Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Munich

I made a little trip to Munich last week when it was – gasp – a bank holiday. For that reason, practically nothing was open, but I managed to see a lot of nice things there. Firstly, I explored the area around Marienplatz, which is the main historic square of the city. Even though a lot of the city was destroyed in the war, most of the buildings have survived pretty well (or been restored, I guess):

Then I took the U-Bahn to Münchner Freiheit, simply because I liked the name (“Freedom of Munich”). I was not expecting to find this amazing station when I got out:

And when you get out of the station it’s really nice. There is a big water feature and lots of cafés where people of all ages were sitting and enjoying ice creams, skateboarding, whatever. And of course, it was very clean!

I love this detail.

One of my biggest regrets is not being able to ride a bike. There are some lovely paths around the city. Maybe if I lived in Munich I’d be motivated to overcome it.

May I live in this building?

Dairy-free blueberry ice cream!

Mexican food place on Haimhauser Straße. Looked good, but was bad timing as I’d just finished my ice cream.

A wine tap in the wall! Out of order, sadly.

A little gift I got for my family.

So that was my brief stint in Munich. It’s a shame I was only able to be there for a day, but I’ll definitely be going back when I can afford it, as I loved my first impressions. Next time: Mexican food, English Garden (with the place where people surf on the river!), Nymphenburg Palace, record shopping!

I went there on the Bayern Ticket, which costs 21 € and can be used for one day on all regional trains in Bavaria, plus underground and stuff. I had to pay for an extra train ticket between Linz and Salzburg (the only Austrian station it’s valid from), but still pretty good value. Also, once again I was glad I brought my passport… it was checked as I went into Germany. But what would they do, chuck you off the train…?

P.S. I was supposed to be going back to England tomorrow, but I am unable to because of baggage handler strikes at Stansted Airport (pretty crucial, as I have two large suitcases). I now have 4 or so more days here. I was annoyed, because I’d been psyching myself up to be home – plus I’ve lost £100 from the previous ticket – but I suppose in some ways it’s a blessing in disguise. I’m looking forward to making the most of my last few Linz moments, and also to making my last trip of my time in Austria… stay tuned!

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Berchtesgaden and St. Wolfgang

I headed off to Salzburg once again to catch up with my friend from home. This time, we were actually going on a guided tour of the local area. Even though my inner snob usually makes itself known at the idea of such things – I feel like they are overpriced and lack personality – I ended up really enjoying it. Furthermore, it makes a pleasant change to venturing out somewhere on your own and having to organise your own transport. It did cost 70 € for two tours, but both of them were incredible.

We crossed the border into Germany on a bus full of other tourists, and got chatting to some older ladies from New Mexico who had come to Salzburg for a dog show. The first stop was the (confusingly spelt) Salzbergwerk in the tiny town of Berchtesgaden. This is home to a centuries-old salt mine. We had to put on some funny overalls and board a little train which took us half a mile inside the mountain. We also had to slide down a chute which was surprising, and very fun. We wandered through the caves. It was very cold down there, but the whole experience was utterly spellbinding.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so this is one I got from the internet. We had to take a little boat across the 200m-deep-water to get to the other side. The whole place lit up in different colours, it was incredible.

The surrounding countryside was gorgeous. Look how blue the water is! I wish I could’ve paddled in it.

Map of the Hoher Göll, the mountain on top of which the nearby Eagle’s Nest sits (this was Hitler’s retreat, and it is still visitable, but we didn’t go)

After that we had lunch in Berchtesgaden, and then got on the bus back into Austria – specifically to the Salzkammergut, which is a district of lakes and mountains that spans three states (Upper Austria, Styria and Salzburg). The next place was St. Gilgen, where we would get a boat across the lake to St. Wolfgang. I felt like I was in a dream, or a children’s storybook…

Just beautiful. It’s going to be hard to get used to not being around Austria’s stunning nature when I go back home. This was also probably the nicest honourary birthday I’ve ever had!

I’d also like to mention that I’ve never heard so many people saying ‘Excuse me, are you from London?’ when overhearing a conversation I was having with someone… bizarre.

Aachen and Cologne

This post will be quite out of date, admittedly, but I just wanted to talk about a couple of German cities that are very near Liège.

Aachen

I went to Aachen for the first time sometime at the beginning of October, but was too busy to write about it. The second time, I went with my family when they came to visit (which is also something I neglected to mention). It’s just on the Belgian/German border, and it takes around 30-45 minutes on a charming little train journey that takes you through some of the Ardennes, and a very ignored area of Belgium – the German-speaking area. Here are some photos of the city, which on both occasions I visited on a Sunday so most things were closed, but it is still a cool place to hang out. I wanted to show my parents what traditional German cuisine was like, so we went for a meal at a potato restaurant – I had a “potato pizza”, which was amazing, but I couldn’t move afterwards!

City hall

Built in the 14th century!

Part of the cathedral - the inside was absolutely beautiful, with coloured mosaics everywhere, but you had to pay a fee to take photos.

A fountain - you could move the figures' body parts!

Cologne

This was only intended as a trip across the border to buy some required reading that was impossible to find in Belgium. But since I had heard such good things about Cologne, and at the time an escape to a big city was just what I needed, I extended it to a three-day stay.

Indeed, with the fast train it took just under an hour, which impressed me. It felt good to be there – it was easy to get on the reliable underground system and get to my hostel from the main station, which sits right next to the famous cathedral. It’s impossible to do it justice in a few pixels, so here’s just one of the doorways of the cathedral:

And the hostel was brilliant. The prices were fair, the staff were friendly, it doubled up as a café/bar in the evenings, I met some nice Czech people to hang out with, and I was delighted to hear great music playing – at one point, it was stuff from Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, which prompted me to have a great conversation with the person who had chosen it for that particular shift.

Cologne itself is something of an easy-going city, despite being the fourth largest in Germany. It had many old buildings, the type which bring tourists in, but at the same time a modern, efficient Scandinavian element. I think that is a very unique thing to find in a city.

I was unable to find the books I needed in Cologne’s main bookshops (although don’t worry: I spent enough money on books I don’t need in those shops). But by chance, when I was on the tram – the beauty of which is that you can see everything out of the window as you travel, as opposed to being stuck in a tunnel – I saw a bookshop in a nice neighbourhood that looked interesting. I got off, went in, and it turned out I could order those books for a very, very decent price, to pick up in a couple of days’ time.

All in all, I loved my trip, and was thinking quite often that I wouldn’t mind living here at all when I graduate and am looking for a job! In fact, I wish I’d had the opportunity to study here. This is a beautiful park near campus:

Hostel:

Weltempfänger Hostel
Venloer Straße 196
(U-Bahn: Piusstraße, lines 3 and 4)

Bookshop:

Buchhandlung am Chlodwigplatz
Ubierring 6
(Tram: Chlodwigplatz, lines 15 and 16)