As I have visited Munich before, my friends who I was staying with decided that they would show me more of Bavaria instead. So early on Saturday morning we hit the autobahn and traveled up to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Everything along the autobahn was covered in snow which was spectacularly picturesque (although my photos don’t really do a good job of showing this). Along the way we stopped at a rest area so I could make a snowman.
In early February I decided to take a last minute trip to Germany to visit some good friends who I have not seen in a number of years.
Booking a major trip five days before leaving is completely opposite to my usual modus operandi, but things fell into place really well and I saw myself flying from Sydney to Munich via Abu Dhabi on a Thursday afternoon in early February.
I was last in Germany a little under two years ago and I have such great friends there that I simply had to go back. It’s a long way from Sydney and there are no “easy” ways to get there. On my last trip I flew with Etihad and had a good trip up, but a bad trip back. While there were other airlines who offered trips with similar flight lengths and prices I ended up flying on Etihad again as they had the best arrival time into Munich (mid-afternoon).
The first flight, 14.5 hours from Sydney to Abu Dhabi went well. It is a very very very long flight, and despite having done a few of these ultra long-haul flights now one still gets restless over the final few hours. I had been dreading spending the layover in Abu Dhabi after a bad experience there two years ago, but this time we arrived at a different terminal which was super clean and the three hour layover went relatively quickly.
The final portion of my travels in Germany was visiting friends in Munich.
By pure coincidence I arrived in Munich for the start of Oktoberfest. The biggest fair in the world begins with a massive street parade where each brewery brings its beer into the city. This was a rather interesting parade to watch, where marching bands that I would normally expect to see at a Santa Parade played between each brewery’s float.
After a great weekend in Heidelberg, I caught the train to Koblenz. The first part of the journey involved in a “simple” trip from Heidelberg to Mannheim on the S-Bahn where I would have ten minutes to wait for the connecting EC train to Koblenz. However, despite the S-Bahn train arriving in Heidelberg on time, it then sat on the platform for 8 minutes waiting for another train to pass. Once we finally got moving, it was obvious the train running on a parallel track to us was my connecting train! After arriving on the wrong platform in Mannheim, I had to do a mad dash to get across to the connecting train with only seconds to spare.
Once I arrived into Koblenz, I checked into my hotel and then went for a walk around the city. This city was very different to the cities I had been in over the past few days and felt like what my poor knowledge of European history would have suggested that Eastern Germany/Europe would have looked like – lots of bland concrete buildings. After having a sausage from a market stall, I found a street concert, and finished the day off by watching the America’s Cup on an Austrian TV channel.
I spent my first weekend in Germany in the area around Heidelberg and Mannheim.
After spending the day walking around Frankfurt with random friends, I caught the train from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. After checking into my hotel, I went for a walk around the city while waiting for my friends to arrive from Munich.
The town of Heidelberg is incredibly pedestrian friendly. The core area is one long narrow street that runs from the centre of town through to the base of the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle. Once my friends arrived, we had dinner at a local pub.
In September I went to Europe primarily to present some of my doctoral research at a conference in Germany. The next few blog posts are compiled from notes I wrote while away and will feature highlights of the trip.