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Posts from the ‘TravelEurope’ Category

How To Prepare for Munich Madness? Hike Garmisch-Partenkirchen

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”

Oktoberfest was my “bucket list menu as the main entrée.” I also was with friends who are like-minded in that people and crowds have their place; of course, present company excluded. To be honest, I loved partaking in this epic bucket list check. And yet,

Crowds abound

Oktoberfest grounds

it was important for all of us to ride the peace train, to get out in the natural world and a side bonus of walking off those extra travel calories.

I have to give the credit to my friend who looked into the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area for some peaceful and picturesque hikes. I don’t know that I would have picked this spot on an Oktoberfest trip, nor had the wisdom to foresee the need for nature.  I sincerely enjoyed the entire area. Kudos to my friend!

The site of the 1936 Olympics, it is a picturesque town for outdoor enthusiasts to jump off from. Interesting fact. Adolph Hitler worried that  the small size and lack of lodging in Garmisch would cause this site to be passed over for the 1936 Olympics.  The two towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were ordered merged, and the rest is history.

Our hotel had a shuttle van that took us to the Olympic Park Beginning at the ski stadium and the ski jump area. We waved to the arena since we all couldn’t wait to get out and play.

From there, we walked along a trail that leads past beautiful homes and outbuildings alongside a small river with a beautiful color.

Walking through the meadows, I got the sense that I was leaving “somewhere” and entering the wonder of nature.

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The river rolls

The river rolls

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LOVE when the mountains come into view.

Cuties

Cuties

And the river began to sing

And the river began to sing

After a walk of about 30 minutes, we came upon a trailhead where you pay a modest fee to hike the trail. Adults are 3€. We wondered why there was a fee but learned that the trail is extremely well maintained with safety features for all to enjoy. This area was declared a natural monument in 1912.

You walk through a series of tunnels

You walk through a series of tunnels

There are twists and turns in the path.  There were many people of all ages hiking, some classroom students.  There are places to stop and view the majesty of the glacial river and nature’s artistic carvings.  The stunning Portnach Gorge or Partnachklamm measures 2300 ft in length and 263 feet in height.

Next we passed by trails and signs that could guide you to many magnificent hikes and destinations.  There are 300 km of trails with a walk that will take 10 hours to get to the Zugzpitze. With a series of places to stay, I would love to do that someday.

Seriously, I want to do all  of these hikes

Seriously, I want to do all of these hikes. choices,choices

There are great maps at the trail head.

Lucky to have great compasses with me.

Lucky to have a few great human compasses along. 

We chose to hike to a place called Partnachalm.  There are more ways than one to get to this destination.  We chose a hike that led us through the woods sometimes on a steep rugged path, and sometimes in the meadows.

Take the path less traveled!

Take the path less traveled!

Just when your breathing and cardiac functioning is testing you, you enter into the meadow.

Phew!

Phew!

Get outa here! Awesome panoramic views!

Get outa here! Awesome panoramic views!

We were able to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  The views at this restaurant are among the best that our world has to offer.

Check out this reflection

Check out this reflection

This was one of my favorite photos from this 2015 Bavarian trip.   Food, friends, nature and one heck of a view.  It does not get better than this.

A few other photos from this spot depicting the quaint, the majestic, and the peaceful nature of Partnachalm.

The walk down was serene and had vistas.  All of us felt refreshed and envious of those who are able to live in this type of atmosphere. We felt gratitude and peace.

Walk descending

Walk descending

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Except for the fact that we did not see a cow, with a bell, in the meadow.  But, we did see this sheep in bovine clothing.

Cow-sheep

Cow-sheep

At the end of our walk, we spotted out this house and were in awe of it.

What a picture perfect setting and home.  We had to get a closer look

What a picture perfect setting and home. We had to get a closer look

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I saw a woman walking her longhaired dachshund.  For real, that happened.

Life is good!

Life is good!

On the next day, we found this.  Bonus!

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MEGastars: 5 of 5 star walk.

MEGatips;

MEGatips; Here are some things that I learned and of course a few things AFTER my trip.

