As I write this it is the second day of 2013. It’s hard to believe its another year. Time flies? The idea of time stays the same, it’s our perception of time that changes. Anticipation, both good and bad, can make you perceive time as “flying by” or “taking forever”. Not sure where I was headed with that. Happy 2013!
Maybe the above stream of consciousness should be reserved for my upcoming “Best of 2012” annual year-end wrap up post, but either way 2012 was…2012. I don’t know that it was overwhelmingly good or overwhelmingly bad, but I am thankful that I was able to extend my streak of “visiting a foreign country at least once a year”.
I am thankful to be in a profession and position to be able to travel, explore and experience life beyond my city, my state and my country. Granted Texas is large, but I meet way too many people here that have never traveled outside the state let alone the country. People need to get out more. I am self-employed, but I believe that traditionally, US companies, dole out a lot less vacation days than the rest of the world. Traveling to a new place and taking in the culture can also be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. You don’t have to spend your life savings on one weekend getaway. Be creative. There are many ways to see the world and not spend more than a few hundred bucks. I’m sure there are ways to see the world AND get paid too. *wink*
So I had a week in Munich, Germany, or München as the Germans refer to it as. I left on December 16th, which happened to be my birthday. My birthday dinner courtesy of United Airlines was less than stellar, trust me, but my little sister, Alex Vickery, a budding music writer and journalist, make the trip much more pleasant.
Since Munich is 7 hours ahead, my truncated birthday celebration was spent trying to sleep in the most uncomfortable position ever. Exciting.
It was morning in Munich when we arrived. We had to try and stay up to avoid jet lag. I think we succeeded.
In 2010 I visited Amsterdam and northern Germany for work (click here for that blog entry). This time it was Munich, the heart of the Bavarian state in far southern Germany. It’s an absolutely beautiful city with tons to do and see. We had designs on day trips to Vienna or Prague, but we decided in the effort of time that we would try and come back for those and focus on Munich and the surrounding area.
As with any real foreign city, the culture, the history, the beauty and the existence of actual mass transit were amazing. I think everyone starts to take for granted the place where they live after a certain period, but I was certainly and instantly jealous of their plentiful architecture (both classic and modern) and their ability to hop on a subway train and get to any part of the city within minutes. Whats even more exciting is that each of the stations are basically underground worlds full of shops and restaurants and bakeries that are unseen from the street level. Sure some are a little less pleasant than others, but some are unique works of art in their own right. Subways are different in all cities, but it is worth noting that I did not feel unsafe at any time during my visit.
We visited during the heart of the Christmas market season so everywhere you turned there was a square filled with vendors pushing holiday-related crafts, local cuisine and their traditional hot wine concoction, glühwein.
PRO-TIP: Street fairs and markets are probably one of my favorite ways to sample local fare when on the road. Taking the time to find a restaurant and navigate the language barrier is oftentimes more of a hassle than perusing aisles of food stands, pointing, handing over money and eating. If you don’t like something, try again. You can usually walk around a fair or market and gauge whats good by seeing how many people are eating a particular item and you can see what you’re going to get BEFORE you commit. It’s also cheap! Win-win.
We ended up doing so much during our week-long stay that it would take forever to go in-depth about each bit. In the effort of time here’s a brief and semi-illustrated rundown of some of the things we got ourselves into, in no particular order:
-Rode to the top of the New Town Hall in a nice elevator and enjoyed the awesome view, then almost immediately climbed up 300ft+ of rickety stairs to the top of the nearby St. Peter’s church. Got there at noon. Heard lots of bells.
-Visited Neuschwanstein Castle (the inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty) and took pictures inside (they told us not to)
-Brought back about 100lbs of German photo books that we discovered at several different local book stores.
-Successfully found a Martin Hanford “Where’s Waldo” in German to continue my collection of Waldo ephemera from different countries.
-Had an amazing crepe with Nutella and apples and some other things. It was awesome.
-Spent an hour on an abandoned ski run in Eibsee, Germany. We made snow angels and then attempted to sled down the hills without a sled. I wanted to fight wolves like in The Grey, but we didn’t have enough time.
-Went to the Deutsches Museum and the Stadtmuseum and both were absolutely amazing. Both museums were cheap and light years more awesome than any museum in the states. Plus for the most part they were empty which is a plus.
-Stumbled upon a small and off-the-beaten-path toy museum that turned out to be AMAZING. It was housed in an old old building off the main plaza and if you definitely had to search for it. It was maybe $3US for entry. So cheap, so amazing, so creepy. Tons of dolls and robots and other toys dating back to the 1800’s.
-Got caught in a blizzard and inadvertently crossed over the Austrian border where we did what any normal people do in an Austrian blizzard…took funny pictures.
-Rode in a quite scary gondola ride from the highest point in Germany (Zugspitze) down to a small mountain village and picked up a worker that was just standing on a support tower along the way. (CAN YOU SAY SCARIEST JOB EVER?)
-Went to one of the most famous beer gardens in Munich. Tried the beer. Yuck. Tried the pretzels. Yum.
-Marveled at the general use of type, color, and design…everywhere! (DIDNT SEE PAPYRUS!)
-Ran around the famous Munich Olympic park. It was deserted.
-Legitimately felt like I was on THE Polar Express more than once.
-Stumbled into an odd block of concrete condos for students. They were all the same, but each was painted in a different theme. Salvador Dali Simpsons was my favorite.
-Generally froze pretty much most of the time.
That list could seriously go on forever. Munich is such an awesome place to visit. Oddly enough I didn’t use my (German-made) Hasselblad once during the trip despite taking the entire outfit with me. It can get pretty heavy after several hours of carrying it along with my digital outfit. I can say that the Dakine Mission photo backpack that I purchased via Amazon for about $100 was awesome during the trip. I was on the hunt for a travel backpack for my photo gear and definitely found it with this one. Well worth the $100.
Oh and I titled this entry “Postcards from Bavaria” since (besides the silly fun photos) there are no portraits in any of my selects from the trip. Most are street snapshots or landscapes from our travels.
As always, check out the slide show of my favorites from the trip below and let me know what you think!