July - August 2017
  • Day28

    Last day

    August 19, 2017 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    Spent the last day in Munich.

    Started by visiting the marktplatz, and then heading over to walk through Sendlinger Tor (the city gate).

    Then spent a solid 90 minutes waiting in line to get into the Deutsches Museum, which was well worth the wait. The museum is massive, with seven floors all housing multiple exhibits of science. I particularly enjoyed learning about how paper was made and how production grew in Europe over the centuries, as well as the technology exhibit. Weird to see some of your childhood in a museum...

    From there I actually went back to the market to buy lunch from a stall and meander through the various souvinere tents, before heading off to Hofbräuhaus to experience perhaps the world's most famous beer hall. It was quite an experience.

    Time to pack up and get ready to go back to the US. I've had a blast, but am excited to go home!
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  • Day26

    Pilgrimage to Andechs

    August 17, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Since 1455, Benedictine monks have been managing an Abbey on the holy mountain of Bavaria. The first documented pilgrimages date back to the 12th century, making it through oldest place of pilgrimage in Bavaria.

    It just so happens that they also operate a brewery, and a pretty fantastic one at that, which may or may not have encouraged me to make said pilgrimage.

    Took the train down to Herrsching to begin a march through the woods and up the mountain. There is a very clear path with minimal places to accidentally turn off the trail. I did not take that path.

    I ended up starting (accidentally) from a different point, which ended up being a good thing, as the trail was much more challenging and woodsy, which I really appreciated. I took the normal path down, so I got some variety​ in for good measure.

    I popped out right in front of the monastery, which was delightfully cool, in both senses of the word. Didn't see any of the monks around, so I figured I'd check to see if they were at the bräustüberl and have a beer while I was at it. Still no sight of them, so settled in to wait and had lunch (delicious pork), and another beer or three.
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  • Day25

    Train to Munich

    August 16, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Packed up and headed to the train station way earlier than necessary out of an abundance of caution. Was a little paranoid about making sure I got on the right time this time. It was one of the longer train rides I've taken, and I was starving by the time I got in.

    Luckily there was a beer hall practically immediately outside the station. I had the obligatory pretzel, and enjoyed a dunkel, which was a great choice after all the kölsch in Köln.

    I walked around Munich a bit, seeing Feldherrnhalle, the site of Hitler's beer haul putsch, as well as Marienplatz. I poked my head into Hofbräuhaus, but just to see it -- I'll spend some time there later.

    One thing I wanted to try was real German schnapps, so I made a point of getting some at dinner. So many flavors to pick from! I ended up asking for blackberry, but the language barrier was too much, and he brought a menu with drawings of the fruits to point at. Blackberry was not one of the options, so I ended up with Cherry. It was very subtle, not like the syrup schnapps I've had in the US, so I enjoyed it

    Oddly enough, my hotel is cow themed. Maybe that will make the transition from sabbatical back to wisconsin life a little less jarring?
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  • Day24

    Roman-Germanic Museum

    August 15, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Another rainy day here in Germany. Finally one of the places I've stayed in had an umbrella, which made the 10 minute walk over to the museum much more tolerable.

    The museum is packed to the gills with Roman artifacts excavated here in Köln or along the Rhine. I particularly enjoyed the various weapons and tools from pre-civilization eras, but the coins and jewelry from the Roman empire were fascinating as well.

    Went back to the brewery for lunch to earn more tickmarks on a coaster, but no cases of mistaken identity this time.
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  • Day23

    Day at the Zoo

    August 14, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    All the Museums are closed on Mondays, and it was a beautiful day, so I definitely wanted to spend it outside. Went for a huge walk exploring the city. Cologne has one of those padlock for love Bridges, and I gotta say, they're not messing around. I'd seen them in Paris, Italy, and Brussels, but this bridge was nuts. Every square inch along the pathway for a full km had two or three locks crammed on it.

    Across the bridge I headed for a park, but couldn't find a way to get behind the convention center, and eventually reached the opposite bridge that would take me to the zoo.

    The tiger was sleepy, the bears we're fighting each other, and I got an action shot of a sea puppy (seal) jumping out of the water, so I'll consider it €20 well spent.
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  • Day22

    Trains

    August 13, 2017 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Had the privilege of taking more trains than I had planned for, when a helpful attendant advised me to get on the wrong train. Realized the error when we started to pull in to the airport train station, rather than continuing to head East. Luckily, she hadn't advised me to get on a train headed to France or Amsterdam, and it just meant I had to head back to the Nord station, wait for the same route train two hours later.