  1. If you only have one day, I recommend this walk. Love to hike stay a week, a year or forever!
  2. The gorge is a “must see.” I have read reviews about folks who complained about the gorge. Examples: I got wet, it was slippery, the tunnels were dark, there was people who stopped to take photos of the views. All of these complaints are avoided by; wear the correct clothes, and shoes, a hat or hood that you can put on will avoid the drips from the limestone-this is nature, if you have a vision impairment of if you are unsteady on your feet, , use the light on your phone or bring a small pen light. Yes there are tourists and visitors.   Be thankful that Bavaria has shared this majestic gorge with the world. Be a fellow human being and show peace and courtesy towards others.
  3. Unable to hike to the gorge? A horse drawn carriage is available to take you to the gorge.
  4. Another way to view the gorge, one may take the tram up the mountain from the Olympic Village in Garmisch, and then hike down the gorge through Grasek.
  5. There is a steel suspension bridge where one may have a spectacular 360 panoramic view of the gorge. They say that the dizzying view is spectacular.
  6. There are torchlight tours with a dinner from Hotel Das Grasek. That could be fun. These happen in the winter also, and I read that this is gorgeous.
  7. The hotel Das Grasek has some fun events, I did not stay there but the torchlight walks and Christmas events (fireworks, live music-etc) look super fun. They have three on site restaurants including a beer garden.
  8. I have to give a shout out to The Best Western in Garmisch. I really LOVED my stay there. I felt the price-point was reasonable in a trendy tourism spot. The service was above and beyond. The staff was extremely friendly, the breakfast was above par; with a huge choice of European style breakfast items and included a juicer. There is a van, that will take you to your spots of interests, and the driver couldn’t have been more enjoyable. Excellent stay.
  9. Don’t let winter stop you from visiting. Winter visits look outstanding with something for every outdoor lover to do.   One may still hike the gorge for spectacular frozen views.
  10. There are several lifts and gondolas that give you scenic views of the area. I think it would be fun to go on all of them, I believe that there are four.
  11. Get out there, leave no trace, take the road less traveled.
  12. Be safe, brush up on your mountain safety and study your trail ahead. There are ample resources available in Garmisch to assist your experience.
  13. Do have lunch or dinner at Partnachalm. They have a wonderful menu of Bavarian cuisine. Desserts begin at 2 p.m.
  14. Visiting the Zugspitze, see my prior blog on this stop.

Oktoberfestin In Munich And My Bad

It is not what you think, my bad did happen, but it is my bad.  Here is the part of the story that I will share.

Hands down, Germany has become one of my favorite places to visit, and my travel Germany bucket list is quite loose. However, visiting Oktoberfest was one list item that I had written in ink. I was simply thankful to my friend who gave me a push that made this MEGastop possible.

Considering that I a zoom around to other galaxies, I wouldn’t say that I am culturally ignorant. I am not suggesting that I am worldly; it’s just that I have a decent grasp on the modern world.   Having said that, I had a few of what I call mega duh or “my bad preconceptions” when it came to “THE Oktoberfest in Munich. This MEGastop was one fun travel learning experience that will not be forgotten soon.

So, why did I Oktoberfest in Munich?

  • It is the world’s biggest party, duh. I have been to Oktoberfest in several U.S. cities and always dreamt about going to the real deal.
  • I like history, this is a historical event that has had it goin on since 1812. 5-7 million people attend. I learned that statistics say that roughly 70% vistors to the Oktoberfest Munich come from Bavaria, 15 % from the rest of Germany and 15% from European countries, the US, Australia and Canada.  It is representative of a Bavarian tradition.
  • Culture-It is a peaceful event where I can immerse in another culture, dress up, sing songs, eat fantastic food, drink some of the world’s best beer in it’s home. Make new friends and burn off a little steam.
  • Any excuse to travel in Bavaria will do.
And it's on

And it’s on

Although I offer a few tips, it is not a “how to Oktoberfest.” There are a plenty of websites for that subject. Of course, I wish that I had read a few tips before my visit, flying by the seat of my pants just seems to be my middle name. Opening my eyes to a new world is part of the “trip,” it is a big part of why I do travel.  My friend got it, after the fest she said it was everything she expected and more. Not so for me, I had a few visions of what it would be like. My Bad.

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I was surprised to find a large fair atmosphere.

My Bad #1- Have dirndl will party- Planning is required. Before this experience, I thought that you show up ready to party; drink, dance on the benches, drink.   I learned that is actually difficult to secure a table in a tent and even more difficult if you go with more than two people. Lucky for me, my friend found a tour group that was simply perfect for me to enjoy this first time experience. Also lucky for me was that we were able to secure the last four spots in this group of really nice fun people. The planning was all taken care of. Phew! And yes, people do dress up. In fact, most people. I would have felt out of place had I not played dress up.

Dress up time.

Dress up time.

My Bad#2- The “tents” are not tents as in Ringling Brothers. My vision of a tent was like one that I might see at a big top circus. However, Oktoberfest is more than just a few tents thrown up. The tents are actually made of steel and wood and each tent has it’s own personality. Not surprisingly, it takes months to set these elaborate and well appointed halls. I was lucky to attend in theFisher-Vroni Augustiner-Festhalle It is said that Augustinerbräu is the best Oktoberfest beer. This is a family-friendly tent and said to be a favorite of local attendees. This tent seats 600 people.   The tents were decorated to the smallest detail. The temperature was very comfortable and one could move about freely. I loved it! Here are the exterior night photos of a few other tents.

"Before"

“Before” The nice atmosphere in the Fisher-Vroni Augistiner tent

My Bad # 3- the music is not your Grandpa’s oom pah pah-I thought I was going to hear traditional German oom pah music; type that I heard on a.m. radio on Sundays growing up in Wisconsin.   I did what any modern girl would do, I went to You tube and thought I familiarized myself with a few songs, but I was ill prepared. Lucky for me, they sang a lot of oldies (Sweet Caroline, Country Roads), AC/DC, Being a current Alabama resident, Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama made me feel at home. I heard many pop drinking songs. One example is Neil Sedaka’s Living Right Next Door To Alice. I will never hear that song the same again. Something about screaming out “Alice, Alice, who the fuck is Alice?” Simply, impossible not to sing along.

