October 23rd, 2011 Posted in Europe 2011, Travel | 6 Comments »
Hey Everyone…I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this trip…but before you assume from the last post ending in my declaration of Munich drinking that I’ve ended up in some basement somewhere, prey to some German who wants to do weird scientific experiments on me, rest assured I’m in Switzerland now…a country known for it’s neutrality!
But before I go on about that, let’s play a little catch up, shall we?
Drinking in Munich is fun…and interesting. It was on a Thursday night that we decided to head out. Little did we know that near the city center where all the action happens, it’s god damn well impossible to get a table at any brewhouse!
We had planned on doing the main touristy thing that anyone does when they come to Munich, that is stop by the Haufbrahaus and have some food and drink while listening to loud polka and people talking. It’s a massive place, several levels tall with different styles to each floor and a huge convention-type place upstairs. With, every, damn, table full.
We wandered in and out of brahuas after brahaus, Dave, our trusty translator, telling us they only take reservations. Rejection after rejection until we’d winded out of the city a little bit to a small cafe near the market (which we didn’t realize was a market until the morning).
We proceeded to start having some dark beer which was a heffewisen (wheat) and some good conversation. The setting was nice and ambient and the food menu looked good. I ordered some lamb cutlet and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but ended up having the best meal I will have had in Germany to date.
Sinfully amazing with a sauce on top of potatoes with vegetables. Simple, filling, and my god fantastic. The unfortunate reality of it all is that I can’t remember at all where the hell this place was. I’m searching on Google now to try and figure it out. I was sober when I went in, and a bit drunk when we stumbled out.
Ah well, I’ll sort that out later.
We stumbled around the corner looking for a small pub. We found one and heard music and cheer so we walked in. A large man with an equally large beard held a gigantic stein up in the air and said something that was most likely incomprehensible to both Germans and English-speaking people a like. There was only a handful of other people there and my best guess is that they all knew eachother very well.
Since we’d stumbled in we didn’t want to look rude. We ordered up a few more dark beers and the waitress brought them out, marking a special encoded message on a beer coaster to keep our tab. We’d later learn that this was the custom anywhere you could have a tab using different roman numerals to specify what you had, and the amounts.
What’s particularly notable about this place was that the dark beer had a beef stock after taste. I’m a big fan of beef and and even bigger fan of dark beer. So the combination was amazing. It was a Paulaner beer whatever it was, we purchased some of the same type at the supermarket the next day, but I assure you it only tasted of beef there!
I’m not crazy, either, because everyone else agreed.
After we’d had our one there we made our way up to what would be the last pub of this particular night. In the Lyceum there was a beer that was brewed under license from the Ayinger Brewers in Munich…The owner must have decided he would make it under his own name, changing the recipe just a bit.
Pint after pint we drank. This was a local bar as well but it was much nicer in it’s surroundings. The bartender was sweet and working by herself and the place was full of people that were laughing loudly. I managed to have a few conversations with some local Germans and was very impressed with their English.
To be honest, it made me feel like a dick for not learning more German before we came here. I’d gotten good at getting my way through some things, but I certainly couldn’t hold down a conversation, or even start one for that matter! I loved everyone I met because they were easy to engage. Some of them really enjoyed their time in America and some had aspired to come there.
I guess I forget when being so cynical, that America isn’t so bad!
The night went on, and on, we chatted about politics and music. I figured I was getting pretty drunk and as we were standing outside a couple of official-looking people with sashes and hats started asking questions about the bar. David, our very fluent translator, was speaking to them in English: “I don’t know, I don’t know.”
I figured this was a bad sign. We were at this pub at 2:00 in the morning and weren’t sure if they were licensed to be open, or to be honest how the licensing worked in general.
They started breathalizing everyone!
Josh starting to pick up on the weirdness finished off the booze as we all figured we were getting chucked out of the bar for being their past closing.
We were wrong. Apparently a white sash doesn’t mean anything in Munich!
They were just portable breathalizer machines mounted to people that were trying to look somewhat official. You pay them 3.90 Euros (odd price) and they give you a reading.
Only 1.14…I guess the German in me was in full swing, because it was late and I’d had many pints…granted, I had a few more before the night was through!
The lady was sweet, and of course I had to have a picture with her!
They even let me borrow their hat for a minute! They had asked me before I took the test what I thought I was going to come out at. I said 1.20…scarily accurate, but I joked with them that their machine needed some calibration.
Joshy Five-Pints, who already had stopped drinking, was another story.
We settled up our tab and hit the road. It was nearly 4 AM before we left the Ayinger pub. The familiar blinding sober lights of the night coming on. They had been playing American music all night. I guess the Germans love our terrible eighties rock, since it seems to be everywhere! I heard a little Bryan Adams…maybe that was just their way of getting to get the hell out of the bar!
Drunk and happy we hit the road after getting into a taxi. I was using my GPS to basically tell the driver we weren’t going to let him screw us over. I knew exactly where the hotel was and he was trying to take the long way ’round. Visibly upset, he dropped us off, we had a shot of Jeager back at the hotel, and we passed out.