    Once I was on the right train, I got to do some verbal sparring with a conductor, as no one had given me an it's-not-my-fault sticker and wanted me to pay a new fare. I played up the language barrier, and he eventually gave up in frustration. I was much relieved when we finally pulled into Cologne/Köln and I could get off the train.

    I'm carrying two very heavy suitcases filled with souvinere beers from Belgian breweries, so I was eager to stop dragging/carrying them around. Made my way to the Airbnb I'm staying in, which, naturally is located on the 5th floor, so I got to carry the suitcases up as a final slap in the face.

    That worked up a mighty hunger (and thirst), so I took a short walk to a local brewery the Airbnb host recommend: Päffgen. They have a few beers available, but everyone is drinking their kölsch, which they dispense from large kegs and repeatedly swap out empty glasses, making a tick mark on each guest's coaster to keep track for the bill. Gotta say it was a cool experience, and the beer was refreshing and clean after a full week of sours and heavy beers.

    The menu was entirely in German, and while I was tempted to get the 3/4th meter bratwurst, I opted for something that seemed like it came with veggies, and chose the roast beef over the pig feet.

    Bit of an awkward moment when a girl mistook me for her blind date (language barrier strikes again), before she saw her girlfriend and realized her mistake. Then I became drinking buddies with an old German couple. Prost!
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  • Day21

    Last day in Bruxelles

    August 12, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    My time in Bruxelles is coming to an end. I'll have more than just fond memories to take with me though, I spent the day buying various potables and libations to bring with on the next leg of the journey. Will be an interesting challenge trying to get them there (and back to the States) intact.

    Also got to enjoy flowertime, and the various arrangements put together by Artisan florists.

    Chris had recommended a place right by Mannekan Pis called Poechenellekelder. Super cool place, with many puppets and other knickknacks decorating the walls and ceiling. Great beer selection too!

    Bonus pictures: Laura picked up Mira from my mom today. She's so big!! Miss my pup!
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  • Day20

    Brussels Museum of the Gueuze, Cantillon

    August 11, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Went to one of my absolute favorite breweries today, one of the last remaining breweries that makes beer, specially lambic beer, in the traditional spontaneous fermentation method used for centuries.

    For a paltry €7, I was given the run of the place for a self guided tour (complete with a helpful guide that identified each room's equipment, propose, and history), along with a tasting at the end of the tour.

    The place itself was impressive, the building and equipment well used, and the smells delightful. They only brew from October-April when the temperature is cool enough to support it, but they were still busy testing barrels, cleaning bottles, and selling merch to Fanboys like myself.

    For the tasting I got to try a Gueuze straight from one of their barrels (they normally blend different ages of barrels for their final product), as well as their Kriek -- my favorite. I then had another two bottles of stuff I'll probably never see in the states along with some Gueuze cheese from Dupont (also delicious), and then loaded up my backpack and another box with essentially as much as I could carry of bottles to bring home.
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  • Day19

    The Royal Palace and Manneken Pis

    August 10, 2017 in Belgium ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Spent the first part of the day touring the Royal palace in Brussels. The thai jewel beetle shell ceiling was unique and beautiful. The palace itself is interesting with its many chandeliers and paintings, but it was the artifacts from prince Charles' life that I enjoyed the most. One of his report cards suggested that he'd do much better it he paid more attention in class.

    After the walking through the palace, I walked all the way over to the Parc du Cinquantenaire. By the time I got there, the rain was coming down pretty hard, so I took shelter under a tent set up in the park to have lunch. When it became clear the rain was here to stay, I went inside (for WiFi and to dry out) to do something much neglected -- figuring out lodging and transportation for the last week of the trip, which was getting alarmingly close.

    That accomplished, I needed to see one of the iconic landmarks of Brussels - Mannekin Pis. The cheeky devil is gearing up for the flowertime, which starts tomorrow. The famous flower carpet is only done in even numbered years, but I'm happy to settle to seeing the Grand-Place decked out.

    Dinner once again failed to disappoint - tempura veggies, and some sort of Belgian-poultry-but-not-chicken dish served at Pré de Chez Nous.
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