Fun music

Fun music up above the crowd

And the fun beginsup on the benches

And the fun begins….up on the benches

Fun with friends

Fun with friends

My Bad #4Beer- Can I get a Mich Ultra, dark beer,light beer? Just kidding, However, I did not really get that each tent has it’s own specific brew made special for Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest beer is a lager brewed for the fest. It is about 6-7% alcohol in content. Non-alcoholic beer is available. Served in a one-liter mug, you get two vouchers with your tent entry.An extra mug of beer will cost you €10.10 including the service fee tacked on. Served from 200 liter barrels called Stags, it is said that you can taste the difference.

My Bad#5- “…It’s A Free For All…” Show up, mingle and party.   The evening was more organized in practice.   After arrival, you get seated at your table.   Soon after that, you meet your host. Our host was named Mike. Mike brought us beer and the menu.   Food is served and the band starts playing. As one can imagine, with a 7% alcohol content, people are up on the benches fairly quickly and into the “prost” mode. Things wrap up by 10:30 and Living Next Door To Alice remains with me forever.

 MEGatips:

  1. Try not to be like me and do a bit more reading before you go.  Your knowledge may color your experience.
  2. Visit Munich. It is a wonderful city.
  3. Bring ‘old” friends and make “new” friends. I do think it is more fun with a group. That was also unexpected for me.
  4. Eat good food. Although the food is mass-produced, it was of high quality. There are many choices including vegetarian. You will be paying for 2 beers and a chicken with your ticket. This comes in the form of a voucher. You are able to choose your foods and simply pay beyond the voucher fixed price for more food.
  5. Get dressed up – You will feel left out it adds more excitement to the experience.
  6. t’s not a cheap bucket list check off. You are able to check out the grounds for free and there are websites dedicated to “how to go on the cheap.”
  7. If this event is on your bucket list. Be aware that it takes planning. This was my biggest take away.
  8. I have read it is recommended that one visit the grounds at least a few times over the course of the week.   Visit the grounds during the day, walk around and see the tents, vendors and variety of people who attend.
  9. If you want to dress in Tracht, know that the used tracht that I saw in the second hand stores were pretty high priced. Try to get them before you attend. I bought mine  new from e-bay and feel that I was able to get a fantastic buy.
  10. I have also read do NOT drink the Schnapp’s shots. They will take you home after having your liters.  You would expect a certain level of debauchery at the world’s largest party.  Don’t be that person in the ambulance.
  11. Don’t like crowds? 6 million people attend. It is crowded and the streets are rowdy. It is a fair like atmosphere and at night, difficult to move in crowds. Inside the Fisher-VroniAugustiner tent it was significantly less chaotic and more like being at an intimate concert with a seat. Another reason to get a spot in a tent.
  12. Generally, I don’t like tours. However, this ended up being the perfect way for me to go to my first Oktoberfest.  I learned that most spots are secured by locals and then open up to other visitors. Not only was all of the preplanning done, I had a quiet comfortable hotel, expertise at my fingertips and an automatic group of new friends. I highly recommend Harriman Travel. Brett did a fantastic job making everyone comfortable. http://www.harrimantravelbooks.com/Tours_Oktoberfest.html
  13. The Oktoberfest represents traditions of Bavaria. Not the entire country.
  14. There are smaller Oktoberfests in a few other cities. I visited a small one in Austria on this stop and there are a few in Germany that really do sound fun.

Ten Reasons That German Food Is Not Just Weiner Art

Tasty Tuesday MEGabite is about fun food and places from my 2015 Germany trip.   If you have read my blogs, you know that I am in love with Germany. I like everything about visiting this fantastic country. Food is no exception. I had a blast trying some new foods, fun places and twists on some of my favorite all time foods.   Although I did include a few traditional German foods, this is not a post about traditional German foods.   My list is in no particular order and I offer a few tips and opinions.

  1. Wiener Art -What is it?  I saw this written everywhere. When I closed my eyes and thought about what wiener art could be, substitutes for veal did not come into my mind. Nor does Anthony Weiner.  This is one of those phrases that can get lost in translation, especially, if you share my juvenile sense of humor.  Basically, if schnitz is not made with veal, it must be labeled as ‘wiener art” See #40 below.

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2. Pikeperch is neither Pike nor Perch. It is named Zander fish. I learned about this fish on this very trip. It is also not a hybrid fish. Shaped like a pike, it is more related to a perch. I learned that this fish is common in Western Eurasia.   In Europe, a second species is found in Southern Russia and the basin of the Danube.   It is listed as one of “The Dirty Dozen” in the U.K., threatening to wipe out native species.   I was lucky enough to taste this tender white,flakey, low boned delicious fish. Thank you Germany!

*Weird Zander Fact. In 2009, a Swiss Zander attacked tourists, sending them to the Emergency Room. The fish was later caught and cooked up by a local chef.

Found this beauty at Farmer's Market in Munich.

