Don's Travel Blog

Munich, Germany 07-2008

by on Jul.19, 2009, under Germany, Munich

So this is my first trip to Germany and I have been very much excited to go. The first two things I learned though were that one Germany beer tastes better the American beer and second that five day’s  is just not long enough.

Day 1

It is about 9am, I just landed in Munich, and I already have a day planned. Erich my Uncle picked me up at the airport and gave me a ride to the hotel on his way to work. Along the way, he pointed out some of the highlights of Munich like the Olympic Tower and the BMW museum.

Olympic Tower – Munich, Germany

Olympic Tower – Munich, Germany

 So after getting to the hotel I had a little time to unwind before I get good to the first tour I had planned. This tour was walking tour of Dachau and something I was looking forward to. I had double-checked online the meeting point for the tour company that I was using. I left the hotel in just enough time to get to the meeting point fifteen minutes before the tour was set to leave. Well as luck would have it I somehow screwed up the meeting out and when I arrived they told me that the meeting point for the Dachau tour was 15 minutes away on the other side of the downtown area. I booked it as fast as I could and arrived about 3 minutes before the tour was set to leave. I wondered and wondered the plaza where I was told the meeting point was and I was unable to find them. I still do not know where I was to meet them. Therefore, I decided to wonder around downtown and take some pictures.

After wondering around downtown Munich went back to the hotel and relax a bit. Once Erich got off work, he came by the hotel and picked me up. We headed to Germering where my Aunt Sonja and he live. At this point, I was a bit tired from the jetlag, but on the other hand, I was also a bit wired from being in Germany. We hung out of a little while and then headed over to the local beer garden for the rest of the evening.

I also knew that most of the beer in the world had higher alcohol content when compared to the beer in the United States. What I did not expect is how much better and smoother tasting it is. In about five hours, I ended up downing about 3.5 liters of beer. To everyone around me and even to myself I looked and acted fine. Well when I got back to my hotel, I found that I was not fine! I laid down on the bed and that was when I realized the error of my ways, I was sick as a dog. After dealing with being sick, I finally got to bed and tired to sleep the rest of it off.

Day 2

After my little adventure last night, I got up around 7am to go to Castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. As I started to wake up I came to realize that the being sick part was not the worst of it. I had the worst hang over and splitting headache in my life and decided to down a bunch of water and aspirin. I looked at the time and it was about 7:30, time for me to head into downtown Munich and meet the tour group. Well, I felt so bad that I did not want to subject myself and those around me to my condition on a two-hour bus ride. I decided that I would just go back to sleep and try to wake up again when I was feeling better.

That evening I met with my Great Aunt Maria and her Husband Manfred for dinner. I told them about my little adventure the night before and then told me that they had made reservations at another beer garden in Munich. I was thinking; great my view of Germany is going to be binge drinking for five days. Well I did not really think that with them, but it was a funny thought nonetheless. We went out to dinner and a little hair of the dog made me feel much better anyways. It was good spending time with them and my one regret (other than drinking too much the night before) was that I did not make enough time to spend with them. That will have to be corrected the next time I come to Germany, which I have already realized at this point that I will be coming back.

Day 3

Today I have a tour booked to go to Berchtesgaden and The Eagle´s Nest. I was determied that no matter what I was going on this tour. I had already missed my first two and I was not going to throw away any more money. I woke up nice and refreashed, forgetting about the jet lag and over drinking. I headed down to the hotel restaurant and grabbed some breakfast and while I was eating, I came to realize that the first 1-2 days are pointless when flying West to East. Once I was done eating, I headed to the subway station and caught the rail back to downtown Munich. This time I left myself enough time that if I showed up to the wrong meeting point, I would have time to catch a taxi or walk where I needed to go. I made it to my tour bus and that sadly was one of my happiest moments of the day.

