Dachau, Chris and Munich

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All I can say about the tour of Dachau is that it was incredibly sobering and incredibly moving.  Even though it’s not a fun time, I would unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone.  It was a cold, gray and rainy day, which seemed totally appropriate.  If you go, definitely take a guided tour.  They cost next-to-nothing and the guides have so much color and background story.


The day did have some happy notes, however.  Julie and I had lost touch with Chris and Marion Schreier years ago: emails bounced; letters were returned by the post office; telephones had new owners; directory listings showed us nothing.  All I could remember was the Marion worked in a yarn shop in Dachau.  We arrived in town a few hours early for the tour, so we decided to head to the one yarn shop that was listed on the Internet.

On the way, Laurie said, “Oh, hey, that shop over there sells yarn.”  I look in the window and there’s Marion.  It was doubly-fortunate since Chris later told us that Marion wasn’t supposed to work that day.

Chris met us in Munich for dinner.  We tried several restaurants that he recommended but all were jammed solid with waits of three or more hours.  Finally he said, “There’s one more, but it’s pretty rough.  It’s the oldest restaurant in Munich, Gasthaus Isarthor.”

The oldest restaurant in Munich?  Lead us on!

We all had duck, dumplings and red cabbage.  It was, by far, the best meal we ate on the trip.  I only wish we could have stayed longer, but our table was reserved at 9:00 and they booted us out.  A perfect end to a great trip.

Back to Munich by way of Plzeň

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We said goodbye to Wendy and drove back to Munich but, of course, had to stop in Plzeň as it’s the home of Pilsener style beer.  Despite the downpour, we had a great lunch and some great beer.

Once we arrived in Munich, we eschewed the totally-touristy Hofbräuhaus and headed for the somewhat-touristy Augustiner Großgaststätten.  What’s not to like about a place where you pack into communal tables to drink beer brought by an Italian-Greek waitress named Marta who spoke Italian, Greek, English, Russian and German and was a comedy show in her own right?  Plus, we shared the table with a group of Icelandic gentlemen who were participating in the Munich Marathon the next day so, of course, let’s go drink beer! I loved this place the last time we were in Munich, loved it this time, and will probably love it the next time.  I thought this was the only thing I really, truly enjoyed about the city, but tomorrow would bring another gem.

Marta comped us (a polite euphemism for stole for us) a few beer steins with the logo.



Salt Mine & Sound of Music

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The impetus for this entire trip was to knock a Sound of Music tour off Laurie’s bucket list and today was the day.

We first headed out to Berchtesgaden for a tour of a salt mine.  Laurie wasn’t entirely happy 1800′ under ground, but we all a good time.  We also all agreed that it was a bit spooky being led by a blonde, blue-eyed, whistling youth in full uniform through door that he locked behind us, while we were all wearing company-issued jumpsuits.

The train ride that took us partway down would never have existing in the United States.  We were moving at a substantial clip with no seatbelts, protective rails, roofs, walls or anything through tunnels where the walls and roof were about one foot away from you.  Stick out your hand and you’d lose it.

After lunch, we went on the Sound of Music tour.  It was a hoot!  Somehow, Nadia got the whole bus singing.  Perhaps it was the fact that she had the bus continue to loop around a traffic circle until we did.  Perhaps it was the beer at lunch.  The apple strudel in Mondsee was the best of the entire trip.


Schwangau on to Salzburg

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Rain…something that would be a theme of this trip.  Personally, I didn’t mind it too much as I’ve seen Neuschwanstein before but I wish it had been nicer for the Harveys.  I have to say that I loved the bratwurst, mashed potatoes and kraut at Hotel Müller, washed down by a glass of König Ludwig Dunkel beer.  Nice filling food for a wet day!

We took the bus up to the castle but we didn’t check the tour schedule and found we had several hours of waiting before the next tour in English.  So, we decided to just see the courtyard and then walk around the castle.  I’m glad we did as the view down to Hohenschwangau Castle was great…it just floated in a sea of clouds.


We then headed off for Salzburg.   There was a nice stop in Bad Tölz for lunch.  I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was across the square from the cathedral.  They spoke no English but I had a great meal of a pork cutlet made into a pocket for onions, bacon and mustard.

That night we went to the Augustiner Braustubl.  It’s an old beer cellar in the basement of the monastery.  There was the Austrian version of a food court serving all-local pork and pastry.  You picked up a stein (1 liter!), cleaned it in the natural spring, got the guy running the beer barrel to open the tap, and plopped down at a communal table.  It was a great time.


We arrived in Munich Airport, suffering from the usual couldn’t-sleep-on-the-plane jet lag and, really wanting to avoid the Oktoberfest crowd in the city, we headed down toward Schwangau for our first night.  In a total Plan B, we decide to stop off at Linderhof Palace: King Ludwig’s monument to total excess.

It wasn’t bad, but I can’t say I loved rooms that had more gold that Ft. Knox competing with the tail feathers from a few zillion peacocks.

The private grotto he constructed as a concert hall really did take the cake, though…