In the morning I remembered our bar tab.
Whoops. In just the last bit of the night we’d spent a couple hundred dollars just in pints of Ayinger…well worth it, I thought.
The next morning started with a chocolate croissant.
mmm. Those are damn delicious I tell you. One of the best things you’ll find in Europe! We stumbled around Munich taking pictures and doing the sober thing. Had a couple of meals at local restaurants and hit the bed early. Not much to say about this day since it was mostly filled with sleeping, walking around on a hangover, and hitting the bed early. After all we had an early Saturday ahead of us.
We checked out of the hotel at 7:30. They tried to add a couple of breakfasts to my bill, but I was smarter than that and negotiated them straight off!
We stopped by the market and picked up our rental car. A Skoda Superb. A bit pretentious of a car name I figured, but it was a kind of luxury class car with navigation and lots of weird bells and whistles to boot. I figured it would have enough acceleration to enjoy the Autobahn.
We hit the road in search of Schloss (castle) Neuschwanstein. Once I realized that I was on an unrestricted motorway I hit the gas. Only to find out that I was soon slowed down by speed restrictions or people pulling out in front of us. I hadn’t had much a chance to realize what life on the A-roads was like yet when we hit the castle.
We wanted to not tour it, but take a few pictures. We did just that.
It’s a beautiful site and since we were there early it was pretty empty except for the occasional massive group of Asian tourists. I’ll have some pictures and reflections of that later I suppose.
We got back on the road and figured out our route to Switzerland. I was able to get our Skoda up to 220 km/h (137.9 mph) by using some hills, but found that everytime I did get the car up at it’s top speed I’d be slowed down again. It’s sort of a shame that they have all of these unrestricted roads, because you really never get the chance to open it up and experience incredible speed.
What’s even sillier is the amount of petrol consumed when you are going that fast. I used half a tank of gas to go 200 km, and about a quarter to the remaining 300! Ah well, it was properly worth it. Going that fast legally is an experience. It’s also 9 mph faster than I’ve ever gone in states. However, when you’re at that speed in the US you have the constant worry that you’re about to be pulled over, and your license revoked!
We snuck into Austria, which is part of the EU, so it really wasn’t sneaking and took a B-road to avoid paying for a Vignette to use the main motorways. Switzerland and Austria alike have window stickers that must be purchased in order to use the roads. It’s a pretty shitty deal when you’ve got a rental car, to have to pay 40 francs to drive on a road you won’t see again after two days…but ah well. Call it a donation.
We arrived just in time to enjoy the incredible view from the cottage. We settled in and unpacked the groceries we had brought. Dave made a lovely meal of potatoes, random meats, and meltable cheese. We used a special device (The name escapes me) to both cook meats on top and melt cheese on the bottom. You take the result of that and mix it together with the potatoes on your plate. It’s incredibly delicious.
We had lots to drink and hit the bed somewhat early.
It was refreshing not to have to listen to the drone of police sirens and screaming that is typical for any large city. I slept hard as could be and woke up to a nice breakfast prepared by Dave. We then hit the road to go to the “old town” of Gruyères. It’s a really cool place with the old French cottage style design…there is a large Chateau at the end of it which can be seen from all over the valley.
It’s filled with tourists as well…I’ll have some cool pictures to upload once I get back of both the town and some of the artwork I discovered on the streets.
They are also well known for their cheese and offer a cheese-making tour. We weren’t really interested in that, so we hit the road to basically take in the Swiss Alps.
It’s amazing. It’s a lot like Colorado except with intense French influence. Switzerland has both German and French regions and it’s funny because all the sudden things change. Such as the exists, Ausfahrts turn into Sorties.
We took some great pictures in the mountains and were tentatively headed to a town called Gstaad which seems to have French, English, and German everywhere. It caters to the rich ski crowd and my can you tell it! It’s the off season and also a Sunday, so it was pretty empty, but the street is littered with Cartier and Chanel shops, fancy watch companies and places where you can spend a hell of a lot of money.
We even found a giant deer head, made of crystals for sale…my guess is that it was in the 50-75k range. :)
My Milk, My Cheese! Everyone has a cheese…sort of like the Germans, where everyone has their own damn brewery.
We found a place that had the same meal we enjoyed last night, for 38 francs a person (just over 42 dollars US). I think we paid about 10 US to get the ingredients :)
After that we hit the road to enjoy the sunset. Stopped at the shop to get a few things, and now we’re back at the cottage to enjoy one last night and some serious drinking. I’m looking forward to seeing the sunrise tomorrow and then winding our way to Geneva, where we’ll catch an Easyjet back to Gatwick to begin the Northern England leg of our journey, possibly into Whales and Scotland as well.
I hope you are all well! This post is getting long. I may have paraphrased a few things because I’m catching up a few days worth of activities. By all means, leave a damn comment. Let me know how you feel about life and love…but for now, be easy. More to come when I develop pictures.