Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'm Taking a Trip to Germany! What Should I do There?

As many of you may have noticed, I have mentioned a few times that I will be going to Germany in May.  While I'm sure I'll experience "blog withdrawals" I am very excited about my trip!

Before I finalize all my details I thought I'd ask for some recommendations of what to do and see while we are there.

It will just be my husband and I and I do have some semblance of a plan.  Originally, I had planned to fly in to Frankfurt and drive down the Romantic Road, hit up Heidelberg, Rothenberg, Garmisch, Zurich, and leave from Munich but I've pared it down some since we will only be there ten days. Well, twelve counting days on the plane.


Now, however, I'm thinking to fly into Munich, drive to Garmisch, spend four days there visiting Neuschwanstein, Innsbruck and whatever else we find in the area.  Then drive to Zurich and spend three days there.  I am secretly hoping to get a trip to Jungfrau in there but I don't know if we can swing it.  Depends a lot on the weather and it'll be May so who knows what the snow levels will be like.

After Zurich, drive back to Munich and spend our last days there before we fly home.  I'm not really sure what to do in  Munich yet.  I've been focusing on Garmisch for the last few days.

So, for those of you who have spent time in Germany, live in Germany or think there is something we shouldn't miss while we are in Southern Germany, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

We will be using Zurich, Garmisch and Munich as bases but we have a car and can travel easily that way.  I like to have a base because it makes me feel more immersed in the country.  I prefer it to visiting 16 places in 8 days, whizzing through barely stopping for photos.  I love to people watch from cafe sidewalks and listen to everyone talking.  I like to stay in the city where we can walk to all the places we need to (grocery, food, drinks, little shops).

My German is rudimentary but I'm relearning it via Pimsleur.  I'm actually very good with languages and understand most of what I hear, though I cannot speak it as well as I understand it.  That being said, it's been 15 years since my last German class ( I had four years in high school and 2 quarters in college) and even longer since I was last in Germany.

I *love* to travel.  I love everything about it.  I love packing, I love flying, I love landing in an airport where I've never been.  I love exploring, I love trying to figure out what signage means, what people are saying to me and I even love fumbling around a language I haven't used in ages.
My husband is not quite the same way.  He does not know German and he travels to say that he's been somewhere and to make friends over pints at a pub.  He's not an inexperienced traveler and we have traveled together before.
We went to Japan in 2009 and it was one of my favorite experiences. It was the biggest culture shock I've experienced to date.  Not speaking a word of the language or even being able to read it was quite difficult for me.  I'm used to picking things up as I go and being able to understand languages I don't speak by being able to read them.  Not being able to read it was... FUN!  Now that was an adventure. Even in the Philippines, more English was spoken than Japan.  I think it may have come closest to the time I spent in Ukraine but we had friends there to help us communicate so it was different.
In 2013, I organized a family trip to Croatia that was a complete success.  I had so much fun in Dubrovnik, wandering around.  That was the best part.  We did travel up the coast and spent some time on Hvar Island at the most perfect hostel ever.  I didn't know when I booked everything that Hvar is a super popular place for celebrities to stay and some of the yachts in the harbor were unreal. If I was to do it again, I would not stay in Split as long as we did.  The ancient Diocletian's Palace was so fun to visit but aside from that it was too modern city-ish.  I can't lie, though, I was super happy to find a McDonalds.

A large portion of my previous travels have been as part of a humanitarian aid team.  Visiting orphanages around the world, bringing in supplies, etc.  There are a lot of wonderful people in this world living in out of the way places doing good where no one knows except the people they help. If you've been considering anything like volunteering to go somewhere and lend a hand, do it.  There is nothing more rewarding, whether it's in the jungles of Mindanao, ten miles from Chernobyl or in the center of your own city.  My time at Ground Zero after the towers fell in New York City changed me in ways I'll never be able to explain without crying copiously.  It was just as special as helping children orphaned and affected by radioactive fallout in far away eastern europe.

Well, that got off track.  All I wanted to say was travelling will change your life, your outlook and give you something to treasure for the rest of your life.  No matter the reason!

If you have any thoughts about what I should do in Munich, Garmisch and Zurich or their surrounding areas, please speak up!  You can comment here or email me at bitsandboxesblog @gmail.com.  I'm looking for cozy, non-touristy places to stay, eat or explore and I welcome any advice you may have!

12 comments:

  1. How exciting! I'm so jealous. My dad's side of the family is of Bavarian descent, so Germany is high on my list of places I'd like to see. I was going to recommend Neuschwanstein castle, but sounds like you'll already be headed that way!

