Here is my trip report from my trip to Germany in 2004.
Saturday 4 September 2004
Here we go! We left our house a bit late, we had to drop off
a Tastefully Simple order at Jess's house in Frederick, but we
couldn't find it and ended up taking it to her mother's in Thurmont.
That's ok - only a 30-mile detour...
As soon as we arrived at Sharon's house, Vic was ready to go.
We ended up hanging around for a few minutes and heading out since
Vic had gone out to the car and buckled himself in. We arrived
at Dulles two and a half hours early.
First, we waited at the United Airlines counter. Then, we finally
had checked our baggage, dragged them over to security (for the
life of me I DO NOT understand why it is more secure for the passengers
to lug their damn baggage over to the security place, but whatever).
Anyway, we went to get into the security line. We walked. and
walked and walked and walked. The security line first wound around
Disney-style (sans FastPass), then traveled from one end of the
terminal to the other. We had one hour left.
After about 10-15 minutes and barely any line movement, I finally
went to speak to United. United let me know that "the line
is sponsored by the US Government. Write to your congressman.
We can't do anything." So, I went to the "US Government"
guy standing there.
Kim: We are WAY back in line. We have 40 minutes to catch our
plane. We're not going to make it.
Officer: Everyone has a plane to catch. Talk to the airline. Just
wait in line.
Kim: I'm going to miss my plane.
Officer: Then, you're going to have to rebook.
United informed me that rebookings happen all the time at Dulles
because the security lines are so ridiculous. Great, except that
we were a full 30 minutes earlier at the airport than recommended
and there was no other plane to Munich going out that day.
Finally, another TSA Agent let me know that they were opening
up another security checkpoint thingy and that it would be 25
minutes from where he was. Great, except we had only 30 minutes
to catch our flight and Dave and company were not even in sight
of that guy.
As it turns out, it was less than 25 minutes from that point.
It was stressful. There were two X-Ray machines to one metal detector.
We were going every other person. However, when I went I was yelled
at by TSA because there was a family at the other metal detector
and I was "getting in front of" the mother. Um, I heard
the mother say they weren't going to miss their flight, I was.
Screw her. The non-mother gets the shaft again.
Anyway, we ran for the plane and made it. We were one of the
last people getting on the plane. Ridiculous when we were TWO
AND A HALF hours early.
Here's my shameless plug for United though - their planes are
NICE. We took United to Hawaii last year and I wasn't overly impressed,
but this was a great plane. We had our own TVs and could choose
the movies to watch and they were decent movies (going over, I
watched Shrek 2 and The Day After Tomorrow.
They also had Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban,
which I had already seen). The leg room was MUCH BETTER than on
Swiss two years ago. They've earned my business for any future
international travels where I get a choice.
Sunday 5 September 2004
We arrived at Zurich, Switzerland for a one and a half hour layover.
The Zurich airport is not very nice.On the plane
to Munich, Dave got his first taste of trying to speak German
to someone. We got some sort of bizarre cookie-type-object and
I had to give mom the bad news that there would be no ice in Germany.
We finally touched down in Munich and had to eat and then figure
out how to get to Garmisch. First, the eating. A "snack,"
which is apparently a pretzel with salami. Like, a sandwich where
the bread is a pretzel. Salt and all. We found the subway (S-Bahn)
and managed to get tickets.
We transfered from the S-Bahn to a regional train in Pasing.
We had 4 minutes for the transfer. No elevators in the station,
or if there were elevators, we didn't have time to search for
them. We had to go down a huge flight of stairs and then up a
huge flight of stairs and then leap on the train where some Germans
were staring at us as if we were crazy. The scenery gradually
changed from inner-city Munich weirdness to mountains!
In Garmisch, there was a terrific invention that we wish we'd
had in Pasing - and certainly in Paris two years ago! There was
a little escalator type thing on the side of the stairs for our
luggage, so as you walked up the stairs you sat your luggage on
the conveyor belt and it you didn't have to lug it up. Mom had
some difficulty with it and kind of threw it down the stairs onto
Dave, who was not injured in the incident. Then, going up, I managed
to somehow damage it and rendered it useless to anyone else that
day. It was sad. And the Germans were mad at me.
