A Travellerspoint blog

Trains and Planes

Nearing the end of the European leg of my journey

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My train pass expired on August 17th while I was in Berlin, so for the much of the remaining travel time will be spent on planes (for the longer trips anyway). It will be nice to not spend lots of hours sitting on trains, but there were definitely some positives to train travel.

I traveled to Berlin after Prague, where I spent, August 16-19. Coming from Prague, it is interesting to see the cultural differences between a city in central Europe and one in western Europe. It's hard to put into words, but you can definitely tell. I arrived in the evening of the 16th and that night I went to the Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is a pretty powerful place, made even more so by the fact that I was there when it was dark. It is a full city block covered in pillars of various heights set in a grid with a walkway between the pillars. The section I walked through had pillars that were a good 10-12 feet high. If the designers were trying to give the visitor a trapped feeling, then they were very successful. The Brandenburg gate is a short walk away so I went there that evening as well.
I didn't get a chance to visit during the day, but it is very well lit at night, and I'm guessing there were less crowds so it wasn't a problem.

Since I didn't get a chance to visit Dachau while I was in Munich a few weeks ago, I went to Sachsenhausen, the concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin. I had a really good tour guide, but this was a very eerie (and scary) place. While not specifically a death camp, thousands of people were still killed here. A lot of buildings were destroyed, but there is still enough to get an idea of what the camp was like.
Another interesting part of the camp was the the Soviets created their own memorial to some of the victims, which while admirable, wasn't the most respectful. The group that owns the space now built a new memorial/museum and instead of destroying the Soviet construction, they built around it.

When I returned from Sachsenhausen I went to the Berlin Wall Memorial, where a lot of the Berlin Wall is still standing and some other parts have been reconstructed. It's hard to imagine that one day your neighborhood would just be split by a wall, and even worse, your house might be right on it.
Finally, I went to the Berlin TV Tower, the highest structure in Germany and the 4th tallest free standing structure in Europe. It's impressive from outside, but if I'm honest the view, at least at night, wasn't the best. Berlin is a big city, but it doesn't have that distinguishable skyline like some other cities. It also doesn't help that there aren't any outdoor observation areas so every picture is through a window. Maybe during the day it would be better.

My last day I went to the 1936 Olympic Stadium and East Side Gallery. The gallery is a stretch of the Berlin Wall with a lot of graffiti. I talked to a few people who recommended it and it was impressive, but if I'm honest again, graffiti art isn't my favorite. The better part of the day was the stadium. It is currently a soccer stadium (or should I say football?). A lot of the interior has been redone and there is a new roof, but the outside is mostly original. It's easy to tell it was built by the Nazis because there are many imposing elements. Instead of describing the architecture, here are some pictures:

The next day I took my first flight since arriving in Italy. It was to Athens from Berlin. I will be in Greece until the morning of the 23rd when I'll fly to Istanbul for another 4 days.

Posted by cschelz 07:05 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

One Month Update

Stats, lessons, and an entry that's longer than most essays I wrote in high school or college

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According to this blogging site, these are some of my stats so far:
- 7008 miles traveled
- 9 countries visited – US, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France, UK, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic
- 32 days spent traveling
- 0.35 % of my life has been spent on this trip

