How do I begin to tell you about Germany. I hesitate to even try to trivialize the beauty I saw daily. I figure I would just take you day by day and post some pictures along the way to guide you through a vacation of a lifetime. I will be, later in the week making available the complete catalog of pictures.
To really appreciate the first day(s) of the trip I have to let you know that on Thursday, May 21st I was awake at 7am EST. This is important to context later on. It was a hectic day of getting everything ready and making sure we didn't forget anything. Our flight was at 7:45pm so we called a cab and made it to the airport in plenty of time to just chill until we boarded. I was hopeful with having a late flight that I would be able to sleep on the plane. I was dead wrong. So I didn't sleep all night. That's right I stayed up watching in-flight movies. My favorite of the evening was "The Express" not a bad flick to be honest. With the six hour difference we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at 10am their time or 4am our time. So already I am already close to being up 24 hours.
Frankfurt airport is huge, so it took us a little while to navigate through customs and make our way to the train station. Thanks for the flight attendant who liked my Lance shirt for her great directions to the train station. Nicole went in and got the tickets to Mannheim which only cost 45 euro for both of us. By the way, the dollar sucks so it made things more expensive.
Once we arrived in Mannheim is where I really started to realize this is not Kentucky. It seemed like we were in an episode of the Amazing Race. We didn't have a cell phone but Nicole did have her brother's (Shane) number in case we had to call him. Which we did because we were worried that we may have gone the wrong way because we waited at the train station for a while. We did call Shane, on a pay phone no less thanks T-Mobile, and he told us he had to work late so he would be up shortly. Once he arrived it was certainly a relief and eased our worries a little about being four thousand miles away from home.
Some of my first impressions of Germany at this point was I was startled by the number of people who were riding their bikes. Even in the train station and airport there where people on bikes. Although I noticed that a lot those people where also smoking so I guess it balanced itself out. I was also impressed with the variety of different colors of people's hair. Nothing to scary but certainly interesting. At this point I realized I was going to stand out a little. Started to get the, "Fat Guy In A Little Coat" feeling. Yeah Germans for the most part are pretty fit folks. Although I think my Lance shirt got me the most dirty looks oh well I guess they are not really fond of him. Sorry Jan Ullrich.
Back to the trip. For the record by the time we arrived to Shane and Buffy's apartment in Lampertiem at a about 1pm. So I had officially be up for 24 hours plus and to be honest I wasn't feeling it much. Nicole was able to sleep a little on the plane so she was doing fine also. So before we headed to Munich we stopped by to have Doner for lunch. What is Doner you ask? Click here to learn more. It was a great little bite and really not too bad considering all we had up to that point was crummy airline food.
To tell the story of our Munich trip I must start of by saying Nicole's brother Shane just recently bought a BMW 135i convertible and I was soon to find out that it wasn't a bad little vehicle on the Autobahn. The Autobahn is a great way to get around in Germany for one reason, no speed limit. Now it is not all like that but most of it was and well lets just say Shane was afraid to open her up every once in a while. Once I think I noticed him at about 150+ mph or 241 kph. We did stay around 120mph the whole way down. Although their were people passing us like we were standing still. I was loving it and nervous at the same time.
Once we arrived in Munich I was starting to feel the effects of being up for a day and a half. So when we got to our hotel I did lay down for a quick little 45 minute nap. Although not a minute longer because there was important business to be had that night. What business? How about dinner at the Hofbrauhaus to enjoy some German food and great beer. When we got there it was huge and there was plenty of beer drinking going on. We had to go the third floor just to get a table to eat.
Once we sat down we were greeted by a waiter that thankfully spoke English and guided us through the menu and the variety of beer choices. Lets just say I had two liters of delicious beer. I was in heaven and have to admit never thought I would be having a beer in Munich at the Hofbrauhaus. So once we left there I was feeling pretty good but not drunk. Although I think everyone was taking side bets on whether I was going to fall down the steps on our way out of there. I will let you know I didn't fall. So as we were walking back to the hotel Shane got a call from the couple who was meeting us in Munich, Matt and Kim. They are friends of Shane and Buffy and they called to let us know they where at a bar a block up from the hotel. Once we arrived it was very crowded but a nice little bar. The name of it was Macchiato and they loved American music because they played it all night. As a matter fact the bartender bought us shots of Jagermeister also. Which did not help the fact that I was slowly getting drunk. As we stumbled back to our hotel room we where so wanting some greasy Denny's but no luck. Finally at about 2am I finally got to sleep. You do the math, it was the longest I think I had stayed up since I was a kid.
The second day in Munich we woke up at and immediately headed to Starbucks. I know how predictable but I needed some coffee and well go with what you know I always say. Although the effects of the prior evening where definitely taking its toll on some of the folks. As for Nicole and I we where doing just fine. As we headed out into the sunny streets of Munich I immediately began to take pictures of everything I saw. It was certainly one of the more richer areas of Germany as well as the most touristy areas we visited. Almost all of the old city was pedestrian and bike only. Which made getting around very easy. One of the first things we did was check out the was Frauenkirche. We tried to just walk in and as you can see by Shane's expression below. We didn't have much luck at first.
As we walked towards the front of the church we saw the entrance and a line to buy tickets. Tickets to walk to the top of one of the onion doomed towers. Didn't look that high no sweat, I mean just take the elevator up right? Wrong, yeah no elevator it was a spiral stairwell all the way up. This wouldn't be bad if you where the only one walking up and down. But that is not the case so as you walk up there are people walking down and well lets say at this point I was wishing everyone would had used a little deodorant. We did make it to the top and the view was great.
As we made it through most of the city we came across of the highlights of the day for me. It was Viktualienmarkt. This was the best outdoor market I have ever seen in my life. Some of the most unique and fresh food from local merchants. For a foodie like me I was in heaven and ready to load up a basket and cook all night! They had everything including some of the best looking meats and cheeses I have ever seen.
The next spot we checked out was the Residenz Palace. Which is broken down into two museums. I was actually excited about touring this place considering I saw it on a travel show I watched prior to coming to Germany. It was certainly very beautiful.
A little to pretty for a building that was built in 1385. As we walked through the museum we had handheld audio wands to guide us. And a reoccurring theme as they talked about what was in each room was that it was not original and that most of the building was lost in the the great fire of 1944. The great fire? LOL... Come to find out that almost all the items and rooms were replicas of the original. I just found it funny how they described the war as the great fire. About half way through Shane came up to me and reminded me of a great family guy episode which addressed this:
As the day grew long we decided to start looking for somewhere to have dinner. Matt and Kim wanted to head to a steakhouse. We looked and to avail so we headed towards the Hofbrahaus and noticed a Hard Rock Cafe right next to it. Since the four of them are pretty tired of the German food they jumped at the chance at some American fair.
Once we finished dinner and bought some Hard Rock souvenirs, including a pin for Nicole's mom who collects them, we headed across the street to night two of the Hofbrahaus. This time we lucked out and was able to get an outdoor table. I of course ordered a beer but Nicole opted for some dessert. She got the Apple Strudel and it was super delicious. As the night came to a close on our last night in Munich I must say I was very pleased with the trip so far.
This ends part one of a multiple part series of our Germany trip. Whats next? Stay tuned and find out.