400 days to travel the world…only stopping to eat, drink, and everything in-between.

Germany

Day 71 of 400: Frankfurt – Germany

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Our hotel was ideally located within walking distance of the heart of Frankfurt.  We got a good start on the day and soon realized Frankfurt had a huge area of pedestrian walking zone only.  This was definitely a modern city and the main event seemed to be shopping, so of course obligated to join in…we too visited some of the stores, however they were more chain type stores vs. boutiques.

We stopped for a snack (white asparagus) which was good but lunch was not so good as we found ourselves at a tourist trap type place.  We headed across the river to an older area of Frankfurt which we were told was known for their Apfelweinwirtschaft, which is an alcoholic beverage made from apples.

Once we got over to this little area…the cobblestone streets intertwined with the rows of bars.  Literally every other building had an apple symbol or reference, and was a bar to sample the local drink.  We sat down outside at a table and told the waitress we had never tried the local concoction.  She explained some people drink it straight, some add sparkling water to it and some add soda to it.  She offered to bring a taste before ordering a full glass.  It reminded us of wine…made from apples instead of grapes.  It was not very sweet but not something we would order again…we will stick to the grapes.  We thanked her and ordered beers.

We crossed the river back to the more modern side of the city and couldn’t resist the urge for Haagen Daaz ice cream.  Isn’t it from this area?  Well, either way, it went directly from the freezer to our tummies within a few minutes.

We continued our stroll taking pictures of the area and people watching.  After being out all day, we decided to head back.  Tomorrow we are flying back to CA for our regularly scheduled visit home.  But first…we of course needed dinner.  A modern building showed a pretty large group of people eating outside and a restaurant called, Vapiano.  The concept was kind of nice…you walk in and are given a card with a magnetic strip.  To the right was a huge counter where individual cooks were lined up taking orders and making the food fresh. We ordered a huge salad, pasta, bottle of wine and sat at one of the many tables for dinner.  Once finished, you give the card to the cashier at the exit, she slides it and you pay for what you ordered.  It was good fresh food, kind of a glorified food court with more of a restaurant feel.

Tummies full, we headed back to our Marriott to pack up and get a good night sleep.  We will be flying back to CA for about 10 days for doctor check ups and to visit friends.  Then will fly to OH to visit family for a few days followed by NY.  We will leave NY on May 8th to venture into the United Kingdom…and that is where we will pick back up with our blogging!  Talk to you then:)


Day 70 of 400: Munich – Germany

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Check out went smoothly this morning and we decided to have lunch and spend most of the day in Munich before driving to Frankfurt.
 
We found a super cute sandwhich shop called Aran.  They served all their sandwhiches on one big slice of hearty dark brown bread.  We couldn’t read much of the German menu but ended up ordering a wild curry chicken and procuitto and cheese.  Both were good and we talked about how this restaurant would be a big hit in the states.
 
As we walked around looking for some shops to stop in, we took pictures of some of the white asparagus we were seeing.  Like sausages,  the thick asparagus was in season and on every corner and the star on many appetizer menus.
 
We walked into a knife shop.  Giff had his pocket knife taken at the airport (we forgot to check it) and wanted a nice new German one.  We looked at several and opted for one made with buffalo horn.
 
We looked in other shops and finally gave in to the white sausages.  These were all over the place…apparently a local specialty and although we really weren’t hungry…we knew it was part of our job as world travelers to give it a try.  It was pretty good as far as sausages go.  What we decided not to try was the huge piles of what looked like mashed potatos but was actually pig lard…which they use as a spread for their bread or to cook with, ummmmm…we’ll pass on that one.
 
We headed over to our car and drove to Frankfurt where we had a late check in.  Tomorrow we will explore the city.

Day 69 of 400: Munich – Germany

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Fresh creamy yogurt with crumbly granola and fresh squeezed orange juice started our day.  The air was filled with the sound of music as quartets and single musicians seemed to be playng around every corner with open containers for tourists to chip in for the entertainment.

We did a lot of walking today, paying no attention to the map, we just wondered around.  We found the huge market which had permanant vendor stalls of all types.  The fresh squeezed juice, organic dips and infused syrups stood out to us and we purchased a couple juices and a dip made of veggies and sunflour seeds which was surprisingly tasty.

Looking for something different for lunch, we peaked our heads into a place selling falafels.  Neither of us knew exactly what a falafel was or if it was good.  A local sitting on the patio noticed our hesitation and explained to us this tiny little Lebonese Falafel shop was the best in town.  We didn’t need any more clarification.  We went inside and ordered one.  Chickpeas are ground up with spices, deep fried and placed in a pita-like bread called lafa.  The cook handed over the hot sandwhich and pointed to what looked like a condiment bar.  We added pickeled veggies, fresh veggies, hummus,  hot sauce and took a big bite watching the sauces dribble down each others chins.  We are definite fans of the falafel!

We left the market area to explore the outskirts of the city.  We saw what looked like a big cathedral and walked towards it until we started to realize we had entered a not so great part of town.  Seeing various groups of men gathered randomly on the streets with beers in hand and strip clubs throughout the block.  We decided turning back shortly would be a good idea.

As evening began to set in we were getting hungry and were attempting to find an Italian restaurant we had seen the night before when we ran into the tiniest little bar on the corner.  Inside every seat was taken at the long skinny bar with not much more room to fit additional people yet the bar was quiet.  The big screen TV had  a soccer game on it and this was serious business.  When a major play was made, the bar came alive with either cheers or negative outbursts.  We noted how different the bar crowd was here watching the game intently and hushed vs. in the loud american bars where shouting was common to have a conversation while football plays in the background.

