Germany, Austria and Hungary
July, 4th to 24th, 2009
Saturday, 4 July
This trip starts with the German ICE train from Aarhus kl. 7.53. Sharp. It is a German train.
To get rid of students and children's families I make the trip on Interrail-1 class. It works fine until Skanderborg, where the 3 seats around me is taken with what I think are 3 teenagers. Only when a teenager 1 refers teenager 2 as "mother", I find out it probably is more of the category "family". Mother, son and daughter, it appears.
The train is in Hamburg. 12:31 - sharp.
Hamburg is well-known place. Hotel Condor too. I also stayed here last time.
Sightseeing is also wellknown. It does not matter. 2 walks - one short and one long.
First the long one. Down to the renovated warehouses of Speicherstadt and Hafen City. From there, I pass along Landungsbrücke with people and tours of the harbour. Then I go to the autonomous St Pauli with graffitti, dubious bars and what is worse. From there, I take the U-bahn back home.
The short trip is through the shopping street Möckenberger Strasse to The Town Hall and the small lake Innenalster. Hamburg is the only city I know where the center is actually a lake. From here I return back home. The first - but not last - Karrywurst by a streetkitchen makes it off the dinner.
Sunday, 5 July
Departures with ICE kl. 9.38. It’s on time and arrives in Munich kl. 15.43. My hotel - Hotel Monaco – is located in the sleezy station neighborhood. The hotel is however nicely. After check-in it is the time for the first look at Munich. The ambition is obviously to find Emperor Franz.
It fails. Instead I take a look at the big Frauenkirche with its 99 meter high towers. No buildings in Munich center may be higher.
From there, I am going to Mariaplatz and Munichs impressive City Hall. The Germans builds beautiful townhalls. This is where Bayern Munich tends to be celebrating when they won another salad bowl. However, it is not therefore, the place is filled with tourists. They are here to see the small mechanical puppet theater, which takes place at the City Hall facade, every hour on the hour.
Then it is dinner before it gets "Gewitter" in the form of a shower. However, it is enough for me. I head back to Monaco again.
Monday, 6 July
"Bewölkert and Gewitter" is today's weatherforecast. And "Gewitter" it is in the morning. It is raining cats and dogs, and today's trip is delayed.
At 11 I can get out. It is still raining, so my expectation is to see thousands of Bayern people in yellow raincoats. But I am disappointed. There are plenty of raincoats, but the yellow one has gone completely out of fashion.
Today's walk is taken from Lonely Planet. First the old City Hall, then Viktualienmarkt, then some shopping-streets before lunch at a local restaurant.
Then I continue through the center to the Residenz, which is an old palace. There are several museums that I can skip. I continue to Englischer Garten, which is Munichs huge park. Here you can see young people surfing on a river. Today's journey ends at the Chinese Tower in the center of the park. There is a big "Bier-Garten", so I can finish with a decent beer. In the middle of it, it is "Gewitter" again so all people have to flee with their beers in their hands, and seek cover under the tower.
From here I take the underground home. Dinner is at a local place.
Tuesday, 7 July
Daytrip to Regensburg by train. It is necessary so I can use all my 10 traveldays on my Interrail card.
There are departure at 9.44 and the trip takes 1 ½ hours.
Regensburg is a beautiful medieval city. It is well maintained and there are many beautiful streets, and the Danube runs trogh the town.
The attractions include the Schloss Turm & Taxis. To see the inside you have to take a tour and I don’t want to do that. So I see it from outside instead. The castlechurch Basilica St. Emmeran is, however, open to everyone. It is old and fine.
There is also a cathedral called St. Peter. It is big and powerful. I cross the Danube by an old stone bridge. On the other side, there are nice neighborhoods, and almost no tourists. Here is the Spitalgarten, a beergarten associated with a local brewery. They serve a great snitzel and a good draft. Then I cross the Danube again and via some shopping streets return to the station and the train back to Munich.
