Weird and Wacky Wednesday: Vol. 2

Today’s Weird and Wacky Wednesday post is brought to you by the striking DB, as they are responsible for some of yesterday’s nonsense.
I don’t have any pictures today, instead just some observations on yesterday’s commute.
~ A very popular kind of bike here is called Hercules. Today I saw a Hercules bike with the model ‘Los Angeles.’ I found this amusing because I’m pretty sure no one in LA has a bike past the age of 10. Perhaps with the exception of bike messengers, I hear that everyone there prefers to own a car that they can’t drive more than 45 mph because of constant gridlock traffic.
~ Riding public transit means you see people carrying some weird stuff sometimes. Today’s favorite was a guy who got on carrying only a Swiffer mop, and dangling a loaf of sliced white bread. Or, as the Germans call it, toast bread (be sure to say that with a certain amount of disdain). I almost wanted to invite him over to clean our place and make me a grilled cheese.
~ Student quote of the day: “I have moles (pronounced moe-lay) on ecstasy!” Said by one of my tech guys, while describing a particularly industrious garden-dweller at his house. This led to a discussion on if he meant ecstasy or cocaine…
Teaching English… Not what you thought it would be.
~ When I came back through the Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof after work, it was the middle of rush hour. Adding to the madness was a camera crew smack in the middle of the fray. Hey, I understand they want that action, and to show/hear how people will be affected, but oh my God people would not move!
If you want to watch them film, how about moving off to the side? Nope. Instead people were coming up the escalator, stepping off, and stopping short to watch. It was impossible to get through with my giant work bag without hitting people, and I may have whacked a few on purpose. Post-work passive-aggressive Heather is not to be messed with.
~ The last observation of the day is possibly the weirdest of all.
I witnessed strangers… talking to each other… on a train… during the week.
I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Strangers… talking… on a train. Mid-week.
For you non-Germany living people, this almost never happens. That thing where Americans will strike up a conversation in line at the bank? That doesn’t exist here.
The perpetrator was already on my shit-list before we got on the train for his salmon behavior, but then the driver made an announcement about the strike. He was apparently the last person in Germany to hear about this strike. This is pretty much what followed (translated from ze Deutsch)…
Salmon man: WHAT? What did he say?
Unfortunate blond woman next to him (blond 1): The trains are striking from tomorrow until Monday.
Salmon man: What?
Blond 1: The trains are striking. From tomorrow at 2am until Monday at 4am.
Blond with newspaper in front of them (blond 2): They’re striking again (holds up newspaper).
Salmon man: Strike? What? Shit.
Blonds (in chorus): The trains aren’t driving from tomorrow until Monday.
Boys across aisle: He said you can go to the internet and see what trains are driving.
Salmon man: What? Internet? Shit. What?
Blonds in chorus again: The. Trains. Are. Striking!
Blond 2: Look! It’s right here! (Holds up newspaper, he gets up to look)
Blond 1: Do you speak English? (In English and very loudly, then leans across aisle to say…) he stinks like alcohol.
Salmon man: Shit! I must work tomorrow. I must go to Nürnberg.
Blond 1: Yes, I also must work tomorrow.
Others around: Yes. Us too. The buses will go, or you must use a car.
Salmon man: Bus? What?
Blonds: Yes, buses drive.
Salmon man: What? Buses? What?
Blonds: Yes. Buses drive. Bus 70 goes from Zirndorf to Nürnberg.
Salmon man: Bus to Nürnberg?
Blond 1: Bus 70. Seven. Zero. (in German)
Salmon man: Bus seven?
Blond 1: Bus 70 (in German) bus 70! (In English with drawing of numbers in air)
Salmon man: Bus. Shit.

Then he got on the phone to yell more with someone else about the strike. It was very odd. He was speaking German, but didn’t seem to hear/understand anything anyone was saying. There was much spelling out of things- including a whole part of spelling out the Deutschbahn website address that I omitted here because it was repeated at least 5 times before someone just dug out paper and wrote it down for him. He did reek like booze so I’m sure that was part of it but good lord. It went on for the entire ride from Fürth to Zirndorf, which is about 15 minutes. Usually people actively ignore each other on the train (especially during the week), but this time the whole car was involved. Doesn’t sound like much but for here? Weird and wacky for sure.

Work Appreciation

Last Thursday I had a bit of a rough time getting to work. Deutschbahn was doing construction between Erlangen and Fürth, which led to me playing my very own version of ‘Planes, Trains, & Automobiles,’ with my trip being titled ‘Trains, Buses, & Taxicabs.’ Good times. This construction will be going on for the next few weeks, but I couldn’t find any definitive changes to the schedules online in preparation for this week. So this morning I just decided to catch an earlier train, and hopefully that would compensate for any delays.

But of course, this morning the trip was all smooth sailing. Construction is still going on, but apparently my route was finished, because we weren’t even a minute behind today. That meant that I arrived in my destination village an hour and fifteen minutes early… nice one, self.

Instead of being upset about the fact that I could have slept longer, I decided to have some breakfast, take a walk, and share some things that I fully appreciate about my trips to the village on Thursdays…

  • So. Much. Color. Riding the rails to Erlangen takes you past so many fields of gorgeous color right now. Vegetable fields are sprouting right next to huge patches of wild grass and flowers that are a riot of yellow, white, blue, purple, and absolutely popping with poppies. Fields of of rye (or some kind of grain) are almost as blue as they are golden, because they’re so full of cornflowers. It’s gorgeous, and I love it. I can’t get any decent shots from the train but here are some flowers from my pre-work walk….

  • Spots of village life. One of my favorite train sightings is a barn on the edge of one town. On the side of the building is a huge cartoon donkey, with a sign proclaiming their pride at having a 30-year old animal. Yay old donkey!
  • Other animal sightings, such as dogs trotting down lanes after their biking owners, or cats stalking through fields. This morning I was just passing a horse pasture on the bus when suddenly a black and white cat leaped onto one of the fence posts in full-on stalking mode. I’ve been in major “I need an animal” mode lately, and seeing cute things like that does not help. 
  • Speaking of trotting down lanes, I love all the paths that criss-cross the fields. Since I was so early today I took advantage of that and went for a walk down one of them….
Apologies for the blurry flowers… they wouldn’t stop moving.
The pond was busy this morning, full of frogs, ducks, and a giant white goose.
Watching your step = very important.
  • Lastly, I love being able to sit outside the bakery and have a pastry in the morning. I’m not a big breakfast person, and it’s not often that I have this opportunity. But usually my stomach has woken up by the time I get to the village and so it’s great to make a stop. Like most bakeries, this one has some non-paying customers, and this little guy and his friend helped me with my pastry crumbs. BV was recently telling me that these birds are endangered, which is pretty surprising when you see them stalking you outside every shop. Bread is okay for them, but apparently you shouldn’t leave them fatballs in winter. Good to know.


Anybody else have a nice commute to share?
Oh, and happy Fourth to all you Americans out there! Have a burger for me. 🙂

Oh, German Names.

Last week Wednesday I started some new English courses at a new company. Overall I think they went fairly well, and the students all seem motivated, which is always a bonus. I’m taking over the classes from a fellow teacher who’s moving on. It seems that he’s kept them all pretty happy for the last two years, so my challenge is to keep them happy.

At the end of the day I was pretty pleased with how the first lessons went, and felt fairly optimistic for the course. And then I saw this, which I’m taking as a good sign. 

Yes, that’s the name of a furniture company.

Yes, I burst out laughing in an empty conference room like a crazy person.

Yes, some days I’m still 12 years old. 

On occasion you run across some names here that give you the case of the giggles. A huge ‘Assmann’ sign is also plastered across a building near Plärrer here in Nürnberg. I’ve never gotten a picture of it, but it usually causes me to chuckle when I ride the tram past. 

It really is the little things. Just don’t even get me started on the abbreviation for Nürnberg Public Transport aka Verkehrsaktiengesellschaft aka…

Via

Yep, VAG. And you see it all over the city. If you go to their website, you can even see links to “Meine VAG,” which seems a bit… forward to me.

Anyone else have a funny name to share??

P.S.~ This kind of pertains, back from when I first got here….

Rejoice All Nürnberg-Adjacent Cheapskates!

Well, maybe rejoice. 

I just read the very exciting news that Europe’s most love-to-hate airline, Ryanair, will be launching six new routes out of our very own Nürnberg airport this coming April. Now if you’ve never had the experience of flying on Ryanair, you might be wondering about what’s not to love about cheap cheap cheapy flights. Well… I’ve flown Ryanair twice and I have to say, there are a couple of things….

