Date of Trip: March 2004
This was my first trip alone to Europe.
Highlights: The city of Munich, Old Munich, beer halls, hostel life, and Lake Ammersee in Herrsching.
Accommodations at the Euro Youth Hotel: The Euro Youth Hotel is an awesome place to stay while in Munich. The hotel has private rooms, three- or five-person dorms, or a 21-bunk dorm, which is where I stayed. What the dorms lack in privacy, they make up in value. At just 18 euro per night, it made my stay in Munich much more affordable.
The hotel also includes a bar area, two computers with internet access at the rate of 1 euro for 20 minutes, showers on every floor, as well as a large shower area in the basement for the dorms, and laundry facilities. The staff was wonderful and so was the company of other travelers from around the world. We will definitely stay at the Euro Youth Hotel in the future!
Transportation: Munich is a large, very well-connected city. It has a wonderful transportation system that can take you anywhere you wish to go within the city, as well as many of the outlying areas. The city has a S-Bahn system (Metro), an U-Bahn system (Subway), trams, buses, and is a haven for bicycles. For a cheap way to get around Munich and its surroundings, consider buying a “Munich Welcome Card” from the Tourist Information Office, located next to the Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station), or at the Flughafen (Airport) at Terminal 1 or 2 at the Information desks. For a three-day Welcome Card, I paid 28 euro, which covered the city of Munich and outlying areas, on all methods of public transportation. It was well worth the money because it was cheaper than what I would have paid for single tickets, it was easier than translating the instructions at the ticket machines, and made it possible to change trains much quicker and easier.
Day trip to Ammersee: On one day of my trip, I took a day trip to the small lakeside town of Herrsching, a 45-minute Schnellerbahn ride from Munich’s central station on the S-5. The ride to the town is very beautiful, taking you as close to the Bavarian Alps as you can get on Munich’s public transit system. Herrsching is very small and slow paced compared to Munich.
I decided to go far away from the tourists and walked up a very steep one-lane road that begins about five minutes walking distance from the train station. From the top of the road, I got some beautiful pictures of the lake (Ammersee) and the town below. During the summer months, I have heard that there are several sailing ships and other recreational boats on the lake. Herrsching is a great place to take it easy and enjoy Germany without the tourists.
Hofbrauhaus am Platzl: More than you would ever expect from a German beer hall. It’s like stepping into a stereotype. The food was wonderful, the music was driving, and the beer was like no other. The prices were good; I got a huge soft pretzel and 2 Weisswurst (Brats) for around 5 euro. The beer comes in full liter mugs, and go for around 6 euro. A must for any traveler who wishes to visit traditional Germany at its best!
Day 1, March 11, 2004: 1945 Hrs.
Today was interesting. It had its good parts and its bad parts. I made it to Germany OK. It was pretty difficult finding my gates, and make sure that I didn’t need to check in early. The first flight was extremely long. I sat next to some guy whom I believe was Italian, but he was never social enough to find out. The seats were pretty crammed, and I didn’t get any sleep at all. I changed planes in Frankfurt OK, but I had a little trouble finding my train to the city. Eventually I found it, and got into the Hauptbahnhof, but after that it was hell. I knew which street my hotel was on, but I could not find it. I tried to ask several people if they could give me directions, but no one seemed to think it was their responsibility. I was finally directed to the Tourist Information Office, who informed me that it was around the corner I was standing on. After I found it I had to cash in some traveler’s checks, because they only took cash at the hostel. After everything was settled, I decided to lay down for a few minutes. That turned into about a six hour nap.
When I woke up, I felt much better. I was really not having a good time until I rested. Travel was very long, and confusing, and no one seemed friendly enough to help me. I do like the hostel I’m staying in, though. It’s not very private, but there are a lot of Americans and Canadians, and everyone is very friendly.
I took a walk at about 1900 hours. I was in a much better mood, and so I felt that I should give the city another chance. I was going to go to dinner, but I changed my mind. I just don’t feel like eating. Instead, I took a walk through the Marienplatz, and visited the Frauenkirche, and the Neues Rathaus. The trip to the Rathaus was very rewarding. All of the tourists were gone, and I had the inner courtyard all to myself.
