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The Boomer and the Gen-Zer: A trip of firsts

The Boomer and the Gen-Zer: A trip of firsts

Old Jan 5th, 2020, 11:38 AM
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The Boomer and the Gen-Zer: A trip of firsts

About a year ago it occurred to me that it might be fun to take my 19 year old niece (hereby referred to as K) on her first trip to Europe. She’d seen photos from some of our Christmas trips to Germany and has expressed interest in travel, so I decided to gift her with a two week trip to Germany and Austria over Christmas.

She and I had never spent more than a few days at a time together; she’s a college freshman, I’m a child-free retiree, so it was sure to be a learning experience for both of us.

I’d monitored fares for months, and had just about given up on finding reasonably priced tickets, when I decided to take a look at Expedia. Lo’ and behold they were offering a fare I could live with on my preferred airline (Lufthansa). I’d never used Expedia, and had a few concerns, but I read the fine print, did my research, asked questions and finally took the plunge, booking flights from COS-DEN-MUC and return, plus three nights at a Munich hotel ($2,134 including insurance).

In the months prior to the trip, United did what they do; made schedule and flight changes to the 15 minute flight from COS to DEN - four times! Lufthansa on the other hand, never made a single change.

All went well, and I was quite pleased with my first Expedia experience.

I’m a planner by nature, and I’d spent a great deal of time planning this particular trip. I’d researched which tickets to buy, which trains and specific routes to take and I’d complied a long list of what to see and do in each city, particularly things that might interest my 19 year old companion. My goal was to include a mix of cities, mountains, medieval architecture, churches, a castle or two, scenic trains and cable cars, Christmas markets, and even a couple of zoos, a special interest of my niece. Museums aren’t really my thing, but she had expressed interest, so I made sure to include some of those as well.

The itinerary:

Munich – three nights

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – three nights

Innsbruck – three nights

Salzburg – four nights

Munich – one night

I also spent quite a bit of time familiarizing myself with my smartphone – laugh all you want, but this was the first time I relied on it for almost everything during a trip – photos (which I downloaded daily to a USB), Air BnB communication, train schedules, internet searches, email, texting, international phone calls, dinner reservations that I’d made and loaded into my calendar, and a Google Map list I compiled for each city, which included our accommodation and every single museum, restaurant, and attraction that even slightly appealed.

Dec 14 & 15

I can’t remember the last time I flew UA without at least one thing going wrong and today was no exception. Evidently a UA flight prior to ours had been delayed for several hours, so UA’s solution was to use our incoming plane for that flight, and bring an out-of-service plane from the hangar for us, thereby getting the seriously delayed flight in the air and delaying ours by 30 minutes. I fully expected something to go amiss and had opted for a long layover in Denver for this very reason, so no drama.

We spent that long layover in DIA’s Red Carpet Club; K’s first airline club experience, which she seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

Our Lufthansa flight left on time; I’d selected and paid for aisle seats across from each other ($240), and as luck would have it, the middle seats next to both of us were empty, which is always a nice surprise; we both managed to get 2-3 hours of sleep, which is about as good it gets for me.

The flight was smooth, the food surprisingly good. We arrived in Munich around 9:30 am, 30 minutes early.

After cappuccinos and getting our bearings, I purchased the Gruppen Tageskarte (2-5 people), an all-day ticket which covers the entire train network in Munich (€24.30). Soon we were off on the ~40 minute train journey to the Hauptbahnhof, under an unexpected blue sky.

Finding our hotel was a bit of an ordeal. I assumed it was because I was a phone GPS newbie, but we later learned that we’d exited the Hauptbahnhof from the wrong side, necessitating a detour around a construction site, a walk through an underpass…suffice to say it took much longer than the advertised five minutes.

Our hotel - Marc Munchen, ‘adults’ only’, bundled with our flights through Expedia; comfortable and modern, spacious room, excellent breakfast, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Centrally located, yet very quiet.

Some might consider the immediate area around the Hauptbahnhof seedy, but I prefer to think of it as colorful and ethnically diverse. The location worked quite well for us.

The main objective of today was to get some fresh air, keep busy and stay awake as long as possible. It was too early to check in, so we left our bags at our hotel, then walked to Marienplatz, where we soaked up the festive Christmas Market atmosphere, sampled the bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), watched a street performance and took the elevator up to the Rathausturm, the observation deck of the Neues Rathaus, to admire the views (€7 Euro for both of us, extremely cold and windy).


Views from Rathausturm, the observation deck of the Neues Rathaus

Views from Rathausturm, the observation deck of the Neues Rathaus

Views from Rathausturm, the observation deck of the Neues Rathaus

Marienplatz

Then it was back to the hotel to get settled and shower, and then back to the Marienplatz by train for the 5:30 Advent music at the Neues Rathaus (brass band).