Via

1) Airports in the middle of nowhere. When I went to Rome back in February, we flew out of Memmingen, which at the time was advertised as “Munich West” on the Ryanair website. It no longer says that, but I’m guessing someone complained about the fact that the “Munich West” airport was a two-hour train ride from Munich. This is a fairly common practice with Ryanair, so keep that in mind. On the other hand, when I flew from Prague to Dublin, that’s exactly where the plane went, so depending on the city and how many airports there are, you might be okay. However, on that flight we ran into another minor snag…

2) Oh to be an EU citizen. It would be great for so many things, one of them being flying with Ryanair. I was traveling to Dublin with another American, and had dutifully printed out our tickets in advance, as Ryanair charges you to print them or check-in at the airport rather than online. One teeny, tiny problem though. On the tickets it clearly stated that any non-EU citizens needed to have their passports/visas checked, and the tickets stamped. Since we had already done the online check-in, when we arrived at the airport we skipped going to the counter and headed straight for security. Because why go to the check-in counter if you’re already checked in, right? That’s what we thought. 

We went through security, got our passports stamped, and headed for our gate. At the gate, there was another ticket check, after which you were herded into the cow pen to await the shuttle buses. We were fairly close to the front of the line, and pretty pleased about that. We watched the people ahead of us attempt to make their hand luggage as small as possible (more on that in a second), and congratulated ourselves on our efficient packing. Famous last words. When it was our turn for the ticket check, we were sternly told that we had missed the visa check. Foolishly we had thought that the multiple security checks that we had gone through were all that was required. Nope. The ticket agents told us that we’d have to move over to the side (where all the people were frantically stuffing their luggage), and wait for someone to come and stamp it for us. 

I’ve read some horror stories from other people flying Ryanair who did the same thing and ended up being completely denied entrance to the plane, so I guess we were pretty lucky. At the time though, we anxiously watched the entire line pass us by, as we waited, waited, and wondered if we were going to get to Dublin after all. Finally though the person who was working the check-in desk moseyed her way back to the gate, and barely even glanced at our passports before stamping them. The silver lining to this was that we were some of the last people into the cow pen, which meant last onto the bus, which meant last onto the plane and in the very back row. When we got to the gate in Dublin, they opened both doors and we were off that bitch lickety split. Sweet!

3) Now for the baggage issue. Basically if you have any desire to bring more than a toothbrush and extra socks with you, I’d consider another airline. Ryanair has, by far, the strictest luggage policy I’ve ever encountered. When they say one carry-on, they mean one carry-on. Ladies, that means that you need to stuff your purse into your backpack before they let you through that door. But even stuffing might not work, because their luggage size rack is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. This is the best picture I can find…

Via

Really this doesn’t do it justice. It’s real small. A part of me appreciates this, because it seems like every time I fly, everyone else on the plane is trying to stuff suitcases/musical instruments/hockey bags* into the overhead compartments, and I end up having to put my purse or backpack under the seat and so I lose out on that valuable foot space.  But the other part of me wants to bring more than a toothbrush and pair of socks when spending the weekend in another city. 

4) Don’t expect a relaxing flight. Between the flight attendants going up and down the aisle trying to sell you things, the commercials on the TV screens, and the sound effects for landing, you probably won’t get to nap. Luckily most of the flights are so short that you can probably ward off a migraine with an aspirin.

*****


Overall, I’d say I’ve had fairly tame Ryanair experiences. If you want to read some horror stories just head on over to Google and you’ll find plenty to read. But if you live nearish to Nürnberg, starting in April you can look forward to quick and cheap flights to Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the U.K. Hello spring break in the south of Spain! And maybe, just maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll have managed to push through this ‘standing room seats’ idea, and we can do it even cheaper. Yep, seriously. Standing room seats. Good luck with that one.  

*Seriously. I was on a flight in the U.S. with a hockey team. THOSE BAGS ARE TOO BIG TO CARRY ON. But they alllllllll did. I get that nobody wants to pay to check bags in the States anymore, but if you can’t afford the $25** bag fee, should you be flying??  
**Is it still $25? $50? Someone let me know. Either way. CHECK THE HOCKEY BAGS.

 

Three Days in Deutschland: Day Two

For our Tuesday day trip, Courtney and I settled on heading down to Munich. I’ve been there a whole pile of times now (insert jaded expat voice here), but since there are plenty of options on what to do in a day there, that’s where we decided to go. 