I’m back in the hostel now, and I’m not sure what to do next. I think I’ll try to locate the showers, and change my clothes. I also hear that there are computers here, so I might also try to write some emails. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’m not going to get discouraged yet.
Day 2, March 12, 2004: (1300 Hrs.)
Today was much better. After a long night’s sleep, and a hot shower, everything just seemed better. I got up at around 5am, and laid in bed until 6. Everyone in the dorm was snoring really loud. Most of the people had not gotten in by the time I went to bed last night, and I was surprised to find a packed room this morning.
At about 6:45 after my shower and everything, I went for a walk. I went back to the Marienplatz, and walked around almost alone. It was great getting to take pictures and not have like 50 tourists in front of what you want to photograph. Nothing was open yet, not even McDonald’s, so it was interesting to see the area without all it’s business.
Later on I went to the supermarket, and bought bread, chicken lunch meat, and Swiss cheese. It made about the worst sandwich I had ever had, and I had to fight through dozens of Germans in an area the size of a small carryout to get it.
After that, it was time to get out and walk again. This time I was determined to find the Hofbrauhaus, and after I let myself get lost, I finally did. From the outside it was about 1/10 as exciting as I thought it would be. Even the gift shop was small and understocked. I then stayed lost and kept walking, and stumbled upon the Residenz palace. I went in a few of the courtyards, and took some pictures. I was also able to figure out the U-Bahn and S-Bahn back from that part of town. I’m sure I walked a few miles today, but I’ll rest up now and do some more walking later. Nap time!
Well, that turned into about a 6 hr. nap. I just went for another walk into the Marienplatz. It’s still pretty cold out, and now my feet are sore from all the walking. My German is getting better, though. So far today I have fooled a nun, a cashier, and an Arab guy at the train station with my language skills. The joke may be on me though, because they all seem to want my money.
I had a bottle of Coke for dinner. How healthy. I’m still going to go home skinnier though, because of the lack of food and all the walks.
It looks like my room tonight is mostly Japanese. There are still a few Americans in here, but they usually stay out till about 4am, which I really don’t understand. Everything is closing for the night. Even the Hofbrauhaus, where the beer never stops, doesn’t serve past 11pm. About the only thing open is the house bar, which I know stays open pretty late, because you can hear the music thumping.
Well, I think I’ll go try to get back on the computer and check if anyone got my emails.
Day 3, March 13, 2004: (0630)
Today isn’t starting out all that great. I woke up about 0345 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Around 0530 I got out of bed and got my shower. After that I went into the lounge to get on the computer. It didn’t connect to hotmail last night, so I still don’t know if anyone got my emails. I figured it was the perfect time to get on this morning, because I was the only one awake. Yes, I was the first one up and ready. Anyways, I went to turn on the computer by putting a Euro in the slot, but the screen just said no signal. The girl at the desk told me to try the other one, and when I put my coin in, it was broken too. So now I am out $2.60, and I still haven’t checked my email! Not to mention the 2 Euro I spent last night when Hotmail was down. I guess that’s what you get for waking up early. I always knew it was overrated.
I am very tired. I was walking through the Marienplatz, and I saw people in the tower of Peterskirche (Alter Peter). I knew that there was no elevator, but I thought it couldn’t be that far up. I was wrong. It was very far. It was also narrow and crowded. The view was great, but I didn’t have my camera. I’m not going back up there again, though.
After I got down, I went into the S-Bahn station at the Marienplatz, and there were tons of Munich Police and Bahn Polizei that had the stairs to the S-Bahn blocked off. Everyone was trying to figure out what was going on. When I got off the train at the Hauptbahnhof, the streetlights were off, and there were lots of sirens.
I bought a phone card from the AMEX office, but I still can’t get it to work yet. It says I dialed the wrong number, but I don’t know what else to dial. Hopefully I get it figured out soon.