Since I moved abroad, I think I’ve been pretty lucky with visitors. Oddly enough, more people want to visit someone living in Europe than someone in say… Omaha. At least, I’m guessing so. Back in February, my sister visited us for a week. Her Euro-trip was even dual purpose, as she took the same TEFL course that I did, exactly five years later, and then hopped the border to see us. I hate to say that a week is a short trip, but it really is. There’s so much to see and do around here, that it’s hard to make a plan. Add to that the fact that I needed to work, and well… she’s just going to have to come back so we can do more fun stuff.
We thought some day trips would be a good idea, and one of our options was Bamberg. I’ve only been there once before, if you don’t count train stop overs, which meant there was something to see for both of us. We started off the day at a bakery, so Holly could get a taste of the Krapfen while they were still in season. After that, we wandered through downtown, stopping for photo ops on the river with the Alte Rathaus, or old city hall.
We continued our walk up the hill to check out the Dom (cathedral), the Residenz (palace), and have a nice wander around. The cathedral was fairly impressive, and we took many photos of half-timbered loveliness. Even gray days looks better with half-timbered buildings in them.
At this point, we were a bit chilly and decided it was time to head inside. We decided to check out the tour of the Bamberg Residenz, and joined the next group which was starting in just a few minutes. The tour was only in German – perhaps in the busier season or on different days they have English – but we managed just fine. There was English material available in each of the different rooms to read, and I tried to supplement with my limited German. If it’d been more complicated subject matter than furniture styles, family relationships, and various kings/emperors, I probably would’ve had issues. But I was all over the various kinds of chairs in the rooms. No problem.
Sorry about the blurriness of the second picture. I was really trying to get a quick picture of the awesome unicorn before someone spotted me.
After the tour, we continued our walk up the hill to the Kloster Michaelsberg, which can be seen in the garden photo above. We were hoping for a nice view and maybe somewhere to eat, but weren’t able to find anything open for us. We wandered back down the hill and found a good German restaurant where Holly could experience her first Rauchbier, or smoked beer. This is a particular specialty in Bamberg, and a very divisive one as well. It tastes a lot like eating some kind of pork product, thus neatly eliminating the need to order an actual meal. We were pretty hungry though, so we indulged in some food as well as our liquid lunch. I’m a big fan of the Rauchbier, and Holly was as well, so we made a stop on the way back to the station to pick up some for her to take home to America. If they made it there, I can’t say for sure.
The next few days of her visit were spent kicking around the house, making many visits to the Tierheim in Nürnberg while we tried to decide on a cat, and Holly even joined me for a day at “work.” It’s quite useful having a visitor come to an English class because that meant I hardly needed to do anything. I pretty much said, “Okay guys, talk to our guest,” and off they went. You can’t go wrong with that… plus that way Holly could see what an English class can be like. Since she’s going to be heading to Korea soon, I thought that’d be useful. German engineers are pretty much the same as little Korean kids, right? Either way, it was entertaining.
The following Saturday we decided to train it down to Munich for the day. A friend of Holly’s from her TEFL course was also staying in the area, and we planned to meet up and see what there was to see. I’ve been to Munich about 85 times now, and I finally feel like I know my way around. Or, at least around the major tourist area, which is good enough for a day trip.
As per usual on a Saturday morning, we had a Bayern Ticket-packed train. The typical groups of hikers, families, and bachelor parties joined us for the ride, enjoying the sun as it streamed through the windows. We had a truly glorious sunny day, and everyone was taking advantage of it. After we arrived, we collected Holly’s friend, and headed for the center. We stopped off at Marienplatz, and then wandered through the Viktualienmarkt, a huge open-air market selling everything from fresh-squeezed juice, to soap, to arts and crafts. I wanted to check out a store in the area, and then we decided it was beer o’clock. What can I say… all the smells of sausage in the air make people thirsty.
Naturally when you’re in Munich and it’s a gorgeous day outside, one of the best places to head is the huge park, the Englischer Garten. Just follow the signs for the Chinese tower and you’ll find half of the city lounging around with jackets undone and faces turned to the sun. All the food and drink stands were open for business, and when we arrived it was still easy to get a seat. A few hours (and beers) later, it was a lot more crowded, so it pays to start early!
The rest of the day was pretty much spent beer-hopping around town. Holly’s friend requested that we visit the Hofbräuhaus, because even though she was thinking she might stay around Munich, her current host was not a beer drinker and she wanted to seize the opportunity. We couldn’t really argue with that, and off we went. Things started to get a little sillier there… and Holly’s friend Duck came out to play.
Duck has many adventures in the world; Korea should probably look out for him.
We left the Hofbräuhaus and went in search of dinner at the Augustiner Bräustuben. After a much-needed walk, and a few laps around the restaurant, we managed to grab a seat. There was more beer, delicious German food, and then it was time to pack it in. We had to catch a fairly early train, so we decided it was best to get to the station sooner than later, and we could just hang out there. With more beer. And jewelry shopping. Because that’s what you do in train stations.
Like I said at the beginning, seven days just isn’t enough time to fit in everything you might want to do around here. The good news is, we have more things to do on Holly’s next visit. The bad news is, we have no idea when that might be. Hopefully we at least got enough beer and pretzels to tide her over for awhile. Come back soon, Squeaky!