I left from JFK on July 15th. A month later, I am about three and a half hours into a 14 hour train ride, from Amsterdam to Prague. My first overnight train ride a few days ago from London to Truro, England wasn’t the best experience so I wanted to try again. That first trip, I could only get a seat for the 8+ hour ride so here I am now lying in a small room with six couchettes. They are less than six feet long, so it’s going to be a cramped night, but it’s already so much better than being confined to a chair. Something else I just noticed – you can leave the windows open and the vents are bringing fresh air directly outside, which means the air quality is significantly better than on a plane. 14 hours might actually not be that bad.
Since my last update, I have been in Amsterdam and England. I was in England from August 7 until the 11th. I spent all day on the 12th traveling between St. Mawes, England to Amsterdam and then I was in Amsterdam for all of the 13th and most of today (14th).
London was really cool for a lot of reasons, not least of which was that English is the main language there (obviously). It was a nice change for a few days. The first day I spent walking around a lot, which is my usual method to see what a city is like. I started from my hostel near St. Pancras train station and walked to the Thames to see some of the sites. I started with a ride on the London Eye. It’s a pretty impressive engineering feat and the view was amazing (I seem to be getting pretty lucky with these viewpoints – knock on wood…). I bought a picture guide to show me what buildings were visible, and there are way too many to name here, but some of the ones that stick out in my mind were Big Ben, Parliament, and the Shard, the tallest building in (western?) Europe.
I stayed at the Generator Hostel for the first three nights I was in London. It was a pretty nice hostel, and had the added benefit of having the fastest WiFi I’ve seen in the past month. Unfortunately the rooms were a bit small and even more unfortunately, I was stuck with some unbelievable snorers every single night. It was here that I first had to use my earplugs to get any sleep. One person was just really loud, another guy made it sound like there was a gas leak, and the third snored with no discernible pattern at all, which is strange since breathing is supposed to be consistent. They checked out a day before me, and the new roommates weren’t quite as bad, but earplugs were a necessity. On the last night, I came in after everyone was asleep and all the windows were closed (there’s no AC). It felt like a rainforest when I opened the door, so I quickly opened the windows. Any street noise is better than sleeping in a hot and humid room. The one good thing that the previous roommate had, and I need to get, is a USB fan. It made a huge difference in the overall comfort of the room. After all that, I still would recommend this hostel, and hopefully you won’t be as unlucky with roommates.
Anyways, back to London. The next day was entirely devoted to a rock n’ roll tour of London. This was an opportunity I was not going to miss, no matter how much it cost. We saw a lot of sites, from the bars and clubs bands like the Stones and Beatles started at to some of the famous studios, past and present, to current homes and offices of the musicians. We saw where Jimi Hendrix played his first show in England and the apartment he died in, Freddie Mercury’s old house, the house where Paul McCartney got inspiration for the phrase “she came in through the bathroom window.” We stopped by Jimmy Page’s current house. Our guide told us that sometimes he recognizes the bus and comes out for pictures and autographs. I don’t know how true that is, but either way we weren’t that lucky that day.
One of the highlights of the tour, and possibly this whole trip, was walking across Abbey Road. It was a simple act, but it was nice to see it’s all still there, and even better, someone hasn’t started charging money to cross it. Something that I noticed while I was there was that there are a lot of cars that drive on that street. There is usually a decent size crowd there all trying to get crossing photos so sometimes cars have to stop for a minute or two. Then people start to honk their horns and yell at the pedestrians. If I lived and drove in London, I would avoid that road at all costs. I asked our guide about it, and he said Abbey Road isn’t even the fastest way to get into downtown London. I guess some people just like to add a little road rage to their days.
(I took an overnight break here to sleep and watch this new show, Breaking Bad. It has Bryan Cranston from the better version of Godzilla, and some other good actors. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out, I just finished the first season.)
The next day I took a tour of Wimbledon. It’s kind of far outside of London, especially when taking public transportation, but it was well worth it. The tour guide was really good and we got to see a lot of places as part of the tour. We walked around the grounds, sat in the stands around Centre Court, and we were even able to sit in the same place that players sit for their post-match interview. The most surprising thing I learned was how cheap it is to see Wimbledon tennis, especially if I don’t go to Centre Court. This is definitely a place I will have to add to the list for future visits.
