Wednesday, October 29, 2008


We got up and got ready pretty quickly, then headed down for the hostel´s breakfast. Then we put on our rain gear and headed on yet another sight-seeing adventure.
We had already seen the tv tower and had no desire to climb to the top of it, so we went straight to the Historisches Museum. All we wanted to see there was the staircase designed by IM Pei, but we couldn´t see it from the main lobby, so we decided to keep on truckin.
We passed the Humboldt University on our way to the Deutsche Guggenheim, which we were all excited about becasue its a museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art. However, it was closed, and we were bummed.
So we kept walking down the Unter Den Linden, a main boulevard in Berlin, until we reached the Brandenburg Gate. This gate was one of the main city gates and is most known for the Berlin wall having stood right in front of it.
After snapping a few pics, we walked to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Above ground, there are thousands of stelae built at all different heights and angles - it is really difficult to describe, you just have to see it. It is very cool. Underneath the ground are descriptions of the progression of the Nazi extermination policy, personal accounts written by the prisoners, a description of the fate of fifteen families, etc. It was intense.
After spending a decent amount of time there, we headed to the Parliament Building, which has four exterior facades that are very ancient in appearance, but the inside boasts a gigantic glass sphere that you can climb. We hopped in line and then learned that the sphere was closed for renovations, so we decided to pass altogether and walk to our next stop, the Hamburger Bahnhof - a museum of modern art.
We got in and checked out a few of the exhibits, namely Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. Neither of us really understand Beuys, even with studying him in school, which is who was mostly represented in the museum, so we just sort of glanced around and then left.
By this time our shoes were full of water and making squishy noises, and Nicole´s stomach was growling, so we grabbed lunch and headed back to the hostel.

24 hours in Würzburg!

We woke up bright and early Monday morning to Nicole having a swollen eye, which is an unsolved mystery. We think it may have been caused by all the use of public transportation and aslo by their lack of hand soap over here.
We headed to the train station to catch our 9AM train to Würzburg. But, before boarding, Nicole bought a Cappuccino to warm her bones and an ice water to reduce the swelling of her eye. After a nice, quick ride to Würzburg, we jumped off the train to find Katharina walking towards us!
Katharina studied abroad in Monterey when Nicole was a sophomore in high school, so I has been 8 years since they have seen each other.
Katharins welcomed us with open arms and she took us to her and her fiances new apartment.
It is 3 flights of stairs up, at the top of the building. It has an incredible view of the castle Marienberg. Since it was raining, we hung out indoors, catchin' up on old times and we lavished her with all of our crazy stories of the past month.
We got our last load of laundry done for the trip, for free this time, thanks to Katharina! And then headed out to do a quick tour of Würzburg.
Katharina took us all around town, first showing us a night view of the Residenz in Würzburg and we peered through the closed gates to see the Hoftgarten(their beautiful garden). Unfortunately, this was all closed when we arrived there.
We also took som epictures of the Marienburg Castle from the 15th century stone bridge, Alte Mainbrücke. While on the bridge, Katharina pointed out to us the Alter Kranen (old crane), which serviced a dock on the river back..."a really long time ago," she said. :)
After our tour, we went back to her place to meet her fiance, Todd, so we could all go out to a wonderful German restaurant.
Katharina and Todd ordered us some wine, made right in Würzburg and also hlped us decide on dinner, since the menu was in German.
Katharina recommended the schnitzel, an authentic German meal of fried pork. Both Katie and Nicole went with her recommendation, but Nicole got it Cordon Bleu style, which is fried pork with ham and cheese. And mmh mmh was it delicious.
After dinner we headed back to their place, watched a little T.V., then hit the sack at a decent hour.
Tuesday morning our train to Berlin was scheduled to leave at 11:30AM. Katharina gathered up some quick breakfast for us and we sat around her table chatting until it was time for our departure.
We had a smooth ride up to Göttingen, where we had to switch trains. After barely making it onto our next train, we had just two more hours until Berlin.
After trying to follow the horrible directions to our hostel, we finally made it. We got all settled in, then headed to a German restaurant our hostel recommended. Nicole and Katie both went with the schnitzel again. With full bellys we headed back to the hostel and made our way up to the top floor, where the bar was located. We ordered a pitcher of beer, had a lil chat, then decided to call it an early night.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Munich in a Day

Day one, the only day in Munich, we woke up late, but technically it was early because daylight savings time changed in the middle of the night. We mapped out our plans for the day, ate breakfast, then took off.
Because the U-Bahn is so expensive (they want 6 euros for one trip) we decided to walk, which is a good idea because we have both become a bit rotund!
We headed toward the RezidenzMuseum, which was the residence of the Bavarian rulers for over 500 years, and on the way we passed one of the only city gates still standing from the Middle Ages, the Asamkirche and Frauenkirche (both important churches), The Marienplatz (The main central square), Rathaus (City Hall), and Glockenspiel (a famous clock tower). None of these were on our list of things to see, but they were all on our way to the Rezidenz, so it worked out.
The Rezidenz is a huge palace, with a maze of adjoining rooms. Most of it has been rebuilt because it was pretty ruined in WW2, which made the tour a bit ridiculous because our Audioguides would say, "This is called the 'Red Room' because of the red tapestries that once covered the walls. The room has been fully restored with green tapestries...By the way, none of this furniture is original." We had a laugh about that. But it was still a marvel and we definitely recommend seeing it.
We passed the Theatinerkirche, and ordered a couple hot cocoas from a drag queen at Starbucks before heading into the Englischer Garten, which is one of the largest city parks in the world. Apparently nude sunbathing is common here, but we didnt see anyone - we think it might be because it was so cold we could see our breath, but we are not sure.
After strolling through the park and Nicole raving about how much she needs a horse in her life (hint hint, mama and papa etter, we have a birthday coming up!) we headed to the Pinakothek der Moderne. This is one of the worlds largest 20th and 21st century art museums. This museum could very well be up for nomination as our favorite on this trip (competing with the Pompidou and Albertina).
There was a huge exhibit on design, including computers from the ancient time of the early 1980s up to present. Also, a huge collection of designer chairs...After about two minutes, we decided that our ID5 teacher would have LOVED IT! We really enjoyed it.
There was also an exhibit on the evolution of the car and motorcycle, and a gallery with modern paintings from artists like Fontana and Kandinsky. The building itself was an incredible piece of design as well.
After leaving the museum, we passed the Lenbach-haus on our way to the train station to buy our tickets to Wurzburg, where Nicole´s friend, Katharina, lives. Then we headed back to the hostel and proceeded to have a few - no, not a few, a LOT of - laughs.