Day Two: 

Courtney asked what there was to do in Munich, and we discussed the options. We could do a free tour, visit the Hofbräuhaus, the English Garden, check out some palaces, or the Olympic Park. But like many Americans who have been far over-exposed to the History Channel, when I said the word, ‘Dachau,’ she said, “let’s do that!” For me, I’ve done the concentration camp thing, both in the Czech Republic (Terezin), and in Poland at Auschwitz. I pretty much feel that if you’ve seen one horrible reminder of human tragedy, you really don’t need to see another. But since Courtney was into the idea and we have no idea when her sperminated self will be able to travel to Euro-land again, I said okay.

Again we used the Bayern ticket for our day’s travels, which very handily covers your trips on local public transportation as well. This was great in Munich, as we needed to use the S-Bahn for the 20-minute trip to the outskirts of the city where Dachau is located. When you reach the Dachau Bahnhof, you will have no problem finding the bus to the camp. Just follow the crowds of tourists with cameras slung around their necks. Done and done. The bus was horribly crowded, but at least we knew we were going to the right place.

The bus drops you off right at the Visitor’s Center, where you find the usual information center, cafeteria, restrooms, etc. Entrance to the site is free, but you can arrange for a tour, or pay less than 5€ for an audioguide. We picked up an audioguide and followed the stream of people down towards the gate. In front of the gate you can see the remainder of the brick road that prisoners were made to walk on from the station to the camp. 

Slight digression: There was a family a bit in front of us, and they all stopped for a photo op on the road by the gates. We saw this a few times throughout the day, and I saw it when I visited Auschwitz as well. I took a few pictures in both camps, but to me it just seems odd to have a picture of your family grinning away in front of the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ gate. It’s such an infamous image and in my mind there is nothing but sadness associated with it… I just don’t understand why you’d want a happy family photo in front of something like that. There are so many other great photo opportunities in Germany, I guess I’d just leave this one off the list. Okay, digression over.

Okay, so I think smiley photos are weird, but I did take a couple…

We started in the main exhibition building which you see in the picture above. Inside is enough information to make anyone’s head start to spin. It goes chronologically through the rise of the Nazi party, and the start of the war. There is also a history of the Dachau camp specifically, the different prisoners and groups that were brought to the camp, and what the conditions were like for the different prisoners. In the middle of the exhibition is a theater, and you can watch a movie that covers the history of the camp from the beginnings to the Allied liberation. If you have a weak stomach, I would skip the movie. That’s all I’ll say about that. 

After the film, we had enough of the exhibition, and headed back out into the sun.  That means we skipped the whole second part of the inside, which apparently covers the final years of the camp and liberation, but really we couldn’t see/read anymore. We had the audioguide, but there was more to read than our eyes could handle. Instead we went outside, and into one of the remaining bunkhouses that you can see. Afterwards it was a long walk down the tree-lined central road, past the foundations of all the long-gone prisoner houses.  Visiting places like this on a nice day always feels a bit strange, but not too much we could do about the weather. At the back end of the camp there are memorials from the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths, as well as a Carmelite convent where The nuns regard it as their duty to offer prayers of worship and atonement at this sight of immeasurable suffering and inhuman atrocities.” (via

From there we turned left and went to the site of the former crematorium. The sight of people snapping pictures inside made me kind of nauseous again, so it was a short visit for me. Once you’ve seen people-sized ovens, that’s kind of enough for the day. 

In short, if you haven’t been to one of these places before, and you have any interest in going, I’d say it’s worth a visit. Maybe it was just me, but it seems like we spent a ton of time in school studying World War II, and there are no shortage of shows about it on TV, so most people have at least some knowledge about it. But seeing it in person is a whole other horrifying experience. Both Dachau and Auschwitz were excellently done memorials, with more information than anyone should ever read in a day. That’s all I have to say about that, but if you want more info on Dachau, you can visit them at Dachau Memorial Site

After a few hours at the camp, we headed back into the city for a mid-afternoon lunch at the Hofbräuhaus. Because even though Courtney couldn’t drink the beer, that’s where you should go in Munich, right? On the way, we stopped at the Frauenkirche, Marienplatz, and saw the Rathaus/Glockenspiel. 

When we arrived at HBH (I’m lazy, sorry), I was a little surprised to see how empty it was inside. I’ve been there quite a few times now, and it’s allllllways busy! But when we got to the back of the restaurant, we could see that it was only empty inside because everyone was out in the beer garden! It was a gorgeous day, so we decided the garden was the place to be, and we grabbed the only free table we could see right next to the central fountain.