My final day in London started with a move to a hostel closer to the train station that I needed to go to visit my friend in southern England the next day. After moving, I went to the James Bond vehicle museum. It was pretty amazing; it had the actual vehicles from all 23 James Bond films – Aston Martin DB5, submarine car, mini helicopter, it was all there. I had seen an ad for the museum when I first arrived in London, and I’m glad it caught my eye. I traveled to the Sherlock Holmes museum after James Bond, but after seeing the line on the rock n’ roll tour, I was a little apprehensive. Sure enough, the line was massive, over 2 hours long. As much as I like Sherlock (especially the show with Benedict Cumberbatch), I had had enough of lines. I headed back to the train station to await my overnight train to Falmouth.
I hadn’t booked my seat early enough to secure a bunk, so I was stuck in a regular chair. This was a terrible mistake. I managed a few hours of sleep, but I recommend if you ever have to take a night train, spend the extra cash for at least a couchette. Following a restless night and a transfer in Truro, England, I arrived in Falmouth. I still had to take a ferry to get to St. Mawes, where my friend and boss Christian is living for the summer. That was the easy part though, and like Interlaken, it was nice to get out of the big cities for a little while.
St. Mawes (and I’m sure some other places) name the houses instead of numbering them so I had some issues finding the house. It’s a small place though, so I decided to walk around to see if I could find it. I decided I’d go left so I could check out a castle I had seen on the way in, even if I couldn’t find the house. The castle was pretty cool, but the house was nowhere to be found. I headed back to the dock to see if Christian was there. Sure enough, he was, and when we started walking, I saw that the direction I had searched was the opposite from where his house was. We spent most of the day walking around town, taking photos. That night we took the ferry back to Falmouth to celebrate one of his coworker’s birthday. The weather was pretty bad during the day, so they were worried about the water on the way back that night. Since it was too late for the ferry, we took a water taxi which was no more than one of those Coast Guard rescue boats (called a “rib” by the locals). Incredibly, the sky was still, there was a full moon for excellent visibility, and most importantly, the water was as smooth as glass.
The next day was devoted to traveling to Amsterdam. I had the 20 minute ferry ride back to Falmouth, another five and a half hours or so of trains to London, a two hour Eurostar train ride to Brussels and then another 2 hour train ride to Amsterdam. I left just before 9 am and got to Amsterdam around 11:30 pm – it was a long day. In Amsterdam, the first priority was the Heineken Experience. I had been there about 10 years earlier, but I wanted to go back now that I wasn’t 15. It had definitely been updated, and it was a cool place. While the beer is better here, I’ll admit the tour at the Coors Brewery in Colorado went a lot more into the actual production of the beer. It’s a cool place though, and it’s a good place to go if you don’t like the drugs of Amsterdam (like me). I stayed in a pretty loud hostel the night I arrived in Amsterdam and after the restless sleep on the overnight train and the snorers in London, I decided to stay in a hotel for my last night in Amsterdam. I found one of those anonymous deals on Priceline for a four star hotel that was more than half off. It wasn’t nearly as close to the train station as Priceline made it seem, but it was definitely four stars. I got some really good sleep that night.
The next day in Amsterdam I went to the Rijskmuseum to see multiple works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Like most art museums I’ve visited on this trip, it was packed, but the paintings were impressive, especially “The Night Watch” (not from Game of Thrones), perhaps Rembrandt’s most well-known work there. However the highlight of the day was visiting The Art of the Brick, a collection of LEGO models by American artist Nathan Sawaya. It’s a mix of original builds and reproductions of famous art, using tens of thousands of LEGOs. An added bonus was that the place was almost empty so no lines, which was great.
So now I’m spending a night in Prague. As usual I spent a lot of time walking around today, including to an Eiffel Tower-inspired observation point on a hill near the city. The view was pretty fantastic (continuing my luck with high viewpoints). The Czech Republic is great also because the exchange rate almost seems to be in my favor. 1 USD equals roughly 20 Koruna, so it’s a little strange to see a drink priced at 75, but after some quick math, it works out.
I leave tomorrow morning for three nights in Berlin, and then I start to move east, until I get home. My train pass expires on August 17, so I am also going to start flying a lot more. Fortunately my flights so far have all been under $200 so it hasn’t been that bad. After Berlin, I fly to Athens, Greece for four nights there, then to Istanbul, Turkey for another four nights. Currently, my last firm plan is a flight to Abu Dhabi on August 27th. Everything else after that is still in the air, but I’m thinking India after UAE and then down to SE Asia.
Some lessons I’ve learned so far:
There are a lot of people trying to scam tourists in Europe. I have seen them in NY, but they seem almost more aggressive. Unfortunately I’ve seen too many people betting on that cup game (the scammer hides the ball under one of the 3 cups and the people try to guess which cup it’s in).

