Switzerland vignettes so I bought one of each.  (Anybody driving in Switzerland in the next year?  I can get you a good deal on a vignette so let me know.)  Slight communication confusion but the attendant and I worked it out and we were back on our way. 
We made it to St. Gallen, Switzerland (Wiki link) around lunchtime.  The day started out overcast but is getting sunny around midday which is always a positive.  St. Gallen has a UNESCO World Heritage Site named the Convent of St. Gall so I selected it as our midday stop on our way to the hotel.  The Site actually is the whole Abbey complex but we could only tour the cathedral and library as the Abbey is a functioning school now which makes most of it off limits to tourists.
From a St. Gallen website:  In the year 612, an Irish monk name Gallus, while on a preaching pilgrimage through Europe stumbled on a stone and dropped to a knee at the edge of the Steinach River. He spotted a hungry bear eyeing him. He gave the bear some of his meager bread, perhaps a bribe so as not to eat him, but purportedly an offering to help him build a shelter.  The site became a place of worship after Gallus' death and is still operational.  (Side note: Now I can add St. Gallus and his hungry bear to my stained glass windows search list.)

Not sure if that sign means what I think it does but Lori didn't want to find out. 

Lunch Switzerland style.  Best tasting sausage in years with a hunk of bread and drink.  All consumed standing at a little high table which was a little different but okay.  The sausages were so good we all had seconds on our way out of town.

Random building view.  A picturesque town which I really liked.

Another street shot.

Front of the Cathedral.  We'll stop back here in a bit.

Karl standing (blue sweatshirt with white lettering) under Karlstor (Charles' Gate), the lone remaining city wall gate outside the Abbey complex.  It was built in 1560/70.  Karl was very popular on this trip.
The World Heritage Site.  The Abbey was founded in 612 A.D. and followed the Rule of St. Benedictine staring in 747 A.D.
Our next stop was the Stiftsbibliothek (Abbey Library).  No pictures allowed but there is one on the Wiki link.  Not to be dramatic but if this isn't the most beautiful library in the world I want to see what beats it.  Simply magnificent with its smooth marble columns and block bases, geometrically patterned wooden floor (we had to put on slippers to walk inside), gold leaf books lining the dark wooden shelves, intricately moulded plaster ceilings with Biblical scenes painted inside the oval frames.  Astounding.  For books on display they had a lot from the 8th C, the oldest we found was 4th C Latin Biblical translation texts.  There was also a well preserved 7th C B.C. mummy on display to add a little creepiness to the room.  The existing library was built between 1758 and 1767 from the literature and the library dates back to 812 A.D. when it was first mentioned in texts.  Well worth the stop.
Our next destination was Kathedrale (Cathedral).  It was built between 1755 and 1766 and is an example of Baroque beauty.  This was a WOW place.  IMO (In My Opinion for the oldsters) this is a top tier church/cathedral interior on the same level as St. Paul's Cathedral in London and Storkyrkan in Stockholm.  Lori and I just sat down for a while and stared around us.  

Entry door.

Main ceiling panel.

Ceiling panel close up.  The white walls/columns and green three dimensional trim really set this place apart looks wise for us.  Add the whatever-that-red-family-colour-is accent with the cream coloured fighting babies and the huge ceiling paintings and this place is stunning.

Screen and corridor back to the main altar WAAYYYY in the back.

View of rear of cathedral and organ.
A pulpit that screams baroque.

Close up of the three dimensional cream coloured characters.

View down the centre of the nave.

View down the centre from the rear of the Cathedral.
Seated in a pew.  I think if I went to a service here I would probably spend the whole service rubber necking the walls and ceiling instead of focusing on the service.
Ceiling scene close up.

One of the side arches.  On the bottom are two confessional booths.  Hard to see but there is another cream coloured baby fight up high.

Kind of close up of the organ and rear of the church.
Cherub Fight!  One baby about to cuff another baby.  I loved the rug spilling over the edge of the platform as though it is about to fall on the floor.
Final shot of the front.  Beautiful church.

Exterior picture.  The altar is on the left side of the picture.

