Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hot tub and Goulash in Prague, Czech Republic

 

Outside Prague Palace

Outside Prague Palace

Bonnie and I arrived yesterday in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, after some minor travel snafus.  To start with, we took the S1 instead of the S8, which is the S-Bahn that we always previously took to get to the Munich Airport.  Both actually go to the airport, but it turns out that the S1 takes a little longer, and you must be on the right part of the train.  We were not.  We had jumped on the train, not knowing this, and then when they made the announcement we could barely hear it.  It turns out you have to be in the rear cars, otherwise the front part of the train disconnects and goes to a different stop.  We were able to get a bus from the last stop on the train to the airport, but we were cutting it close. Continue reading

Oktoberfest – Day 1

It's like we're Germans!

It’s like we’re Germans!

The day had finally come — the first day of the world-renown festival: Oktoberfest.  When Bonnie and I had first talked about moving to Europe, we had considered several cities and countries to live in.  Bonnie had learned French in high school, and she is fairly good at speaking French, so we considered Paris.  I had studied Spanish in high school, and we also thought about living in Spain — maybe Madrid or Barcelona.  I had originally thought about moving to Europe when I was in college.  I dreamt of one day having a job in London or the U.K.  I had envisioned living in a country that spoke English and traveling throughout Europe from there, as it is pretty affordable to jet around Europe once you are here.  So, I thought, maybe we would move to London.  Then, we both looked at each other, and said “We are Germans”.  Bonnie and I are both 4th generation Germans, and thought it would be very cool to go back to the “Vaterland”.  If we were going to live in Germany, it only seems obvious that we would choose Munich — I mean, this is where Oktoberfest is!

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Firenze

Bridge over the river in Florence

Bridge over the river in Florence

The statue of David was the driving force behind our visit to Florence.  After a delicious breakfast (courtesy of my lovely husband) we all piled into the cars for a road trip.  Brian and I chose to follow the Rhoads’ in our little smart car and I must say, following Randy made the driving experience much more enjoyable than our solo attempt at navigation.  Our first stop in Florence was a gelato stand, I had mento and Brian had fragola (strawberry).  Once we had some sugar in our blood we bounded along the cobbled streets for a few kilometers taking in the new city.

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Driving in Europe and Panzano in Chianti

Our smart car in the driveway at the villa

Our smart car in the driveway at the villa

Our adventure in Florence started with a flight from Vienna to Florence, with a not quite-so-great landing, but I guess any landing you can walk away from is a good one.  After squeezing on a shuttle bus with very obnoxious Americans (not us) and their oversized luggage (again, not us) we picked up our smart car.

We spent 5 full minutes trying to figure out how to open the trunk only to discover that there wasn’t much of a trunk… Bonnie and I just looked at each other and simultaneously said something about being glad we only had backpacks because even those were hard to squish in.  I’m surprised I fit in the car, but it was comfortable.  So, off we went on our first driving adventure in Europe, through the countryside of northern Italy.  We were confident in our printed Google directions, so when the attendant at the rental office asked if we wanted a GPS, we said “no, thanks”.  I had my iPhone, and had purchased an EU travel Internet package on the train in Austria.

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Vienna – Day Two

After the sun came out

After the sun came out

Pouring rain lead to a slow start of day two but Brian and I managed to accomplish almost everything on our list… Albeit a bit wet.  Schönbrunn Palace was stop number one, this was originally a hunting “lodge” for the Hapsburg family.

We’ve been to a few palaces now but this one was especially cool because all of the furnishings were still in place from the early 1700s.  Although the audioguide was very informative we both wished we had retained a bit more information from our European history classes in high school.

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Off to Wien, Österreich (Vienna, Austria)

Our trip to Vienna started off with first-class seats onboard a Railjet hurtling through the countryside and along the Alps at 200km/h (124 mph).  We had planned to arrive in plenty of time before the train departed the central train station in Munich (the Hauptbanhauf), as we had cut it pretty close in the past.  We arrived 45 minutes before our train was scheduled to depart, only to discover that the train was not there, and the train previous to ours, leaving from the same track, was running late (which was shocking to us, considering the timeliness of the German rail system).  So, we grabbed some food and hung out in the train station until our train arrived.

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Exploring Königsplatz and Schwabing

 

Mmmmm, ice cream

Mmmmm, ice cream

After a long week of hard work, we decided to head out and explore more of the city that we are now living in.  We had a mission.  We wanted to find some lederhosen and dirndl for Oktoberfest.  Oh yes, we absolutely intend on wearing traditional Bavarian dress while attending the festivities.  I had read that there was some great architecture around Königsplatz, and Bonnie had done some research on second-hand shops that were located around the area.  So off we went.

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