It is for sure one of the major things I love about being in Europe! It’s so easy and inexpensive to visit different countries. (Not to mention, google flights is just amazing!) Being from the States and used to flying over five hours to get from Charlotte to San Diego, it was actually a bit jarring to go from being steeped in everything Spanish to being plunked into everything German in a flight that took less than half that time. And it also meant that I went from being very modestly literate to completely illiterate in that same span of time. Even so, it was easy to navigate our way around. Their metro ticket machines offer an English option when purchasing fares and many of the service staff speak at least a basic (and usually beyond) level of German.
I went with a co-worker (that’s us on the right) and we managed to snag a good deal on a hotel right in the city centre, which worked out better than we could have imagined, especially since the weather was definitely cold and on our last day it snowed. Our location meant we were just a short walk from almost any place of interest we wanted to go. It was a very basic hotel with no frills, but it was clean, and the staff was friendly, so we couldn’t complain. Unexpectedly (and initially with great disappointment on my part) we found ourselves eating at a McDonald’s the first night because our arrival was so late, and it was the only place still serving food. I am so not a fast food person, particularly hamburgers (unless they’re from In & Out), so I was kind of appalled at finding myself in Germany eating McDonald’s, but it turned out to be really good. The way it used to taste when fast food was a treat and not a way of life and the burgers actually tasted like beef and not an unidentified meat-like substance. And fries didn’t just look the part, but tasted fresh, like actual potato.
Unfortunately, between our timing and the weather, the only touristy thing we did was visit Neuschwanstein Castle, which was an awesome experience from beginning to end. The train journey of about two hours was filled with stunning views and the ride was so smooth and comfortable I felt like I was riding on air. The climb up to the castle was nearly an hour’s walk up, in nearly freezing drizzle, the steepest incline I’ve ever encountered on foot. There was the option of taking a carriage ride ¾’s of the way up, but then I would have missed out on the information provided by our tour guide. Not to mention feeling like a bit of a wimp for taking the easy way out when I really didn’t need to. Needless to say, the journey wasn’t easy for me, and I admit to looking longingly at the folks chillin’ in the horse driven carriages as I trudged along, but the views were totally worth it and seeing such a magnificent structure up close was awe-inspiring. I was disappointed that we couldn’t see more of the castle rooms, but apparently, King Ludwig didn’t get a chance to complete his vision before he was killed. Still, what we did see was awesome and truly gave you a sense of life back in those times. I was of course, particularly impressed by the massive kitchen and related artifacts on display that spoke to both the challenges and triumphs of what it must have been like to prepare feasts in those days. I wish I could provide pictures here of some of the sights, but taking photographs was strictly forbidden. And unlike some travelers with a privileged mentality, I don’t believe in going to other countries and disregarding their rules for the sake of social media.
Sorry, I digressed a bit there.
Anyway, after soaking in the breathtaking views surrounding us at every turn, it was time for the trek down, which like the journey upward, involved dodging large random chunks of horse manure. Feeling exhausted (did I mention the endless stairs we had to climb to tour the castle after tackling that steep incline that seemed to go on forever?), cold and damp, as we journeyed downward, I found myself nearly knocked to my knees by the scent of something that smelled so utterly delectable, I immediately got in line to purchase whatever food was cooking, sight unseen. Turns out it was these lovely, light, pillow soft balls of fried cakes rolled in powdered sugar the second they’re pulled from a vat of hot oil. You only have to take a look at my photo to see how I devoured them. They were complimented by some sort of hot wine-like beverage that warmed me inside out, making for a truly unforgettable eating experience. After trekking up the mountainous hill, climbing endless stairs, and with the steep journey downhill ahead of me to complete, I savored this decadent treat without even a shred of guilt.
Which brings me to the food in Germany (the plates I ordered ranged from about 13-20 euros). To me it was really delicious. And I kind of didn’t expect it to be. The only time I was disappointed was when we decided to go to an Italian place. Truly, it was the worst lasagna I’ve ever had. Other than that one misadventure, however, every single thing I ate in Germany was delicious. Fresh and tasty. Of course, there hundreds of varieties of sausages, and though I only had about 3 of them, each was flavorful in its own unique way. And if you’re into potatoes, Germany is definitely the place to check out. The jam I had with breakfast one morning was to die for and of course, the beer was fabulous. I found the Germans, at least the ones I encountered in Munich to be friendly and efficient, and I am already looking at how I can return… perhaps to Berlin or Frankfurt the next time.