Final shot of St. Gallen as we walk back to the car.
A short and beautiful ride later and we are in Appenzell, Switzerland to spend the night.  Driving in Switzerland was great, sunny weather and clear roads with snow covered mountains.  (Just like I planned it, right cousin Tim?) 

Our room in Hotel Hecht, a clean and spacious room.  This place was a winner.

View of Appenzell Alps out of our room window.

Tammy Foster Pic - Bridge over the cold river Sitter.

Hotel Hecht street.

River Sitter leaving Appenzell.

Random town building shot.
We had some free drink vouchers from our hotel so after walking around the town we stopped to cash in our vouchers and relax in a partner establishment bar where smoking is allowed.  Smoking was actually allowed in a few of the places we visited in Switzerland and Austria which was an unpleasant change.  The other unpleasant change was the amount of borderline rude people we encountered.  No bad incidents just a few odd encounters.   

Kevin Coleman Pic - I had to try the local variety.  Light and crisp.
Thinking of my buddy Steve who is going to Switzerland soon.  See this 330 mL (11 US ounces) Coke we ordered for the kids?  Costs 5 Swiss Francs.  Or almost five and a half US dollars with the exchange rate.  Yup, that's how expensive Switzerland is.

Dana Johnson Pic - Ham, potato and cheese all thrown in a pan and baked.  Super delicious but a little greasy.
Tuesday - Our plan today was Vaduz, Liechtenstein then Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany then Salzburg, Austria.  Aaaand we're off!

Morning view of the Appenzell Alps.

Dana Johnson Pic - Typical breakfast.  There was also fruit and hard boiled egg which didn't make it onto my plate this day.  Very good breakfasts the whole trip.   

A cold start to the day.  -6 C (21 F) at 8 AM.  The days have been mostly sunny and low 40's F so far which have been pretty nice.  Mornings have been brisk mid 20's F so far.  Thick frost on the car this morning.

Jim Seppanen Pic - Rural Switzerland.

Eastern Switzerland mountains on the drive from Appenzell to Vaduz.

More trees and mountains.

The rock on the left looks like a dinosaur's spiny back ridge, tall and thin.  There were quite a few of these thin rock structures as we approached Liechtenstein.
Our morning stop was Vaduz (Wiki link), Liechtenstein.  Liechtenstein is 4 miles wide by 16 miles long which makes it the 6th smallest country in the world.  Nothing really drew us there except for the rare Liechtenstein passport stamp that costs a paltry three Swiss Francs for a once in a lifetime event.  Vaduz is about two baseball throws wide by about five baseball throws long so we didn't stay long.

Vaduz Castle is on the hill behind the visitor centre and government building.  The Tourist Info Centre is off to the left which is where you pay to get your passport stamped.

Blinding white mountains beyond the town limits.

Rathaus or City Hall House for us Yanks.

Kevin Coleman Pic - We stopped for a morning coffee since we had extra time in our schedule.  And I was going to have coffee, really I was, until I saw the Liechtenstein beer on the menu.  When will I ever be able to have a Liechtenstein beer sitting in Liechtenstein?  So I ordered myself a 10 AM beer (without objection from Lori for the record - okay, technically she wasn't at the table when I ordered but she also didn't technically object WHEN I ordered it) and thoroughly enjoyed it.

More mountains on the trip back to Germany.

Remember me saying the border crossing wasn't what I expected?  Well, this is it.  If you want the stamp you have to pull over, get out and walk inside to have them run your passport through their system then stamp it.  If you don't want it stamped you just blaze on down the road.  We ended up stopping for the Switzerland and Austria stamps although Lori said the Switzerland passport control lady was kind of rude with her.  Kind of like Lori was bothering her. 