We took a taxi to our Hotel - Hotel General Patton. All of this
wandering around in planes and trains and whatnot and we had to
go through security everytime we entered the hotel because it
was a military hotel. Driving in, we had to show a passport of
everyone in the car and then walking into the hotel we had to
show a passport. The hotel was surrounded by jersey barriers and
barbed wire. A FINE demonstration of American freedom!! We're
in Germany, we're Americans hanging out up in jail. All of this...
and no one in Garmisch ever noticed that my mother's passport
was expired. Ha!
Anyway, I digress. our room was pretty nice. It was a suite,
so while Dave and I shared a bathroom with mom and Vic, we did
not share a bedroom. Thank God.
Everyone took a shower and Dave and I left to explore the town.
We had a slice of pizza in an internet cafe that we never ended
up returning to to surf the internet. We checked out the casino,
looked at the shops, found the car rental place. Then, it was
dinner in the hotel.
Kim: Fish & chips, .5L Helles Beer
Dave: Fish & chips, .5L Helles Beer
Vic: Sausage, .5L Helles Beer
Mom: Weiner Schnitzel, .5L Weißbier
... and we shared an apfelstrudel.
We played some slots, there were actually some in the casino
and they were LOOSE. Sleep came next, we were very tired.
Monday 6 September 2004
Our first day of touring! We woke up bright and early and had
a buffet breakfast in the hotel. Our tour left at 8:30am.
On the bus, we were introduced to a young girl of about 4 who
proceeded to SCREAM at the top of her lungs. I mean SCREAM. We'll
call her Screaming Child number one, or SC1. We crossed into Austria,
and saw a castle on a hill, that for the life of me I don't remember
what it was. Back on the bus, SC1 started screaming again and
then proceeded to vomit. This didn't stop her screaming.
We arrived at the base of the mountain which held Neuschwanstein
castle. We had three choices to get to the top of the mountain
- walk up the road, take a bus, or take a horse drawn carriage.
Dave and I chose walk, mom and Vic took the bus. As it turned
out, mom and Vic still had a bit of a walk anyway from the bus.
The walk wasn't that easy, but we made it. At the top, SC1 was
eating gummy bears, presumably so she could vomit in rainbow on
the bus ride back to the hotel.
The castle was pretty impressive. It was the first of the two
Ludwig II castles that we would see. He was a bit looney, seemed
to be over-enthusiastic about Wagner operas. He liked gold and
wood carvings. If you have a chance, read up on him. He's facinating.
The tour was nice, SC1 crawled on the floor.
An old woman walked by. Dave pointed and said Nazi! Not
to her, to me, obviously.
All four of us walked down the mountain. Mom and Vic didn't seem
to like it. Then, we had lunch. All four of us had some sort of
Wurst, I think it was Bratwurst or some other wurst, I don't remember.
It was served with mashed potatoes and saurkraut. Everyone but
Vic had Weißbier, Vic's small bottled water was just as
expensive as our .5L beer. Dave was taking a liking to Weißbier.
Back on the bus. SC1 proceeded to fall asleep, I guess the gummy
bears were drugged. Back at the hotel, we picked up the car from
Hertz. We ended up with an upgrade to a Mercedes wagon. It was
We walked to a restaurant down the street for fine Bavarian cuisine...
Kim: Venison goulash, dumpling, cabbage salad (um... cole slaw?),
Dave: Wurst?, weißbier
Can't remember mom & Vic.
We walked down the street to get ice cream and check the casino.
I had rum raisin ice cream and it ROCKED! Then, we went to the
casino and I proceeded to sit at a slot machine that was in use
apparently. I had to explain to the casino guy that I'm used to
Las Vegas and in Las Vegas you don't walk away from a slot machine
with 1400 credits in it, that's just plain stupid. He seemed amused
at my American-ness and the fact that I'd actually been to Las
Tuesday 7 September 2004
Let me introduce you to SC2. SC2 is like a grander, louder, longer
lasting, more irrirating version of SC1. He was a little boy.
He screamed when we got on the bus. This was a TWELVE HOUR bus
tour. Who takes a young child under 2 on a TWELVE HOUR BUS TOUR??
