Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest in Munich

Kathryn and I were fortunate to spend an afternoon at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2007. Everyone has a favorite from among the major beer tents at Oktoberfest. Mine was the Hacker-Pschorr tent. The theme is charming and simple: Bavarian heaven.

Kathryn and I were able to spend part of a day at Oktoberfest in Munich in 2007. It seems everyone who has been to Oktoberfest has a favorite from among the major beer tents. My favorite is the Hacker-Pschorr tent. The theme is charming and simple: Bavarian heaven. Continue reading “Hacker-Pschorr tent at Oktoberfest in Munich”

Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

Christian let me know that I had to order the right beer for the city I was in. In Düsseldorf, they brew Alt, so that’s what they drink. In Cologne, they brew and drink Kölsch. I would be frowned upon if I ordered a beer in the wrong city. Those fortunate enough to live in Monheim am Rhein could order either, when in Monheim, of course.

I arrived in Paris six days ago and spent a couple nights there. I didn’t do much in Paris that I haven’t done before. Mostly, I just enjoyed being there, sitting in cafes, walking through parks, and so forth. The only new thing I really saw was the museum of the police prefecture, which actually I didn’t find very interesting, aside from an exhibit of some of the firearms used during the Liberation.

I left Friday morning by train for Cologne, Germany, where I planned to visit a friend of mine, Christian, who lives near there. I had planned to spend the morning in Paris, but after speaking to Christian by phone, it seemed like it would work out better with his schedule if I arrived in the mid-afternoon. The rail line between in Paris and Cologne is a mostly high-speed line called Thalys, so the trip took less than four hours, with only a few intermediate stops. Continue reading “Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf”

Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe

We’ve only been home a few days, but Kathryn and I have already heard a lot of questions about our trip. For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve decided to repeat some of them here, along with their answers. Continue reading “Frequently asked questions about our road trip in Europe”

Long overdue post

There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about.

There’s a certain irony to writing a blog. During those times when you have the most to write about, you have the least time to write it. The year 2007 has been, and continues to be, almost unbelievably good to me, and for several months I’ve been maintaining a hand-written list of all the things I want to write about. However, the blog format lends itself to telling stories in a chronological fashion, so as my list grows longer, I feel a certain pressure to write everything or nothing. More often than not, over the past few months, I’ve chosen nothing, but with a new travel adventure beginning in less than 48 hours, I’ve run out of time. Therefore I’ll dispense with the formalities and blurt out everything I recall in whatever order seems relevant. Perhaps it’ll all make sense at the end. Continue reading “Long overdue post”

German women, French language, Chinese food

New day, new place. I’m once again passing time on a train, this time bound for Cologne via Hagen.

I had a fun day in Kassel. My friend met me at the train station, and after we dropped my bags off at her place, we saw the city’s beautiful green spaces on foot, including a grueling half-hour walk to a castle perched atop a hill. We earned the ice cream we stopped for. I was surprised by the lack of tourists, since it was such a pleasant setting. Then again, it may have been pleasant because of the lack of tourists.

Later, we went out to dinner with some of her friends. The dinner was a Chinese buffet, and I must say I’ve rarely seen four young women eat so much at one time. I think one of them had six plates. They put me to shame.

At one point, my friend commented that I was the only man out with all these young women. I could do worse, I said. She studies French and math at the university in Kassel, and so most of her friends are classmates who also speak French. In fact, one of them was French. So it was somewhat bizarre that I was out with several young, attractive women, speaking French, at a Chinese restaurant in Germany. It’s not something that happens to me every day.

After dinner, we met some other friends of hers at a bar near her apartment for a drink. One of them did not speak French, and so the tables were turned, as the young women who speak French and German every day now had to speak English, which none of them had spoken in years. I got to be a teacher for a short while.

My friend put her apartment at my disposal, while she slept at a friend’s place nearby, which I thought was particularly generous of both of them. She had to leave early for work, so I didn’t see her this morning. I slept very well and rather late, and I almost missed my train.

I also missed breakfast this morning, and this train has no cafe car, so I am very hungry. Sometimes a regional train like the one I’m on will be serviced by a snack cart at some point. We’ll see. If not, I have a long wait for food. Hagen is still over two hours away, and I only have 11 minutes for my connection, if everything is on time. If not, I’ll have to wait another hour for Cologne.

My plans for tomorrow involve an airplane, which is the only reason I’m going to Cologne. This may be my last long train trip for a while.

One night in Munich: Posh restaurants and English Gardens

The gods have recently forgiven me, and we had some really pleasant weather for walking around the city. We walked through the city square, all the way to the English Gardens, where the recent rain has filled the streams nearly to overflowing.

