Flight? Bad travel luck over?

The journey of heading home starts with our train trip from Nuremberg to the Frankfurt flughafen train station. It is the main station that connects the airport with the regional area. We booked a hotel that night near the airport so we wouldn’t have to be rushed to get to the terminal. The hotel I booked with my Hilton points just so happened to be connected to the train station next to the airport. There is a convenience market and restaurants in the same mall area. After a hotel room snafu (we somehow got a non-smoking room that was smokey) we went out to get dinner at Paulaner, a restaurant located at THE SQUAIRE (the train station and airport mall area). I tried the Schnitzel one last time and was happy it came with a much needed salad. I also treated myself to some tropical dessert.

We go back to the hotel for an early night. We set our alarms and rest up for the flight.
We wander around a little bit in the morning before our walk to the aiport. We find a bakery where I get coffee and this cheese covered pretzel thing. I decided to carb it one last time in Germany.

Then it is on the walk to the terminal. It isn’t as quick as I thought it would be and we did end up taking a bus. The hotel and train station is in terminal 1 and our flight was terminal 2. Still have plenty of time since I always leave early for flights.
Frankfurt is a little odd. I felt like we went through security multiple times. You first go through a very easy screening and you feel like you are in the clear. But don’t buy any liquids or anything you expect to take on the plane. If you are US bound, you will have to go through screening once more to get to your gate, only within a window for your flight. They will make you dispose of any liquids you purchased (unless it is from duty free shop and “locked” up). There is a bathroom and shop on the other side where you can get duty free items, snacks, cold sandwiches, and drinks (water, soda, beer, and wine to consume there).
Once we got through the final round we sit and wait. Things seem to be smooth until we get our first delay message. It is a mechanical issue and technicians are looking at it. No eta, but no worry because so many flights are delayed these days we just expect that as the norm.
We sit some more and more delay messages. At some point they start to say a couple hours. Still hopeful of arriving home. They bring out drinks and finally sandwiches. I start to hear the rumor mill. The flight is getting cancelled. They won’t announce until it gets officially cancelled by the technicians.  They also talk about how it won’t be rescheduled for later that day because the crew will time out and there is no crew to fill the 8 hour flight. People start looking for other flights to get on.

Sandwiches!!

I hear the rumors but don’t want to believe them until we hear official word over the intercom.  It finally comes. Our flight is cancelled. We are asked to wait for word of what to do. Some book themselves on alternate flights or the same flight the next day but now all those options are gone. Eventually they announce that they are creating a new flight for us the same time the next day and they are putting us in an airport hotel overnight with food vouchers.
We get some sort of vague instruction to find the shuttle for the Steigenberger Hotel and all arrangements will be handled at hotel. Apparently we are automatically booked on the flight for the next day. Groups of us wander out to find the bus. It is real confusing and no one is there to direct us. It is a group effort. Many on the flight are English speaking or have a good level of English language so with team work we find the bus. It is way too small for all of us waiting so we have multiple trips. While I am waiting delta calls me to offer me an $100 voucher. Really Delta? Still don’t know when I am getting home, and this hotel situation at the time seems messy.  Not really the best time Delta unless you have some information to help me now!
When we get to the hotel it is long lines for the check in. My husband gets in line and I sit aside with the luggage. We check in with almost no identification. It is almost like we could have been just stragglers who came in at the right time and got a free room. Breakfast and Dinner are in a special conference room for our group. I wasn’t expecting much for a free hotel stay but was pleasantly surprised at our room. It was nicely decorated and very clean. The only bad part is that we were at the airport, it was already later in the day, so we had no real time to get to Frankfurt and sight see. Let me correct myself – ten years ago I would have hopped in a cab or train to do whatever Frankfurt I could do in YOLO style but tonight we want to eat and get a good night’s rest after being at the airport most of the day.

The dinner was buffet style and very impressive. I wasn’t expecting them to comp any alcohol but they had a seemingly never ending supply of the Radelberger beer. We took full advantage of it and did find it had an end – after we spent a couple hours hanging out chatting with some jazz/chamber music musicians from Brooklyn who were coming back from some Germany performances. A couple of them lived not too far from us. If you want to check them out they are Project Trio and Turtle Island Quartet. They were really nice group of guys.

Once the beer ran out it was time for bed. We rest up and finally get on our flight home the next day.