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    1. Yes, Neuschwanstein is on my list! I've been there before but my husband hasn't. And last time I didn't get to go inside and I really want to!

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  2. Sounds wonderful. If you have time you might want to drop by Kassel, the Hercules monument is worth it.

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    1. You know what the hardest part for me is? Realizing how small Germany is. It's only 4 hours from Munich to Kassel and it looks like it's nearly across the entire country! The monument looks amazing and is JUST the kind of thing I love. Now I'm wondering if I should just take a jaunt through Heidelberg, Rothenburg and Kassel... So many decisions!

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  3. You need to visit a beer garden while you're in Munich... and the one you should ABSOLUTELY visit is this one: http://www.augustinerkeller.de/home/ I went there two summers ago and loved it. :) If you like football, I would suggest taking the stadium tour at Allianz Arena (even though I don't like Bayern Munich, I still had to go). I do have to say that Neuschwanstein was a little boring (I prefer to wander city streets rather than go to a tourist trap), but the photos I took while I was there turned out amazing. (like this one https://instagram.com/p/cSLDO_Ie_E/) ALSO! I hope you guys are renting a car because driving on the Autobahn was so much fun (especially in a Mercedes Benz, heh)! And I know this city isn't in your plans, but we stayed a few nights in Dresden and really loved it. (be sure to go raid the German supermarkets for interesting treats haha - I love their ketchup chips).

    Get ready to drink so much beer since it's cheaper than water! :p

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    1. Ok, we are staying just outside Marienplatz at the Euro Hostel and we can walk to that beer garden! I would love to go to a Bayern Munich game but it looks like we will be there for the last match of the season and tickets are nearly $300! I'd definitely want to take the stadium tour though. What a good idea!
      Yes, we are renting a car for that very reason! I agree Neuschwanstein is VERY touristy but it's so beautiful! I am absolutely raiding supermarkets for strange snacks but ketchup chips... I just don't know... do I need to get you some and mail them to you? :D Or can you find them here? They sound awful. Haha!

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  4. The plan you've made for your visit sounds great! Although I live in Germany I've never been to Munich yet ( well, I just drove by), but I've been in Garmisch last year and they have nice beginners hiking routes. It was so fun and the air is super clean and you'll see a lot of nature. Garmisch has also some beautiful lakes worth a visit.

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    1. I can't wait! I have a friend who lived in Garmisch for a year and he said it's a beautiful area. He also said there's not much to do there but that's okay. I just want a cute place to come home to after a day of admiring castles and visiting other places.
      I didn't realize there was so much hiking but I think we will do some while we are there. We both like to hike.
      I've been to Germany once when I was 16 years old and I loved it. I've been so desperate to go back and explore and I'm glad it's finally happening! Here in the United States everything is so far away that it is very difficult for me to realize that I can visit so many places if we drive around. It would take me three days to drive from top to bottom where I live and a week or longer to drive east to west here. But I am finding in Germany everything is close and it's possible to see so much more than I was planning.
      If you think of anything we shouldn't miss, let me know! :)

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  5. It's a really nice plan. I would recommend visiting Konstanz as well (as it's not far away from Zurich). Konstanz is a very nice little town with Mainau island located nearby. It is at the Lake Constance (Bodensee).
    Generally speaking the towns in the south of Germany (I can speak rather of Bavarian towns, as apart from Konstanz I don't know many places in Baden-Württemberg) are very picteresque and, well, cute. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is definitely worth visiting. If you don't plan to hike, one day for seeing Garmisch is enough.
    In Munich the Englischer Garten with its Chinese Tower is a must. Bring your food, buy beer on the spot and have a nice picnic there. If the weather is good and air is clear, it's worth to visit Olympiaturm - you can have a nice view on the city and the mountains.
    You can consider going to Nuremberg as well. You can easily make it as a day-trip from Munich (either by car or by train).
    Have fun!

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    1. Oh, thank you so much! This is just what I need to know. I have put Englisher Garten and Olympiaturm on my list for Munich. I think you are correct and we can't miss Konstanz. It will be easy to spend some time there and enjoy the beautiful views on our way to Zurich. Your suggestion of Nuremberg makes me want to put Rothenburg ob der Tauber back on my list because it really isn't that far away.

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  6. I've only been to Berlin so I don't have any amazing Germany-related sightseeing suggestions for you, but if you're trying to brush up on the language before you go, I recommend Duolingo! It turns it into sort of a game, which personally I find rather fun.

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    1. I've been listening to Pimsleur CDs because they did a bang up job teaching me Croatian but I checked out Duolingo and I'm totally obsessed with it. Must.get.more.points.

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