Found this beauty at Farmer’s Market in Munich. Eating at Germany’s largest market was a HUGE stroke of luck for me.  I was able to sample Bavaria’s finest foods. 

3. A Salmon Trout is more like a Labradoodle.  This was a learning food for me.  I learned that t is a hybrid fish. It looks more like a trout with a mild salmon taste. Really delicious. I loved it! It’s caviar is also sold. I did not try this, but in the future, I sure will. Eating salmon trout in an Oktoberfest tent, is one heck of a bucket list treat.

trout salmon

Meg and her trout salmon   

4. Cheese– I am a bit of a cheese lover. There is not one German cheese that I tasted that did not exceed my expectations. I ate cheese every single day and passed up meal dishes in lieu of tasting different cheeses. I am a Wisconsin girl, home to the dairy state and many award winning cheeses, some having been ‘invented’ in that state. One example, being Colby cheese. Oddly, I have no photos of any of my cheese plates. Trust me, YUM!

5. Kaiserschmarrn is technically an Austrian main meal or dessert. “Kaiser” means Emperor and “Schmarrn” means mess/mishmash. Mine was served with homemade applesauce. RUKM? Eating this baby while sipping German Riesling at the Zugspitze on tip top of Germany, with a view and in good company is unbeatable. I included other foods tried at my table.  Great spot.  With over four restaurants to choose from, we did very well.  A lunch that will remain in my memory.

6. Traditional German Food at a restaurant.    By far, my favorite German meal was on my past trip to Germany where I stumbled upon some type of neighborhood park where they had a beer garden, food trucks and beer.

blast from the past throwback Tasty Tuesday

blast from the past throwback Tasty Tuesday

On this trip, and since eating game is new again, I ate a venison dish with noodle and red cabbage at Wolpertingers in Garmisch. The setting was idyllic with live music and a well decorated atmosphere. Mischa and Anetta were the consummate hosts. The portions of their made to order dishes were huge. I didn’t have to eat for days after finishing a portion of my dinner.

7. Traditional German food at Oktoberfest– Of course, the Oktoberfest tent is the real deal and this checking off this bucket list was the reason for the whole trip.  I chose a cheeseboard and the piketrout.

8. Traditional German Food at Augistiner– Grab a friend or two or three and eat at one of Munich’s beer halls.   Because I was with a group, we were lucky to get a table during this busy Oktoberfest Saturday night.  The Augustiner Braustuben is listed in the top 7 beer halls of Munich, this location is an indoor hall vs Augustiner Keller.   I think I now have visited all 7 beer halls. You are able to see the busy guy at the big keg.


9. “Street food.” On the street, in the gas station/large rest stops, grocery stores and market foods.   I have no idea why but these are my favorite places to eat in Europe. Munich excels in this arena. I can find amazing gourmet foods, pick and choose my dishes and amounts for a great price. Here are a few of my favorites.

10. Food with a view.  Check out the reflection in this restaurant window. This stop was Partnachalm.   It is a little restaurant reached after hiking through some of the most beautiful meadows, mountains, gorges, streams and hills.  it is a place to sit and enjoy the view while having a bite to eat.

Check out this view

Check out this view

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MEGatips;

  1. If in Munich, go to the Victuals Market.  This market is open on weekdays.  You will be able to find many types of foods.  From the organic juicer to traditional sausage.  You can sit down with a beer or wine and watch the world go by.
  2. Try to take in the Zugspitze and go for a meal.  I wrote a separate blog on this visit.
  3. The German hotels have fantastic traditional European style breakfasts. Shout out to The Best Western in Garmisch for a wonderful breakfast experience in an idyllic setting.  I have stayed with Marriott’s in Munich and they are also this style.
  4. The Kofhaus department store in central Munich has a foodie paradise in the basement.  Complete with a deli and the largest candy selection that I ever remember seeing in a department store. It is a fun stop for gifts.  The department store also has some mighty fine shopping.
  5. If you stop in Munich, do not pooh pooh the Hofbrauhaus for a fun meal.  Check it out at least once. It is centralized and there is now a Hard Rock Cafe across the street. So yes, it is “touristy” but if you are a *tourist* where else can you party with not only locals, but visitors from all over the world, drink some of Germany’s finest beer and eat some pretty darn good traditional German food all while listening to some ooom pah pah for free?  Especially if you are unable to secure a ticket in an Oktoberfest tent, figure out when a band is playing, grab some friends and make your own fest. It is clean, well organized and in a historical beer hall. In my opinion, all of the beer halls are touristy, some are just smaller and removed from the main drag.  If you are there during a warm day, sit outside for a lunch, it is a fantastic setting.  Like Gretchen Wilson says ‘I’m here for the party.” You will find many reviews with this advice.
  6. If you are in Munich during the summer.  Check out some of the neighborhood beer gardens. I went to one on a past visit in the Haidhausen district. I had the BEST German food there and one heck of a fun night.
  7. Try something new and different while in Germany and bring your appetite.