Even when train reservations aren’t required with the train pass, it’s usually a good idea to spend the extra 10 euros or so just to get a seat. I was pretty lucky this month, but on one of my connecting trains, I was stuck for two hours sitting in the vestibule (at least I made it on the train).

Hostels are an excellent way to save money, but sometimes it’s necessary to spend a little extra on a hotel every once in a while. It’s nice to get a full night’s sleep and not worry if someone is going to steal your stuff.

Hostels can be booked the night before (or even the morning of, but I wouldn’t suggest waiting that late) and there are still cheap beds available. It helps when I’m planning only 1 or 2 days in advance. My favorite sites so far: booking.com and hostels.com

I just noticed this entry is on its fourth page, so that’s enough for now. I’ll have another update probably after Berlin.

Posted by cschelz 11:15 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged trains london amsterdam netherlands czech_republic rock_n_roll Comments (0)

Royale with Cheese and Looking for Lee Ho Fook's

Paris and first half of London

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I have spent the past week or so in two of Europe's largest cities. I arrived in Paris on Sunday evening (August 3rd). After checking in and planning what I wanted to do for the next few days while I was there, I set out to see the Eiffel Tower at night. I was walking towards it right around 10pm when suddenly it lit up with hundreds of flashing lights, like camera flashes. I had no idea it was going to happen, but it was a pretty awesome site. I took a bunch of shots, but I couldn't really capture the flashes that well. You can kind of tell in this picture:
The flashes were on for about 5 minutes and then the tower went back to its regular orange lighting
The orange glow of the tower contrasted well with the thick blue clouds when I got closer though.
I spent about 30 minutes taking shots from various angles, but the previous photo was my favorite. Some of the others are below.

The next day I planned on meeting Sarah, my friend from UNCW and Lauryn, her friend from work, at the Louvre. Unfortunately their flight was delayed, but they didn't miss much, as the line there was almost 2 hours long.
I made it into the museum before they arrived from the airport, so I was able to buy tickets for them so they wouldn't also have to wait in that line (and I wouldn't have to wait for them). We wandered around the Louvre for a while, before heading towards the Mona Lisa. Most of the museum was pretty crowded, but as we got closer to the museum's most famous work, it got really packed.
This was one of those times when being 6'4" was really useful. Being taller than the vast majority of the crowd, I had a pretty unobstructed view of the painting so I could take my obligatory shot and move to a calmer part of the room.
We left the Louvre after walking around a little more and bought tickets for one of those hop on/hop off bus tours. It's not something I usually do as a tourist, but I'll admit it was nice to just sit for an hour or so and watch the landmarks pass by. That night we had some French crepes for dinner.

The next day we planned on meeting at 9 at the Eiffel Tower. I misjudged my timing a little, but was at least able to make it before 9:30. Sarah and Lauryn were nice enough to hold a spot for me until I got there (considering I waited in line for 2 hours the day before, I think it was a fair trade). We climbed the stairs to the second floor and then took the elevator the rest of the way. It was a mostly clear day so the view was fantastic. The only problem is that when you're on top of the Eiffel tower, the most famous part of the Paris skyline isn't visible because you're standing on it. Either way, it was well worth the effort and price. At the top of the tower, they have some graphics comparing the Eiffel Tower to other tall structures around the world. The one that really stood out was the comparison to the the Burj Khalifa (Burj Dubai), the tallest building in the world. It's almost three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and it's at the top of the list for when I visit the UAE at the end of this month.