Stupid parents, that's who.
Anyway, over the screams of SC2, we learned from the tour guide
(known as Cruella deVille) that the little buildings in the fields
were stadles. Haysheds. They keep hay in them. They were everywhere.
She made us repeat it. Stadle.
We made a stop in Austria to see a castle, whos name I don't
remember. We saw it from the side of the road. At a nearby construction
site, a construction worker took a break to eat a pretzel, which
facinated me. He was eating a big soft pretzel on his break. Weird.
We stopped in a little town for breakfast which consisted of
bread, butter, jam. Hot chocolate. YUMMY hot chocolate. Made with
MILK. MILK, I tell you! After breakfast, we had like 15 minutes
to look at the town so Dave and I walked to a little church where
we found a dead Nazi in a cemetary. No, this one really was a
Nazi. It was on the headstone.
Back on the bus, said Cruella! SC2 proceeded to scream. We drove
through Austria into Switzerland and up to the Fluela pass. It
is 2389 meters high, 7838 feet. It was switchbacks galore to the
top, pretty scary on a bus, I actually didn't blame SC2 for the
screams right then. We got off once right at the tree line, then
again at the top. There were some lakes and a bit of snow - not
much. Mostly rocks. For some unknown reason, they were hauling
rocks up there.
Back on the bus. I had a short breakdown where I screamed "I
CAN'T TAKE THAT KID SCREAMING ANYMORE!!", and then down to
Davos, Switzerland, where we had lunch. Still pretty high up.
We had Wurst. I don't remember what kind of wurst, but it was
big and it had an onion gravy and hashed browned potatoes. Not
bad. Dessert was ice cream, I had pistachio and it RULED! I'm
talking real whipped cream!
Back on the bus!! Time's a-wastin! SC2 screaming again, we got
a brief break for a while when he fell asleep. Next stop: Vaduz,
Liechtenstein. It was a city, and that was pretty much it. Just
a city. There was a castle on top of a mountain overlooking the
city. I bought some chocolate for the Arbitron folk and we wandered
around, saw a church.
Then it was time to turn towards Garmisch. We briefly stopped
at a truck stop in Austria somewhere that was more like a small
mall. We had some dumpling soup and I had a Radler beer, which
is Helles mixed with lemonade. I had a tasty Milka chocolate bar,
one of many. Interestingly, you can just buy bottles of Jagermeister
in a truck stop.
Back at the hotel, we had a light dinner in the bar. I had a
hamburger, I was anxious for some beef. More Weißbier. Then,
Wednesday 8 September 2004
Munich-Dachau tour. Eva, our tour guide from Monday's tour was
with us again. She took us into Munich, where we basically wandered
around. We saw a glimpse of St. Peters Church, the market (pretzels,
beer, wurst), Hofbrauhaus, and then we watched the glockenspiel.
I hate to say this, I know Munich won't like me, but the glockenspiel
was... lame. I mean, I guess it was hot technology in 1904 when
it was made, but it's a bit of a disappointment. Basically, it's
high up on the tower of the town hall and while bells are played,
the little guys kind of move around. The highlight is a joust
(Maryland's state sport!) where one of the jousters gets pushed
off its horse.
So, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe (which I am completely unimpressed
with these days) and to Hofbrauhaus to have lunch. Evidently,
the band plays inside all day, but somehow we totally missed them
playing and sat outside. It was time for Weißwurst!!
They're little sausages made of veal and you eat them at 10am
with - you guessed it - a pretzel and a beer. We had ours at 12:30.
It was awesome.
Next, the exciting, Disney-like atmosphere of Dachau! Dachau,
if you are not familiar, is a concentration camp north of Munich.
There isn't much to say about it really. We roamed around. It
was bland and hot, I hummed "Springtime for Hitler."
Arbeit Macht Frei.
Back on the bus, where we saw glimpses of the Olympic stadium
from 1972. We had dinner at Alpenhof,
a wonderful restaurant in Garmisch next to the Casino. Then, Dave
and I went to the casino where we played some blackjack. The tricky
part of the casinos in Europe is that you have to dress up, pay
an entrance fee, and it's very serious. Hit is "karte,"
stay is "reste," push is "standoff." I never
did figure out double down or split. Whatever, we lost some money.