Getting Lucky at 9,718 ft

I am head over heels in love with visiting Germany. Due to geographical distance, and infrequent visits, I have a loose hand written German bucket/wish list. Visiting the tip-top of Germany did not disappoint. I thought maybe it was going to be a €52.50 ride up, an ooh and an ahh and go home. Zugspitze was so much more.

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Shared by Germany and Austria, one can visit from either country. I drove from Germany to a parking lot that is near the idyllic Ebsee Lake at the base of the majestic mountain.

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Seeing this mountain, a valley, a gorgeous lake and alpine flora is like foreplay, you are excited to get on that ride.

The Eibsee cable car ride is literally a trip. I packed in tight with about 35 people for the approximately 10 minute ride up. Except for feeling a bit too close to my neighbor, it is a pretty comfortable ride up, even for someone who has a moderate height phobia. Each time you pass a pole, there is a little sway in the lift, but it was not at all uncomfortable. The day that I went, it was cloudy. It was fun to break through the clouds and see the clear blue sky.

When you arrive to the top, there are many places to jump off to. There is a climb to the historical golden cross. It is a climb that requires moderate skill and is fun to watch.   I saw an older man and a kid climb. Most of the people who made the final steps to the cross were clamped on. I did not climb but two of my fellow travel companions did so. I almost had to wonder why they couldn’t charge for this final climb, using an expert to assist. Anyway, I have a bit of a height phobia and it took me a few minutes to acclimate and take photos.

Go Pack Go! View of the cross summit

Go Pack Go! View of the cross summit. It is amazing to me that the first cross was carried up in 1851 and not by a helicopter.

Because it was cloudy, I was unable to see the panoramic view that this part of the world offers. This spot is unique in that there are not other mountain ranges at this same height. On a clear day, you are able to see peaks of four countries; Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

There is an area where one is able to cross from Germany into Austria.  In the old days, crossing was a big deal with a border and passport stamp. Now there is no border, you simply walk across the stairway.  However you can make a snow angels there and take some fantastic photos. of the mountains in the distance.

There is a really beautiful viewing area on this side.

Tirol

Tirol Unfortunately it was a cloudy day for viewing

With four restaurants and other freestanding food spots, there is something for all budgets.

Food-because let’s face it, I was too chicken to do the climb.

  • Sonnalpin is a restaurant at the Zugspitze glacier. It is a cafeteria style with traditional dishes to vegetarian. The outdoor seating area is gorgeous.

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  • The Glacier Garden is a glass building that can open up on a fine day. Described as modern-minimalist that serves German food with International flair. You will find locally sourced fish and meats.
  • Gipfelalm-is Germany’s highest restaurant. They serve Bavarian cuisine. This is a great spot to sit outside and enjoy a meal. This is the place where I got lucky.    What are the odds that a bird will poop on your menu at 2,962 m (9718 ft)? And yes, this is good luck.  Google it!  Not what you were thinking?  I bet.
  • Panorama 2962-The name says it all: the glass fronted Panorama 2962 welcomes you with jaw-dropping views of alpine peaks in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, Lake Eibsee and far beyond to the Alpine foothills. On the day that I visited,it was a bit crowded with an Oktoberfest going on
Party is on up high

Party is on up high

There are many choices of activities, museums, guided tours and fun tho be had.  I took a cable care which carries you down onto one of the three glaciers.  Even though it was cloudy, it was beautiful.

Sledding area

Sledding area

A church

A church

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educational stops with material regarding glacier history. Ye, those specks are my friend and I

educational stops with material regarding glacier history. Yes those specks are my friend and I.

Eating lunch at the top of Germany with wonderful food and great company.  Watching the climbers and athletes come and go, I could not have gotten much luckier, wink.

What a great day.  I give this visit 5 MEGastars ***** My life was enriched. Stops like this are not about collecting sights.  I learned, had fun, ate great food and I was inspired to get out there and do it.  I gained a sense of awe and one of peace.  The kind that comes from standing in the clouds at the top of a country with warm sun upon your face.  May the road rise to meet you…

MEGatips:  I am not going into the details of how and where and what.  There are fantstic websites that can give you this type of information.   A few pointers that I gained.

  1. Duh on visiting on a cloudless day.  If you are like me, you can’t control that gig.  Go anyway.
  2. It is pretty crowded going up and then down on the cable car.  Plan for waiting.
  3. I got a bit queasy up there. It came and went but know that the altitude can give you a buzz. So drink at your own risk.
  4. Plan on trying some food.  There are truly fantastic places to chow down.
  5. About the climbing.  Bring appropriate attire.  The climbers have that going on.
  6. On that note, remember there is no bad weather only bad clothes.  So don’t wear flip flops.
  7. Do not forget your camera
  8. You can bring children and dogs.
  9. Do some research into the museums if that sort of thing interests you.  There is history and science abound.
  10. Take part in the outdoor scene of this area.  Obviously winter brings another world of mountain fun.
  11. Can’t get there? check out their webcam.

AmsterDAM I Love This City-U.N.E.S.C.O. Bucket List-Bonus!