We piled on to the tour bus and before we had even hit the road we were informed (and I believe it was on the tour website) that the tour price did not include the cost of the bus from the base of the mountain up to the entrance to The Eagle’s Nest as well as the elevator ride into the building; that was an additional 14 Euros. What I did not expect was that during the drive to Berchtesgaden we were told that the museum onsite was not included in price of the tour as well; which was another 3 Euros. I felt like I was being nickel and dimed to death; that this all should have been included in the price of the tour. Also during the drive, we were told that we would not be going into Berchtesgaden due to construction and the city not allowing tour buses into the city because of it.

I would have to say that my experience with Gray Line Tours was not very good. I felt mislead about the tour I did make it to (there is more about that later in this post) and that they do not provided good information (to include my mistaken meeting point for my tour the first day).

The following pictures were taken on my bus ride from Munich to Berchtesgaden. I have to say that while I have not traveled much in the Mid West of the United States, how green and amazing the countryside right outside of Munich is simply amazing. I enjoyed seeing all of the green and old farmhouses that are still in operation.

While driving to Berchtesgaden we drove by wooded areas and I had an interesting emotional reaction. For some reason lately Hollywood has had a renewed production of movies related to Nazi Germany and I have seen many of them. Two that came to mind were the Boy in Strip Pajamas and Defiance. In the first movie, it is about a boy who lives in a home in the woods next to a concentration camp that his father is running. The boy does not really have any idea about what is going on, stumbles upon the camp while checking out the woods, and befriends a little Jewish boy who is housed at the camp. There is more to this movie and I would recommend seeing it. The later movie is about a group of Russian Jew’s who are hiding in the woods from the Germans in an effort to survive and do so for two years. I would highly recommend seeing both movies if you want to understand how people survived and it affected their lives. However, back to the point of all of this. While we were driving by these wooded areas, I had a great sadness for what the Nazi’s did. While I have no idea of what happened in those wooded areas that we drive by, I just had a flood of visuals from the movies that I mentioned as well as from other movies and photos from that era that I have seen.

When we got to the museum at the base of the mountain, we were offered an audio tour of the museum at an additional cost. After my experience of being nicked and dimed already, I was not ready to fork out some more money. Most everything in the museum its self was in German and was not really about to experience much of it other than the images. On the plus side, they had one of the old German bunkers from WWII underneath it and were open for people to explore. Sadly, I have to say that the bunker was the highlight to this entire day trip. The following pictures are from that bunker as well as the entrance and tunnel to the elevator up to The Eagle’s Nest.

After arriving up the elevator I experienced my biggest disappoint of this day trip. I only then found out that they turned The Eagle’s Nest into a restaurant. I expected some kind of museum to explore and not a bunch of tables and people drinking beer and eating lunch. Had I know this I would have never spent the money to go and I am sure the tour company knows this and does not mention it. The following pictures are of The Eagle’s Nest and the surrounding area.

After I got back from the tour Gregor picked me up and we met up with my Aunt Sonja and her husband my Uncle Erich. We had a lovely dinner at the restaurant that they met at.

Day 4

Today is Saturday and I pretty much had nothing planned for the day. Gregor picked me up at the hotel and we headed to the Science and Technology museum in Munich. It is the largest one in the world that is all under one roof. I was in geek heaven. I mostly focused on the Computer and Telephone area (go figure). Here are some pictures of stuff that caught my eye.

After spending half the day at the museum, we decided to head over to this great wine bar in downtown Munich. We spent a few hours there chatting and drinking some good Italian wine. Later that evening I took Sonja, Erich and Marvin (their son) out to dinner.

Day 5

Well this is my last day in Germany and I have to say that it was excessively short. I have already spent part of the morning thinking about when I will be coming back again. Erich and Sonja picked me up from the hotel and we headed off to do a free Munich walking tour. Here are some of the photos from that tour.

After wondering around downtown Munich Sonja, Erich, Gregor, Gregor’s Girlfriend, and I meet for a late lunch. We chatted a bit, I finally had a camera with me while I was with my family, which you will see photos of them, further down. After the meal Gregor and his girlfriend gave me a ride to the airport and off I went.

