Munich, Kempten, Berlin, & Hamburg – Germany

 

Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs! This is German for one, two, three, four, five, six and sums up the extent of our knowledge of the German language, which Clair learned from playing board games with her Oma as a child. Our lack of language skills didn’t really get in the way as most people speak English.

Day 1-2 – Munich: S000…Who’s Up For Some Greek Food?

Our first stop was Munich. We took a train from Vienna ($50 CAD/person). We downloaded the app for the German train system, the Bahn, and it was quite helpful because you didn’t have to print your ticket. It was a tough go finding accommodations but we managed to book at the Amenity Hotel, which was quite a distance from the city centre, and it was an ok hotel but we wouldn’t recommend it. It was located about 10 min from a metro station, so we once again purchased the unlimited pass for 72 hours ($25 CAD/person).

We arrived in Munich quite late in the night. Unfortunately, Clair wasn’t feeling her best, leaving Kik to explore the area in hunt for some food. The hotel’s location had limited restaurant options, especially after 10 PM. Kik was able to find a Greek restaurant. He sat down for meal by himself and rolled himself home an hour later. He ate so much that he nearly made himself sick.

Bavarian Breakfast

We both woke up feeling much better and were excited to explore Munich. Once we arrived in the city center, we realized why accommodations were so difficult to find on a Monday. There was a huge soccer game taking place that night hosted by Munich vs Real Madrid, with hundreds of fans from both sides ready to get the party started at 10 AM. We joined in the fun and had a Bavarian breakfast (sausage, kraut, and a beer) in an outdoor Augustiner (beer hall) near St. Micheal’s Church. After our breakfast we joined a free walking tour and got our baring around the city.

After the tour, we explored the Englischer Garten (English Garden), which is a huge park right in the middle of the city. We highly recommend you check it out. One of the coolest things in the park is the massive wave that is built on one part of the channel where surfers can test out their skills! Also, be aware that it’s legal for nudist to sunbathe in the park which we found out very quickly. We would recommend making your way to the Seehaus, a beer garden next to a lake in the center of the park. Little did we know this would be the only sunshiny day we’d have for weeks. It was a great place to grab a drink while watching ducks and swans attack humans stupid enough to mess with them.

That night we met up with Benjamin and Jochen, two friends we met back in South America. They brought us to the Augustiner-Keller for supper, giant beers, and to watch the soccer game. This massive beer hall didn’t take long to fill up with passionate soccer fans. It would’ve been easy to have spotted the only two foreigners there, as we were the only two shouting “You big baby, wuss, C’Mon!” every time a player dove. You can almost get tennis elbow from lifting those heavy beer mugs.

Starting the day right with a Bavarian breakfast.
Starting the day right with a Bavarian breakfast.
A Greek style temple in the English Garden in Munich.
A Greek style temple in the English Garden in Munich.
Surfing in a city park. Only in Germany!
Surfing in a city park. Only in Germany!
Meeting up with Benjamin and Jochen. Prost!
Meeting up with Benjamin and Jochen. Prost!

Day 3 – Kempten: The Stankevicius’s…Stankevici…help me out here

For both for us, this trip has made us reflect upon our families origins. As a result, we headed to a city about an hour and half train ride away known as Kempten. This is where her grandparents met after WWII. We were happy to finally venture away from the larger city to see the country side. Roland, Clair’s dad, was able to give us the address of his parents home and it’s still standing within the historical city centre! How cool is that?

We're having so much fun!
We’re having so much fun!
This was the home of Clair's Oma (Riedl).
This was the home of Clair’s Oma (Riedl).
A beautiful fountain in a square in Kempten.
A beautiful fountain in a square in Kempten.
Finding perhaps some far cousins.
Finding perhaps some far cousins.
Massive church in the main square of Kempten.
Massive church in the main square of Kempten.

Before continuing onto Berlin, we decided to make a side trip to Prague. Click here, if you haven’t seen our post on Prague. We took the train for $20 CAD/person.

Day 4-6 – Berlin: Roomates

We arrived in Berlin in the evening by train ($43 CAD/person) and checked in to our hostel, Minimal Hostel ($100 CAD/night for a private room), located in the hipster area of Kreuzberg. The hostel was more like sharing a huge apartment with a bunch of roommates. Upon our check-in, our host provided us with a map of the city and gave her suggestions on places to see/avoid.

That night we desperately needed to do some laundry, after Kik could no longer reverse his gitch. Luckily, there was a laundromat right around the corner. Good thing others were there to lend a hand, or else we’d still be there scratching our heads at the German instructions. We returned to our flat, what everyone else in the world calls an apartment (Pfff…weirdos!), to plan out our time in Berlin.

The set up of the hostel made it easy to socialize with others, or be annoyed by little quirks some people do. For starters, this one person took a shower very late and for an hour an a half. Seriously?! Then, blow-dried their hair for over 30 minutes. This person did this every night!!!! Kik felt like screaming, “Can you save some water for the rest of the world?!” Other than this incident, everyone else was great. This is where we met Robbie, an American just starting out his 4-month adventure by himself.

Ich Bin Ein Berliner!

After spending the previous night mapping out a plan for the day, we set out. We invited Robbie to join us for the day. Of course, the day started off with a stop at a café, Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers. We intended on taking the free walking tour on this day, but the guide called in sick. With a last-minute change, we decided to take a tour of the Berlin Cathedral. We know what your thinking, “I thought they were sick of visiting churches?” We were but this tour included an interactive museum, access to the top of the dome, and access to the crypts. We got a reduced admission of $7 CAD/person with our Internatioinal Student/Teacher Identity Cards. Truthfully, we did not use these cards enough on our trip to justify buying them. Only get them if you are traveling heavily in Europe and mostly museums.

