Happy New Years Eve

Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010 - 6:50 pm (11:50 am CT)
Munich
Wow it is crazy that we celebrate New Years Day at midnight, go to bed, wake up for our morning train and people in Minnesota will just be celebrating the New Year. Alas...Today we finally got to see the sights of Munich. It is very easy to see the main sights in a day as they are so close to each other. We started by walk down from Karlstor Gate to the Marienplatz (Mary's Square), stopping at St. Michael Church along the way. All the churches in the center of Munich were destroyed during WWII and rebuilt. All the churches have photos of what they looked like after the WWII. AMAZING! Next we walked to Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). This is the Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Munich. Pope Benny XVI was the Archbishop here in 1977-1982. For being the cathedral it is rather plain compared to the other fabulous churches in town. We finally got to Marienplatz just in time for the daily "jousting" of the glockenspiel on the New Town Hall. After that we hiked up the 306 steps of St. Peter's Church to get the best view of the city. It was your typical hike up....2 way traffic on a single lane stairwell. The view was great! We check out a couple more churches and had some lunch and then hoped on the train for Dachau. Dachau Concentration camp is surprisingly only 10 miles away from Munich. Crazy to think of what was happening so close to this great city. It is a very somber experience. It hasn't changed since the last time I was here 10 years ago. After that we hopped on some trains and head tours the Olympic Park. Munich hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics. We saw the swimming pool arena and the olympic tower which only cost €4.5 to go up a whopping 186 meters (~600 feet). It was dark by the time we go up there so there wasn't too much to see. We could see the stadium but it was dark....you would think it would be some what lit up...but NO! They were preparing a skiing hill for some ski championship thingy happen in January 2nd. Right now we are watching some "Die Simpsons" in German (Eric is so happy...the Simpsons) Yesterday it was Family Guy in German. Next is Two and a Half Men. We are going to head down to the Marienplatz later for fireworks. This place LOVES fireworks. Every where we go we see people carrying huge bags of fireworks (most of which I think are banned in the US) and you can hear them going off all over the place. But Simpsons are done now, time for dinner. Ciao! Gl├╝ckliches neues Jahr!

Castles and More Castle

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010 - 9:47 pm (2:47 pm CT)
Munich
What a long day! We started out by going on an 11 hour tour of Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. So we were up early this morning and got on a packed bus with the most scatter brained guide. Apparently there were more people wanting to go on this tour today than usually. They normally have 2 busses but today that had at least 5 that we know about. It was so crazy the amount of people fighting to get on buses for the tour. Unfortunately we ended up on the worse bus. For some reason they decided that our bus should do the tour backwards. So we went to the Neuschwanstein Castle first. Well that caused our tour guide to go into frazzled mode as she didn't know what to do about lunch and the other stops along the way. We had the stuck up Chicagoans next to us. And a group from Singapore. I thought Japanese tourist were bad, well this group from Singapore are whole other level. Our guide told us to be back at the bus immediately after our tour. The group from Singapore demanded an exact time to meet back at the bus and they ended up being the last people on the bus....15 minutes late. How frustrating! They wanted a time and then didn't even make it back in time. The hike up to the castle was a work out. It is 1 mile straight up on a snow packed walk. You could ride a horse drawn carriage but the line for that was ridiculous long and we had plenty of time to walk up. The weather didn't cooperate at all. It was so foggy we could barely see the castle!!! My pictures show what we were dealing with. Thankfully after our tour on the way down the clouds lifted long enough for me to get some pictures. So the tour was fine. There are 4 floors but not many rooms are finished as Mad King Ludwig died before it was done. They are such Nazis about photos...not allowed. I snapped a few of the last room when everybody had left. I've gotten quite good at taking secret pictures. After that we went to another castle, Linderhof, which was tiny but still very interesting. It was so cold waiting for the castle tour. Finally we stopped at the tiny town of Oberrammergau for some shopping. Very cool town...google it! Beautiful Cuckoo clocks and a Christmas store. We made our way back to Munich by around 7:30. We went to Hofbrauhaus for some oom-pah music and beer. Very historic beer hall, just like I remembered. We grabbed some lunch and are now chilling in the room. Tomorrow we will actually do some tour around the center of Munich. Because the castles are closed tomorrow we had no choice but to do that tour today (along with the rest of the world).