Thursday 9 September 2004
Hooray! Our four-year anniversary!
We spent a good portion of our morning sleeping in. It became
obvious that we weren't going to make it to both the Zugspitze
and Innsbruck, as was the plan.
So, off to the Zugspitze.
Innsbruck would have to wait. The Zugspitze is Germany's highest
mountain, at 2964m or 9720 feet. We headed over to Eibsee where
we were to catch a cog railway to the top. We had just missed
it, so Dave and I got to try Mezzo Mix, which is a version of
Coke with Orange that we've tried at Ice
Station Cool in Epcot center.
At the top, we basically wandered around. It was rocky, slightly
snowy. I would have been cold had it not been so sunny. I met
a nice guy, Duane, who was Canadian and wanted me to take his
picture. He was wandering aimlessly around Europe and was meeting
his girlfriend in Paris.
Next, we took a cable car to the very top of the mountain. Dave
decided to go out on the very very tall peak. Remember, this is
NOT America. There are no frivilous lawsuits. If you drink coffee
that is hot and burn your tongue, you will not win a court case
in Europe. There was a sign that said "Alpine Dangers"
or something similar and Dave climbed out on this peak with NO
SAFETY HARNESS. I did not follow, I have enough trouble standing
up at high altitudes. I barely filmed the video because I was
certain that any video would end up on "Faces of Death"
or something similar.
Needless to say, he made it back ok. We then had lunch in the
cafe. There was no menu, Dave ordered for me. The waitress wanted
to know what my mom wanted.
Mom: Well, what are they having?
Mom: Is it cake?
So it was settled. My mom ordered cake for lunch. And Dave ordered
for me... hot dogs. A weinerwurstl is hot dogs. Big, giant footlong
hotdogs with a packet of mustard and a stale piece of pumpernickel
bread. YUM.As it turned out, Mom's cake was
yummy. It was like fried pancake and as we all know, everything
is better fried. It was served with applesauce. Cake?
We concluded our day by roaming aimlessly around looking for
the Partnach Gorge. We discovered you can't drive there and it's
a really long walk, so instead we investigated the Olympic Stadium
Dinner was at a pizza place. Vic, who always orders wrong, ordered
a veggie pizza, which was divided into quadrants. 1/4 with green
beans, 1/4 with onions, 1/4 with carrots and 1/4 with mushrooms.
oooooo kaaaaay. Green bean pizza. I got mushroom pasta, Dave got
some sort of thing stuffed with cheese. I had wine for once.
The fourth anniversary is Fruit and/or Flowers. All I wanted
was flowers. Dave couldn't find any, so we ended up agreeing that
he would get me flower earrings.
Friday 10 September 2004
Early morning tour to Linderhof Palace. Linderhof was another
Ludwig II Castle. We saw the inside of the Palace, then hiked
up a hill so that we could see the grotto. The grotto is an artificial
cave that Ludwig built for the purposes of seeing Wager's operas
performed. There's a manmade lake/pond in there with a boat in
the middle where he would watch the performances. So... This guy
was gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
After Linderhof, the tour took us to Oberammergau,
home of the Passion Play every 10 years. We were there to visit
Kloster Ettal, a monastery where they make
liquors. We toured the basilica and then took shots of the
stuff. It was way fun.
Innsbruck was in the afternoon. So, we piled into the Mercedes
like true Germans and headed to Austria. You have to have a special
sticker on the car to drive on an autobahn in Austria, so partway
there we had to stop and check to see if we actually had it. We
Mom and I wanted to visit the
Crystal Factory. We found it, no problem, but.... It wasn't
a factory or a museum. It was a trip into the TOTALLY BIZARRE!
It was room after room of "art" or SOMETHING. It came
to a point where we were all just laughing (except Vic of course).
We breezed through that and went to the gift shop, where we did
NOT find the Edelweiss earrings that we wanted. So, that was a
total waste of our time. We did get to see a big head in the side
of a hill that was continuously drooling a waterfall. So, that's
something, isn't it?