Pink Eye, Maybe?

Our train to Munich didnt leave Budapest until 1 pm, so we had a lot of time to kill. We packed our bags and checked out of the hostel at ten, then went to the pastry shop around the corner for breakfast.
With nothing else to do, we headed to the train station and sat in the McDonalds, stealing their internet, for a good hour.
We then set on a mission to find a deck of cards, but apparently Hungarians dont believe in the past-time of playing cards; we gave up after looking in about 5 shops, and settled on watching the train timetable click away until our train and platform were displayed.
We hopped on and had a rather peaceful and uneventful ride to Vienna, where our cart then became full. One of the people was a disgusting, suicide-bomber looking lady who was eating a sandwich and gracefully sneezed mucus and food all over Katie, even into her eye, and she didnt even acknowledge what had happened. That sort of sums up what the rest of the trip to Munich was like.
We arrived around 8:30 and headed straight to the hostel where Katie showered off that lady´s germs. We ate dinner and drank until we fell asleep.

Last Blog, Continued.

It was still super early so we decided to drop into the supermarket (making sure to grab a basket because according to our guide book, if you dont take a basket, you are under suspicion for theft) to grab a couple tall cans. We were going to get wine, but they didnt sell wine openers, so we had to work with what we had and be a bit less classy. Then we headed to the banks of the Danube for a quasi-romantic evening enjoying all of the lit-up bridges and buildings.
After finishing our drinks and chilling our bones, we went back to the hostel and tried to sleep (because thats how hostel life is...)

Friday, October 24, 2008

A1! Like the bbq Sauce!

First item on the list today was the Central Market Hall: an indoor farmers market selling fruits, veggies, all kinds of meat, pastries, and souvenirs. We headed to a pastry stall where Nicole got a chocolate-y croissant, and Katie told the lady she wanted whatever was the lady's favorite. We dont know what it was, but it definitely was tasty!
We looked at all of the stalls, and stared at each other when we crossed a dead pig, propped up on one of the counters, with sunglasses on. It was disgusting.
We stopped back at the hostel for a quick minute before heading to the Great Synagogue and Jewish Museum. This Synagogue is the largest in Europe and second largest in the world (the first is in NYC). It looked sooo much like a regular church, we were pretty disappointed - but it was very beautiful nonetheless.
After that, we headed to the train station to purchase our tickets to Munich. Another 7 1/2 hour train ride...Yippeeee!
We then headed to Heroe's Square and the surrounding park, which has a really great castle (that we failed to take any pictures of) and a couple of museums. We went into the Museum of Fine Arts, but didnt stay too long because, honestly, you can only look at so many paintings of Jesus.
We left the museum and walked to the Opera House, where we waited 25 minutes for a guided tour of the place. It was pretty amazing, but you folks back home are just going to have to see it yourselves because we werent allowed to take pictures.
Thennnn, we headed back to our hostel and found ourselves a hostel in Munich, as every host we asked has said they have no vacancies.


We took our time getting up and ready in the morning, but were out the door a little after 10. We walked up to the Matyas Church, which turned out to be under some serious renovation so we couldnt go in. The Fishermans Bastion is right behind the church, so we checked that out - pretty killer views! It started to sprindle and we werent prepared for rain, so we hurried over to the Hungarian National Gallery (or so we thought). Turns out that the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum are located in the same building, but in separate wings. We didnt figure this out until after we had spent over an hour in the history museum and by that time we were museum'd out. We also walked past the Presidents House before heading back to our neck of the woods. Halfway home, the weather had turned from a managable sprinkle to a miserable rain. We stopped to grab lunch, where it turned into a torrential downpour while we ate.
We made a mutual decision to run our little fannies as fast as we could from the restaurant back to the hostel for the rest of the afternoon. We hung our there, couchsurfing, reading, and napping until we were hungry for dinner, which became a bit of a predicament because today is a national holiday here in Hungary, so pretty much everything is closed, except for American Restaurants.
We had noticed a Pizza Hut sign the day before and settled on going there, as neither of us have been to one in the States before. We were expecting it to be like a Dominos or Little Caesars, but this place was a sit down restaurant with menus, a waiter, and the whole deal. When our pizza came the watier even served our first slice! It was great!
After dinner we headed back to the hostel, but there was a demonstration going on in the middle of the street; the roads were blocked off, and there were a TON of police in full on riot gear. We didnt think we were going to be able to get back to our hostel, it was pretty crazy.
We dont know the whole story, but apparently whatever holiday it is here causes uproars and riots and who knows what else.
Anyway, we were able to walk through the road block and made it safely home.