culture[d hops], modern history, and driving with no speed limits
We caught a budget flight from London to Munich, in Bavaria, Germany.
On arrival they handed out germany gingerbread celebrating a first flight (route) for the carrier.
Within about 30 seconds Lim caught me doing this
We checked in to our hotel and headed straight for Munich's most famous beer hall, the hofbrau haus.
Bavarian beer is amongst the finest in the world, and drank from 1Lt (Stein) glasses. Hundreds of years ago, the Bavarians used the 1Lt vessels for drinking local wines, however climate change brought about the introduction of beer.
By law, German beer cannot be sold if it uses too many preservatives or does not meet stringent quality requirements. This shows - or rather tastes.
topped off with some stodgy German food... watch out waist line!
The hofbrau house was where Hitler doubled the enrolled members of the German Nationalist party (nazis) in one night by offering free beer to attendees. Last time I was here the place sent chills down the spine - if you looked up you could make out swastikas showing through the paint on the ceiling. Nowadays this has been hidden with some additional paint.
Unlike many things associated with Hitler, the Hofbrau house hasn't been dropped from German culture - it is still packed with happy, drunken families enjoying Bavarian food and drink.
We were suprised at how small and hard to find the WC was in this beer hall. It appeared as though it had been added as an afterthought.
The next day were learnt that it originally had no toilets. The men drinking there wouldn't leave there seat because they would lose it (actually by decree of the king at the time). Instead, they just went on the floor, where they sat, resulting in various problems with splashback and smell. Fortunately this is no longer the case! (and girls are allowed in as well)
Munich new town hall
The town square (Marienplatz).
Happily I discovered that the coffee in German is taken very seriously, and is absolutely superb
Surprisingly for a green country, it is far cheaper to get around by rental car then by rail - although Germany has a well developed rail network with some of the fastest trains in the world. We hired a car hire for the next few legs, Berlin, then Hanover (an industrial town to visit friends), and then on to Frankfurt to fly out.
On picking up the hire car, we had some trouble figuring out the gears.. oops!
(10 points for noticing anything strange about this picture)
Driving on the massive autobahns of Germany is an interesting and sometimes scary experience.
Generally there is three lanes. All of the slow vehicles sit in the far right hand lane, doing around 130kph. Normal cars are in the middle lane, doing 140 -> 160 kph.
In the far left lane (the fast lane), you have mercs, audis, and Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) cars doing 160 -> 200 kph.
Every now and then a super car (ferrari etc) appears in the rear vision mirror, and within seconds, is dissappearing in the horizon in front of you, rocking the car with the turbulence of a passing freight train. (i estimated around 220 kph in same cases)
Many sections of the road were chocked full of transport trucks, lined up from one city to the next.
Before leaving the district, we made the obligatory stop at Dachau, the preserved concentration camp which serves as a shrine and museum to the victims of the holocaust. Germans society is remarkable in that it looks its dirty laundry full in the face and attempts to educate its youth without omission. Many other countries have and do commit attrocities of a similar nature and learn nothing because of denial and omission, leave new generations uneducated and vulnerable.
Shrine to the holocaust victims at Dacau.
We took a 3 hour diversion on the way to Berlin. This was a drive along the 'romantic drive', starting with staggering views of the German alps rearing over idyllic villages and stereotypical rolling meadows.
Mad king ludwid nocked over an historic (authentic) medieval castle and built this 'proper' medieval castle instead.
Finally, after driving through the night, we took a tour of Berlin.
Original section of wall.
The Berlin wall was erected by the soviet regime in East Berlin was built to be too high for a single person to jump and climb. It also had curved tubing on the top to prevent a second person getting a foot-up and grasping a hand hold.
Innocuous shot of turf and shoes? Underneath is the bombed ruins of Hitlers' bunkers, where he dwelled and eventually shot himself. It was decided not to erect any museum here as it was thought it will attract the wrong sort of tourist.
It is quite popular amongst local's to come here to vomit and urinate after a big night out on the town. A guide told us if we felt unwell, this was the spot to empty our stomaches, no-body would mind.
After a pretty grim dose of modern history, (and positive experiences with locals in Berlin), we drove to the town of hanover, stopping on the way at Wolfburg, the home of the peoples wagon; VW. Hitler built the autobahns, and given a world class road system, wanted Germans to have vehicles to drive on the then empty super highways. Apparently the original VW was some small box-like car, and not its classic shape.
When england occupied it's quarter of Germany after WWII, it helped ramp up research and production in Wolfsburg, resulting in the classic VW which was amongst the stimuli helping Germany rebuild after it's destruction.
... OK enough probably inaccurate history!
Described as a modern, un-impressive city in the guide, we instead found hanover to be a town with some interesting artwork or sculpture on every corner, and an incredibly beautiful lake and gardens. (unfortunately the lake is artificial, and again, a hittler legacy).
We were going purely to visit Crighton and Katy before heading back to London. Cright is Sydney based, and Katy is moving there shortly.
When Katy went to work, us kids went out to play, having a day of crawling German pubs whilst indulging in increasingly deep and meaningful coversations.
One of the few unhappy occasions on an otherwise enjoyable afternoon.
Hugh and Crighton, as every immensely interested in sculptured fountains.
After watching Cright and Lim demonstrating their bovine acrobatics, I was determined to prove I too, could master the beast.
Thats it for now. Next stop the Czech Republic and Austria.