28 December 2007

Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau

We visited a couple of King Ludwig II's castles today. Here are some photos of the drive there, the castles and the lake nearby:

The down-filled, fur-lined winter coat in men's...

...and women's...

*cough* DORKS! *cough*

27 December 2007

I finally arrived!

I finally made it to Deutschland! Here are a couple of photos from the flight from Frankfurt to Munich:

Here are a few from Munich. We were only there for a day so we (we=my brother Marino and I) didn't get to see much at all. That'll have to be another trip...
The Frauenkirche in Munich:

Marino next to the Lech River in Füssen:

Hohes Schloss in Füssen:

09 September 2007

Lists and stats from the trip

Kilometers clocked: 3,700 (2,300 miles!)

Some of my favorite foreign snacks, drinks, etc:
  • Leffe Blonde
  • Chipsfrisch (Oriental Flavor)
  • Milka Chocolate (with Hazelnuts...my favorite!)
  • HB Cigarettes (yeah, I know, I know...)

Greatest town I never planned to go to: Ulm, Germany
If I were moving to Germany, I'd try to move to Ulm.

Biggest disappointments: Mainz & Worms, Germany
(I forgot that the Rhine is as much about commerce as wine & romance.)

Biggest regret: Not taking photos of everyone I met along the way!

Biggest surprises:

Nicest host: Michael in Karlsruhe, of course!

Scariest moments:
  1. Hotel bathroom in Elsdorf, Germany. I don't know what it was about that bathroom, but it really freaked me out.
  2. Lonely mountain (logging) road near Sugeheim, Germany near dark. Realizing I might not be able to turn around.
  3. Sleeping in the car in Bern, Switzerland. I kept feeling like people were watching me through the car windows.
  4. Getting stopped on the train out of Amsterdam.
The doors have lips/the fire hazard factor: It's the strangest thing. Most of the doors have "lips" on them. In other words, you can't see the door jam or see if it's locked. (It overlaps.)
Stranger than that is the fact that there's no latch on the inside of your front door (as far as I've seen). Instead, you use the key to lock it from the inside. I'm pretty sure the door would open if you turned the knob from the inside so it's fine, but my first thought after seeing that was: fire hazard!
But then I remembered that I come from the city that pretty much made fire safety regulations widespread after our various fire debacles through the years. So it makes sense that I think that way.

Smoking: You can do it almost anywhere!

Giant pillows: At first I thought they only had these in hotels, but I've also seen people I know have them: giant pillows. Perfect because you can crush it to make it firmer, fold it to make it very firm, or leave it flat to make it soft. I've had many a face crease from the awesome, giant pillows here. And somehow I managed to dodge late check-out fees more than once due to them.

No bag (automatically) at grocery store: You have to ask for a bag when you go to the grocery store. No big deal, just a small mention. Oh, and it is almost impossible to find an open grocery store on Sundays.

No ice anywhere!!: This kinda irritated me. It's impossible to find ice here! I've stayed at at least 8 hotels and not ONE of them had an ice machine. I always have to ask and I always feel like they think I'm crazy for asking for a bucket. But how else are you supposed to chill the warm beer that you find at the market?? (since it's not always easy to find cold beer)

Windows open out AND back: This one was hard to figure out at first. My dad used to say that "the Germans over-engineer everything". He said it in a loving way because he always owned German cars when I was growing up. But anyway, I kinda see what he means. It's hard to explain, though.
Anyway, it took me a couple of days to realize that the same windows that seemed to only open toward you could also be opened inward.
For example, say you have a window. You turn the handle one way and only the top gap opens a few inches. But if you turn it the other way, the window completely transforms into the kind that swings inward and opens up completely. It's amazing! I'm not being sarcastic...it really is brilliant!

Water "mit gas?": I completely forgot about this one until I got my water "mit gas" a couple of days ago. I don't like my water "mit gas"! Ha ha

Most places closed at midnight (or earlier): This is the worst. One thing I definitely miss about the states is that you can get food or drink anytime! (at least in Chicago)
I never imagined that I'd not be able to eat AT ALL simply because it was past midnight. That is crazy to me. That's one of the few things the US has over Europe.

My favorite (least) favorite German word:
umleitung (detour): I amused myself endlessly by declaring "OH NO not another umleitung!" whenever I came across one...which was often.

07 September 2007

Some more random photos

Road out of Nürnberg:

Bern, Switzerland:
Logging road near, Sugeheim, Germany:

Small castle near Sugeheim:

Knights in Rothenburg:

Rothenburg, Germany:

Crossing the Rhine in Köln: