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Weve been to Deutschland several times. On one memorable trip, we flew into the big international airport in Frankfurt and then continued our journey through Europe by train visiting Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna.
Passing by Bonn I remembered how it had been the administrative center of West Germany prior to the reunification of the country. I remembered years of doing news stories that originated in Bonn and I always kind of wondered what the place would be like long before our first trip to Germany.
I couldn't believe all the vineyards in and around Stuttgart. And the Germans just love their communications towers. You'll find them in most German cities of any size.
Frankfurt is a modern but small city with lots of high-rise buildings. Our Marriott Hotel was something like 42 stories tall. Frankfurt has a surprisingly ethnic feel about it. They had a sushi bar right in our hotel lobby! A long way from the wursts we had expected!
Much of our experience has been in the Free State of Bavaria, the most desirable and fun place to live in Germany when you ask German people where theyd like to live in their country.
Munich is a fairly big, old and rather drab city but with many interesting sights, sounds, food and drink to take in.
The fast moving ICE trains are luxurious and wonderful and the staff takes great pride in them. Once shortly after boarding an ICE train in Manheim, my son Rob put his foot on an empty seat facing him and he was promptly told in no uncertain terms by a Frau crewmember to put his clodhopper on the floor where it belonged!
The Glockenspiel in the heart of Munich is an old clock that has intricate German characters that come out and do their thing at certain times of the day. The Hofbrauhaus (web site is here) is the worlds most famous tavern (beer hall, actually). Its huge and they serve beer in one liter glass steins. You sit at wooden picnic tables and drunks carve their initials into the tables. Dogs are always welcome at the Hofbrauhaus . Definitely drop in for a beer while youre there. They also serve food in this multi-story shrine to beer. Near some of the exits are machines that measure your breath alcohol content if you're concerned that you may have had one too many.
Be forewarned, most Germans get the beer by the liter glass at the Hofbrauhaus. How waitresses can come to table with 6 of them is beyond me. But they pull it off and without spilling a drop.
We found the beer in Germany to be the best we've ever tasted. You really find yourself savoring the outstanding flavors.
Bavarian food is wonderful if you're not concerned about your figure! They serve up great pork dishes, plenty of brats of every size and description, and potatoes and cabbage are about the only veggies youre likely see in an average Bavarian restaurant although cauliflower and broccoli occasionally turn up. Wild game is a specialty on many menus and Tyrolean air-cured beef is popular.
Our favorite restaurant in Munich is Spatenhaus. It's right across from the Opera House and serves up the best local Bavarian cuisine in the city, in our opinion. And if you go, bring a big appetite with you. The "Bavarian platter" for two is a challenge for even the heartiest of eaters. And be sure to wash it all down with some Spatenhaus beer.
Another of our favorite authentic Bavarian restaurants in Munich is Ratskeller Munchen. It's located at Marienplatz 8 within viewing distance of the famous Glockenspiel tower. Start with a famous German pretzel (the big guys) and then move on to a wurst platter or try some of the best meatloaf on the planet. This stuff tastes more like a big, flat wurst or slice of bologna than the meatloaf you're used to in the U.S. And amazingly, while I know all of this Bavarian food is artery clogging and full of fat, for some reason fat doesn't pour out of it when you cut into it like our brats do back in America.
On one recent visit we used our Euro-rail passes to take a train to Dachau just outside Munich. We had hoped to see the remains of one of Hitlers concentration camps there but it was closed on Tuesdays and that was the only day we could make the trip. We should have checked in advance before stepping on the train. 32,000 Jewish people perished in that camp. There was a part of me that didnt want to see the site. But there was a part of me that said I had to. It is with mixed emotions that our plans didnt pan out and that we did not get to see the memorial.
BMW (Bavarian Motor Works) is headquartered in Munich and in fact their blue and white logo is the official state colors of Bavaria.
Germany's famous autobahns are fun. We were in a Mercedes taxi doin' about 90 on one and a BMW blew buy that must have been doin' at least 130. And that's mph and not kph!
One interesting tradition in Munich is weisswursts and weissbier for BREAKFAST!! Pronounced vice-vursts, these are little brats that were supposedly invented by a butcher with a severe hangover. He threw the wrong ingredients into them but for some reason they were thought to be good at curing hangovers, which many Muncheners suffer from because they drink so much beer. Weissbier (pronounced vice-beer) is a special wheat beer that is kind of cloudy but enjoyed at breakfast by some hearty Germans.
We did have one unfortunate incident on our most recent trip to Munich. While riding a trolley an older woman climbed on board. She didnt even look for a seat but remained standing by the front door. Our son-in-law started to jump up to offer her a seat but before he could even stand up an old Deutsch Frau sitting in front of me growled at him: The least you could do is offer your seat to an old woman...EVEN IF SHE IS GERMAN. Ja Vol to you, too, kind lady!
One world of caution if you're checking into a German hotel room with kids. The first time we stayed in Munich we chose the Hilton. I grabbed the t.v. clicker and checked to see what was on. To my surprise, an adult channel was featured on one channel. It was one of those deals were you had six seconds to watch and then a charge for a movie would apply. However if you and your family checked in and arrived at the room and your kids started flipping through the channels and found that channel it would be awful. If you have children, ask the clerk at the front desk to disable the adult channels before you take the kids up to the room.
Currency is the Euro. It used to be the Deutsch Mark. Driving is on the right. You will need a passport.