Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Munich, Füssen, Salzburg, & Dresden

We have some train time from Prague to Berlin, so I though I would catch up with you guys a little.

Munich was cold (have you noticed a theme to my blogs about Europe?), but fun. We went to a sweet technology museum that has pretty much everything ever invented. Jason and I both thought that the coolest things were the first machines. Maybe we've been living in a land of limited electricity too long, but the stuff they could do using water pressure was amazing! I also really liked the glass blowing part. There was a guy sitting there making beautiful wine goblets with a big blowtorch.

While we were walking around we spotted this statue and I just couldn't resist... Those of you from AR know what I'm talking about!

Calling the Hogs!

I love bread, I always have. In Germany I have discovered a new love – the soft pretzel. In Munich I saw something that made my heart skip a beat – a GIANT soft pretzel . It was amazing :)

On our last day in Munich we went over to see a really cool castle around 11 in the morning. When we got there I realized that it was not the castle that I thought we were going to. (It was the Schloss Nymphenburg and the other one was the Schloss Neuschwanstein – an honest mistake...) The Schloss Nymphenburg was huge and beautiful, but it was just in the middle of the city. The one I had wanted to see was the one that Walt Disney patterned his castle after – on a big mountain with towering spires.

We were planning on traveling to Saltzberg that day and our tickets are only limited to 5 days of traveling, not five trips. We checked the guide book and the city with Schloss Neuschwanstein wasn't too far south of Munich, so we decided to go. We took a few quick pictures and went back to the train station. (I'll have Jason post some of the pictures because we didn't take them with my camera)

When we got to the station we found out that the next train to Füssen was leaving in about 11 minutes. We talked about it quickly and decided it would work, but then we remembered that our bags were still at the hostel. We tore out of the train station and ran to the hostel (a few blocks away) as fast as we could. We grabbed the bags and ran back to the train station only to arrive 3 minutes after the train left. The cold dry air was such a shock to my lungs that when we got to the platform I almost died from an asthma attack (or at least that's what it felt like... hehe).

We waited for the next train and got to Füssen a little after 4. We didn't get to the castle ticket office until 4:40 and she said that the only remaining castle tour in English was at 5:50. Perfect! The only problem was that the bus that would've taken us up to the castle wasn't working. Remember how I said the castle was on top of a huge hill... We busted it up the hill, running as much as we could, and it took us about 25 minutes to get to the top. Then we relaxed and took some pictures before the tour. When the tour started we found out that we couldn't take any pictures inside the castle at all, so Jason lugging his 15 pound backpack all the way up the hill might have been a mistake.

Jason took some really cool pictures of the outside, but I thought I would show you a few of mine just as a little preview.

This is the view from the castle. It was a pretty hazy day, so the picture's not awesome. I told you it was really high up!

This is part of the outside.

The marble on the castle was really beautiful.

The castle was definitely worth it. It was nice to walk around, take some pictures, and relax outside while we waited for the tour so that we could go in. The inside of the castle was amazing! I am still bummed that we didn't get to take any pictures! Every single surface of everything was painted or carved or somehow intricately designed. I can't even imagine how much work went into it.

Unfortunately the tour group ahead of us was a huge private group and they took a long time so our tour was slowed down a lot. Near the end Jason and I realized that we had less than half an hour before the bus that would take us to from the part of town the ticket office was in to the part of town our train was going to leave from. We tore out of the castle and ran back down that huge hill. We got to the bus station breathless and shaky-legged, but we beat the bus by about 3 minutes. We got to the train on time and we were on our way to Salzburg.

In the middle of the journey we had to change trains and while we were waiting I noticed some peanut M&M's in the vending machine. I marched over and deposited my 60 cents, but the candy got stuck. No problem I thought, I'll just buy another bag and the two will fall together. I counted up the rest of my change and it was only 58 cents . Jason banged on the machine to no avail. I was about to give up, but I decided to see if a gentle body slam might loosen my precious snack. Sure enough, it wiggled a little. I think I slammed into the machine about 15 times, but at last I was victorious!

Because of our detour we didn't get in to Salzburg until just before midnight. We had a hostel booked, so we went to the tram platform. Our hostel was on the other side town and at this point we discovered that all of the public transportation in Salzburg shuts down just before midnight... We lugged our bag around to about 7 hotels within walking distance of the train station and all of them were full, so at 2 am we just went back to the train station to wait until 5 when the trams started running again. That was literally the coldest three hours of my life!

We listened to some podcasts and we got to chat with some nice people at the station, but we didn't get any sleep. At 5 am we locked our bags in a locker and jumped on a bus to warm up and see some of the city. The warm bus made us very tired and we were both asleep when we got back to the train station. We tried another bus and we stayed awake for a little bit, but after a few minutes we dozed off again. When we got back to the train station the second time we found a bakery and got some food and coffee and then hit the town.

I am sure that our experience was slightly tainted by the freezing night at the train station, but Salzburg wasn't really that great. We didn't go on any tours or see any of the Mozart stuff, so I'm sure there were a lot of things that we missed out on. We really just ran around on the busses for the morning and took some pictures along the river that runs through town. By lunch time we were ready to get back to Germany. We took a train back to Munich and then on to Dresden. We slept a lot on that train, and it was lovely!

A few shots in Salzburg

The mountains were pretty amazing!

Dresden was awesome, probably my favorite city so far. Most of the time we were there it was cold and rainy, but it was still cool. There were lots of interesting old buildings, our hostel was nice, the transportation system was German (which is way better than anyone else's), but the highlight was the Hot Spoon. It was a soup restaurant close to our hostel and we shared several bowls there on different occasions.

Here is a picture of Jason in love :)

We used the all-you-can-ride day passes for the city public transportation systems in other cities, but we got the most use out of it in Dresden. Because it was raining we saw tons of the city from the trams. At 6 euro for the two of us for the day it was the cheapest tour ever. Sometimes I was not that great at reading the map, so we got lost several times which just meant that we saw even more of Dresden.

One place where we did hop off the tram and walk around was an old palace in the middle of town.

This is just one of the buidlings. There were several in this same style all in a big square.

I didn't take a lot of pictures of the places that we stayed, but this hostel room in Dresden was so cute I had to snap a few.

Here is our room. It was a six bed dorm. (I was sitting on the other pair of bunks)

And here is the view out the window. Pretty nice, huh?

All-in-all we are having a great time. I'll blog about Prague later, but right now I'm a little tired.