Like any big city, I could live there for a lifetime and not see everything that I want to see. For me, just walking around this place was a bucket list dream fulfilled. I am 100% sure that I will return to this DAMN fine city.   I had oodles of fun and aside from huge crowds, I can’t wait to get back! This is my DAMN story!  See my MEGaview!

MEGaview

MEGaview

I stayed out of town and parking and traffic basically sucked but the cars were cool.  I ended up taking the damn train anyway.

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Grand Entrance!

Grand Entrance!

Beautiful train station and entrance to a fine city.

I remember feeling so excited to be here and catch a glimpse of Amsterdam.  What a damn stupid pole in my second photo.

This is a walking city. It is also a biking city and I love biking. BIKE ON Netherlands!

Bike ON!

Bike ON!

Holy Bikes!

Holy Bikes!

Wow, pretty as a picture!

Wow, pretty as a picture!

Bike parking in this amazing spot!

Bike parking in this amazing spot!

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Holy Bikes, I love this city!

One of my favorite photos-

Bikes Bikes Bikes!

Bikes Bikes Bikes!

There are lots of squares where people gather.

So, I made the photo of myself very small because IDK what was going on with my Damn hair. The lion looks great however.  This city is ALIVE!

Street Performer's

Street Performer’s

Amsterdam is known for the canals.  Built for trade, there are 165 of them.

Take a canal tour even if it is raining.

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GREAT way to see the city and Canal Ring!

GREAT way to see the city and Canal Ring!

In 2010, the canal ring was made a U.NE.S.C.O. Heritage Site. Since I “collect” these sites, this tour was a winner before it began. The 400 year old series of canals connects this wonderful city.

The tour start just happened to be across from an Irish Pub, I collect these too!

Irish On in Amsterdam

Irish On in Amsterdam

Here are some amazing sights that I saw along the way!

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How cool are these houseboats *Dream House!

People having fun on the canal.

People having fun on the canal.

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Seriously,, You cant make this up! I loved enjoying the different styles of buildings. I began to straighten a few of my photos but remembered the buildings are leaning!

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The Museums here are top notch. They are crowded for sure. See my MEGatips for advice.

The Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s grandest museums, the construction has now finished.

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Anne Frank Haus

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DAMN!

DAMN!

DELFT

DELFT

Delft Museum

FLOWER MARKET

FLOWER MARKET

Had to see the Flower Market. You can have bulbs sent home.  It’s in a place with lots of shops.  There is a cheese store nearby where I had a tasting.  I love to try me some street food and eating herring was on my Amsterdam Bucket List

YUM

YUM

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That was fun.  And to get your drink on

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Watching other people watch stuff. There is more than one way to see a city. This was one of the oldest pubs in Amsterdam. Heineken!

One of the oldest Tap houses in Amsterdam

One of the oldest Tap houses in Amsterdam

What can I say? AmsterDAM I love you!

MEGastars 5 of 5 ***** DUH!

MEGatips

  1. I get that a canal tour might be a touristy thing to do but it is a fantastic way to see the canals and the city. I give this 5 MEGastars ***** Better yet, have a lot of cash? Rent your own damn boat and a boat house to boot
  2. . There are a million ways to tour the canal. I would think one of the specialty tours would be fun! And, I think I will rent a paddleboat next time I am in town. Whatever way you choose, Do NOT miss the canal ring.
  3. Check out the I Amsterdam Card. The discounts may well worth the card. Plus, you can book ahead and pick up at The Visitor Center’s including one in Schiphol Airport. It includes a canal cruise and several of the City Museums including the Van Gogh Museum.Get all of your tickets ahead of thime. The long lines basically suck.
  4. Eat Sardines from a street cart.
  5. Visit the Rijksmuseum. Buy your tickets AHEAD of time. There will still be lines of people but you do not have to go to ticket counter.
  6. You can take the train in from the airport and if you travel light, you can carry your luggage to your hotel. Avoiding car rental altogether. This is a walking and bike city. No problem.
  7. Next time that I go, I am going to use Haarlem as a bounce off spot. The trains were so easy to take. I drove into Amsterdam and parking basically sucked at the time that I went AND I ended up taking the train anyway.
  8. Check out my Instagram for more photos.

Meg Tip Toe’d Through The Tulips-Keukenhof Gardens, Netherlands.

Far Away Friday.  Keukenhof  was  #1 on my garden visit bucket list. Thanks Tiny Tim for inspiring me to tip-toe through the tulips. i did it!

I'm not kidding, I actually DID tiptoe in some ricking boots

I’m not kidding, I actually DID tiptoe in some ricking boots

So one day in May, My dream became a reality.

Welcome to Keukenhof

Welcome to Keukenhof

It’s difficult to pick my favorite photos. I took 586 photos at this garden and kept a few hundred. I only had my Droid phone and a lil Canon point and shoot. The gardens are colorful,quiet,inspiring and out of this world beautiful. Check out my Instagram soon for more photos.

I learned that there are 7 million bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips. And, they are donated by growers for the rights to be “exclusive” and planted by volunteers.  This is genius and what makes this place the best spring garden in the world. Way to go Netherlands!

