Munich to Prague

We packed up and left our apartment around 9:30 am and via the metro headed to the main train station in Munich. Since our group train ticket that would take us into the Czech Republic was good all day, we used it to stop in Dachau, a small city outside of Munich were a large concentration camp was once located. The train station was small and didn’t have very large lockers, so Josh (he had been there 2 times before) waited with the bags while Sarah, Dustin and I walked from the train station to the concentration camp and museum.

Visiting this museum was sobering, with all the european history we’ve learned on this trip, some of which dated back to the days of Christ, it’s hard to believe that this kind of human torture was less than 100 years ago. Our grandparents were alive in the 1940’s when people were being tortured in this horrific way. The museum had a lot of information to read, we walked through the area that was once the shower stalls, then kitchen, we saw the courtyard outside that was the “roll call” area, and we saw the sleeping quarters and bathrooms.

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One historical picture that stuck out to me amongst the darkness was a picture of the prisoners cheering when the American’s arrived to liberate the camp. It makes me thankful for the men and women in our country that together with our allies fought for freedom and human rights. It also amazes me the hope the prisoners had, many in our Savior, despite the grave circumstances.

The hope many of the prisoners had is described in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV), “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” and Romans 5:2-5 (ESV), “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I hope these verses can be encouragement to those dealing with trials today.

I’m not sure how to transition to the rest of our day…but here it goes. We took the bus back to the train station because it turned out to be at least a 30 minute walk. We figured out we had about 40 minutes until the train arrived we needed to take on our trek towards Prague. Before boarding we grabbed döner kebab sandwiches from a vendor. When I think of a kebab, I think of stick with meat and veggies, well apparently that’s not quite the Eastern European version. It’s really a huge Turkish sandwich with chicken, lettuce, onions, and sauce. It might have been the best thing we’ve had on this trip yet, it was super messy, so I was glad I was eating it on the train station platform vs. inside the train.

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When planning this trip, I think we expected it to be a bit shorter of a ride to Prague, the direct train takes around 5 hours from Munich and so does the bus. But the bus was around 60 EUR pp, and the direct train was over 100 EUR pp. So we found on a trip-advisor forum, that we could take a train from Munich or Dachau to Plzeň, Czech Republic, then to Prague. The route for Dachau to Plzeň required a transfer in Nuremberg, Germany, and Cheb, Czech Republic and the train stopped at other places along the way, so it took around 8 hours to get to Prague from Munich, but it only cost around 50 EUR total vs. the per person prices, so we saved over 200 dollars. We passed the time on the second half of the trip paying Euchre. The first picture is Dustin on the first train sitting with all our luggage, and then the sunset view on the train in the Czech Rebpulic.

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We arrived in Prague at 9:50pm, and our host from the air bnb apartment was supposed to meet us at 10pm outside the apartment, so we quickly found the metro. Unfortunately the metro ticket machines did not take credit cards and the Czech Republic is not on the EUR, so we had to get Czech crowns from an ATM. Then the machines only took coins and of course the ATM gave us bills, so then we were on a hunt to make change. Every vending machine only took coins and all the vendors in the metro were closed. The boys when out of the station just a bit and found a stand to make change. Then we were able to buy our tickets. Without phone service or wifi we really had no way to contact our host to let him know we were going to be late. That is the only major annoyance of using airbnb is that there isn’t a 24 hour front desk like a hotel, although some places had password protected lock boxes.

We arrived at our building at almost 11pm and our host wasn’t there. Sarah and Josh waited by the building while Dustin and I set out to find wifi or a phone. Skype has been a life saver twice on this trip. I had minutes left over and it allows you to call very inexpensively over wifi. If you have a smart phone and are traveling abroad without phone service, I highly recommend putting some money on your Skype account! At the second hotel we stopped at to try to buy wifi minutes, the man at the desk gave us the password for free. We were able to get in touch with our host and he was at the door in 10 minutes. It was a long day of traveling, but we saw some beautiful countryside in the process & we couldn’t have had the full European experience without a train ride for one leg of the trip!

Dobrý den!

Munich

Today was a bit of a “lazy” day. Sarah and Josh headed out to the Deutsches Museum for a few hours, this museum is very large with all kinds of science and engineering exhibits, Sarah did say they had a pharmacy exhibit, but they didn’t make it there.

Dustin and I went to the market for yogurt, milk, and bread for breakfast the next two days, then we caught up a bit on the blog and email while we waited for my friend Phin to arrive. Phin was one of my suite-mates when I took classes and lived at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in the summer of 2003. Phin is from Frankfurt, Germany. She came in on a flight this morning to spend the afternoon with us. Dustin and I met her at the Metro Stop closest to our apartment, then we met Josh and Sarah along the way back.

We headed off to the city on the metro and it was crazy! If you remember from the previous post, today was game day, it’s the European Cup Championship, AKA the European Superbowl of Soccer. If you have ever been in Columbus, Ohio on game day imagine that times 50! Fans were everywhere from both the England team and German teams. If they would see other fans on the streets, they would start chanting their team song. Here is a shot of the crowd we came across and almost lost Josh and Sarah.

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As we were trying to find them we spotted the Apple Store. Since Dustin is such a huge fan, he got his picture outside and we went in to see what a german keyboard looked like on the macbook.

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We found Josh and Sarah and then headed towards St. Peter’s church, we wanted to climb the to the top of the tower for a view of the city. Just our luck on this trip, the tower was under construction and we couldn’t go up!

We decided to go to Viktualienmarkt and get some food for lunch and then head to the Englischer gardens. It took awhile for us to decide where to eat, but we got some amazing fresh strawberries grown in germany and then Dustin and I had sandwiches with steak and onions. Not the healthiest of choices, but an authentic german sandwich. Phin was helpful in ordering at the small restaurant because it was packed with “football” AKA soccer fans.

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We found a windowsill to sit on to eat quickly because the park was a pretty good walk from the market. Here is a picture of Phin and me.
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We relaxed in the park for awhile & ate our fresh strawberries. Here is Dustin laying on the grass, catching up on podcasts.

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At one part of the stream that flows through the park, there were people surfing! Not what I would have expected in Munich. Not quite the same as catching a wave in the ocean because it was continuous, it was almost like a surf-skate park.

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We headed over to Hofgarten next to one of the palaces. It had beautiful flowers and people relaxing in the sunshine. It was at least 75 degrees here today.

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Not sure if it was the hot day or just that all the “busyness” is finally hitting us, but we all were pretty whipped today so we headed back to the apartment. We went to the wrong metro train at first and this is that we saw, one of the buses headed for the stadium. The police were there not letting any of the blue fans on the red metro to avoid fights.

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Dustin and I stopped at a cafe to have a smoothie with Phin before she headed off to meet a few other friends in Munich and go back to the airport. Then we relaxed for awhile and did some catching up back at the apartment.

Sarah and Josh braved the crowd and headed out towards the stadium to get a glimpse of the action, while Dustin and I aren’t much for large crowds, we stayed home to relax and walked to the supermarket again to purchase lettuce/salad mix for dinner. This dinner was not quite as extravagant as previous meals, but rings in at 3.50 EUR, certainly the cheapest thanks to the European version of Aldi! We finished the day splitting a Spaghettieis and walked back home to relax. We wanted to watch the soccer game on TV, but of course the only place on this trip we’ve stayed without a TV is here. Oh well…maybe we’ll find it on-line! We are heading to our final stop tomorrow Prague! If you’ve been there before and have any suggestions for us, please leave a comment!

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Also thank you to those that have been praying for my grandma. Her surgery went well and she isn’t too sore now, but her energy is still recovering very slowly. I really appreciate those that have been praying for her!