While I had a great time, I was not happy with leaving. I wanted to spend more time with my family and exploring Munich. That means I will have to plan a trip for next year that takes me to Munich, Salzburg, and maybe Greece. Will I am off to Israel and Jordan; I will update you on those two trips later.

Erich and Sonja

Erich and Sonja

Gregor's Girlfriend, Gregor, Erich, Sonja, and The Waiter who insisted on getting in the picture

Gregor's Girlfriend, Gregor, Erich, Sonja, and The Waiter who insisted on getting in the picture

Two things you never see in the US anymore!

Two things you never see in the US anymore!

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Calgary – Day 1

by on Feb.17, 2009, under Calgary, Canada

Not much to report.  It’s been a long and cold day here.

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Calgary Arrived

by on Feb.16, 2009, under Calgary, Canada

Well flying is always interesting.  When I got to the airport the tickect counter was busier then normal but just thought it was because it was the end of a long weekend.  When I got to the gate I started overhearing little bits of information and it sounded like a flight got canceled for some reason.  When I got onto the plane one of the people from the flight before mine was sitting next to me and it turns out that they had a bird strike into the engine during take off.  From what I understand the plane was only a fourth of the way down the runways and they cut the engines before it could cause a problem.

Got to Calgary myself with little issue.

Calgary Sheraton Suites

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Trip To Calgary

by on Feb.15, 2009, under Calgary, Canada

Getting ready to head to Canada and it hits me when does my passport expire???  I opened up my passport and relized that expires in less then six months.  I dug and dug around the internet and thankfully that Canada does not care as long as it is valid. Welp off to Calgary in the morning.

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Washington DC – United States Holocaust Momorial Museum

by on Apr.07, 2007, under Washington DC

As some of you know I arrived in Washington DC last night and I have been excited about this trip since I will have some free time to do some sight seeing around here.  As I started this journay today I was happy and excited to expolore DC, but now as I sit here I am conflicted.

One of the planned stops on my little adventure was to the United States Holocaust Momorial Museum.  I knew it would be a little intense, but I had no idea on how it was going to affect me.  Some of you know that I have had a long time fascination with Nazism.  I love the building architecture, the uniforms, the structure, and the national pride.  With living on the west coast sometimes it is hard to see that there are people in the United States that have national pride, with so much I hate this about the U.S. and I hate that.  I hear many comments about how they would love to live in another country.

Anyways I will get down off my soap box for a moment and get to the reason this is being written.  I explored all the exhibits including the permanent one.  I have for a long time also had a fascination with racism.  I have been on both sides of that fence to a small degree.  I still to this day don’t understand the hatred associated with racism and I most likely never will.  I sometimes think that I am as open about my life as I am in the hope of feeling persecuted against.  But I have never had that feeling and most likely never will.  It seems that the time of persecution is fading in modern progressive countries.

One of the first things that I viewed was an exhibit entitled “Give Me Your Children”.  It was moving to realize that even the children seemed to know what was happening.  We all like to believe that children are naive to the world, but they are not.  This exhibit featured the voices of children while living in a ghetto.  One of the most moving for me was one of a child complaining that their father stole their food ration from them.

Then the photos and videos from the concentration camps brought great sorrow to my heart.  It’s one thing to just commit genocide.  But what the Nazi’s did to people in the ghettos, work camps and the death camps is just horrid.

Part of me also feels sorrow for people not directly related to this museum.  I also reflect on what we have done our selves to people.  The way we have treated Africans, Mexicans, Japanese, Indians and now Arabs while not as horrid as the Nazi’s, just as horrible in some respects.  And that brings a wonderment of my own, how do we not live in shame as American’s.  But it also brings up another question, how is it that the Jew’s have seemed to have moved on from there treatment from the Nazi’s and that Africans here in the US still struggle?  Is it that they were oppressed as overtly at the Jew’s but over a longer period of time?  Are we as a society still holding them back in some fashion?

I will let you get on with your lives with one quote.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-

     because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-

     because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-

     because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

                                                                         –Martin Niemoller

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