Next, we went into Innsbruck proper, where we dropped off Mom
& Vic in the center of town (they'd had it with walking).
Dave and I drove away to park near where we planned to eat...
down a street where no cars were allowed. And nearly hit a dog.
Finally, we found a place to park (conveniently in the casino)
and walked back.
We found Mom & Vic and we agreed to meet later, and we climbed
the belltower in the town. Lots of steps. We found a church and
looked around, and looked in some shops for Edelweiss earings.
I discovered that Archduke Ferdinand is buried in Innsbruck, we
found the church where he is, but it was closed. That crazy Archduke
that started a war!
We had dinner at Theresienbrau. I had Kasespaetzle (by the way,
I'm sick of trying to locate special characters, screw proper
spelling) and more Weissbier. Dave had the "thing with the
egg on it." For dessert, I had, well, one of everything,
but I was most impressed with the fried apples, which I am still
drooling over now. Mmm... fried apples. Vic ordered chocolate
ice cream, which they were apparently out of and so we waited
forever for them to either churn some or go to the grocery store.
Saturday 11 September 2004
VENICE. I had panicked about Venice since the tour sheet said
that we should "have a plan" and I had none. So, the
night before I called the one person that I knew that had been
to Venice and liked it, and that was Todd. Todd's advice? Get
lost. Ok, fine. That's easy enough. I do that all the time.
We were up at 4am to get ready to go and the bus left at 5am.
As it turned out, this tour was contracted out to a German tour
company and it was in both English and German. But mostly German.
Dave and I sat in the front row behind the driver, who spoke no
English. Crazy German women sat to my right, eating more food
than you can possibly imagine through the entire trip.And I eat a lot, so that's saying a lot.
As we drove through Austria and into Italy, the tour guide pointed
some stuff out then went to the back of the bus to brew coffee
and serve hot dogs (? yes, I said hot dogs. At 5am.). She was
gone for maybe an hour and the bus driver took over. But like
I said, the bus driver spoke no English, so who knows what the
scenery was. We stopped at a truck stop, where all hell broke
We had 20 minutes. There were like 50 other buses there. Everyone
swarmed the bathrooms and the deli line. Everyone spoke German
or Italian. They were CRAZY!! I managed to find a Nutella snack
that included a drink (snack and drink - the drink being absolutely
disgusting). Somehow mom and Vic got a sandwich and used the restroom.
Dave found some "Snack
Friends," which turned out to be peanuts.
Back on the bus and into Venice. The bus driver explained some
stuff in German. She went on for about a half hour. We waited
for her to speak English and finally someone yelled at her and
she told us what she was saying. Then, the bus stopped and the
tour guide got off along with the wacky eating German women next
to me. And Vic. Apparently we weren't supposed to get off and
we nearly left Vic.
We caught a big taxi boat into Venice. Off we headed to St. Mark's
Square to "get lost." The first thing Dave wanted to
do was feed the pigeons, so like a hitchcock film we got some
corn and the birds proceeded to attack us. Seriously, they landed
on your arms, head, shoulder, neck, you name it, they wanted that
corn something fierce. St. Marks Square was too crowded, so we
headed off to find somewhere to eat so that I could, in turn,
find a restroom.
We had lunch at a fast-food type of cafe that did indeed have
a potty. I had focaccia and Dave had a calzone. Then, we started
roaming around. Eventually, we lost the crowds, found churches
and shops and all kinds of interesting things (gelatto - yum).
Venice had a lot of graffiti. More than you would expect, and
my favorite said "VENEZIA HATES THE US ARMY." Great.
At one point, we investigated a gondola, but it was over $80,
and that's a lot of money.
So, we were lost. We thought we'd start heading back to St. Mark's
Square. We wandered for about an hour and found that we still
had no clue where St. Mark's Square was. Any italian we asked
wanted money or no help and the Americans were few and far between,
plus they were all just as lost as us. Maybe we should not have
taken Todd's advice quite so literally...
At last, we bought a map and after another 40 minutes or so,
we made it back to St. Marks Square where Dave had to feed the
Then, it was pretty much time to head back to the tour group.
We found mom and Vic at a cafe, where they were drinking $6 cokes.