After the Eiffel Tower, we said goodbye to Lauryn who went to a previously scheduled tour while Sarah and I went to Notre Dame. As usual, the lines were massive, so unfortunately we were unable to climb to the top before Sarah had to go to the airport, but we were at least able to walk around the ground floor. Sarah left for the airport after that, and I headed to the train station to figure out my ticket to London for the next day. On my last night in Paris, I was trying to figure out what to do for dinner, when suddenly the classic film - Pulp Fiction - came to mind:
...a royale with cheese and a beer at McDonald's in Paris.

Apparently, England is not part of the Eurail pass, which I found out the hard way. Eurail pass holders get a discount on Eurostar trains between Paris and London, but even with that discount, it still set me back 90 euros. It was a fast and comfortable ride, though, so it was worth the money. I arrived in London early Wednesday afternoon. I had tours planned for both Thursday and today (Friday) so I wanted to look around the city while I had time. I walked from my hostel (a cool place called Generator Hostel) near St. Pancras International down to the Thames. I walked around Parliament and Big Ben and over to the London Eye.
The Eye was well worth another long line, It's an impressive engineering feat and you can see a lot of London landmarks, especially if it's as clear as it was that day.
I walked around some more after that, visiting Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park.
A full day London rock n' roll tour was on the schedule for the next day and it was fascinating. We visited a lot of sites including possibly the most famous, Abbey Road. Walking across the same street as the Beatles did was an absolute highlight of this trip. I didn't want some random person standing in the middle of the street with my camera, so this was the angle they could get (I'm in the blue shirt).
We also visited a lot of the pubs/bars that a lot of the British bands got their starts at, and places like Paul McCartney's house and Jimmy Page's house. The guide says sometimes Page comes out of his house to sign autographs and take pictures since he recognizes the tour, but we weren't that lucky this time. The amount of music history in London though, was amazing. I walked around the city that night taking some more shots, especially by the Thames. Continuing the music theme, I searched that night for Lee Ho Fook's to get a big plate of beef chow mein, but I was unsuccessful. At least it was raining as I wandered the streets of Soho.

The next day (today), I went on a guided tour of Wimbledon. It is an amazing place, with more than 30 grass tennis courts. The history of tennis here was also really interesting. We went to both Court 1 and Centre court and the guide let us sit in the same chair that the players sit in for their post game interviews.
Me at Centre Court:
The score is still on the scoreboard from this year's final
Sitting in the player's interview seat:

Up next: I'm going to be in London until Sunday night, then I'm going to take an overnight train to Falmouth and then a ferry to St. Mawes to visit Christian, my friend and coworker from Vail this past winter. I leave there on Tuesday morning to head back to London and then a train to Brussels and then to Amsterdam, all on Tuesday. My Eurail train pass expires August 17th and I have a flight from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi on August 27th so my time in Europe is winding down.

Posted by cschelz 13:08 Archived in England Tagged london paris england france eiffel_tower louvre wimbledon rock_n_roll Comments (0)

First Failed Mission

Learning some lessons

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I rented a car in Munich to drive up to Eifel National Park near Cologne. The Nurburgring was also nearby my hotel. I had read that Eifel was Germany's first and only international dark sky park and I was looking forward to taking some night shots. I also won't deny that I wanted to drive on the autobahn. I booked a hotel about 45 minutes from the park and I was all ready to go. I took the commuter rail to the Avis rental place a few miles outside of Munich to pick up my car. I had rented a BMW (or something similar) through Orbitz so I could drive a German car on this unique German road. When I arrived at the location, the rental agent looked surprised that I was there and said there was no reservation for me. I gave him my Avis number and he said the reservation had been cancelled the night before. So far, not so good.