Mountains in southern Germany.
Our early afternoon stop was Neuschwanstein Castle (link), the inspiration for Disney's Cinderella Castle, nestled in the Bavarian Alps.  The Wiki link has some more information on mad King Ludwig II and his fairy tale castle.  Cliff notes version from our picture-less tour: King Ludwig II was popular at first then became less popular as he mentally lost control of reality.  He admired the composer Richard Wagner (Wiki link talks about his friendship with Ludwig II) and invited him to Bavaria where Ludwig issued a blank check for Wagner to stage operas and also design a palace.  As Ludwig spent more money and Wagner spent his share of the money public opinion soured on both of them forcing Wagner to leave the area.  Ludwig was also in the process of building a string of no expenses spared fairy tale castles/palatial estates which led to his falling out favour with the public and government.  Neuschwanstein was one of those places.  The castle construction started in 1869 and was never completed.  It was only about half completed so the forty-five minute long tour takes you through the completed rooms only.  Our tour guide talked a little soft which made hearing everything difficult but I did here him speak about Ludwig's obsession with Wagner and swans (the local area animal symbol), his inexperience as king which allowed Bavaria to be overrun by Austria, his slipping grip on reality as evidenced by his growing number of fantasy palaces/building he planned to construct, and his eventual "accidental" death by drowning as he was on his way to a psychiatric hospital to be committed.  The completed rooms were nice but nothing special to us.  A lot of nice wall paintings and carved wooden decor with some gilded trim in the rooms but not as opulent as the royal residences we have toured.  My favourite room was the king's bedroom.  It wasn't large, about 15 feet by 18 feet but it was definitely fit for a king.  It had a dresser, reading chair, secret door to a private bathroom (with running water), ceramic heater, and the most beautifully carved wooden canopy I have ever seen.  That room itself took fourteen woodworkers four years to complete.  I so wanted to sneak a picture of the canopy but didn't. 

Neuschwanstein Castle from a car park.  Beautiful setting.

Teresa Robinett Pic - Being the nice guy that I am I agreed to a horse drawn carriage ride up the hill.  Fifteen minutes later and 24 Euros lighter we are at the drop off spot.  No I did not agree to a return ride much to Kalle's disappointment.

The front of the castle.  No pictures allowed inside the castle which was a bummer.

Alps across from the castle front.

Jay Seppanen Pic - My buddies.  There was another picture of my mates inside the chapel.

I think this is Marienbruecke (St. Mary's Bridge) but the path to the bridge was closed.  You are supposed to see both castles from that vantage point.  I was tempted to Schetzle the barricade but I wouldn't have time to get there and back since all entrances to the castle are on timed tours. 

An 1880/81 A.D. ceraminic tile neo-Romanesque stove.  One of the many delivered to Ludwig to be used as room heaters at Neuschwanstein.

Hohenschwangau Castle (Wiki link), the childhood home of Ludwig II.  It was built by his father King Maximilian II of Bavaria.  We chose not to tour it as we had a lot of driving this day.

Dana Johnson Pic - We stopped for a late lunch by the castle.  Sausages, mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.  The food in Germany was great.
After we stuffed ourselves we waddled to the car and started off for Salzburg, Austria.  The drive started out okay but about an hour from Salzburg the storm hit and I slowed down to 50-60 km (31-37) miles per hour for the rest of the drive.  The visibility was poor due to the snow and total darkness while the roads were turning wet as the snow covered them.  The car drove fine with its snow tires so we patiently made our way to the hotel.  Little did we know that the off and on sunny days without snow were behind us.  The temperatures also dropped from highs in the mid 40's to highs in the low 30's for the rest of the trip.

Our room at the Star Inn Hotel outside Salzburg.  Okay place, clean but small (with a hair dryer). 

Dinner was at a local smoky restaurant.  Check out the sleet.

Kevin Coleman Pic - Local brew.

Dana Johnson Pic - Lori ordered the "nice sah-lahd" which was tomato and onion and parsley in an oil dressing which actually was very nice.  After tasting it Kalle and I each ordered our own.

Dana Johnson Pic - Mince beef and sauerkraut and onion in a bread loaf with a side of potato and tomato type sauce.  Not what I was expecting from the menu and waitress' description but still good.
STRETCH GOAL TIME!  Fellow ex-pats Mark and Cindy did a similar trip last year and recommended we check out the famous Red Bull Hangar 7 (link) when we toured Salzburg.  Our hotel was only five minutes away and the hangar was open until midnight so we (Lori and I) decided to make this a late night and check out the hangar for ourselves.  Pictures are allowed for personal use and I did take a lot but will only show a couple on this post.
The museum had a lot to look at and Lori and I really enjoyed it.  The kids enjoyed it as well but they enjoyed the driving game more than the museum.  The museum housed cars from NASCAR, Indy Car, F1, and speed record racing; various stunt air planes and helicopters (Lori spotted an Indianapolis made Allison turbine and a couple Rolls Royce Indy turbines on the helicopters); as well as other racing/stunt odds and ends.  My favourite displays were Felix Baumgartner's wings and some small experimental planes.  Not only was the museum open late it was free.  What a place!