I heard rumors of good compensation granted for flight delays and cancellations and planned to do research when I got home. The next day we came to discover that our entire flight was comped. Both legs of the flight were refunded. So we basically went to Germany on a free flight with the “inconvenience” of having to miss another day of work. Fortunately we both have understanding employers so that wasn’t an issue.
The European union has stricter compensation laws for airline inconveniences and it appears Delta went above and beyond that. So it is hard to say that my bad travel luck is still in place since it was bad luck to have a flight cancelled, we still got home safe. Plus we were well compensated. I guess these are the good problems to have.
Until the next journey.
Happy travels!

Nuremburg

Today is the last day of sightseeing in Germany and we chose to spend it as a day trip to Nuremburg on the way back to Frankfurt.
When deciding where our our day trip would be, Nuremberg was on the list but with some hesitation. The only thing I knew about the town was Nuremberg trials and I feared that would consume the town. To our delight, Nuremberg was so much more and I wished we would have scheduled a night here to be able to see more.

We started of with an early train ride; well not that early. We ended up getting to the town about noon. We locked up our bags at the station and started our walk.

Always number one on our minds is food (well number 1 for me is where are the toilets because I always have to go). We find a cafe to have a little meal before we move on.

More sausages!

By the cafe there is a shopping area where craftsmen sell their unique items. I wanted to come back to buy some souvenirs but later forgot.

Craftsmen’s Courtyard

After some window shopping we walk through the old town. We pass some cafes and a monument to World War II refugees.

We visit to the St Lawrence Church (started 1360). Despite WW II the church survived mostly intact due partly to luck and pro-activeness in hiding and protecting precious parts.

After the church we wander around the town some more.

“Durer ” Rabbit

Finally we plan to visit the Germanic National Museum. Our map reading skills fail us because we end up going in circles. We eventually find it. We don’t have a ton of time left since we have a train to catch. We try to do the express version and finally towards the end I find the Durer works (but take no photos). The selection at the museum was pretty impressive. I would definitely schedule more than an hour or so here (unlike us).

We loved Nuremberg and definitely would have spent more time here. I will be sure to put it on the list to swing by again the next visit to Germany.
Now to catch the train back to Frankfurt.

Day in Munich Part 2

We finally make it to the English Gardens (Englischer Garten). I read in the guide book that people surf here. I look for where there could possibly be surfers. My husband doesn’t believe me. I never find the surfers. The park is 3 miles long. We only conquer a portion of it. As we walk past some large meadows we witness people picnicking and playing in the first one. We walk a little futher and we view a very tan man standing at attention with his fists on the sides of his waist. He is totally naked and facing the walkway. I did read it was clothing optional in the park but we were not expecting Sargent Naked Dude (my name for him). He seemed really proud of himself and appeared to be seeking attention. We continue to walk past him.
We soon find the peaceful stream we viewed when we entered the park developed at some point to a lazy river of sorts, only with a faster current. We sit and watch many floating down the river.

After viewing the river fun for a little while we head down to the Chinese Tower beer garden. It is a lively beer garden with lots of food vendors.

We decide to try the Stecherlfisch like the locals.

On our way out of the garden we cool our tired feet in the stream. It refreshes us for the rest of the day.

On our way out of the park we hit another park and find a group playing bocce ball.

After selfie time we walk back to closer to where we are staying the night.

It is a beautiful evening and I am not ready to go back.

I talk Carlos into stopping at the famous Hofbrahaus for one last beer.

It is loud and crowded. Even though the fun band is indoors we decide to try our luck outside since it is hot and steamy inside.

We stand around for a bit but now is not the time to be shy. Full tables don’t just open up. You invite yourself to sit with others. We sat down at a not so lively table. The people at our table are not in a good mood. We soon learn why, service is terrible and very slow. And it seems like the tour group of drunk teens at the table next to us get high class attention while our table is ignored. They finally take our order, but before the others at our table….I feel bad. At least we have the fun stag party to watch while we wait forever for our food and beers.

We also see an example of the beer garden cookie that men are supposed to by for the lady they are sweet on. I did not get one 😦

I am glad I went at least once but not sure I will return to this beer garden. It was too touristy. The music was fun though.

We decide to call it a night. We need to pack our bags to leave for Nuremberg and later the airport.
I wish we budgeted more time in Munich. Vacations are way too short!!!

Day in Munich Part 1

The next day in Munich, while still fighting the cold, I force myself up to go sightseeing today.
Again this is the least planned trip I have ever taken but I see that there is a glockenspiel show coming up that I want to see. The glockenspiel is a clock that chimes at certain times of the day accompanied by dancing figurines. We arrive just in time for the show.