The waiter came around to take drink orders, and while poor Courtney was stuck with her typical German drink choice of Apfelschorle, I could at least indulge in a beer. I asked for a beer, the waiter looked and me and said halb?”

Seriously guy? What do I look like? A girl? An American? No sir. 

“Nein, ein Maß, bitte.”

Happily, Court could still pose with and smell my beer. Next trip she’ll get to drink some… 

Just like the day before at Weltenburg, the menu at HBH was a bit tricky for me to translate. They did have an English menu of course, but before we got one, I got to take a very amusing video of Courtney attempting to read the German one for us. Unfortunately I can‘t get the damn thing to load on here, but I‘ll work on that one for the future. Because it‘s funny!

I have no idea what we ate, bread and pretzels for a starter definitely, and I think Spätzle may have been involved, but I remember it was good. Food at HBH has always been good in my experience, so if you‘re in Munich, head on over. 

To walk off our lunch, we decided to go check out the Olympic Park in Munich, the site of the 1972 summer games. We got down into the U-Bahn and settled in for the ride. However, we had a few problems. 

The first problem came when two very loud middle-aged American women sat down across the aisle from us. They then proceeded to have a full-volume conversation about a large family group who got on, wherein they tried to deduce where the family was from, by spewing a whole pile of stereotypes right in front of them. Guess what? They might not understand every word you say, but most people here do speak SOME English. So when you’re talking about the women in brightly colored clothing/headscarves, and their several children/strollers, and the two guys with them, some of those people can probably understand you. They then went on to have a conversation with another woman who was definitely not a native English speaker, but was an  English teacher in Munich, who proceeded to wax philosophical about life in Germany. My favorite part came when she was describing how small the country was, and told the two Americans that Germany is 1/10 the size of Texas. Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure my geographical knowledge isn’t that far off. To be clear, according to the mighty and all-knowing Wikipedia, Germany is 137,847 square miles, and Texas is 268,581. Smaller? Yes. 1/10? Not even remotely close. I shouldn’t judge though… math isn’t some people’s strong suit. 

Idiots aside, a few stops into our trip we ran into train delays. We sat in one station for quite a few minutes, and heard some unintelligible announcements. Then, we found ourselves going backwards on the train. When we arrived in the next station we could see the delay announced on the notice board, and something about a bomb. Yep, a bomb. 

We were there August 28th, also known as the day when a 550-pound American bomb from World War II was found in the middle of the city. Needless to say, we weren’t getting anywhere we wanted to go at that point. Finding old bombs is fairly standard issue here, but this was the first time I’ve been so close to it. Here are a couple of articles, and videos of the explosion that we could have stuck around to hear that evening….

Spiegel Online: WWII Bomb Discovered in Munich City Center
BBC: WWII US Bomb Detonated in Munich

Courtney found it a bit ironic, as when she was studying abroad in France, she had to skip a planned trip to Madrid because of the bombings there. Maybe it’s her…

Since it was apparent we weren’t getting to the Olympic park that day, we scrapped the plan, left the U-Bahn, and did some wandering around the city before going back to the station to get a train back to Nürnberg. 

During the House Hunters International shoot, we were pretty much dead to the world at the end of the day, so we hadn’t been out in the city at all in the evenings. I decided that we should get out at least one night, so when we got off the train in Nürnberg, we went straight down to the river to one of my favorite places for an evening drink, the Kettensteg restaurant. This is a really nice beer garden and German restaurant right on the river near the Hallertor in the old city. I don’t have any pictures of it, but here’s one from the interwebz…

Via

We were joined for a drink by HP of my recent hiking adventures, because I felt that Courtney needed to meet some more of the lovely German people. So we had a nice evening by the river, and relaxed a bit before her last full day in ze Deutschland…

Three Days in Deutschland: Day One

After the insanity of the Budapest/Greece trip, I came back to Germany and into the insanity of the House Hunters International shoot. 

As I mentioned mid-shoot, my friend Courtney came over and was my co-contributor for the show. This was pretty awesome, as she had wanted to come visit me for some time, but couldn’t due to her insane schedule. For some reason she thought that working full-time, going back to school to become a nurse, and getting married last year were all more important than visiting me in Euro-land! The audacity, I tell you. But when I said, “hey, they want me to do HHI,” she pretty much jumped across the ocean at the chance to do it with me. That solidified my decision on whether or not to do the show, and got her ass over here, so I figure that‘s a win-win for everyone involved. 

