1,906. That’s the number of pictures I took while I was in Germany and Austria. It was a great vacation, but I’m very glad to be home now. The sun was shining in Munich this morning and it was a great day to fly. I woke up to the sound of planes taking off and even squeezed in a visit to the observation deck before I had to get to my own flight.
Bag drop and passport control in Munich was very slow, but soon I was flying the skies to Dublin. I know it’s not quite like being in US soil, but the sight of all the American flags at the Dublin airport always makes me feel like I’m almost home. Fun fact: my plane home from Dublin is the same plane I flew home on four years ago (I recognized the name, “St. Aoife”).
Since there’s not much to say about a boring day of flying, here are some fun observations from my two weeks in Germany and Austria.
Food Being the picky eater that I am, what I would eat for two weeks was high on my list of concerns before I left. But my worrying was for naught, since you can get schnitzel and pork roast pretty much everywhere in Bavaria. In varying forms, I had pork for most of my main meals accompanied either by potato dumplings or french fries. And apple strudel was on the menu almost everywhere with either vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream or both. Hotel breakfast was a big spread at all of my hotels, consisting of cold cuts, eggs (scrambled, hard boiled, or soft boiled), various granola cereals, yogurt, and huge assortments of bread and pastries.
One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to visit a local grocery store. If you know me, you know I have a sweet tooth, so stocking up on European candy was a must before coming home. Edeka grocery stores are all over Bavaria, and they had plenty of yummy candies – Milka, Kinder, Ritter Sport, etc. I even found some treats that were different from home: Oreo Joy Fills (like pretzel nuggets, except they are Oreo shells filled with cream) and different flavors of Coke products. At the Dublin airport I even found Raspberry Coke Zero!
Driving I was nervous about driving in a non-English speaking country, but it wasn’t too difficult. I programmed the car and GPS to English, and the GPS was my best friend. Road signs are large and are pretty clear with route numbers and towns. Between the signs and the GPS, it wasn’t too hard to navigate. Speed limits are in km/hr and; in open areas, the speed limit is generally 100 km/hr (about 62 MPH) and slows to 50 km/hr in towns. Gas is ridiculously expensive, as it is everywhere in Europe. I paid €1,45 per liter yesterday, which is almost $6.20 per gallon. Austria was slightly cheaper but still way more expensive than US prices.
Driving into Austria requires a “vignette” sticker on your car (basically like a toll sticker) if you plan to drive on the autobahn. You can buy them at most gas stations once you get close to the border. Mine was a 10 day sticker and cost €9,20. Actually crossing the border is like driving between states in the US. Aside from different highway signs, everything is pretty much the same.
Sleeping I was spoiled by my Hilton hotel in Munich because it came with all the creature comforts we are used to in the US. Namely, it had air conditioning (though it wasn’t exactly powerful or overly cool like I prefer). It wasn’t until I got back to the Munich airport yesterday that I had a/c again. I hate being hot when I sleep, so it was not too fun for me. The beds all have a fitted sheet (or sheets; most were two twin beds pushed and locked together to make a king) and then a folded twin-size comforter laying on top for each person. The hotels were all immaculate and hospitality is definitely a thing of pride in Germany.
Overall, I loved this vacation – the mix of history, culture, nature, scenery, and food. I didn’t love the rain or the cold (it didn’t even get out of the 50s a couple of days!), but even with the clouds the scenery was breathtaking. If you ever get the chance to visit Bavaria, go for it!