After we watched a bit of the game and chatted with a local, we continued looking for the quaint restaurant we had seen.  We found it and slipped in without a reservation watching several other people denied a table without a reservation.  The restaurant had one chef behind a counter in the center of the room without glass dividing us from him.  He cooked the food as we ordered it and we watched him make the sauces and toss the noodles.  We shared a salad and the house pasta which was a trio of pastas…seafood in a garlic/olive oil sauce, meat served in a lasagna and cheese tortelini served in a truffled cream sauce. 

We closed out our evening with a tiramisu.


Day 68 of 400: Munich – Germany

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We got checked out smoothly this morning and jumped in the car to head to Munich, Germany.

Our room at the Leonardo Boutique was extremely spacious especially for Europe however it smelled of old smoke.  Can someone explain why the beds are always two twins pushed together with individual blankets and no sheets?  This is going to take some getting use to…

After check in, we set out to explore Munich.  We had not been walking long when we saw a chocolatier/restaurant.  They had walls filled with chocolates of all shapes and the smell…can you gain weight from smelling?  At the counter they had dangerously sinful cakes and torts.  We found a seat by the window and ordered tea/coffee and a chocolate cake filled with cherries and garnished with chocolate shavings.

After they brought out my green tea, I noticed on the tray there was a teapot filled with hot water, an empty teacup, a taller empty cup and a basket of green tea leaves.  After inspecting the set up, I decided the basket of leaves goes in the tall empty cup and then I pour the teapot water on top to steep the leaves and then remove the basket.  Once I had done just that, a man who clearly worked there came over to me.  he spoke in German in a tone that sounded like I did something wrong and pointed to my tea.  It turns out, the basket of leaves goes inside the teapot until it’s ready.  Then the basket is removed and discarded in the tall empty cup and the teapot of green tea is poured in the teacup.  Well don’t I feel dumb!

After feeling tea challenged, we left and cruised around Munich which had very cool architecture.  It had both an old town area surrounded by the newer part of the city.  There was a huge cathedral in the center of the main square.  Three times a day the clock tower chimes and puts on a little show with its moving parts…it reminded us of the clock in the center of Prague.

We walked all over the city, admiring the buildings and pushing our way through the crowded sidewalks.  We saw a soccer game was on and sat down at a pub in a main area.  It was called, Hacker-Pschorr…this place will NOT be found under our favorites tab.  In fact, this place may cause us to create a least favorites page on our website!

First and foremost…this story may be a little bias because I do not care for meatloaf…a loaf of mystery meat mashed together and served is not what I call appetizing.  That said, Giff ordered the meatloaf.  It was supposedly a local specialty.  If one were to take the meats found in a hotdog and bologna, mix them together, put them in the oven and serve it sliced with a fried egg on top…that would be the best description for what we saw.  It really doesn’t get much grosser than this…ick.  We had a bite and gave it back to the kitchen.

Leaving the over priced beer and nasty loaf of meat, we found another famous beer hall.  This one, the HofBrauhaus was bustling!  The place was jam packed with people the way your local bar would be on a Saturday night, except this is not a typical bar.  Again, the place was huge with banquet hall type rooms filled with thick wooden tables both indoor and outdoor seating.  This was prime people watching.  There was also a live band in the main room.  It consisted of about five people playing brass instruments, drums and the accordion.  They were dressed in what looked like traditional German attire…shorts with socks pulled up to their shins and white button down shirts with vests.  Some of the beer drinkers, specifically the older men had very interesting outfits with hats and feathers.

We had a good time walking through the crowds and taking in the culture of a typical beer hall.  We had been going all day and decided to call it a night.


Day 54 of 400: Drive from Munich to Nendaz, Switzerland

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Note to self, do not ever book a 12 hour flight leaving at 6am followed by a 12 hour drive from Munich to Switzerland without stopping!

After an unexpected flight back to CA due to surgery complications (see last blog!) we are back in Europe.  Thinking the drive would be more like 7 hours and assuming we would get some sleep on the flight, we thought our travel plan was a good one but we learned our lesson! When booking a flight to Europe from CA…try to make it an evening flight.  Then you can arrive, have dinner, go to sleep and be on track with the current time.

All of that said, Switzerland is absolutely breathtaking. This country is so beautiful! Our timeshare is on top of a mountain in the middle of the Alps. The language in this region is French.  As we took the twelve-hour drive from Munich, we passed by small towns in Germany, France and Switzerland.  The highway in Germany (known as the autobahn) did not have a speed limit!  Slower traffic stays to the right.  As we crossed the border into France and Switzerland, the roads became windy and narrow as we went over the mountains and through the valleys.  Once we got about 2 1/2 hours from the timeshare we ran into a couple very large lakes.  One was Lake Neuchâtel and the other Lake Geneva.  Lake Geneva is surrounded by mountains and vineyards.  This area reminded us of Tahoe.  It has huge pine trees everywhere and snowy mountains as a backdrop to the lake…it really does look like a postcard.

Giff was the one driving the whole time and both our eyelids were heavy as we continued driving into the Alps.  It became dark and a little scary driving up the mountainside with only some side rails.  We finally found our place amongst the log cabins and our key in an envelope pinned to a bulletin board outside our closed hotel reception.

The place is small but cute. It is very clean although it is our first time sleeping on beds that pull out of the wall!  There is also a balcony with table and chairs which looks at the mountains.

We quickly got in bed and fell fast asleep.