Then, on to a small taxi which drove us right up the grand canal,
so I was happy that we hadn't wasted our money on a gondola.
The bus ride home was less eventful. We stopped at another Italian
truck stop that was less hectic (they had BUDWEISER - weird).
Then, it was to bed since we got home at 11:00pm.
Sunday 12 September 2004
Sunday, it rained. We kind of slept in and Dave and I went down
to the church in Garmisch (by the way, church in German is pronounced
like you've got phlegm in your throat). Church was in session,
we kind of looked around, but that was it.
We thought we found the solution to getting to the elusive Partnach
Gorge (I think I has the solution, width
times height!). We retreived mom & Vic and headed to the
gorge, where we got a cable car to the top so we could walk down.
We walked, and walked and walked. Mom and Vic gave up and turned
back. We kept walking. Germans passed us. Apparently in Bavaria,
they just randomly climb mountains for fun on a rainy Sunday.
Finally, we realized that the Gorge was not going to come and
we didn't know where we were going to end up. We turned back.
Walking up that mountain was absolute HELL. I wish it not on
my worst enemy. Bavarians do this for fun. In thin air on a rainy
day!! The best part of the day was seeing a big herd of sheep.
We made it to the top, took the cable car down, and went and
had lunch at Alpenhof. We had beer and I had spaetzle again. Yum.
Dave had wurst or equivalent.
Ah, Partnach, I'm sure you're beautiful.
We really didn't do much of anything else because of the weather.
At 7pm, the afternoon football games came on. We had dinner in
the hotel. That's about it.
Monday 13 September 2004
We got up and checked out of our hotel. Drove into Munich. Found
our hotel there. Then, it was time to return the rental car. We
had a bit of a time getting gas. I had to get out and watch how
the Germans did it and then we copied. $30 for 3/4 of a tank of
Finding the place to drop off the car was a challenge, but we
found it. Then, to the hotel. On the way, we learned that Germans
don't like it when you walk in the bike lanes. They'll yell at
you. In German.
Our hotel was nice. It was the Hotel Mirabell. We didn't stay
long, we went to see more of Munich. Lunch was at Augustinerbrau.
I had wurst and pretzel and sauerkraut. Oh, and beer. We then
found St. Michael's Kirche (yes, that's the phlegm word), where
Ludwig II was buried, along with many of the royals of Bavaria.
Oh, and I found my Edelweiss earrings!!
We also went to the Cathedral Church of Our Lady, which is the
famous landmark in Munich. We climbed the towers, very cool. What
sucks about Munich is that all of the old buildings have photos
in them of 1944 or so where they were leveled. LEVELED. It was
We wandered over to the Residenz, which is a big old palace (also
leveled in 1944). It was beautiful, but we got locked in when
it was closing. Finally, we made it out and headed back to Hofbrauhaus
for beer. We ended up getting HUGE beers, I had a suckling pig
(Vic had been going on about them the whole trip, how could I
not?). Dave got fish. I had apfelstrudel for dessert, Dave had
ice cream. We toasted our last night in Germany!!
Tuesday 14 September 2004
Going home. We walked to the train station, Hauptbahnhof, and
found the S-Bahn train to the airport. Checked in, went through
little security. Uneventful. We had a fairly large breakfast of
eggs, ham and toast and bought some Milka
bars (my favorite!!) from the duty-free shop.
We stopped in London-Heathrow, and it was my first time on British
soil. Sadly, we saw nothing but the airport, and little of that.
Landing in London was tough and we had scary turbulance back to
Dulles, but other than that it was a good trip, filled with two
Milka bars and three movies - Raising Helen, The
Stepford Wives and Evolution (which Dave made me
Frank picked us up at the airport, and we drove home (missing
Best Things In Germany:
- Pretty mountains
- The word "neu"
- Ludwig II
- The Bavarian Flag
- Cowbells and cows in general
- The Crystal Factory
- Parnach Gorge
- NO DAVID HASSELHOFF! Then again, we had American TV for most
of the trip and in our hotel we only got Austrian TV stations,
and no one ever said that Austrians love David Hasselhoff.
- Lack of goats