The PS3 Gran Tourismo 5 racing simulator set up that occupied 90% of the kid's time here.  Karl kept crashing or spinning out and blamed it on the car (a Mini I think) settings.  He later figured out how to change cars to a sports car and crashed that as well.  Yes his excuse still was the car.  Kalle would crash but hers was probably caused by her twirling her hair (seriously) or relaxed one handed driving style.  She did manage to finish sixth out of twelve for one of her races so she won the best finish amongst the three of us.  I tried twice and wiped out both times finishing dead last.  Totally the car's fault both times btw.

Inside the cool hangar.

The world's most expensive model car according to the Guinness Book of Records, a Lamborghini Aventador.  Built to be the most expensive it has 24 karat gold, platinum, diamonds and other precious stones decorating it.  It will be auctioned this upcoming December with a starting bid of 3,500,000 Euros.  It cost 2,000,000 Euros to make.
Wednesday - Last night was the start of the on and off snow for the rest of our trip.  We expected snow and cold so were prepared with winter coats, hats and boots but a cold front hit Europe at the last minute so it was a little colder than forecasted when we left.  Oh well, hearty travellers mush on. 

Our morning view.  Somewhere is the foggy distance is a mountain.

We parked at a garage just outside the Old Town and walked through these tunnels carved in the rock to downtown Salzburg.  Very neat.
The main reasons for selecting Salzburg was to learn about Mozart and based upon favourable reviews of people who have been here already. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so I figured it would have some nice sights (it did) for us as we explored the town. It also has a historic restaurant, a couple of churches, and a lot of snow which really made the town picturesque.
The snowy setting made for fantastic views.  The university is in the distance.
After walking through the coolest parking garage ever we stopped at Franziskanerkirche (Franciscan Church).  The church (link) was nice but after the beautiful St. Gallen Cathedral everything was downhill from here.  Supposedly Rome has a pretty decent cathedral somewhere but until we get there I think all other churches/cathedrals will pale in comparison.  Anyway, the site has been a church since the 8th C and the existing Fransciscan Church is from the 1400's.  Nice church but a little plain and a lot dark.  

View from the entrance doors down the nave to the main altar.

Church history for the info board readers like me.

The dome ceiling was pretty neat.

Surrounding the main altar were about twelve or fifteen side altars like this one.

View across the main altar area.  The column in the middle of my picture blocks out the main altar.

View down the nave from the altar towards the entrance and organ.  Plain and dark.

Altar close up.

Constant reminders of our walk down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
Next up was the Salzburg Dom (Cathedral), read about it here.  For the non-link readers the Cathedral dates back to 767 A.D. when construction started then it was burnt down from a lightning strike.  Then it was rebuilt, and burned again, then collapsed, then... you get the point.  The 8th Dom fire in 1598 A.D. damaged it enough that it was completely demolished and the work on the existing Dom started in 1611 A.D.  This Dom was a second tier cathedral for me.  Beautiful main tri-altar area with a unique tri-domed ceiling under a central cupola on one end of the building with side hallways packed with ornately decorated ceilings and smaller altars.  Very much a visual paradise compared to the previous church.  The only drawback of the tour was the original crypt was closed while we were there.

Dom Towers and a snow covered tent.

Dom entrance.

View down a side corridor.

Side hall mini-dome close up.

Another Via Dolorosa reminder.

Hallway side altar.

Dove of Peace?  He's flying high in the cupola.

One of the three main altars.  I had to turn the camera portrait view to capture the domed ceiling.

Same altar in landscape view to capture the altar area.

Opposite side altar area zoomed out to capture one of the four smaller organs.

Ceiling of the nave shot that didn't turn out very well.

Cupola and Dove of Peace from earlier.  My camera may be showing its age but I sure do like its zoom.

Ceiling picture close up.