On the way back it is "Gewitter" again and it keeps on most of the evening, so I only get out for a quick evening-walk for my evening-sausage and a visit to the local gaminghall.
Wednesday 8 July
The search for Munichs biggest attraction Emperor Franz - also known as Franz Beckenbauer - continues in the morning. A natural place to look may be the Olympic Stadium, where he was world champion in 1974.
First I get up into the Olympic Tower. Out on the platform 200 meters up, there is an impressive view and it’s very windy.
Stadium is located right beside the tower. You can not get into it, but it doesn’t matter. The remarkable roof, you might as well see from the outside.
After a walk in the Olympic Park, I take the train into the Münchener Freiheit, which in this context is not a German pop band, but a U-bahn station. It thought it was a bohemian quarter, but it is rather boring. So I continue to the center where I go for a walk around the myriad of Munich Bier-Stuben. It gives me a natural hunger and thirst, which can is handled by a "Snitzel mit kartoffelsalat" plus draftbeer at Hofer.
Later, I take a tram to Schloss Nymphenbourg. It is large and pompously. Inside, there are museums, which I skip. Behind, however, there is access to a very nice park.
Night tour is a walk around the center before it starts to rain. This was Munich – and I never got to meet Franz.
Thursday 9 July
Exit Munich. Departure at 10.21 and a beautiful train trip through Bavaria. Next stop is Berchtesgaden where I am at 12.51.
From the railway station it is a short walk to the Hotel Bavaria in the mountain hut style and a nice room with my own balcony overlooking a river and a bypass.
At the hotel I get a leaflet with a walk in and around Berchtesgaden. It is a good walk, which also takes me out of the usual tourist route. The walk takes a few hours and there are many beautiful outlooks across Berchtesgaden and towards the German Alps, which practically begins here. You will have to use your "Grüss Got" in this area. It is the polite “hello” and people here are very polite.
The day ends with snitzel with a draft.
Friday 10th July
After a solid breakfast it is off with route at 838 at 9:00 to Obersalzburg and Documentation.
It is no secret Hitler stayed in the area.
Documentation is a museum about Hitler, Nazism and World War II. It is built in one of the many security bunkers in Obersalzburg. The museum is very serious and a little boring. I've hired an audio guide that tells and tells and tells. Under the impression of the seriousness of the subject I stay for an hour before I turn off the guide and go down to see the bunkers below the museum and then out into freedom.
From here there’s another bus along a very impressive road up to Eagles Nest. It was built as a gift to Hitler on his 50th birthday in 1938. It is a fascinating journey and a fascinating place. Despite the ugly weather there is good view across the mountains. But it is cold - 7 degrees at the top.
At 1 I take the bus back down and another one back to Berchtesgaden.
I rest at the hotel before an evening stroll in the small and very touristy center in Berchtesgaden. Dinner will be at the hotel. I get on pretty good in German. I know most key phrases - snitzel for instance.
Otherwise, such a Friday evening you can choose from a great feast for the tourists in the city's bee-Garten with oompah band or Innsbruck against Bayern Munich on TV. I chose football.
Saturday 11 July
Departure with bus 841 at 9:05 to Königssee. It only takes 10 minutes. On arrival, I go down to the lake to take a trip on it, with one of the electric boats, sailing around.
The trip goes to St. Bartholomä. During the crossing we pass Echowand. The captain will have to stand up and start playing trumpet. There is a nice echo.
Then we reach St. Bartholomä where I - and most others - get of the boat. Here I go around for a few hours and looks at the fine lake and the beautiful mountains, before I take the boat back to Königssee. In Königssee I go and look at the bobsleigh runway. It is not often you see one.
I miss the bus back to Berchtesgaden. It gives me an hour of punishment in Königssee, which is a tourist hell filled with souvenir shops and other bric-a-brac. Finally no 841 is there and I can take it back to the hotel and watch the Tour de France.
The evening-stroll is around town and dinner will be in the hotel's excellent restaurant with a good view across the Wartzmann which, with its 2713 meters is Germany’s 3’rd highest mountain.
