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Trip to Germany, April 24th, 1998 to May 3rd, 1998.

I landed Saturday, April 25th in Frankfurt. The flight over was uneventful, and entry to the airport was kein problem. I met a couple of Americans in the customs line who were terribly confused, so we chatted and they sorta followed me through the airport (or vice versa - I didn't know much about Germany either). We got the train to Frankfurt and they stayed at the station (they were headed to London, but had taken a cheap standby to Frankfurt, so had booked a train straight out of Frankfurt hauptbahnhof (central train station) to Paris). I wandered the streets of Frankfurt,
Frankfurt Skyline
Skyline of Frankfurt from the bridge near the Hostel  
passing thru a large open air market where people sold what appeared to be whatever was sitting in their junk drawer to anyone who would buy it. I then arrived at the Hostel, and booked a room. While unpacking, another person walked in, by the name of Tim. He had not stayed in a Hostel before, so we chatted for a while about it, and then walked thru the city. Tim was returning from a business trip in India, so while walking thru Frankfurt, much of the discussion actually centred on India and the city of Mumbai. Frankfurt itself was gorgeous, if cloudy. Although it is primarily known for banking, it has a number of beautiful cathedrals and churches, in addition to the plethora of skyscrapers housing various financial institutions. Odd bits for the day included parking the rental car Tim had and getting his clothes to the Hostel (Quoting Tim "I remember carrying that huge luggage around and all I needed was one change of clothes! Next time I pack lighter!").
A Cathedral in the centre of Heidelberg.  

Sunday Tim and I departed Frankfurt and headed south. Our intended destination was unknown
Ulm Cathedral. It's BIG!  
(we both knew where we thought we were headed, we simply hadn't quite communicated that to each other), so we stopped by Heidelberg, where a footrace was being run, and toured its narrow little cobblestone streets, making our way up to the remnants of a beautiful old castle which overlooks the city. We then drove to Ulm in the middle south of Germany (I should point out, of course, that we were driving on the Autobahn, an experience all its own. Only time I've ever been in a car travelling 100 MPH and not been in the left lane, because they were going much faster). We made our way to the Hostel, which was not terribly conveniently located, and then headed into Ulm, having a fairly interesting time with the roads. Ulm has a very large cathedral, and some faily nice walking areas down by the river. Then back to the Hostel, and to sleep.

Houses along the river
View from the castle
View from the castle
Views of Heidelberg.  

On Monday, we packed up our stuff and took a combination of Autobahn and beautiful windy back roads to the city of Fussen. We walked about the city, which had a number of beautiful buildings, a nice waterfall, and the interesting distiction of being within walking distance of Österreich (Austria). So we walked to Austria, and then made our way back to the car to head for the real destination for the day, Castle Neuschwanstein. This is the castle Disney based Cinderella's castle on. It's big, pretty, set in a gorgeous location, and just in general amazing. The walk up to it entailed basically scaling this mountain next to a huge (hundreds of feet, all together) waterfall. Just amazing. There were actually multiple castles in this complex, we visited only Neuschwanstein (really, after that, anything else would have been disappointing). We then departed for Munich. We got thoroughly lost in the dual ring roadway Munich uses, but finally made our way to the Hostel. (Tim -"(I think it was 4 U Munchen) or "for you munchkins" as I at first thought...") This was a non-HI hostel, which means such amenities as beer in the lobby for sale and consumption, and a much looser crowd. We joined an American and a Frenchman for an evening out, discovering (by way of the other American) exactly how New Zealand women can blow off unwanted suitors. Tee Hee. We headed then to the world famous (no, really) Haufbrauhaus, a mishmash of drunken tourists and oompa music. Twisted. (Tim - "Avoided a brawl by leaving... ") There were two terribly drunk people we had the fortune to sit next to, and they were slightly rowdy. Well, perhaps more than slightly.... Then out into the night to find a real bar, and a nice beer all around. Couple of interesting sights that evening - Frenchman making fun/translating the English menu in a German Bar; and a girl we saw twice, both times heavily consulting a map as if thoroughly lost. An energizer bunny of the tourist sort.