The clock is located at the Neus Rathaus (the New Town Hall). The new town hall looks like the old town hall because the old town hall was rebuilt after it was bombed in WW II.

New Town Hall

Old town hall

After watching the clock for a while we go up the tower for views of Munich.

We didn’t spend too much time exploring the New Town Hall since it seemed more like a functional government building versus a tourist attraction but it did have some spectacular stain glass windows inside.

After spending a ton of time at Marienplatz we decided to move on an explore other parts of the city. At one point we ended up at this Michael Jackson Memorial.

We wandered our way around town heading toward the English Gardens which we visit next.

Later I will talk about the visit to the gardens.

Living in fantasy until the sickness kicks in

Today is the day we visit some famous castles.
The logistics of getting to the awesome castles of Bavaria are too much for us to organize so we book a long day tour with Gray Line Tours. We join a line in front of department store. Meeting time is 20 minutes before departure but it clear that people line up earlier than that. We start boarding the bus. We would have left early but some dude on the bus had to run out and get a coffee so we waited for him and ended up leaving a little later than departure time 😦
I have been on many coach tours throughout the years, they aren’t my favorite since I get really tired on the bus. However coach tours are an easy and convenient way to see things that are out of the way, if you don’t mind sticking to their schedule. Plus usually the tour guide gives you some commentary that you just won’t get unless you are an avid guide book reader.
This particular day I am coming down with a cold. Nose is running.  It is coming on but I am ignoring it. The snot comes out of my nose with an increasing frequency but I choose to pretend I am ok for the first part of the day; and it works for a little while.

Very beautiful drive through Bavaria. Hard to get a good picture while the bus is gliding down the highway though.
Today is mostly about King Ludwig II. This reclusive ruler was inspired by such palaces such as Versailles and wanted to out sparkle them. He pretty much went on spending spree with building opulent buildings that bankrupted himself, went insane, and died an early, mysterious death.

First stop on our tour is Schloss Linderhof. The king spent his days in this palace in solitude. Stories told on how he ate alone in a personal dining room and the wait staff was not even able to enter the room. The table was set with food in the story below and brought up to him using a pulley system. No photos were allowed inside the palace but the grounds were quite pretty.

The king was into role play. He has a little Moroccan house he like to use. It is now on the property with Linderhof. Around the Moroccan house is when I get violently attacked again by those nasty German biting bugs. I am being dramatic but the bites do hurt and those bugs would not leave me be.

Second stop was the charming town of Oberammergau. Oberammergau’s claim to fame is the passion plays it puts on every ten years. It is also known for its frescos. We had about an hour or so to explore the frescos of the town. I wish we would have had more time here.

Finally we get to the grand finale Schloss Neuschwanstein. There is a 20 minute uphill walk and I find my energy drained. We have some time before our scheduled entrance so we decide to eat at the fancier hotel restaurant instead of the quick service places. We had the place almost to ourselves. It wasn’t the cheapest but it was a nice relaxing meal. I enjoyed my food and the view of Neuschwanstein.

I have forgotten to bring the sunscreen so before we are to walk up I need to buy some, and water, since I have never have too much water.
We start our ascend and I am pooped but the view keeps getting better and better.

From where we enter for the tour we don’t have the best views of the castle but we do have some pretty good vistas of the surrounding area.

The audio tour was pretty informative but once again no indoor pictures. There is another 20 minute or so hike to a lookout area, we have just enough time for it but the sickness and long day has worn me down. I refuse to do the walk, and get the photo of a lifetime. My body says no. So I sit and wait for Carlos. I have some regret with missing out on the experience but I know what my body was telling me. At least I started feeling better the next day. I was able to steal this photo that my husband took. Enjoy!

We are caught on the train! But later Beer.