I picked her up on Thursday morning, and we spent Friday-Sunday filming the show. But that left three days after we wrapped before she had to fly back to the States. I had some ideas about different things we could do, but hadn’t planned anything specific for her time because we thought it would be a bit better to just play it by ear. We tossed around a few ideas, but finally settled on just doing two day trips, and then going to Frankfurt the day before her early morning flight. 

Day One:

For our first day trip, we decided to go check out the Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg, which has been brewing beer since 1050. I’d wanted to go see this brewery for a few months, but hadn’t had the opportunity to do so yet. The only flaw in this plan (and the rest of the plans in Germany), was that Courtney had found out that she was pregnant one week after she booked her ticket to come here. Well played, indeed. But she said that if she didn’t visit one of the oldest breweries in the world, people would be disappointed in her, so off we went. 

The good news is that it isn’t just a beautiful old monastery, but the trip there is lovely as well. With our trusty Bayern Ticket in hand, we had a nice morning train/bus ride through the countryside to the town of Kelheim.  

From there, you can board a boat that takes you through the Danube gorge to the monastery. We did have some trouble finding the boat… it’s literally across the parking lot from the bus station where we got off, but as we had crossed a river on the way there, we walked back that way and found ourselves at the wrong place. This was partly due to my diabolical plan to make Courtney walk more than Americans are used to (sweeping generalizations!). No, not really. We just went the wrong way. But a bit of backtracking and we found the right place. 

I had heard from a few people that a nice thing to do was to take the boat to the monastery and then walk back (or vice versa), so we thought about doing that, but figured it was best to buy round-trip tickets just in case. That will run an adult 9€ apiece, and one-way is 5€. When we got on the boat, we were the only ones there, so we had high hopes that we would have the place to ourselves. After all, it was a Monday, so shouldn’t people be at work? But then again, it was the tail end of August, which means it was still holiday time here in Bavaria, so of course our boat filled up before we took off.

Courtney surveys the seating choices.
Boo, people.

One of the things I love about Germany is that you can almost always get a beer or an ice cream somewhere. Since we didn’t have breakfast yet, I skipped the beer for the moment. Instead we both opted for ice cream in orange juice. The best kind of breakfast!

The boat trip to Weltenburg takes about forty minutes, and they provide the usual boat tour commentary, in German and English, which was nice. They point out different things in the rocks, and I had flashbacks to the Dells Boat Tours back home. Fun stuff. Although I don’t think they serve beer on those boats. Anyway. It’s a nice trip up the river, and you can watch the less lazy people walking or cycling along the river path. 

I think there were faces here. But I don’t remember.
Prague reference: St. John of Nepomuk.

Weltenburg Kloster

When we arrived at the monastery, it was right about lunchtime and the beer garden was completely packed. We decided to walk around a bit, and I had heard that there was a nice view up the hill, so that’s where we started. 

Nun-spotting.

We followed these signs and found ourselves in a small store selling paintings, prints, and a whole lot of frames. I took the opportunity to do some Instagram self-portraiting…

After we had decided that we weren’t in the market for any paintings of old German gentlemen or birds, we continued walking up the hill. There were two paths to follow, both with the stations of the cross, but one going to the top of the hill, and one going to a small chapel. We went towards the chapel…

Path up the hill…
View down over the Kloster.
In the chapel.

Courtney resting her feet.
Sweet sunglasses pic!

After the chapel, we walked back down to see if we could visit the inside of the monastery itself. We went into the main church

… another Baroque hall….

 
…and a gift shop. Sorry, no photos of that. Disappointing, I know.

After our short tour, we were ready for some lunch, and luckily the beer garden had cleared out a bit so we could get a seat. Even more luckily, they had an English menu at the restaurant. I normally do alright with menus, but there was a fair amount on this one that I had absolutely no idea what it could be. And neither did Google translate on my phone. Not so helpful. I went for something off of the seasonal menu

Pasta with venison, mushrooms, and preiselbeeren. All the translators keep claiming that those are cranberries, but I don’t buy it. They’re too small and they don’t taste the same. Similar yes, but the same, no. Either way, they are often found with venison dishes, and it’s a good combination. And of course, I had a beer with it, which you can see up in the corner there. 