Castle Neuschwanstein as seen from the bridge nearby.  

Tuesday took us to the Museum of technology and science in Munich. Huge place with lots of wonderful exhibits and astonishing shows (one on electricity had to have been designed by somebody who just wanted to see the meter go round real fast, as it used 100,000+ volts to make electricity jump across open air - very astonishing). We then headed back down the main road and over to an area of museums all designed around a greco-roman theme. We then packed it up and headed to Frankfurt so Tim could catch his flight the next day. In the hostel in Frankfurt we met Maia, with whom we chatted for a while, and she and I decided to head to Köln the next day.

Wednesday, Tim headed to the airport ("Thought I was going to miss my flight... first I couldn't find the car rental return road, then I found out there was more to changing the departure dates on those tickets than I thought, and to top it all off, there is a HUGE line for the "non-EU" people to get through customs in Frankfurt."), and Maia and I caught a train to Cologne. We see the cathedral (how to miss?!) and find the hostel. It's a huge place, like 8 floors and hundreds of beds. Find out Friday is a holiday and the place will be booked solid. I call Daniella (a girl I attended Uni with in Aberdeen, Scotland) and we decide to meet Thursday evening. Then into Cologne for meandering the city. Specifically searching for an internet cafe/dance club, which apparently had closed down (with a mix like that, I can understand why!).

Köln Cathedral
Cathedral outside the train station in Cologne.  

Thursday - More Cologne - churches are situated about the city, and we visit a number of these. Shopping and just seeing people. We also drop by an internet cafe to catch up on our email. Then I hop a train for Eitorf and tell Maia I'll see her the next day around four to go to Amsterdam. I of course get the wrong train so I end up visiting (for twenty minutes) a town called Hennef. Then with my superior language skills I ascertain I need a different train and get to Eitorf an hour late. Dani had returned home, but thought I might make the next train. She and Anke, a friend of hers from Uni at Bonn (and also an English speaker, thank goodness), drive me back to her place, where Stephen and Carsten are waiting with dinner. Nice relaxing chatter in Germinglish until about 4am. Just fun.

The quaint little town of Hennef.  

Friday - would you believe, a rennaisance festival!? Very fun, in the middle of noplace with a real castle as the backdrop (about a thousand years of history). Lots of cute goods, not as much entertainment in the way we think of a renfest, more of an open air market with medieval goods (and Beer!). Then back to Cologne where Maia and I catch the train to Amsterdam. Arrival in Amsterdam was a mess - turns out it was the queen's birthday, so everyplace is full. We wander for three hours, and finally secure a mattress on the floor of the TV room of the hostel. Then out for a Guinness and a wander through amsterdam. Quite a city to say the least.

Boats in the canals in Amsterdam.  

Van Gogh - Cornfield with Crows  

Saturday - Head to the house Ann Frank hid in during the Nazi occupation. We couldn't get in, 'cause it was so crowded. So we wandered the city and on to the Van Gogh museum, with such pieces as "Sunflowers" and such. Everything was quite crowded. Wrap up the day fairly early. I then realize there's no way in hell I'm gonna make my flight in Frankfurt the next day. So I grab my stuff and snag a train to Munich (finally finding the red light district on my way to the train station). Arrive about ten PM, and just wander the town until 9:54 AM the next day, shooting random photos and seeing all sorts of odd little night life things. Originally had planned to go junk shopping, but none of the stores opened, so I just headed back to Frankfurt. Made the flight, and made it back to the US with no untoward events (except that I was placed in the seat XX XXYO YY where O is me and the Y's are a family I somehow got put between, which meant vicariously having to fly back with mom, pop, and the four year old from Georgia. But they were a nice family. And then, to add insult to injury, when I land in the US customs spot checks me, goes through all my luggage page by page and item by item, and checks my person for drugs. Ack! Then dinner at my girlfriend's parents house and home to bed!

A Red Card for you!!!  

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