View of middle altar from nave.  I tried a few panoramas of the three altars then three domed ceilings and my camera couldn't swing wide enough to capture everything.  It's a big 'un Al Bundy.

View down the nave towards the entrance and main organ.

Showing the pulpit (I think) and one of the nave sides.

Partial view of main altars area from nave.

Baptismal font.

Final shot of interior.

Exterior shot of Dom.  The entrance and towers on the right, the cupola and one of the domed altar areas on the left.  Hohensalzburg Fortress is just visible above the Dom roof.

We had to stop and pet this part Chow dog because he reminded us of our Chow-Lab dog Bear patiently waiting for us at home.  Isn't he cute?  Kind of snotty though, he didn't care if we petted him or not. 
Now its Mozart time.  Thanks to my father's constant blaring of classical music whilst I earned my room and board hauling/cutting/splitting/stacking/throwing in the house/etc. wood during my formative years I have grown to enjoy and appreciate classical music.  So what better way to appreciate it then learn about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Wiki link), one of the most famous composers of all time?  Lori enjoys classical music so she wanted to learn about him while the kids were SOL but that's the breaks sometimes.  So off we go to Mozarts Geburtshaus (Birthplace) then Wohnhaus (Residence).  No pictures allowed inside so I'll just add a few bits of trivia we picked up in the sparsely adorned rooms.  The birthplace was very bare with tables set up to display mementos while the walls had written family histories and facts.  The residence had a few pianos and not much else so it was almost as bare.  I was expecting a few pieces of period furniture or something to make you feel like you were in late 1700's but the best we got was a small piano Mozart played as a child.  As for the tidbits - Mozart was a child prodigy who toured Europe starting at the age of 6 with his older sister and father (we saw where he played in Versailles), his father was a Salzburg concert violinist who earned a decent living, he had enormously misshapen ears which was a common familial trait  (I wondered if this was tied to his musical skill), he had five siblings who died at childbirth or in infancy - only him and his sister lived past infancy, he composed 22 complete operas in his time, operas in that time lasted as long as eight hours, most paintings of him are not genuine or even actually of him - the museum claimed he was one of the mis-identified famous people in the world, and despite his more famous portraits he actually was not good looking (he was described in period texts as having an enormous head, pockmarked face, bulging eyes, large nose, and frail body).  His musical skill was legendary and unmatched - he was known as a child to listen to complete works of music then accurately write down the complete works as sheet music.  Both places were interesting overall and I'm glad we toured them. 
This image (from the internet) is one of the very few authenticated pictures of him and was painted during one of his trips to Vienna.

The exterior.  I didn't take a picture of the residence for some odd reason.  I must have been distracted.

Tammy Foster Pic - I liked the trees that appear to be lining the bridge.  This is the River Salzach for the geography buffs.

Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking Salzburg and the Dom.  We were only here a day so we didn't tour it.  The online reviews were mixed so it was only a stretch goal for us.

I just liked this picture.

Tammy Foster Pic - I liked the fog on the right as it settled onto the mountains.

Mozart statue.

Salzburg and surrounding is also known for The Sound of Music but we obviously didn't do any of those rural tours in the wintertime.

Another shot of Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Lunchtime means a stop at the self described oldest restaurant in Europe from 803 A.D. (thanks for the tip cousin Tim), Stiftskeller St. Peter (link).  See the pic from above?  Basically keep walking until you come to the base of the cliff and the restaurant is carved inside the cliff.  Very neat place with excellent food and atmosphere.

Abraham Lincoln and Karl enjoying the ambiance as we wait for our food.  Check out the ceiling.

Dana Johnson Pic - Pork and sauerkraut and bread dumpling in a gravy sauce.  Tasted so good.  Lori had the same as me and Kalle had an awesome goulash dish.  Karl's Cordon Bleu dish was also good.

Dana Johnson Pic - The best dessert EVER!  Soft meringue with paper thin crust on top of a berry base.  I forget the name of it but it is a Salzburg area dish.  And what doesn't taste better sprinkled with powdered sugar?

Dana Johnson Pic - Scooping out the dish of deliciousness.

After lunch was a walk back through Petersfriedhof (St. Peter's Cemetery) to take a picture.