After we ate, we literally had to run for our boat in order to make our bus back. So there went our plan of walking back along the river. But the good news is that I got to have another beer on the boat. But if you plan on doing that, be aware that the trip back only takes 20 minutes. Which means that you might have to drink that beer much faster than normal. Consider yourselves warned. After that we grabbed our bus, and headed back to Nürnberg to plan our next day trip…
 
More information:
Weltenburger Kloster 

Let’s Start at the Beginning: Vacation Part One

First off, I’d like to apologize to anyone who’s tried commenting recently and had issues! I know those captcha things are super annoying, but when I turned it off a few weeks ago, I got like 20 spam comments in a day. This irritated the hell out of me, so I turned it back on. But it was just brought to my attention that people are getting told that they aren’t correct when they enter them, and so they aren’t able to comment. Sorry about that! I’m turning it back off now, so please leave comments because I do love them. BUT if you are an evil spambot commenter, I will hunt you down and beat you severely about the head and shoulders with my shoe. A heavy one too… not a flip flop. But on to the fun stuff! 

Being that I was on vacation for two weeks, I’m going to break it up a bit into separate posts. So today we’ll start with a bit about the trip to Budapest. I posted a few pictures from the train on the way, but I lost wifi when I left Germany, so I have quite a few more for you. These are all from the iPhone, so apologies for the not-so-fantastic quality. They look good on the phone though! We’re going to be a bit long here, so I’ll send this one off… click away!


I tried to take pictures in a lot of the stops we made along the way, because I have ‘stalker mode’ turned on with the phone, and one of my favorite features of the iPhone is the photo map. I’m a big fan of putting as many dots on my map as possible, and now I can follow my whole train trip with the dots. I’m easily entertained, I guess. 

The few weeks before vacation I had really been working my tail off. I had to do testing in 10 of my 16 classes, which meant writing, administering, and grading tests, plus writing reports about all the classes with the test results. I was pretty much completely exhausted after this, and was in dire need of vacation. Oddly, one of the things that I was most excited about was my 8-hour trip to Budapest on a train. Why? Because I would get to sit on my ass for eight whole hours with nothing to do. This was ridiculously exciting to me. Maybe a little sad, but true. So, to the trip! 

Nürnberg:

I know I posted this one already but I like it. Deal.

Regensburg:

Woo! Train platforms!

Assorted Germany:

Rivers! Woo!

Linz, Austria:

I had to change trains in Linz, so I said Tschüss to my comfy ICE ride. Little did I know….

The Austrian countryside:

When I got on the new train in Linz, it was pretty much full already. But everyone on the platform still tried to struggle through the aisles in search of seats that most definitely did not exist. This led to people basically having to climb over each other in order to get to their reserved seats, and kicking out the people who were already sitting in them. This also led to people being a bit on the rude side, but given the circumstances it was pretty understandable. Between the tuna-can packed full cars, the luggage all over the place, and the general sense of disorder, it was a royal pain in the ass. 

After it became apparent that there were no seats to be had, I said “to hell with it,” and dragged my suitcase back out of the car into the doorway at the end of the compartment. There were already people sitting in three of the four doorways, but I claimed the last spot. Honestly, sitting on the step and looking out the door’s window was infinitely more comfortable than standing with my suitcase in the middle of an aisle. Only downfall to this was being right next to the bathroom. It was mostly okay, but right when I decided to eat the sandwich I’d picked up in Linz, someone went in the bathroom and judging by the smell, died in there. Oh the joys of public transit. Luckily I was used to it after our ill-fated trip to Poland a few years ago.

Overall though, it was pretty comfortable. Right up until about 20 minutes outside of Vienna, when a large group of Japanese teenagers started to congregate in the doorway. I’d seen their group leader run through the cars and I understand that it’s a big job to round up a large group of kids, but did they really need to stand in the doorway for 20 minutes hitting myself and the others sitting there in the heads with their backpacks? No. No they didn’t. Also, they were in and out of the bathroom and it got a little hairy for a bit with the smell. On the bright side, the train emptied enough in Vienna that I was actually able to get a seat after that. Let’s hear it for chairs!

Vienna West:

Repetition in Austria:

I don’t know what they’re building, but that is A LOT of cranes.

And A LOT of turbines
I ♥ Instagram.
And lots of poles. (That’s what she said.)

Finally in Hungary! Gyor: 

Exciting, no?

And get me off of this bloody train after 8 hours… in Budapest:

Train rides are great though. I really do enjoy sitting back, relaxing, and watching the scenery go by. Bonus points if you get a chair. So that was the trip to Budapest, and stay tuned for the recap of what we got up to there!