Paths

Paths

When you walk onto the grounds you noticed paths lined with beds of tulips in every color and in every direction.

Beds

Beds

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Some are straight and some curve like a river-bed

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or a sea!

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The color is so vivid.

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And yet, I love seeing some of my photos in black and white

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There are many varieties of tulips.

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And of course many other bulbs and flowers.

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With every great garden, there is great art. Of course, it is the Netherlands and the bikes represent. I took this pic with my phone and it is one of m y favorites.

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My personal favorite

My personal favorite

And the unconventional which includes blood and bondage. IDK but there is inspiration for every gardener.

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There are also fountains

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Each year there are exhibits both inside and outside. Made me respect how much work goes into this garden each and every year since 1949.

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I absolutely LOVED this grill area.

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The camping area

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I would love to replicate this outdoor room. Check out the walls made of river rock and wire mesh type walls-Awesome!

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A windmill is incorporated into this Dutch garden. Gorgeous!

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One can tour the tulip fields in a silent boat.  I did not do this so it is my #1 MEGatip -Do this!

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Beautiful and inspiring. I wish all of you  gardener ‘s a visit to Keukenhof. We have some mighty big shoes  to fill! Thanks Keukenhof!

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MEGastars I give this garden 5***** stars. It is a world premier garden and I am so happy that I made this mecca.

MEGatips

  1. Take the boat tour of the tulip fields.
  2. GO to this garden and walk around.
  3. There is food on the grounds. Spend the day!
  4. Visit the indoor exhibits.

Magnificent Munich

I am in love. I love Germany, I love Bavaria, I love Munich.  “Far Away Friday” in this great city.

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Bavaria stole my heart.  I wrote in four other parts;Dachau, Rothernburg ob der Tabuer, Wieskirche and Neuschwanstein.  This was one of those MEGASTOPS that will remain with me forever.

While the countryside of Bavaria was fairy tale and peaceful, I found Munich to be energetic, historical and a whole lot of fun.

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Here are a few sights that i took in.

OLD

OLD

Mix of old and new

Mix of old and new

Great mixture of old and new. Beautiful churches with amazing craftsmanship.

Munich is a fun place to walk around and see ‘stuff.”  Great parks, A mix of old and new. Castles, gardens, parks and squares.

Interesting things that I see while zooming around this planet. Yes, it is touristy sight, but I am a tourist, Duh!  And w ho doesn’t have this on their bucket list?

One of the places that represent this city has to be the Glockenspiel in the tower/balcony of the Neues Rathaus. It is in the Marienplatz Square. Since 1908 people have been gathering for the 12 minute scene. 32 figurines that represent stories from Munich’s history, revolve on two levels. Cooper’s dancers, an angel of peace and the city coat of arms. Right on!

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You can go to top of tower and see city sights. On the day that I visited there was construction and I missed out.  I really want to do this and hope I get another chance.

Unusual things Imust see while zooming around this planet

Unusual things I must see while zooming around this planet!

Not pictured is some pretty cool shopping nearby. I didn’t do because I got a bit thirsty. Which brings me to the beer. Born in Milwaukee and raised in Wisconsin.  The largest German population in the U.S.A., there is a little bit of beer, and a whole lot of party. Munich had that familiar spark.

Nearby there is a market not to be missed. Oddly, I must have deleted my photos from the market area.  Viktualienmarkt (a farmers’ market.)  Picture fresh fruits, vegetables, sausage, cheeses and yep beer under beautiful oak trees.  Speaking of beer.

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This is the real deal.  Not a beer drinker?  This location offers a fantastic lunch stop in a beautiful courtyard.   You can wander around inside and buy some goods. Music plays on a stage indoors.  Great menu in a fantastic setting. 5 MEGastars for this place!

My favorite meal in Munich was a completely unexpected find. I peeked into the door of a recommended German restaurant, I just wasn’t feeling it, and decided to walk up the street to a flea market that I had noticed on the drive in.

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I found this neighborhood park. Apparently, it was beer o’clock here.

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I wonder if this man saw my “secret” snap. I was trying to be polite.

I found a full on neighborhood shindig in this lil park. There was a band, food carts, people joining in the music and more beer. I ate the BEST food here. There were about 5 carts with different foods and a bakery cart.  Wish I had more snaps to share.

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The food was not a mutant hybrid.

I may have had some fun here.  Seems I stayed past dark.I took some blurry photos

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Great sites, great walks, great markets, great beer, great friends. What more could a girl ask for?  I have put Oktoberfest onto my bucket list and hope that I can spend a bit more time in  Magnificent Munich!

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I love Germany and it loved me!

And I always try to find a cool toilet.  Outside of that beer garden cause when ya gotta-ya gotta go.  Bring your € !