Sunday, 12 July
Departure by train at Berchtesgaden at 11.02. I am heading for Hallstatt, Austria. It is a bit complicated. First I take the train to Salzburg. There I change for another going to to Attnang-Puckheim. Here I had to change train again, but because of track work there’s a coach to Gmunden and from there by train to Hallstatt. But this is not the end because Hallstatt station is located on the opposite side of the lake compared to Hallstatt town, so the final stretch is with a small motorboat across the lake.
In Hallstatt, I find Gasthof Bergfriedland, where I will stay. I book the room with a half-board. So I can get a 3 course evening meal for only 11 €.
Hallstatt is a fantastic beautiful city in the Salzkammergut. The town is down at the very idyllic Hallstätter-See, with high mountains all around. It is very small with only a few streets.
Monday 13 July
For the first time on this trip, it was really hot summer. So it is fortunate that Hallstatts main attraction is close by. There are 50 meters to the mountain railway, which runs up to an incredible view but also to Salzbergwerk, which is a mine where you extract salt.
There is a guided tour that I take. There is a long chit-chat about the history of the salmine, but also 2 fun slides deep in the mountain, from one floor to another. They are made of wood and the salt miners used them to go down the mine. The whole trip ends with anoteher fun "subway" tour with a small train.
Hallstatt is not particularly full of attractions. But it does not matter. The rest of the day is spent up and down the 2 streets available, sitting on my balcony and my 3-course evening meal.
Tuesday 14 July
In the morning I visit one of the most macabre sights I have ever seen. Near the town's Catholic church is the Beinhaus which is filled with skulls. As previously mentioned, there is not much space in Hallstatt, which is also a problem at funerals. In the old days the graves were used again after 12-15 years. Therefore, the bodys were dug up, bones were crushed, but the skull was preserved. It was then affixed with the names and a little artistic addition and was then put into Beinhaus. There are thousands of such skulls now. Nowadays it is used only if you ask for it in your will. The last skull was placed in the house in 1995.
Otherwise it is really hot today. So activities where you can see things without having to move is welcome. So a tour by boat on Hallstätter See is excellent for both temperature and temperament.
Wednesday 15 July
Transportation day today.
Departure from Hallstatt by the small motorboat at 8.15. The train leaves Hallstatt. 8.30 witn a change in Attnang-Puchheim and arrives in Vienna at noon. On the opposite platform is the Orient Express. That’s not my next train. I have to wait 1 ½ hours for my Railjet to Budapest. In the waiting-time, I have access to the 1-class lounge, where there is free coffee, juice, etc.
Railjet arrives in Budapest Keleti Pu at 16.49. Then there is a short but walk to Liechtenstein Apartments. It takes some time tom get my key for my little apartment. But it is worth the wait. It is a super place. My own kitchen and 40 inch flatscreen TV with more than 100 channels.
Its time for some shopping for the fridge and grab some dinner, and then use the evening to look for relevant TV channels and having my clothes washed in the kitchen sink.
Thursday 16 July
It is hot in Budapest. Very hot. I start activities already at 9. First a long walk down to the Danube. Then I cross a bridge. Now I am in Budapest's Buda Part. Then with a small hilltrain to castle hill. This is Budapest’s biggest attraction. Here is a castle, several churches, old houses and fine views of Buda on one side and Pest and the Danube, on the other. I walk around for a few hours before I take the hilltrain back down. The trip home is also across the Danube. This time on another bridge.
In the evening I take a walk along Dohány Utca, Károly körút, Andrássy út and Erzsébet körút, which are all familiar streets.
Friday 17 July
Today's first trip is along Andrássy út. Lonely Planet has compared it with 5'th Avenue in New York. This is a slight exaggeration.