From here, we ventured towards the Berlin Wall Memorial. Be sure to take your time to read the information posted along 1.4 Km of the former border strip on Bernauer Strasse. The memorial contains the last piece of the Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it, giving an impression of how the border fortifications looked until the end of the 1980’s. It was pretty timely to be standing at the remnants of the Berlin wall and read about the pain and suffering it caused for people on both sides. We proceeded to Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin where Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other. From here, you can walk to the Typography of Terror Documentation Centre. Pro- tip – There are plenty of museums, sites, and memorials to visit in Berlin. If you have the time, we’d advise doing less during the day as some of the material can be heavy and may require some reflection.

Having breakfast with our new friend, Robbie.
Having breakfast with our new friend, Robbie.
Standing where the former Berlin wall was erected almost overnight.
Standing where the former Berlin wall was erected almost overnight.
A part of the preserved Berlin wall.
A part of the preserved Berlin wall.
Checkpoint Charlie, where the Cold War could've easily broke out.
Checkpoint Charlie, where the Cold War could’ve easily broke out.
The Berlin Cathedral.
The Berlin Cathedral.
The top of the Berlin Cathedral looking down at the Lustgarten.
The top of the Berlin Cathedral looking down at the Lustgarten.

Time For Reflection

Getting sick of regular walking tours, Clair found a different tour centered around the Third Reich (So called, German Empire during the World War II). For anyone interested in history, this is a must! Our guide, Lioba, was very knowledgeable and welcomed questions. The tour brought us to important sites that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. All this has once again reinforced how fortunate we’ve been in our lives to not be surrounded by war.

Before heading back to our hostel for the night, we took a stroll along Alte Schönhauser Strasse. You can find some neat shops along this street. We were told to check out the Pick N Weight, a vintage second-hand shop. It was like a well-organized and higher end version of Value Village. Clair picked up a wicked tuque (that she didn’t realize she would need by the end of the week) and Kik got some nice dress shoes.

The oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin. It was desecrated by Nazis, now turned into a garden and memorial.
The oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin. It was desecrated by Nazis, now turned into a garden and memorial.
Thousands of Sinti and Roma people were rounded up, labeled, experimented on, and murdered. This is a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives as a result of the WWII.
Thousands of Sinti and Roma people were rounded up, labeled, experimented on, and murdered. This is a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives as a result of the WWII.
Time for reflection in the Holocaust Memorial
Time for reflection in the Holocaust Memorial

Day 7-8 – Hamburg: It’s What Time???

We made some plans with a few other of our German friends that we met in South America who live in Hamburg, Malte and Simon. Malte was generous enough to offer a room in his condo and show us around the city. We went for dinner at Old Commercial Room with Malte, Simon, and Jenny (Simon’s girlfriend, who was absolutely kick ass!) After supper, we bought some beverages and made our way to the top floor of Malte’s work. We had a beautiful panoramic view of the city at night. Did you know that Hamburg has its own Red Light District, we didn’t, but we got a closer look. Unlike the Red Light District in Amsterdam, women are prohibited from entering this street. We were warned by our friends that any woman entering could get egged, water thrown at them, or worse. Yikes! We hit up a few pubs that night, starting with a little Fusball at one of them. Clair and I were terrible but along came the rain man of Fusball, putting down his Euro to challenge the winners (clearly not us). This guy went on to put on a show by himself against a team of two. Not sure how long he was able to keep the table but he certainly wasn’t running out of challengers.

We continued on to the next pub, which had an amazing live band (Kik – I’m a sucker for live bands). It was fast become clear where this night was going. After the band played its final song of the night, we continued on to a karaoke bar. Kik quickly submitted his go to song, but the place was packed so the odds of getting on were slim. Jenny smartly got us out of there at 5 AM. It was clear that the party wasn’t ending any time soon either. Thankfully bars in Canada close at 2 AM, could you imagine the debacle?

Thanks Malte, Simon, and Jenny for a great night in Hamburg.
Thanks Malte, Simon, and Jenny for a great night in Hamburg.

 

Admiring the view at night from the top floor of Malte's work.
Admiring the view at night from the top floor of Malte’s work.
When fusbal becomes huge, this photo will be worth lots of money.
When fusbal becomes huge, this photo will be worth lots of money.

Who Are We Kidding, We Can’t Do This Anymore

The next morning was very foggy for all of us but we once again met up for breakfast…in the afternoon, along with some more of their friends. After eating, it felt good to walk and take in some fresh air. There was a fair going on and that meant rides! You couldn’t convince Kik to get on a ride on a good day, never mind in his current condition. The girls jumped at the opportunity to get on the roller-coaster (Kik – Have at er’). We later said our goodbyes to everyone except Jenny and Malte who continued to show us their city.

We’re so glad to have stopped in Hamburg, it was a beautiful city with lots to offer. That night was quite calm with everyone still recovering from the night before. The boys chilled and played some video games, while Clair watched Gilmore Girls. The next morning, we had to catch our train to Amsterdam. Malte walked us to the train station where we said farewell. We can’t thank our friends enough for the hospitality. We are so thankful!

The four gals before getting on the roller-coaster. Note, Simon sitting on the bench.
The four gals before getting on the roller-coaster. Note, Simon sitting on the bench.
Yeah, that's our boat.
Yeah, that’s our boat.
The interesting architecture of the newly built and highly expensive Elbe Philharmonic Hall
The interesting architecture of the newly built and highly expensive Elbe Philharmonic Hall
Ferry ride through Hamburg's harbour.
Ferry ride through Hamburg’s harbour.

 

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