I returned to Munich to try to find a place to rent me one last minute, so I wouldn't have to forfeit my hotel reservation that night. I found an available car at Sixt in the train station. They only had a manual drive Opel with no GPS or this...
...an automatic Smart car with GPS. Unfortunately I had no idea where I was going so I had to go with the Smart. There car had few (if any) redeeming qualities: it was soooooooo slow, the automatic transmission was terrible, it was too small for my 6'4" frame, but at least it was partially a convertible. Needless to say, it was a disappointing first experience on the autobahn, but at least I will only be able to go faster whenever I'm there in the future. Later, I contacted both Avis and Orbitz to see what had happened to my reservation, and they both had no idea. I will not be using either company for the remainder of this trip.

Later that night, I finally made it to my hotel (right when checkin ended, at 8 pm). I had planned on being there at least 2 hours earlier so I could scout out some locations at the park for my photos. I decided since I was there, I might as well go check it out, even if it was dark. I got there about 45 minutes later and it was really dark. I hiked a few minutes up the pitch black path (I had a headlamp), before pausing to think about what I was doing. I realized I was in a park I had never been to before at night and no one really knew where I was going. As tough as it was, I decided it would be best to turn back and not risk the bad luck that had plagued me earlier in the day. The next morning I woke up and went to check out the Nurburgring, only a 3 minute drive from my hotel. It is a famous race track located in Germany.

Before I lost my car, I read that people sometimes could drive on the track at nights, so I had planned on checking it out the night before, and maybe even drive on it. Instead, I had about 30 minutes to walk around the outside that morning before I had to return my rental car. This is a place that I will have to revisit later.

I dropped the car off at the Cologne airport and went to my hostel for the night. I didn't know what I was doing for the next two days, so I did some research. I decided on Brussels, Belgium. The first day I was there (August 1), I went to the site of the 1958 Worlds Fair where the Atomium is located.
It is a surprisingly massive structure with some exhibits about the fair inside. There is also a decent view of the surrounding area from near the top. New York is only a few thousand km away, but I couldn't see it since it was kind of cloudy.

Next door is a place called Mini Europe, where there are lots of models of famous European landmarks. They are actually surprisingly detailed. Rather than describe the place, here are some pictures:

The next day I took a short train ride to Antwerp to see the Red Star Line Museum, which is supposed to be a good complement to Ellis Island. It was a pretty far walk from the station but I got to see a lot of the city. It was an interesting museum and it presented a viewpoint that's not covered as much at Ellis Island.

I'm currently waiting in the Brussels train station for my train to Paris. I will be there until Wednesday morning and then plan on going to London and then probably Amsterdam. My train pass expires August 17th so I only have two weeks or so left in Europe.

Posted by cschelz 06:14 Archived in Belgium Tagged antwerp park rental cars national europe belgium mini brussels atomium eifel nurburgring autobahn Comments (1)

To the Fatherland

Switzerland then Germany

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Switzerland (or at least Interlaken) was a great place to visit, especially after the excessive heat and crowds of Italy. The first things one notices while on the train are the huge mountains and the intensely blue lake. Even though the surrounding peaks tower over the valley where the city is located, they are actually roughly the same size as the mountains in Colorado. The difference seems to be the rapid rise of the mountains in a series of sheer (or almost sheer) cliffs.

I was in Interlaken for three nights and two full days. The first evening/night was spent finding the hostel (Funny Farm Hostel) and figuring out the plan for the next 2 days. I also walked to one of the lakes to see if there were any good star shots, but it was too cloudy. After studying the weather forecast, I decided the first day would be spent traveling to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, at about 11,500 feet. I was expecting I would have to pay for the train ride to this tourist attraction, but this was my first encounter with the high costs of Switzerland. The round trip train pass was $170 for a round trip ticket, which seemed awfully steep for a ride to a train station.

