"And then we Ausfahrt?"

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Sunday, July 25, 2010

From Cari: Today, we did a lot of driving, meaning, of course, that we had to pick of our car first. After breakfast, we hitched a taxi to Ottobrun, a suburb of Munich. It took a while to figure out where the rental place was because the taxi man couldn't figure it out.

The taxi ride took about twenty minutes. When we arrived at the rental car place, Greg went in to get the car and sign some papers. The man behind the counter was one of the grossest human beings I have ever seen (picture the grossest plumber you have ever seen, and put him behind a desk). After providing the man with some information, he handed us the keys to a dark silver Mercedes.

We had some trouble getting out the parking lot initially. First, the seatbelt light/alarm kept going off because our backpacks were sitting in the back seat. We buckled the seat belts in the back and were preparing to take off, but the light strip on our dashboard kept lighting up and beeping extremely loudly. Nothing we did would make it stop, so we asked the girl washing cars what was wrong. It took both her and the man behind the counter to settle on the answer, "It means 'everything’s ok/you are ready to go." The “you are ready to go” alarm? Both Greg and I knew that it couldn’t possibly be the “everything is ok” alarm because that would be the dumbest invention ever, but we didn’t want to argue with these people anymore (they assured us it was safe to drive).

From Greg: Today, we rented a car for das Autobahn. Apaprently, European cars have a very handy feature: the “Everything Is O.K.” alarm. So long as that alarm is going off, everything is ok and you are ready to drive! With our “Everything’s O.K.” alarm happily chirping, we headed for Schloss Neuschwanstein.

From Cari: We didn’t have much more luck once we drove off the lot. We had no idea where we were going because the driving directions provided for us were from an address in Munich, not from the one we were at and the road maps we had were not helpful for city driving. After driving down a random road for a while, we pulled over so Greg could ask directions. We had been going in the right direction and continued going that way. I successfully guided us the 1.5 hours to Schloss Neuschwanstein…..and then past it into Fussen…..and then back to the castle.

From Greg: The drive was uneventful, except for learning that Germans are just as bad at driving as Americans (although I will admit that the country side was quite nice). About an hour and a half later, we arrived at Neuschwanstein. To go ahead and lobby my complaint, if you want to go into the castle, buy your tickets ahead of time and don’t listen to your travel agent who says, “(in a high pitched voice) You don’t need tickets! You’ll be able to walk right in.” It’s a lie; you can’t walk right in. So, instead of waiting in the two hour long line that would allow us to go in an additional three hours later (total wait time: five hours), we decided we would hike up the hill and explore the grounds. This was a popular alternative that many tourists were doing.

From Cari: I had wanted to go into the castle and had found a lot of information before we left that told us we needed tickets. It was my mistake for trusting the professional travel agent who told Greg that we didn’t. I didn’t really trust that, but I went with it anyway. Wrong move (travel agent = liar). Even though we didn’t get to see inside the castle, we still got to see around the castle. We followed another couple out of the line and up the hiking path for the twenty minute walk up the mountain. The castle was interesting (especially for me since it was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle :)). There was only so many pictures to take directly around the castle, and Greg had noticed a bridge up on the mountain side. We asked the very informative Chinese man behind the desk of the souvenir shop inside the palace how to get there, and we were told that we “TURN LEFT TWENTY MINUTES!” The view of the countryside on the hike was very pretty and we stopped at a couple places to take some pictures. I was fine until we got to bridge. It was at least 12,000 feet high (ok, maybe not), but it was really high. While the rails were metal but the base boards were wood and bounced with every step. In addition, we were absolutely over the weight limit for the bridge with the number of people on it. The views of the castle were great, but I didn’t like walking across it.

From Greg: The castle was neat; the bridge above it was neater. There’s a nice video about Cari having a conniption on the bridge, but she refuses to post it, so you will just have to take my word for it that it was fun for everything. We walked back down the hill, had some deep fried cream cheese balls, and headed north.

From Cari: The fried cream cheese balls were delicious (and, for the record, they were Greg’s idea)!

From Greg: The trip from Fussen to Bamberg was my first real exposure to real Autobahn driving. One particularly interesting moment: I was driving in the middle lane going 100 MPH when a series of sports cars flew past me on the left going at least 130 MPH. Autobahn driving is not for the faint of heart, but I highly recommend it to anyone who loves driving. Maintaining a good driving flow takes a much higher level of strategy than driving in the States. One must keep track of the cars coming up behind you much more alertly than you are probably used to. The cars are going far faster than you expect.

From Cari: I did a better job navigating this time. I directed us straight to the hotel. Yay, me!

From Greg: Four hours later, we arrived in Bamberg.

From Cari: Once checked in, we were going to eat at the hotel restaurant to make it easy on ourselves, but I wasn’t really in the mood for “duck tongue” or “crawfish tails” or “eel basted in basil” so we asked the concierge where were should go (keeping in mind that we were not in the mood for Bavarian, as we had been having it a lot recently). The man behind the counter suggested a great tradition Bavarian restaurant and an excellent Mexican restaurant. It might just be me, but I am thinking that Bamberg isn’t a place where you want to go for really kick-ass Mexican food. We opted to just wander around looking for a place, and ended up finding a small café on Obre Bruecke. It was decent. The wine was not good and the water tasted like it was just flat mineral (sparkling water), but the food was good. The banana split for dessert was good too, but the chocolate milkshake was just chocolate milk (which I knew, but forgot to warn Greg about). Hah.

From Greg: One note of interest from our arrival night in Bamberg was the pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is a really common dish in Bavaria. It is always served with the weird mashed potato balls. This one was particularly good (very tender meat), but it was the sourkrat that really made it. Mmmm, pork shoulder meat, sourkrat, and weird mashed potatoes. That and a dark beer (from Kaiserdom Brewery in Bamberg) made for a enjoyable evening out on the town.
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