Neues Rathaus

Marienplatz Christmas Market

Marienplatz Christmas Market

Marienplatz Christmas Market

Afterwards we took the S-Bahn to Isator and walked to my favorite Munich Indian Restaurant, Goa, where we had a dinner booking. We intentionally went early; the last time I’d booked via their website they had no record of the reservation. Nor did they this time, but we were seated immediately when I presented the confirmation. This place is tiny and fills up quickly.

Unfamiliar with Indian food (and the German menu) my niece let me order; we shared Butter Paneer and Paneer Achari, rice, garlic naan and sparkling mineral water. I’d told her that she was legal in Germany, so she tried a glass of Prosecco. The food was a hit, the Prosecco, not-so-much (€38)

On the return to our hotel we managed to get on a train going in the wrong direction (I’m directionally challenged even when not sleep deprived, so no surprise really) but we figured it out pretty quickly, detrained and boarded another train going the right way. We’d managed to stay up until 8 pm. Success!

To be continued...



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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 01:02 PM
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Melnq8, I'm on board with your adventure.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 03:04 PM
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I’ve been waiting for this report!
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 05:22 PM
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We just missed you, we were there the 18th, 19th and 20th. It was so warm.
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 07:36 PM
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Lovely photos!

I think it's brave of you to take a niece that you haven't spent lots of consecutive time with on a long trip! Hopefully you were good travel companions.

Looking forward to hearing more!
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 09:22 PM
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Wonderful to read your report!!

s
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Old Jan 5th, 2020, 11:45 PM
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I have been patiently waiting for this, Mel.

Nice itinerary!
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 12:48 AM
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jumping on board with you both and hoping for a nice smooth ride.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 05:04 AM
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Thank you all for coming along!

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 6th, 2020 at 05:20 AM.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 06:19 AM
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I am really enjoying this report! Can't wait to read more. I think traveling with college age kids is the absolute best!
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 09:39 AM
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Dec 16 – Munich-Garmisch-Zugspitz-Garmisch-Munich

As a Colorado girl, my niece loves the mountains as much as I do, and I really wanted her to experience Germany’s highest, the Zugspitz. With only two full days to choose from, I’d been keeping an eye on the weather forecast; today looked to be the better option.

https://zugspitze.de/en/winter/mountain/zugspitze

So we were up with the birds and in the breakfast room as soon as it opened at 6:30, then we hoofed it over to the Hauptbahnhof in the dark (the easy way this time). I bought two Garmisch Ski Tickets at the DB ticket office (€60 each, which included transportation from Munich and return as well as the cogwheel train and cable cars to/from Zugspitz) and we boarded the 7:34 am train to Garmisch, making sure to get on the right end of the train, as it separated in Augsburg.

NOTE: The Garmisch Ski Ticket isn’t available online or from a ticket kiosk, but can also be purchased on board the train for a surcharge.

Some 90 minutes later we arrived in Garmisch, walked via the underpass to the Zugsptitzbahn ticket booth, exchanged our voucher for a ticket, and then took the cogwheel train up to the Zugspitzplatt (Zugspitze glacier), which took another 90 minutes. Soon we were stepping out into a winter wonderland.


Zugspitzplatt

Zugspitzplatt

Zugspitzplatt

We soaked up the spectacular views, tromped around a bit and took a gazillion photos. We then settled in with a warm drink in the restaurant, entertained by a group of little people learning to ski right outside the window.


Zugspitzplatt

We eventually tore ourselves away and took the short cable car ride up to the summit of the Zugspitz.


Zugspitz Summit

The frigid wind at the summit was absolutely brutal – our faces were pelted with sharp icy shards and the strong gusts made it a challenge to stay upright as we took photos; we weren’t able to spend much time on the viewing platform.

We retreated indoors to enjoy the views from the warmth of the self-service restaurant, where we tucked into large pots of cheese soup (€15) and watched a guy shovel snow from the ledge near the cable car – no thank you!



We eventually took the cable car down to Eibsee. This was a first for both of us, as the last time I visited the Zugspitz, the original Eibsee-Seilbahn (built in 1963) was still in operation. The new cable car, part of a €50 million re-design, opened in 2017 and can now accommodate 120 passengers; it’s much smoother than the previous cable car; the rumbling drop as the cable car passes over the pylons is gone, reducing the thrill somewhat (I’d told K to be prepared for the drop, but nothing happened).

Also gone are the long queues, which is a very good thing in my book. I was impressed with the new and improved Zugspitz experience, and K seemed to thoroughly enjoy it as well.



https://zugspitze.de/en/news/seilbahn-zugspitze

Once at Eibsee, we donned our Yak Trax and walked around the lake – the path was icy in spots, dry in others. The wind was pretty fierce down here too, although it improved as we circled the lake; the walk took us close to two hours; ample time for girl talk.


