Kim brought the warm South Carolina weather to Europe for her ten day stay. We spent her first weekend in Antwerp and the temps were into the 90s, which is pretty darn crazy for here. Other than exploring Antwerp, we also went to Ghent before heading to Germany. This day trip confirmed my opinion that Ghent > Brugge. Less touristy yet you still have the canals, a beautiful Cathedral, and an incredible lookout from the Belfry.
By Monday we were off to Munich on a cheap Ryan Air flight. It was a day of planes, trains and automobiles but we finally arrived to our destination in one piece. We stayed at Jaeger Hostel in a cozy double room with our own bathroom. It was very nice, and surprisingly quiet! The lobby bar was always full of people and every night they held happy hour from 6-9p which included 2 euro pints of great German beer.
The rest of our trip was full of touring, beer drinking, eating sausages and pretzels, making new friends from all over the world, and tons and tons of walking. We had a fantastic time. Two things of note before I continue with the rest of the trip, if you go to Munich you must check out the beer gardens and the English Gardens. We visited the two most popular beer gardens on our first two nights, Augustiner Keller and the Chinese Tower in the English Gardens. Just imagine a large open air space under chestnut trees with hundreds of picnic tables filled with people drinking liters of beer.
The English Gardens blew my mind. This is one of the largest urban public parks in the world, larger than New York City Central Park. When we walked through it, it was a beautiful day and thousands of people were enjoying the sun and playing in the river. I have never seen a site quite like it.
Kim and I also took a day trip to Salzburg to discover some of the sights from The Sound of Music, and tour Mozart’s birthplace. We traveled there with a tour group, and only had a few hours to explore the city on our own. We were most taken with the beautiful churches. We also walked through the house Mozart was born in which is now a museum in his honor. By the time we were ready to walk up to the fortress for a panoramic view of the city, we had to meet our guide to catch the train back to Munich.
By far one of the most moving experiences of our trip was visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp. I was grateful we went with a tour group here as well, our guide was very knowledgable and packed in a ton of information throughout the day. Words cannot really describe the site and the feeling you have when visiting. It was just crazy to be there and to walk through such a devastating part of our history. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Our hostel advertised a free walking tour in Munich, so naturally we jumped on that too. The tour ended up being almost four hours long and our guide was highly entertaining. At the end of the tour we gave him a well deserving tip, so maybe it wasn’t entirely free… but worth every cent. We learned so much about the history of Munich, every landmark held a new meaning to us after the tour was over.
For Kim’s final weekend we headed back to Antwerp. This past Saturday we visited Amsterdam and unfortunately saw our first rainy day in two weeks. Sunday I had some of our friends over for brunch, and after talking about our upcoming trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, Kim spontaneously booked a flight right there on the spot! I will say she debated it for a few hours, but after finding a pretty good fare, it was a no brainer.
And today I’m feeling the way I usually feel after visitors leave, tired but ready to get my life back in order. There’s a larger sense of urgency this time because Garrett and I leave for Copenhagen in just four days!! We’ll be setting sail with his parents for a week long cruise in Scandinavia. To say I feel spoiled this summer is a HUGE understatement.