Salzburg & Munich

The next morning in Salzburg we had breakfast at the B & B, then we went on the hop-on-hop-off Sound of Music tour bus. Sarah and I were both in the Sound of Music in high school so this was fun. Dustin claims to never have seen the Sound of Music, so he was clueless.;) I will make him watch it when we get home! Before the tour we stopped on a small road with a large open field where the mountains were in the background. We spun around and sang “the hills are alive with the sound of music…my heart wants to sing every song it hears!” Here is a picture of Dustin and I in the field.

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Maybe I can convince Sarah to let me post the video when we get home of our short Sound of Music scene. 🙂

We had seen much of the city the day before, so we only got off the bus at a few points which were a bit out of town. We got off quickly to take a picture at Schloss Leopoldkron which is the Palace they used as the from a distant shot of the Von Trapp Mansion. And it’s the pond where Maria capsizes the boat in the film.

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Then we stopped at the Schloos Hellbrunn & Zoo. The gazebo that was used in the film is now located here & some of the gardens here were used in the film.

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We also tried to get off at Nonnberg Abbey, but turns it it was quite a trek up the hill and we didn’t have time since we are headed to Neuschwanstein castle today before returning our car in Munich.

At our last stop where we parked we saw Mirabellplatz & gardens which were featured in the movie. Sarah and I got our picture on the famous “Do-Re-Mi Steps” and we did a short video clip jumping from step to step singing the song. Fun times! From the information we got on the tour, It seems the story line is very close to the actual story, one major difference is they did not just hike over the mountain to Switzerland at the end (that is over 500 km away), they took a train to Italy because the father was born in a town that now was part of Italy so he and the family qualified for passports. Then they went to England, then to America for a singing tour. Here is a picture of Sarah and I on the steps.

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I really enjoyed this city because it’s not just a city, but it’s surrounded by beautiful countryside and mountains that can be seen from downtown. We headed off to Deutschland, AKA Germany. Here is a picture along the drive, we could see the Alps, it was beautiful.

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We arrived at the castle and much to our dismay, they were doing construction on a portion of it and it was covered in scaffolding. Sad face. 😦 In case you don’t know, this is the castle from which Disney modeled the castle at Disney World. We hiked to a bridge which is even higher than the castle, Dustin was being a drill sargent and we pretty much did it speed walking. 🙂 The brochure said the trip up would take 55 minutes, but we did it in 15 minutes. We didn’t have too much time because our car needed returned in Munich at 8pm. Unfortunately all the tours were sold out until 5:30pm and it was only 3:30pm , so we couldn’t see the inside. But the views from the top were worth the climb! Here are some pictures from the area.

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We made it to Munich, dropped our bags off at our apartment, and then found the rental car return. We put over 4,000 km on the car during this trip!

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We made our way to the city center, it is a bit crazy this weekend in Munich because the European Cup Championship game is tomorrow and the German team won tonight. Crowds were everywhere and we walked down a street filled with designer stores and every resturant was too expensive for us. We ended up finding a place to eat called Pfälzer Residenz Weinstube, they were known for wine, so the waiter was not so happy when 4 Americans came and asked for tap water. I don’t know if he thought it was funny but he brought us tap water in their tiny wine tasting glasses. So hear is a picture of our “cheers” with the tap water.

20120519-173429.jpgnThe food was very good, I had 1/2 chicken and he had fish and german potato salad, well it came with his dish but I ate it. If you know Dustin well, you know he has an aversion to eating things cold that can be hot such as pasta salad, potato salad, shrimp, etc. The german potato salad was very good, much better than our mayo versions in the US.

20120519-175753.jpg nThen we headed back to our apartment to relax & get some shut eye! Another successful day, we can’t believe our trip is almost over, 1 more night in Munich, and 2 nights in Prague, then we’ll be boarding a plane back home. At the same time it feels like forever since we’ve been in Ireland. We are very thankful for this opportunity. Have a great day!