No time to write (or read) a proper travel blog, so I'll just use this and try for short updates.
  • Day72

    Munich - Dinner

    October 11, 2015 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    For our last dinner we headed to another beer hall (Augustiner Bräustuben), as recommended by our hostel. This one was super packed and almost every table was reserved. The waiter at the door was unhelpful-verging-on-rude as we tried to figure out if we could fit in or reserve for later. In the end he told us to see for ourselves that it was full. As we were wandering around a much nicer waiter noticed us looking lost and immediately seated us at a shared table (he got a tip!).

    The food and atmosphere were excellent, even better than the Hofbräuhaus I think. I got a sampler dish of roasted pork saddle, swabian ravioli, a grilled meat ball, and pretzel dumplings in a mushroom gravy. Mmmmm. Gyurme had schnitzel and fries, and I had a delicious apple strudel for dessert.

    We also happened to be sitting right next to the band :)
    Band playing:
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  • Day72

    Munich - Science Museum

    October 11, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Gyurme went to Dachau but I decided I didn't really want to see another concentration camp, so I went to the science museum instead. It wasn't as interactive and child-oriented as science museums often are (aww, those things are fun! Maybe it was in the kids-only area downstairs) but it had heaps of neat stuff nonetheless.

    I particularly liked the cut open German submarine (the first type of U-boat, U-1, actually the only one ever made), and the scanning electron microscope demonstration (spoken in German, but I could at least look at the images, eg. #2 of a ~1cm scorpion, and zoomed in on the serrated inner edge of its claw).

    There were also multiple jet engines (#3) a ~9 storey high Focault pendulum (#4), one of the planes that featured in The Wind Rises (#5), and an electricity/lightning demonstration that I mostly missed (#6). Spent a good 4 hours here but could have stayed longer. Most descriptions were in German and English but unfortunately the demonstrations (of which there were many) were all in German.
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  • Day71

    Munich - Walking Tour

    October 10, 2015 in Germany ⋅ 🌫 10 °C

    I felt like the walking tour in Munich was a bit lacking in terms of important history (Hitler rose to power here but they actively avoid turning Nazi stuff into shrines in Germany, so there maybe wasn't much to see).
    We did see the "famous" Rathaus-Glockenspiel (which the tour guide was openly dismissive about, #1) and heard some interesting stories (factual accuracy disputed) about the church with no visible windows (#2), and the use of walking sticks to guide pee into the sewage-channels in the floor of the beerhall. We also saw the square where people (including Hitler) would make speeches (Odeonsplatz, #3) and the nearby corner where passers-by were forced to Nazi-salute, suddenly boosting the popularity of an alleyway that let people avoid the corner.

    We finished the day with a traditional meal in the Hofbräuhaus, one of the oldest beer halls in Munich. It was warm, busy, packed, and loud, with an oom-pah-pah band providing music and a jovial atmosphere: it was fun!
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  • Day70

    Munich - Neuschwanstein

    October 9, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Many people recommended I see this classic "fairy tale" style castle, and it was worth it! Very stylised unlike the more functional castles I'd seen elsewhere - this was more like a palace. The castle was situated in some stunning scenery too.

    The story behind it is also kinda funny: the king wanted a classic middle-ages castle, which he knew about only from stories, so he had some actual middle-ages castle ruins removed to make way for his idealised version. He also had two other hugely expensive palaces underway, refusing requests to reduce spending, when he was declared insane and moved to an asylum where he promptly drowned under mysterious circumstances.

    Unfortunately the Marienbrücke (Queen Mary's Bridge), which normally has the best views, was closed for renovation, so I guess I'll have to come again another time!

    The area also had another castle (Hohenschwangau, #6) that, confusingly, was built on the site of the old Schwanstein castle, while Neuschwanstein was built on the site of the old Hohenschwangau castle, so they effectively swapped names.
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  • Day69

    Munich - Arrival

    October 8, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Arrived late in the day from Lucerne, still in time to meet up with my old school/uni mate Josh for some delicious (huge) schnitzel. Yum! It was great to catch up with Josh after not seeing him in a while too!
    Again, no photo together, I'm bad at this photos-with-people thing.

    Our hostel here (Euro Youth Hostel) is great: it's right beside the main train station and has a bar with cheap drinks and excellent free breakfast. No kitchen but eating out in Munich is relatively cheap :D
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  • Day55

    Berlin - Reichstag Building

    September 24, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Squeezing in one last thing in Berlin, we managed to get an evening tour into the dome of the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building. It's a very neat metal and glass dome with a spiral ramp running up the inside (Vel would love it). It gives some amazing views over the city but also serves to let/reflect natural light down into the main parliament chamber below. If it's too bright, there's a rotating sun shield (visible in #3).

    Because I didn't know about this far enough beforehand, we had to wait in line earlier in the day for about an hour to get tickets :( You can book online but you have to book about a month in advance.

    Oh also on our way in and out we went past Brandenburg Gate again, where they had a giant head-balloon of (I think) Merkel. Of course?
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  • Day55

    Berlin - Museum Island

    September 24, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    A short side trip let us briefly explore "museum island", a small island in the river where there are about five different museums. Also a pretty church (#1).

    We went inside the Bode museum (mostly because one of its specialties was sculpture) and there were indeed some amazing works that I really enjoyed (#3,4). There was also a coin collection including a giant gold 1 million Canadian dollar coin (no idea why).Read more

  • Day54

    Berlin - Soviet War Memorial

    September 23, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After defeating the Nazis in Berlin, the Soviets erected a memorial to their fallen soldiers in the battle.
    The propaganda level is high but kinda awesome. I liked the giant statue of the soldier, one arm smashing a swastika with a sword and the other arm holding a baby.Read more

  • Day54

    Berlin - Alternative Tour

    September 23, 2015 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Now for something completely different, we went on a street art and graffiti tour. It was set in Kreuzberg, an area known for its alternative culture after cheap rents attracted lots of students and artists.

    My favorite one was the space man, although it was done legally, so maybe doesn't count. The vertical lettering was done by guys who abseil down from the roof, impressive.
    There was also a large section of the Wall that has become a "free wall" where anyone can paint what they want, with some very cool results!

    The sparrow is on the side of a building that is owned by a former squatter. He occupied some land that was owned by the east but on the west of the Wall. He stayed there so long that when the Wall came down he legally owned it.
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