Süsser Freitag…. And We’re Off!

Happy Friday and good morning from an ICE train 30 minutes out of Nürnberg. That’s right, it’s time for vacation and now that I’m in the future, I can update along the way…

I have to say, winding our way south through the sun-soaked fields and woods in the morning while listening to ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay is just delightful. Anyway.

There won’t be any cake today; instead I’d like to share something exciting I found.

Cookies.

The Le Crobag at the train station has delicious cookies. This is not something you find every day in these parts, so in lieu of my normal slice of cake, please accept these cookies. Which I bought for my morning train ride. Soooo, for breakfast. I’m on vacation, don’t judge me.

Additionally, here are some quick snaps from the train. I’m on the blogger app so I can’t format anything properly, has anyone else using the app found a solution to this??

Entering/Exiting a Train for Idiots

-or- helpful hints from ze Deutsch.

I love public transportation. I really do. Minus the occasional accident, weather-related kerfluffle, or construction tie-up, it’s fast, efficient, and gets me where I need to go.

However.

I do not love public transportation etiquette. Or, more precisely, the lack thereof. 

Granted, if I compare Nürnberg to Prague, Nürnberg comes out miles (okay, kilometers), ahead, but it’s still far from perfect. Yes, people give up their seats for old ladies. But then they also spill stuff on the floor, block exits with strollers the size of a Humvee, and do other things that are politely discouraged on the “Bitte nicht…” signs.

But the thing that really, really, makes me nutty, is how people get on and off the damn train. Or subway, tram, bus, whatever else you can ride. Are you ready for my helpful hint? Wait for it…

Hint: Do not stand directly in front of the doors. If you stand to the SIDE, everyone can exit the train, and then you can get on without looking like a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The train is not going to leave without you. 

Admittedly in Prague, all forms of public transportation are crowded at almost any time of day. A seat on a tram or the Metro is a rarity. But in Nürnberg, I almost never HAVE to stand. Usually if I’m standing, it’s by choice. There is almost always a seat available, and I have yet to spend a nauseating 15-minute ride with my nose in some dude’s armpit in the middle of summer. It’s really a non-issue. 

So. 

It is not necessary to stand directly in front of the door. 

How do you know if you’re standing too close? Well, if I whack into you with my large and very heavy purse I carry to work, that is a sign that you’re too damn close. And, because this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, I will occasionally whack into someone on purpose. Just to get the point across. Not old people though. Just teenagers wearing Celtics hats as a fashion statement. Because I’m kind of an asshole sometimes. Sorry. 

Now, if you’re lucky enough to be in a city like Nürnberg, they’ve tried to help you out with this. If you’re waiting for an U-Bahn at platforms 3 or 4, you will see these….

  
…on the ground. Super smart, no? This tells you exactly where the door will be when the train stops, so you can make sure to stand well clear of the doors. 

The plan is slightly flawed in that not all of the U-Bahns that stop at these platforms are the same length. For example, I ride line 3 most of the time, and that train is only half as long as the platform. So if you’re at the wrong end of the hall, you might have to run for it. But still, very helpful I think. They haven’t done this yet in the other hall when the line 1 runs, but I think that one gets much higher traffic and so maybe they think there’s no point. People on that line are pretty awful at the door thing.

And yet, not a day goes by, not a day, that I don’t see some person *coughmomswithHumveestrollerscough* blatantly ignoring these very simple directionals on platform 3. Do they secretly long to be salmon? Forever going against the flow of traffic? Got me. Fish are weird. 

Photo A Day July

Now that I have a handy-dandy smartphone, I decided it was time for me to get on one of these “Photo A Day” bandwagons. Lucky for me, this morning I followed a little blog chain over to Fat Mum Slim, who just so happened to have a nice one set up for July. If anyone else wants to get in on this, here are the challenges…

Via Fat Mum Slim

Since I didn’t see this until this morning though, I got a slightly late start to the challenge. But, I guess it wouldn’t be normal for me if I wasn’t just a little bit on the late side. It’s part of the charm. *coughs*

I think I’ll do a recap here at the end of each week, but here’s the starting ‘self portrait.’ 

Via Instagram… follow along @heatherinde

This is my typical Monday afternoon post…. waiting on a train and if I’m lucky, watching the construction at the Erlangen train station. Party over here!