Our last morning in Stuttgart was mostly spent packing. We packed everything that we didn’t need for the rest of our trip in our suitcases and put what we did need, or at least what we thought we might need, in our backpacks and one other bag. We then had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and headed back to Munich.
We checked back into the Excelsior Hotel where we stayed three nights at the start of our trip. We planned to stay here two more nights at the end of our trip but decided to spend another night in Stuttgart instead. Since we had already paid for the previous night we were able to check in early. We were put in room 326. It was on the same floor as our last room, 328, but we had a view of the street this time instead of a view of other rooms.
We then decided to walk in a direction that we hadn’t been to yet. Not long into our walk we noticed several tour buses.
After speaking with the lady selling tickets, we decided to pay the 36 euros and got on the next bus. They said we could get off at any stop and get on another bus when we wanted to continue. That was certainly a great option but we just wanted to tour the city and see what we had missed. Since we spent every day on road trips, we never really saw Munich.
We sat on the top level in the front, which offered a great view. The top was open so I was able to stand and get photos without the glass obstruction when the bus was stopped. Coincidentally, we sat next to an American couple. They asked us where we were from and I said Florida. They said they were too. They lived in Dade City where they recently moved to from Clearwater. We told them we also recently moved from Clearwater but to Largo. We all lived in the same town at the same time but met each other thousands of miles away.
It was a pretty interesting tour. We saw many of the places that we were not able to see before. I think if we planned it better it would have been good to spend an entire day in Munich and get on and off the bus at our leisure. When we booked the trip I thought we would spend the entire day following our arrival touring the city and then an entire day again on the day before our departure but it did not work out that way.
After getting off the bus we had a nice lunch at a German restaurant called Münchner Stubn. The weather was beautiful and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the day.
I had the bratwurst platter and Rose got the Fillet. We both enjoyed the food. If fact, I think every time we ate real German food during our vacation it was delicious. Of course, who knows how to make real German food better than real Germans?
After going back to the hotel for a while, we went back out to the coffee shop across the street for drinks where we sat outside again. We were sure the second half of October wasn’t always that pleasent in Munich so we wanted to enjoy being outside as much as possible.
We needed to get out the door by 5 a.m. the next morning for our trip home so we packed our stuff and went to bed early. Very early. I don’t remember the time but I think it was around 7:30. That was about 1:30 p.m. Florida time. The jet lag was bad enough after getting to Germany, I could only imagine how bad going home would be. Of course, going to bed at 7:30 is not the same as going to sleep at 7:30. I think I lay in bed for three hours before falling asleep.
What do you think about Germany so far? Next I will write about our trip home and then I will write about the differences I noticed between Germany and The United States.
Our third day in Germany saw us heading out of the country, to Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is where they filmed The Sound of Music and Rose read that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and wanted to see it.
Our rental car agent told us we would need to buy a toll pass sticker to drive on Austrian higways after Rose mentioned to her we would be going to Austria. Without the sticker, we could have faced hefty fines. On the way there we stopped at a convenience store. Since I didn’t know how to ask for it in German, I asked the clerk, “Sprechen Sie English?”
“Ein bissien” was her replay so I said “Toll pass?” She said, “Oh, vignette?” I said, “Ja bitte,” then added, “zehn Tage,” before she could ask how many days. The shortest option, a ten day pass, was about ten euros.
Before I left she asked if I wanted coffee or anything else. I said, “Ja, zwei Kaffee bitte und Eine pretzel.” I didn’t know how to say “pretzel” but she knew what I wanted. I added the only thing I could to the coffee, which was lowfat milk, and then dumped both cups into a Yeti mug. It tasted so bad neither one of us could drink it.
On the way to Salzburg we noticed a long traffic jam in the opposite direction. We hoped that by the time we drove back it wouldn’t be as bad.
I was expecting some type of border crossing. I thought they would stop us and perhaps check our passports but we didn’t see anything like that. In fact, if there was a sign announcing that we were entering Austria, we missed it. I think that when we entered Salzburg, I checked Google Maps to make sure that we actually crossed the border.
Even though Salzburg was said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, when we got there we couldn’t find any of that beauty. I thought maybe there was more than one Salzburg and we were in the wrong one. We drove around for awhile but if there was beauty to be found, it was hidden well.