Welcome to Munich

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010 - 8:45 pm (1:45 pm CT)
Munich
Today was a pretty easy day for us. We had a 4 hour train ride (which we almost missed). Long story short, it was slow at the grocery store and hence we almost missed it. Thankfully we didn't, we would have to wait 5 hours for another train and we would have to pay a lot for it. Anyways, the train ride was fairly boring. It was fog/misty the whole time so we couldn't see much. We got to pass through Austria though and around a big lake. We got to Munich about 1:30 and after checking into the hotel we headed to the Deutsches Museum. Funny story on the tram. Eric got up to sit by me and this old guy drinking a beer was asking us questions. I think he finally understood we were from America (he kept saying Canada) and that we lived in Chicago. I figured it was the closest major city that he may have heard of. Very funny he continued to talk to us in German and then when we got off he shook Eric's hand and patted me on the back. Weird! Back to the museum...I remember it being much cooler than it really was, but then again the historically train display, the musical instruments display and the bridges display were all closed for renovations. Shucks...hun Dylan? Also all the information on the displays were in German. Makes trying to figure out what everything so hard....how lame! So we did the mining display, aeronautics and astronomy. After that we wandered around the city center by the train station and the Karlstor Gate (the city has four old gates to the city). Stopped for some pizza and then went shopping at Karlstadt...the Munich equivalent of Macy's. A very huge department store. Everything here is still decorated for Christmas which is very awesome. They have an outdoor skating rink setup in the square near the train station. We picked up some very delicious pastries called Trimmi? and we are now just chilling in the room. Eric is watching the Chelsea/Bolton game which is live from Chelsea Stadium in London. Announcers are speaking in German so Eric is talking to himself as he watches the game. Ha ha. Tomorrow is Castle time.

Zurich and Liechtenstein

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010 - 10:10 pm (3:08 pm CST)
Zurich
We had a very eventful day today (after a very restless night) I fell asleep at about 6:30 and walk up a few times and at 1am I was wide awake. Couldn't get back to bed. I watched a movie and eventually fell back to sleep. But yet when the alarm went off this morning it was very hard to get up. Anyways, we did a walking tour of the city of Zurich. Not really much to see here except a few churches. In the afternoon we took a tour of Swiss Countryside and Liechtenstein. We spent an hour in Rapperswil, a cute little town on the Zurich Lake. I had the best Quiche Lorraine there with real swiss cheese. Then we stopped a few small towns on our way to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. What a neat little town in a little country. We made our way back to Zurich at around 7pm and did some shopping along their famous Bahnhofstrasse. Tomorrow we make our way to Munich. Yeah!

Lucerne, Switzerland and My Birthday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010 - 6:06 pm (11:06 am CST)
Zurich
I apparently like right at 6 past the hour. Hum. Well I can say I'm very pooped. I've been up for 28 hours straight with maybe a little cat nap on the plane to Zurich. Eric is snoring away as I'm updating my pictures and facebook status. I've had a lot of Birthday wishes on Facebook and it isn't even noon back home yet! So today was very eventful. Here is pretty much a recap of the last 10 hours. Flight to Zurich was uneventful. Wow the KLM Flight Attendants are beautiful and VERY friendly. Sure beat the old bags from Delta. No issues with the luggage, we scooped them up and head for the train station. Fortunately for me Swiss Rail has the "Happy Birthday Pass." I get unlimited travel today for only 33 Swiss Francs (SF)!! To put that in prospective, Eric's one-way fare to Lucerne was 27 SF. Score me! Switzerland is VERY expensive. A locker at the train station was 8 SF (thankfully all of our stuff fight in one locker). A Big Mac Meal and Mc Royal cost us 18 SF. And that was the small drink and fry that Eric I shared. Yes kill me, we ate at Mc Donalds. We were starving and it was the first thing we saw that wasn't very confusing. Remember we are operating on very little sleep and I don't speak any German and all the other places had their food listed in Germany and I was too tired to figure out what it all meant. We went on a walk...a very long walk if you ask Eric. He at one point said that next time he is going to suggest some where warmer. I'm thinking its ok, except for the slipping on snow cover esclator on the way down to the train station. We got to see the nice sites of Lucerne including the and Chapel Bridge. We made our way back to Zurich and are now relaxing (or sleeping in the case of Eric.

Amsterdam Airport

December 27, 2010 - 8:06 am (1:06 am CST)
Amsterdam
The flight from MSP to AMS was uneventful. I tried sleeping but it was going to happen. Eric is proud of the fact he watched 4 movies. So we are half way through our 3 1/2 layover before we catch our next flight to Zurich. Nothing really exciting going on. I have noticed, however, that all the signs, ads, and billboards are in English and most of the time only in English. Have we left the USA? BTW Happy Birthday to me! :-)