As I mentioned before I was happy to leave Baden-Baden a day earlier. Besides the bad service it wasn’t a terrible place but there are so many better places to visit. Vacation time is short.
I booked the train tickets late but this time we didn’t have to pay for 1st class. However somehow I was only able to pay for a seat reservation and not the full ticket online. I have no idea how I did that and kept trying to figure out how to buy my ticket online when we already had a reservation. Never figured it out and ended up buying the train tickets at the station the next morning. Our train stops in Mannheim where we switch to another train to Munich. Besides having a hard time finding our car (even after thinking we mastered the system) the trip was pretty uneventful until the end.
After a while I noticed we started making Munich stops so it was time to gather our things. We slow down to the station and Carlos starts to leave with his backpack down the aisle when somehow the belt to his backup that was hanging down got trapped in a seat. He paused to pull it out but it was just stuck. I tried to pull on it a bit and it would not budge. The doors opened for the station and we started to panic. A few others attempted and it was not moving. I decide I need to run to the doors and ask them to hold since we are stuck. I was too late, the doors had shut and there was no opening them. At this point I was OMG we missed our stop (which at the time seemed like a really big deal but in the grand scheme of things probably not). The train started moving and I realize it wasn’t our stop, our stop was actually next. It bought us some time but that belt was not moving no matter what new strategy we imposed on it. Carlos tries to clip it with his nail clippers but it is too tough. Another passenger starts looking through her makeup bag for makeup scissors. She finds a pair. Another guest cuts and Carlos is free, with a slightly broken backpack now. Just in time for Munich Hauptbahnhof (the main train station). After all that drama we exit the train and joyfully walk a couple blocks to our hotel to unload.

Since we waited too long to book our hotels we missed out on some money saving opportunities closer to all the tourist spots. We chose instead to book the well maintained and decorated Arthotel Munich. Arthotel is a art themed economy hotel near the train station. Throughout the hotel there is modern art decor and many doors are painted with pictures of artists and other famous people. We stayed in the Elvis room for our stay. I didn’t love the part of town we were in since it was a little of a walk to the tourists sites but it was clean, friendly and good value for the money we paid.

 

Butt chair

Normally I am very educated on what a city has to offer and make lots of notes on choices of activities while we are there. For Germany I did the bare minimum. I had too many distractions leading up to the trip. When we arrived in our room we started doing a little Rick Steves research in our guide. There were two beer tours we could possibly do that afternoon. Not a lot of preparation needed for that so it was right up our alley. Of the two tours one was strictly a beer one and the other was a beer plus German food tour (BAVARIAN BEER). We decided to take the beer plus food one so maybe we can look like we weren’t lushes that didn’t desire to know anything but beer. Against my better judgement I took the advice in the book about just showing up at the train station to book and the tour was sold out (Bad Rick Steves!). I could have easily booked the tour from the hotel before we left. The guy at the desk tells us that sometimes people do bail out last minute and we could come back before the tour starts and see if they have a last minute spot for us. We still have an hour to wait so we sit on the steps of the train station. We think about trying to make it to the other tour which starts a little further away but we decided to sit and wait. Closer to the time the tour starts there is another couple waiting standby. The odds aren’t good we are going to make it in. Groups slowing trickle in but when it is time to start 4 people still haven’t arrived. The person at the desk lets us in the tour. We pay as the tour guide hands out beers outside the train station and starts giving us some background info for the tour. While we are standing there the missing 4 appear but luckily we get to stay in the tour. That was a close call. Moral of the story if you know you want to take a tour, book it right away. (We did that for the tours scheduled the next day).
The tour starts with a beer and some background info while we are still at the train station.

The tour is an active tour that utilizes public transportation to get around (no huge AC tour buses). We together walk to the metro and take it to our first location the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum

Our guide takes us in for samples and intruduces the different beer styles and tells us about the German Purity Beer Law.

 

Some pretzels to soak up the beer

After our beers our guide took us through the museum where he explained about the history and what some of the symbols were.

Famous beer maid

Next stop was a visit to the HofbrauKeller beer hall where we sampled some German sausages and other goods.

This special sausage is specific to Bavaria and is primarily eaten in the morning. Weisswurst is made from veal and pork and was very good with the sweet mustard we ate with it.

The tour guide also explained the significance of the maypole and how mischievous people steal them and use them to barter for beer parties. Each sign represent what services the town or area provides.

Finially we end up the tour outside the famous Hofbräuhaus. We did not go inside at that point but the tour guide told us about the experience inside and the history of the building.

After the tour it was late and we decided to wander back to the hotel area. After a couple of beers I thought I wanted to stay out a little longer but after getting lost, since it was our first night in the city, we were both exhausted and just tried to find our way back.

Plus we needed rest for a long tour day the next day.

July 4th on a mountain and in the spa

The next morning we decided to visit some nature and do a hike since that was a main reason for visiting this region. After doing some research we narrowed it down to taking a trail at the edge of town or going up the local mountain Merkur Mountain. We chose Merkur mountain because I wanted to ride the funicular.
First breakfast in our cute breakfast room at the hotel.