Eibsee

Then it was back to the Eibsee train station to await our train back to Garmisch. Here we learned that the cable car had been closed due to the high winds; evidently we’d timed our descent pretty well.

Back in Garmisch we walked through the Christmas Market and met up with Fodorite swandav, whom I’d contacted to let her know we’d be in town. We had a nice chat over apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce (a first for K) and cappuccinos at Franz Krönner, then walked down to the river. With swandav’s help we eventually worked our way back to the train station and caught the 6:05 pm train back to Munich.

The return trip seemed to take forever; the train kept slowing and stopping for no apparent reason. We eventually made it back to the Munich Hauptbahnhof, picked up sandwiches from a kiosk, successfully located our hotel and called it a night. It’d been a long day; we’d been gone for over 12 hours. This being a tourist is exhausting!

To be continued...
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:50 AM
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Hmmmm, Mel, that cold sounds beyond my tolerance level.
But what a great day
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:54 AM
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Nah, you're tougher than you think Adelaidean.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 02:53 PM
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Zugspitze
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 03:02 PM
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I stand corrected.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 03:25 PM
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You'd have to have a very good sense of balance and a good head for heights to be that man clearing snow - it looks terrifying.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 03:29 PM
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Dec 17 - Munich

We slept in until 8 and then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, me unable to pass up the Prosecco. Today would be dedicated to exploring as much of Munich as we could squeeze in.

First up, the Englischer Garten, one of the largest city parks in Europe, where I wanted K to see the river surfers in action. The Eisbach River is supposedly the best and most consistent city center location for river surfing and people have been surfing here for some 40 years. The surfers are fun to watch and I thought K might get a kick out of it (she did).



She also seemed to enjoy the small section of the Englischer Garten we explored, and even the scenic route the GPS took us on to get there. It was another un-Munich like December day (at least IME) – warm and sunny.

We next sought out the Viktualienmarkt, where we wandered aimlessly, took a gazillion photos and did a bit of shopping. I love this area of Munich and can’t visit the city without stopping here. If K was surprised by the abundance of food, fresh flowers and massive steins of beer, she didn’t let on.





I’d been curious about Eataly, but had never been, so now seemed a good time. After a bit of walking in circles we managed to find it and settled in at a table for a late leisurely lunch. K chose a pasta dish that she picked mystery bits out of, I went for a pizza (€41 with wine and mineral water, good but nothing special, glacially slow service).

After lunch we poked around the huge Eataly market hall, bought some Italian chocolates and shared a big bowl of chocolate orange gelato.

We eventually tore ourselves away and located the Hofbrauhaus, not for food or beer, but because it just seemed like the thing to do…afterall, this was K’s first visit to beer loving Bavaria, she had to at least see the place. So see it we did; we just walked through, checked out the long tables of merry beer drinkers singing along with the oompah band and went on our way.

We then sought out Stachus Passagen beneath Karlsplatz, Europe’s largest underground shopping center, where we spent entirely too much time trying to locate a WC (then paid €1 for the privilege of no hand dryer and no towels!)

https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/shopp...-passagen.html

I seek out Advent concerts when I plan Christmas trips, and I’d found an organ concert for this evening at Frauenkirche Cathedral Church of Our Lady, so we went back up to street level and walked to the church.

https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/sight...-our-lady.html

After the concert we returned to Karlsplatz, poked around some more and stumbled upon one of my favorite finds from a previous Munich visit – Kay’s Champagneria (don’t quote me on this but I think it’s located in Galeria Kaufhof, which has a pretty wonderful food hall in the basement).

We pulled up a stool and each had a nice glass of dry Rosé Prosecco, one of my favorite drinks of the trip, a surprise as I don’t usually like Rosé. The Polish woman manning the bar asked where we were from and told us about her trip to the US years ago, her limited English worlds better than my feeble attempts at German; she then kicked us out so she could close shop.

We picked up some buttered pretzels from a bakery, poked through a few more shops and then returned to the hotel, where we ate our pretzels in front of the fire in the lobby and had more girl talk. It’d been another long day, some nine hours, and we must have walked 10 miles; we’d done admirable job of fitting in as much as we could.

To be continued...
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by nonconformist2 View Post
You'd have to have a very good sense of balance and a good head for heights to be that man clearing snow - it looks terrifying.
I know, right? I sure wouldn't want that job.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 05:50 AM
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Se spent a full day biking all over the English Garden there, and loved watching those surfers. We too loved Viktualienmarkt. So much variety! Your niece is better than our kids They stayed out later than us one night and went to the Hofbrauhaus. The next morning was not pretty for them, and they said they only had 2 beers. Liters of course, lol!
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 09:40 AM
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Really enjoying this, Mel. Despite numerous trips to Germany I've never yet got closer to Munich than its airport but I did go to the Zugspitze many years ago on a family holiday so it was nice to be reminded of that. Munich is definitely on my bucket list.
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