Monday, 8 December 2014


One of Roland's colleagues had invited us to Frankfurt am Main - at river Main - for the weekend and we were happy to oblige. Roland had spent a lot of time in Frankfurt lately while working on a project, and it was about time to get to know the city better.

Everything is big in Frankfurt. It is the fifth-largest city in Germany, the largest financial centre in continental Europe and home to several large banks and the stock exchange. With the international airport, the railway central station and its highway interchange the city is one of the busiest transport hubs in Europe. Frankfurt also hosts one of the world's largest trade fairs, like the International Motor Show and the world's largest book fair. It is ranked as #7 in Mercer's annual 'quality of living' survey, but it is also the most expensive city in Germany, and the 10th most expensive city in the world.

Frankfurt Shopping Mall MyZeil, an architectural wonderland

And because Frankfurt has a very untypical skyline by German standards, we Germans refer to it as Mainhattan, a word merged from the river Main, and Manhattan.

Now 'tis is the season for our traditional Christmas markets, and of course we had to have a mug or two or three of likewise traditional mulled wine (Glühwein). Roland had curry wurst and I had potato pancakes. The place was packed with people but that obviously is part of the event. It was nice to hear and watch so many people from all over the world enjoying our annual pre-christmas ritual.

Oddly reminding us of a Dr Who X-Mas Special
on right: Römer, the city hall
Römerberg, rebuilt after WWII
The Old Opera

Yes, we certainly liked the buzz of this cosmopolitan city for a change. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Sightseeing in Downtown Munich

We are in Octoberfest Capital: Munich, Bavaria. Where beer gardens are plenty, where the music is oompah, and people are dressed up in weird garbs such as dirndl and lederhosen.

We enter the pedestrian zone through Karlstor (in its core from year 1300)
and find the shops already dressed up for Christmas.

The New Town Hall on Marienplatz

At Viktualien Markt, a daily gourmet farmer's market. 
 Italian Antipasti!
 Horse meat anyone?
 We rather go with veggies.
 Or better: with cake and chocolate truffles  ;-)

A very rare Condor A580, a post WWII Swiss Army bike with flat engine and drive shaft. We found it in immaculate condition.

There are many architectural gems in Munich...

However, this likely being the most popular one: Think beer! The Hofbräu Haus, founded 1589.

A walk in the park: Englischer Garten, one of the largest urban parks in the world, larger than New York Central Park.

Underground at Münchner Freiheit in Schwabing close to the Englische Garten

Roland having his traditionally fully chocolate loaded birthday cake.

Munich is a beautiful place, a wonderfully clean and safe city, with plenty of cultural and culinary options. It won't be the last time visiting...

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Tourist Destination Number One in Germany

We had spent the last weekend in Munich in order to celebrate Roland's birthday. It was a special birthday, one of those ending in a big zero, and it had to be celebrated royally.

It was all fogged up when we started our journey, however with the ascent into the mountains the view became clearer. Our short trip took us through the Bavarian hinterland towards one of the most popular tourist destinations of Germany, if not Europe.

By the time we arrived in Hohenschwangau the weather was stunning, although quite nippy. We were obviously here for one main reason: Insert 'royal' here! Because here is where you will find Disney's inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle: The famous Castle Neuschwanstein, the refuge of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

An annual 1.4 million visitors from all over the world come to see German Kitsch at its best. Even on this November day, the place was packed with tourist crowds.

In order to get our 'money shot' we decided to hike up the hill while most tourists take a tour bus or a horse carriage. It was the best way to enjoy the various vistas on the castle.

The ideal photo op is undeniably from Marienbrücke (Mary's bridge) for the panoramic shot of the castle and the lakes. Picture perfect!

After the hike down we had definitely earned some refreshments at lake Alpsee. Bavaria doesn't get better than this: Yes, it was November (!), and we were sitting outside (!) in a beer garden (!) enjoying an alcoholic beverage (!) in public (!).

Later back in Munich we strolled around in the park of Nymphenburg Palace, a five minutes walk from our hotel. The palace and the surrounding park area are a very crowded refuge for the locals, full with runners, photographers, lovers, dog walkers, wedding parties and - of course - tourists. The evening sky was just fantastic, and we enjoyed the beautiful light.