I had a very pleasant evening in Munich last night. My friend found me shortly after I wrote my last post, and fortunately she was willing to sit with me while I finished my beer. Despite being a two-minute walk from her apartment, she had never been in that particular bar. It was kind of an after-work place where guys watched sports, so I guess it wasn’t her scene.

The gods have recently forgiven me, and we had some really pleasant weather for walking around the city. We walked through the city square, all the way to the English Gardens, where the recent rain has filled the streams nearly to overflowing. We saw some places that were new since my last trip to Munich over three years ago, including a very posh shopping center and a market that had been turned into a restaurant hall, where we had dinner and chatted for hours.

I got an early start this morning, not immediately realizing that my train didn’t leave until almost 11. My friend left for work at 7:30, but she let me stay at her place as long as I needed. Even though I was only there for another hour, it was nice to have a little time to myself and an apartment at my disposal.

Today I’m on my way to Kassel to see another friend. I’m on the train now, and I’ll be there in about an hour. Germans and foreigners alike seem to know little about Kassel, so I guess I’ll just be surprised when I get there.

Munich: Bavarian beer

I’m waiting in a bar near where my friend lives in Munich. She had to work late, so she’s not home yet. I thought I’d have a beer while waiting for her. Until just now, I had forgotten how good Bavarian beer is.

I’m waiting in a bar near where my friend lives in Munich. She had to work late, so she’s not home yet. I thought I’d have a beer while waiting for her. Until just now, I had forgotten how good Bavarian beer is.

No more words, while I savor the moment.

Weekend in Eisenstadt, Austria, and Bratislava, Slovakia

We saw the castle on the hill in Bratislava, Slovakia, walked around the old city, where we had a nice lunch in an outdoor restaurant. I had goulash, which I still hadn’t eaten on this trip, despite where I’ve traveled. We only spent a few hours in Slovakia and then went back to Austria.

I’m once again aboard a train bound for somewhere. I left Eisenstadt early this morning so that my friend could drop me off before work. I took a rural bus to Vienna, where I took a streetcar to the train station, where I boarded the train I’m on now. I had meant to board an earlier train, but it took a half-hour to get a ticket, at which point I’d missed it. I’ll take this train to Salzburg, and then catch another to Munich, which is where I’m going today to meet another friend. Continue reading “Weekend in Eisenstadt, Austria, and Bratislava, Slovakia”

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Those of you who have been to Berlin before may remember that, unlike most German cities, it didn’t have a “Hauptbahnhof”, a main train station. Most tourists coming from the west arrived at the Berlin Zoologischer Garten station, often simply called “Berlin Zoo”, which was a small, crowded, overworked station in a very seedy part of the former West Berlin. It wasn’t a pleasant welcome, and it was unbefitting a capital city.

Last month, Berlin Hauptbahnhof opened, probably just in time for the World Cup, if I had to guess. This is where I’m sitting now. It’s an impressive structure, with two criss-crossing levels of train tracks and three additional levels of shopping and services. It’s actually a fairly pleasant place to spend a couple hours waiting for a train. I haven’t even seen a drug dealer yet!

Berlin, Germany: Keeping properly hydrated

Earlier this morning, I bought a 1.5-liter bottle of mineral water while waiting for a train. I was a little surprised that I was able to drink it in about ten minutes. Mostly I’ve been drinking coffee and beer the past couple weeks, and I’ve been sweating a lot as I walk around cities or haul my pack around train stations, so I was probably poorly hydrated.

Having lived in Arizona for almost two years, I should be keenly aware of how important proper hydration is. However, it’s easy to forget here in Europe where the climate is so much milder. Earlier this morning, I bought a 1.5-liter bottle of mineral water while waiting for a train. I was a little surprised that I was able to drink it in about ten minutes. Mostly I’ve been drinking coffee and beer the past couple weeks, and I’ve been sweating a lot as I walk around cities or haul my pack around train stations, so I was probably poorly hydrated. From here on, I’m going to make it a goal to drink three liters of water per day, or more if necessary. I’m just over two weeks into my trip, and it would be a lousy time to get sick.

Berlin

I’m in Berlin for the night. I’ve been here before, so I’m not really visiting, but I got a great rail fare from Copenhagen to here. I plan to hole up for the night, watch a little CNN, and continue east in the morning. I found a reasonably cheap hotel room in a quiet part of the city, and I’m ready to chill.

I’m in Berlin for the night. I’ve been here before, so I’m not really visiting, but I got a great rail fare from Copenhagen to here. I plan to hole up for the night, watch a little CNN, and continue east in the morning. I found a reasonably cheap hotel room in a quiet part of the city, and I’m ready to chill.