COOL TOILETS W/C

COOL TOILETS W/C

Some quirky photos are on https://instagram.com/kickingthebucketlistwithmeg/

MEGastars-5***** Love

MEGatips

  1. Spend more than a few days in this fine city.
  2. I stayed in a few Munich locations. I loved Marriott Residence Inn Munich East. In the Haidhausen District. Just steps away from The Munich Ostbenhauf (train station) and just 7 minutes to downtown.  I had a car and there was underground parking.  An amazing breakfast buffet. Super clean-modern rooms and outdoor seating.  A 25 minute drive to the airport and near that fun park. This was one of my favorite stays europe ven alp mun 265
  3. There are many great restaurants nearby. I loved that park.  I also ate at L’ANGOLO DELLA PIZZA – Ristorante, Bar & Holzofen-Pizzeria.  You need reservations but they let me have someone else’s spot as they were late. Oops, sorry, their loss. europe ven alp mun 257

Castles in Bavarian Paradise-Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau

Far Away Friday. #4 of 4, Romantic Road, Bavaria

I absolutely love this area of Germany. It is everything that the photos portray and much more. With a nearly indescribable setting, this entire area is drop dead gorgeous.  Driving through lush farmland with beautiful and historic buildings, and then into a clean lush valley with a view of the forests ,lakes and mountains as a backdrop.   There are two nature preserves in this area. Thank you Germany!  Although this is the most visited site in Germany, there are many outdoor activities for the nature enthusiast who prefers to be away from the masses.  I could see myself in this area for a lifetime.

The road in

The road in

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Neat and interesting architecture everywhere!

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My Wisconsin roots has prepared to me to appreciate beautiful barn buildings!

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And then there are these cuties. Oh, there is this moment that the castle comes into view and it took my breath away. Like a photo hoarder, I kept snapping because the sight was so cool. The romantic road is actually romantic!

This road is actually romantic!

This road is actually romantic!

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King Ludwig II  built Neuschwanstein Castle just a short distance from his childhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle.

Getting closer, one of the first things that I saw was this tidy small church in the meadows.

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Colomanskirche or St. Coloman’s Church, is dedicated to a 13th century Irish pilgrim who passed through on his way to The Holy Land. Accused of being a spy because of his “strange” appearance and unable to defend himself, he was tortured and executed in Vienna, Austria.

europe ven alp mun 094  He was made a Saint by the local people.  Many people park along this road and hike into town. Free parking!

The village of Hohenschwangau serves a the “base camp” for this area. There is a Visitor’s Center. The two castles are visible from the village.

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Hohenschwangau Castle (pictured above,) was the summer and hunting home for Prince, later to be King Maximillian II and his wife Marie of Prussia. Their sons Otto I and Ludwig II.

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There is lodging, restaurants, shopping.   It was very crowded.

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Views around the village

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I visited on a foggy-rainy day. I pride myself on dressing for the elements.  And yet, left my awesome rain gear and hiking boots at the hotel.  #impromptu hiking clothes, no problem.

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There are a few methods which get  visitors up the mountain to see Neuschwanstein;  by horse and carriage, or by bus. Both can get you to within  a 10 minute hike from the castle.And of course by foot or cowboy boots in my case,  The hike is 30-40 minutes up a steep road through the beautiful woods.

One of the first sights that I saw was Marienbrucke, which is a famous bridge built over the Pollat Gorge. I found it a bit harrowing.  I did try, but there was so many people on the bridge, that I could not walk very far onto the bridge without feeling freaked out.  The view from this bridge is magnificent.

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Just to give you some perspective.  Holy #@!

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Not for the faint of heart, but, dang these views!

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Fact: Walt Disney modeled his castle after this one. It truly is a storybook castle.

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Sights on the road up to the castle.

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I saw great views of the countryside from here.  It is free to get into the shop and lower courtyard but to get into the castle, there is a fee.

This is a story of tragedy. It is a long story and is available to you with a quick Google/Wiki click. Tragically, the castle was never completed. 15 rooms were finished before King Ludwig died under mysterious circumstances. It is hard to believe that this castle was built for the primary residence of just one person.

The hike down was probably my favorite and most memorable part of this day-megatrip, I was able to get a sense of the natural majesty of the land. The castle is well known but this hike down the gorge, not so much,I simply stumbled upon it. I saw very few people. If you are physically able,  I highly recommend this hike!

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I love these woods and waterfalls.

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One of my top ten scenic hikes of all time.

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Meg was here!

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Meg was here!

Meg was here!

It started to get a little steep. Nothing like walking on on a path in the area over jagged rock and water.  The path was affixed to the mountainside. I had to get a rock to hold to help stray my mind. I freaked out a little bit. I did see an old lady with heels on and a kid. Whatever.

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idk water thing

idk water thing

The views were completely worth it.

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This place rocked my world. I would absolutely LOVE to go back and spend more time exploring, hiking and biking. I give it an easy 5 MEGASTARS *****

MEGATIPS;

  1. See my instagram for more photos of this majestic place.
  2. To tour the castle, you need to buy tickets below the castle for a guided tour only. Tickets can be reserved on line 2 days prior. Want to save € ?  tickets for both castles can be purchased together.
  3. If you are not physically active, take the bus up. I feel sorry for those horses knees, but the carriage ride up looks pretty.
  4. No photos or filming inside. There are great photos on line.
  5. Fussen, a medieval town a few minutes away is a good place to find food.
  6. If you can hike in this area, DO IT.
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