I didn’t take many photos there, mostly because I didn’t see anything worth photographing. I’m sure if we looked harder we probably would have found something interesting but after a half hour of driving around we decided to head back to Munich. On the way back I tried to find places to go along the way But the phone signal was intermittent so it was time consuming to search the internet.
On the way back we hit the traffic jam that we saw earlier. We noticed that drivers were inching along on the far side of their lanes, leaving a gap in the middle. I assumed there must be a law requiring drivers to leave space for emergency vehicles. If there is, it is a good idea because 30 seconds after Rose took the photo below, a police car with its lights and siren on cruised past us in the gap.
After we go out of the traffic jam, we stopped near a lake called Chiemsee where we parked and got out for some photos.
We then we drove around the area for a while and ended up at Aldi’s. I was hoping to get real heavy cream for our coffee but the didn’t have it. They also didn’t have light cream or half and half. We ended up buying some weird artificial liquid coffee creamer.
We then found a cute little town called Rosenheim. We drove around for a while admiring the small town charm.
I noticed corn fields, which we don’t see in Florida, but Rose was not impressed. She told me they are everywhere but I don’t pay attention. For that, I had to put up with her pointing out corn fields for the rest of our trip.
We then found a restaurant that was attached to a hotel. The place was called Hotel & Landgasthof Happinger Hof. This looked like real German food, which we had not yet had on our trip, so we decided to have lunch there. Our server asked us, in German, if we wanted to eat here or in the beer garden. The dining area we were in was covered but outside. The beer garden was nearby and also outside. We told her we wanted to eat here and sat at a table overlooking the beer garden and a small playground.
Our server did not speak English but we managed to communicate with her pretty well. I actually liked that she didn’t speak English because I needed to practice my German, but it was obvious that I needed more practice. Rose asked me about potato pancakes so I asked her, “Haben sie kartoffelpuffen?”
She laughed at that and quickly stopped laughing when she realized she was being rude and said, “kartoffelpuffer? Nein.”
I wasn’t offended buy her laughing at me. She was, after all, very nice. Who knows, maybe kartoffelpuffen is slang for “stupid tourist.” If that’s the case, that would have been very funny.
It was a very good meal, perhaps the best or at least one of the top three meals of the entire trip.
Our lunch was also reasonably priced. We paid 45 euros for two meals that included drinks and desert, and that was including a good tip.
When we got back to Munich, Rose wanted a real German pretzel from a vendor that made them fresh. So far, I could only find them in gas stations or small markets. We had a hard time finding pretzels, or any German food, within walking distance of our hotel. Not only could we not find a German restaurant, we also couldn’t find a stand that sold sausages or fresh pretzels. We walked to Karlsplatz looking for a place that Google said sold pretzels but it wasn’t there. We then walked past Karlsplatz until Rose’s foot started bothering her. She stopped to rest and I continued for a hundred yards or more but found nothing. We ended skipping the pretzels and went to a place called Ruff’s Burgers for dinner.
The next day we checked out of our hotel in Munich and checked into our hotel in Stuttgart. I will write about that next.
Rather than explore Munich on our first full day in Germany, we chose to take a road trip. My wife and I are not big fans of crowds and prefer quiet and peaceful over hustle and bustle. I suppose it was not very smart of us to book all of our hotel stays in large cities instead of small towns but that is a lesson learned for our next trip.
On this day, our plan was to head to a town called Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the base of the Bavarian Alps. At one time, this was two separate towns but they were combined in an effort to snag the 1936 winter Olympics, which they did.
We awoke at around 7:30, which was much later than I wanted to get up. We wanted to get in the car and explore so getting an early start was relatively important but I guess it didn’t hurt to sleep either.
The parking garage is closed on Sundays so we needed a hotel employee to walk down there with us and let us in. We then walked down to the car where I eventually figured out how to get the navigation system to use English. It was British English but it was English.
When we got to the exit of the garage, we had to put our parking ticket in a machine where we could pay for the parking but it was having trouble reading my card and kept giving me an error message. After a few minutes of trying, the same hotel employee drove up behind us but we were blocking his exit. I asked if he could help and he tried but he could not figure out what was wrong so he went back to the hotel and got their pass to let us out. We just had to pay him 25 euros. I think the machine would have charged us 20 euros and he seemed apprehensive charging us more but we were just happy to be out of the garage and gave him 30 for his trouble.