The cemetery had a row of these tombs in them.

Entry door to Stiftskirche St. Peter (The Abbey Church of St. Peter), our next stop.  The Abbey dates to 696 A.D. but the existing building is from various remodelling from the 1200's through the 1700's.  The church was nice but typical of most churches we have toured so we weren't here long.   

I took this because I liked the dog but it turned out to be a painting of an important area baptism but I forget the specifics.  St. Rupert baptising someone maybe?

Different type of tomb than we usually see.

Side altar of Michael Hadyn memorial.

Michael Hadyn's memorial, he was also a composer but not as famous as his older brother Joseph.

Side altar.

View down the nave towards entrance and organ.

Ceiling shot, hard to see but these were all St. Peter Biblical scene.

A close up from above.

Jay Seppanen Pic - Okay, this place is getting better.

Close up of the organ.

The altar area was pretty nice.

The view from the entrance.

View down one of the side hallways.

The front and tower.
After aimlessly wandering the town some more and stopping at a bank for some Austrian Euros we trudged back to the car for our drive to Munich.

Final drive on the awesomebahn with the Mercedes-Benz.  After the late arrival in poor driving conditions in Salzburg we left early enough to arrive in Munich during daylight hours. 
Our Munich base of operations was the Comfort Hotel Andi Munich City, which is in the Comfort Inn family which we didn't realise when we booked it.  And this place lived down to its reputation.  They never did fix whatever was wrong with the phones so we couldn't call between rooms.  They also couldn't give us rooms near each other so even though it was a small hotel we had to cross the centre common area of our floor to get to each others room.  At least the breakfast was good.

The girls room.

The boys room.  We were on the top floor so our ceilings were slanted on the front side of the building.

Lori's hairdryer - at least the place wasn't a total dump.
After checking in, depositing our bags and parking the Benz in their car park (for a dirt cheap 10 Euro per night I might add), it was time to trek twenty minutes into the city centre to grab dinner and try to squeeze in a sight.
Our stop was the still open Frauenkitche (Church of Our Lady) which is Munich's Dom.  However,

there was a service in progress so opted to come back another day when we could look around.

Dana Johnson Pic - Dinner was at Woerner's, a Munich cafe since 1865.  I opted for breakfast.  Here's my potatoes, fried egg, and a bologna like meat.  Tasted okay but to greasy for my tastes.  Probably my worst meal to date on the trip.

Neues Rathaus overlooking Marienplatz.  The Rathaus is a neo-Gothic design that was built in 1867.
We walked around town for a while after dinner then walked back to the hotel for the night.  Our English speaking TV options were sparse the whole trip and in Munich it consisted of CNN.  Karl and I like to watch or read the news but after watching CNN for an hour you've seen the same stories twice.  The first night I did catch a football match between a Turkish team and a German team which normally wouldn't matter except the Turkish team had Didier Drogba on it.  Drogba is an Ivory Coast native who played in the Africa Cup of Nations Tournament I watched some of last year.  He also played for the London club Chelsea last year and led them to the Champions League (yearly tournament of top European football teams) Championship over Bayern Munich.  His Chelsea contract expired so he opted for a huge contract from a Chinese League team but after not being paid he managed to get released from his contract and signed with Galatasaray in Turkey.  I don't bring this up to show how much of a football fan I have become (not much of a football/soccer fan at all actually) but it does show how living here has exposed me to the global perspective I missed growing up and living the US.  Small world as they say. 

The best night of TV on the trip, a Champions League football match in German.  Sad but true.
That sums up our trip pre-Munich.  The second half of our trip, our stay in Munich, is next along with trip recaps.  See y'all in a couple of days.
Thanks for listening,



  1. The Redbull hanger sounds cool! I wish we had gotten to go there while we were in Salzburg, but it was closed over Christmas.

    1. Bummer, it was better than I expected and free.

  2. Wow! This could be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Great. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your effort. Hotels Frankfurt Oder

  3. Very efficiently written story. It will be valuable to anyone who utilizes it, as well as yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing – i will definitely read more posts. pension frankfurt oder

  4. I have read your article, it is very informative and helpful for me.I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. Thanks for posting it..