I still think the $170 was too much, but as I started the trip, I began to understand why it was so expensive. The track wound its way up the mountain, using a cog on a notched track to pull itself up the steep track. The full trip was roughly 3 hours, because I had to wait for an hour at one of the connecting stations. Considering it was a beautiful day, this wasn't too much of a problem. The only problem I did encounter in this whole experience was getting on the next train at that connecting station. Maybe because it was a sunny day on a July weekend, but the station was packed and the employees there had no system of lining people up for the next train. There was simply a mob of people pushing and trampling each other to get to the train. Kids were crying, people were yelling and screaming at each other in multiple languages. I attempted to make this train, but as one of the few people to recognize that it's not worth trampling people to get on a tourist train, I didn't try too hard. I watched how people were moving and where the train had stopped so I lined myself up for the next train in an ideal stop.

While I was waiting, I heard a man talking to his wife behind me. She was probably in her 60s (and I found out later that she has MS), and she was telling her husband she was going to follow me onto the train. I turned to them and agreed I'd block for her, expecting that everyone would mob again. Sure enough, when the next train pulled up, people started shoving to get on. I successfully blocked for her, and soon we were on the train. I hope this was just an isolated incident, because the lack of a system or any sort of control by the employees really became a pretty dangerous situation.

Anyways, I made it to the top after riding through a really long tunnel through the mountain (another justification for the $170 fee). The view was simply amazing. The picture doesn't really do it justice.
At the top there is multiple buildings and several tunnels through the mountain, housing restaurants, observation points, shops, a museum about the station and even an "ice palace", which were tunnels of ice in the mountain with ice sculptures. The $170 ticket started to make sense. There's a lot I could say about this place, but I'll just say it's a place I would definitely visit again.

For the my last full day and night, I moved to a hotel on the lake because the hostel wasn't available that night. The receptionist apologized for the small room/bed which didn't bother me, and the view made up for it anyway.
The day seemed like it was going to be a washout, until I remembered reading about a waterfall inside of a mountain (a lot of things seem to be in mountains here). I decided to check it out and I was glad I did.

Trummelbach Falls is a series of 10 falls that drain the glaciers in the mountains. There is a lift and stairs that take you through the mountain along the falls. It's not a particularly difficult hike with the stairs but it's definitely better than the lift. The noise inside the tunnel is deafening and the water is so close in some places, that I would have been soaked if I didn't put my raincoat on first. I spent the hike up taking pictures, but on the way down, I decided to put the camera away and just appreciate the experience. Throughout this trip and especially here, I noticed a lot of people who rush up, take their picture/selfie with a phone or unfortunately an iPad and then rush off to the next site. While I am certainly guilty of doing this occasionally, I decided here to enjoy what I was seeing and not just see if I could get a good picture. It was a very interesting hike back down, trying this new plan.

After Switzerland, I took the train to Munich (where I am now). I am here for three nights (this is my second night here). The first evening I was here, I went to a huge beer garden and had a massive pretzel, some ribs and a local beer. As I found out from my tour guide today, the worst beer in Bavaria is better than any beer anywhere else in the world, so I didn't worry too much about the choice.

Today, I signed up for a guided tour of the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich in Munich. The guide, Eric, was so good, I decided to do the extended tour after the first part ended. Obviously, Hitler was a very evil person, but his early history in this city was fascinating.

Tomorrow, I'm going to check out the BMW plant and museum and then I'm off to Eifel National Park, near Cologne, to take some night photos. It is Germany's first dark sky park so I'm excited to see what the sky will be like. I'm also excited about traveling there, because hopefully it will involve renting a car and driving there for several hours on the autobahn (where the lack of a speed limit is apparently not just an American movie myth.

This was near the highest train station in Europe (like I said, I'm guilty of the occasional selfie when I should be enjoying the view).

Posted by cschelz 13:04 Archived in Germany Tagged mountains beer train germany bmw switzerland munich interlaken Comments (0)

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