Rose drove this time and we headed south. She stopped at a gas station and I was surprised to find out that the pumps don’t take credit cards and also that you pump your gas first and then pay. Apparently, people are more trustworthy in Germany. I put in less than eight euros. I thought she stopped because we needed gas but I think she didn’t understand the gas gauge. I also learned that gas station employees are less likely to understand English than hotel employees.
I have been learning German for a while but I probably understand only about 35-40 percent of what I read and less of what I hear, especially if they speak fast. Because of that I felt uncomfortable trying to communicate in German but surprisingly, I felt more comfortable speaking German to non English speakers. I don’t know why. Maybe I felt less judged.
As we got closer to our destination the landscape became very beautiful with rolling hills and lush green grass. We also came when the leaves were changing color which made it even more beautiful.
When we got to Garmisch-Partenkirchen we parked in a lot, paid the fee, and then went looking for a bathroom. The first place we went to was a little café. The guy said they were closed. It was 10:50 and they closed at 11 but Rose made the mistake of asking for a bathroom before ordering. Since it was Sunday, most businesses were closed and the only place nearby was a Pizza Hut so we ended up having pizza for lunch so we could use the bathroom even though we were not yet hungry and we were looking for German food.
We walked around town and found a small shop open where Rose bought some post cards and a couple of other little things. It was a very pretty town and I felt like we could have spent more time there if it wasn’t Sunday.
Many people that come here continue on to Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. I would have liked to do that but we had other plans for the day. Rose wanted to visit Neuschwanstein Castle but that wasn’t set in stone. We thought we would decide when we left Garmisch. Our decision was to go instead to the less extravagant but much closer Linderhof Palace. It was also on the way to Neuschwanstein Castle in case we wanted to go to both.
I assume many homes in the area are heated by fireplaces which would explain why we saw so many firewood storage areas like these as we were driving toward Linderhof Palace.
When we arrived, we paid four Euros to park and then walked up some stairs and then a short way to gift shops and a restaurant. From there it was a bit of a walk to the Palace, perhaps a quarter mile or more. That was tough on Rose because her foot pain flared up again on the way there but she held up like a real trooper. We rested a couple of times but made it there okay. At least it was a beautiful walk.
I didn’t notice it at the time but the map shows a much shorter route from the parking lot that avoids the restaurant and stores.
We didn’t pay to go inside. We just wanted to see the outside. Unfortunately, the palace was covered because of renovations or repairs so maybe paying to go in wasn’t an option anyway. We were able to see the bath house though.
On the way back to the car, on an area map posted by the washroom, I saw a town called Oberaumagau that I thought it would be interesting to see.
The town is famous for the Oberammergau Passion Play which has been performed once a decade since 1634. I had heard about this before but didn’t make the connection at the time. In 1633, the residents of the town asked God to spare them from the bubonic plague. If he did, they vowed to produce a play every 10 years for all time depicting the life and death of Jesus. The town was spared and the citizens have kept their vow for almost 400 years.
We decided to make the short side trip and we were glad we did. It was a very picturesque town, like we would expect of old world Germany.
Like many buildings in Germany with artistic paintings, we found one in Oberaumagau. This one was of Little Red Riding Hood.
We drove around for awhile admiring the town and the surrounding landscape.
We then stopped at a store and Rose went inside. She bought an Alpine hat for her son, Nick, and a few other things while I tried to figure out how to pay for parking. I had to download an app, register my car’s license plate number and the tell the app the parking lot number. There was no charge, perhaps because it was Sunday. I don’t know.
We then parked closer to the center of town near a cool looking fountain where Rose found another store that was open.
We went inside and I was impressed that they weren’t just selling tourist junk. They had a lot of stuff that I think was made by local artists. Rose bought some ornaments for Christmas. On the way out I noticed some hand carved canes and walking sticks. I looked into buying something like that online a month or two earlier without success. We found a nice one but they all had a pointy metal tip that would make a great weapon, which is why we couldn’t bring it on the plane. It was also too long to pack in a suitcase. We brought it inside and one of the clerk’s was able to remove the tip.
We then drove back to Munich and went out for dinner. It turned out that finding real German food in Munich was quite difficult so we got something at a Middle Eastern restaurant that slightly resembled a gyro but with a different kind of bread. The weather was nice and there were plenty of tables set up outside so we ate there. It was nice sitting outside and the food was actually quite good.
I will talk about our trip to Salzburg, Austria on my next post.