We found a bus that took us to the bottom of the mountain where the funicular starts. For some reason I was able to convince my husband to take the funicular up and hike down. He must have felt guilty for the long hike a couple of days prior.
At the bottom of the funicular there is shop to buy snacks, gifts and I guess booze for the mountain.

 

We took a couple minutes to look at another less than useful trail map, and then we got our tickets and went up.

Hey look at this water fountain first –

After we entered the funicular, a guy hurried on with a huge pack of stuff. Was he a backpacker? Was he going to camp on the mountain? We came to find out that he is a paraglider and the top of the mountain is a popular paraglider launch location.

So we got some drinks at the cafe and watched the hangliders for about an hour. Hike=delayed.

It was also at this point that we realized we accidently booked too many nights in Baden-Baden. We were supposed to leave for Munich the next day. We were too late to fully cancel so we had to pay a fee to get out of the last night. I am usually much more prepared for traveling than this. I guess it got confusing because my husband booked some hotels and I booked the other. I guess we had a miscommunication. I was looking forward to leaving the next day to go to Munich. Our stay in Baden-Baden wasn’t terrible but I wish we would have picked another black forest town.

Back to the hike…..

We finished our drinks and started the journey down the mountain. We of course did not stay on the main road since it was boring. I made sure to keep my husband in check so we didn’t get too much off the beaten path and get lost…or end up miles away from where we needed to be at the end.

Some growing that looked like yummy dim sum

We crossed the path of the funicular a couple of times on the way down.

The walk down was relatively pleasant with the exception of discovering the bastard bugs of Germany. They aren’t quite mosquitoes but they bite like a MFr and fly off pretty quickly. Not quite a horsefly but painful bites that welt up afterwards. They only attacked me somewhat on this mountain but they really got me later in the trip. Should have worn more bug spray!!

At the very bottom of the trail we found where the para-gliders land.

After we got back into town we decided to eat a late lunch at an outdoor cafe where we once again had terrible service. Not really loving the hospitality of Baden-Baden.
We went back to the hotel and changed into our suits and picked a thermal spa to do some relaxing and swimming at. There were two big ones in town and they were both pretty close to our hotel. One was with no suits and one was with suits. We aren’t prudes but I just wasn’t up to sloshing around a bunch of nude people. We ended up attending the Caracalla Spa . See Rick Steves colorful explanation of the spa below.

You pay for admission at the front and then get a wrist band that controls a locker and allows you to purchase things at the cafe if you wish. I saw people bringing in food and drinks. I wish I would have brought water to drink. No water fountains that I could see and the swimming and sweating got me thirsty. Once we changed we locked our things in a locker and grabbed our rented towels (I will guard these with my life, well sort of kidding).
The way the spa is layed out there is a large indoor area with heated pools with jets at different places, hot dip pool (short visits only), cold dip pool, saunas, and an aroma therapy sauna room. Outdoors is two major pools. One has a lazy river of sorts with some massage jets. The other pool has a number of jets and waterfalls. Upstairs is the nude only sauna, which we never visited.
Since it was still pretty light out (early evening) we decided to start outside. I tried the lazy river pool and let the current pull me along for a while. That got pretty boring quickly so I moved over to the waterfall pool and found a jet to massage some sore body parts. Basically the jets will run for a while in an area and turn off, then they start running in a different area. So it is a game of where to move to next. All in all I got a pretty good water massage on my back neck, thighs, feet and calves.
Next I tried the indoors and decided to try a personal sauna room. A couple minutes in there I got slightly claustophobic since I am not a big sauna fan. I decided then to try the aroma therapy room. It was a good sized room and people seemed to feel very comfortable hanging out in there. I got hot and had a hard time breathing. In addition I was afraid the smells would cause a migraine as sometimes strong scents do to me. I hit the shower and tried the indoor pool. I got some more neck and leg massages while I was there and also hit the hot and cold pools. After a while I was done and tried going back outside. To my surprise there was an instructor teaching a water zumba class. I joined in and tried to do my best Despacito moves in the water. After a while thirst took over and it was time for me to go. Fortunately my husband was done too and we changed and went back to the hotel to clean up for dinner.
So many bad experiences eating at Baden-Baden I had little hope for our dinner choices. We decided to go to the tourist looking outdoor cafe around the corner from our hotel,  Prager Stuben. It was a quite cafe with very attentive service. I enjoyed the Czech inspired dish I ordered: Pork in Sauce with a side of dumplings. Very good. So happy this ended our stay in Baden-baden. Now off to bed for traveling the next day.

Only good dinning experience in Baden-Baden