The Terror House is located at Andrássy út. It was the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazi party before and during 2 World War II and the Hungarian KGB - called AVI - from 1945 to the 1956. Now there is a museum for the same periods. That’s why it got the name. It is a weird museum. It’s more on emotion than on information. You are almost bombarded with impressions, but what it really is about is hard to understand. Especially when you don’t know any Hungarian.
From there I continue along Andrássy út to the liberation monument in Heroes' Square. There is also an ugly tourist park with a castle and a traditional Hungarian bath.
The trip back takes place below Andrássy út. Here is one of Europe's oldest metros. It is only dug a few meters down under the road, but is very funny and nice.
In the evening I can go outside again. There is time for a nice walk around the neighborhoods Józserváros and Ferencváros. Here are beautiful buildings, and just plain normal living.
Saturday 18 July
Another hot day in Budapest. Today's walk is inspired by the Lonely Planet. It is in the inner city - the oldest part of Pest. It is a good walking guide; because there are many places it says you have to look up the many old houses, which have beautiful decorations. Otherwise, there are also several streets that are under renovation. There are the traditional sick pedestrian streets, with exotic Hennes & Mauritz stores, and a walk along the Danube. It is nice, but there are many tourists.
As I said, it is hot, so I do something unusual. I take a bus tour around the city. Big mistake. It does pass all the sights, but the trip is sickening. When the 2 hour trip is done, I understand why I do not usually do this.
In the afternoon the weather suddenly change in nature. During the "no time" become the town attacked by a storm, rain and thunder. I hasten back to the apartment before it all together bream ears at me. You have to look up - there will be stuff flying from the balconies.
It stops just as quickly as it came. Then at night I can burn the last Forinths in a good Italian restaurant in the neighborhood.
Sunday 19 July
Departure from Budapest Keleti at 11:10 to Vienna. 1. Class train is a hit. You don’t have rush. There is always plenty of room. Then train journey becomes a pleasure instead of a stress factor.
The trip to Vienna is 3 hours. From Wien Westbahnhof there’s a short walk to the Pension Kaffeemühle. I get an excellent room, although it can not meet conditions in Budapest.
First walk in Vienna is along the Internal Ringroad where a wide range of Vienna's attractions are located. First, MQ - Museums Quarter - which is a cozy area with museums, cafes, sunbeds of yellow concrete where the locals rests and a really cool toy-racetrack for the children and me. I continue past the ompressing Natural History Museum and Art History Museums and via the Austrian Parliament to Vienna City Hall where Town Hall garten is transformed into a large beer-Garten with at big screen showing opera every evening. On the opposite side is the beautiful Burg Theater.
In the evening there is dinner at a local pub before relaxing at Kaffeemühle.
Monday 20 July
From City Park to Karlsplatz says the walk in Lonely Planet. And although there are only a few hundred meters between the start and end - the walk is 6 km.
It starts in City Park, one of many parks in Vienna. There is a lot of statues with various classical composers. And the small River Wien also run through the park. Then it continues past some beautiful public buildings - the ministries and the main post office - before going into the Hundertwasser area. First, it’s Kunsthaus Wien and then it’s Hundertwasser Haus. Both were built by the architect that quite obviously does not like the straight lines.
Then it continues through residential areas and busy shopping streets to the palace Belvedere. Or rather - the palace’s - there is both an upper and a lower Belvedere. Between them there is a large park. There are museums inside both palaces. The trip ends at a second park at Karlsplatz. From there I go home to rest at the hotel.
Tour 2 is shorter. I take a tram to the center. Here I check out a couple of must-see sights - Heldenplatz, Hofburg and Stephansdom. There are lots of tourists and carriages. Then I head for Schwedenplatz and take the U-bahn back. Vienna has a well-developed public transport, which means there are hardly no air pollution.
Tuesday 21 July
A planned daytrip to Bratislave has been cancelled. There is still much more to see in Vienna.
Daytrip 1 goes to the countryside north of Vienna. I take 2 different U-Bahns to reach Heiligenstadt and then a bus 39 to a hill / mountain called Kahlenberg.
There are good views acress the city of Vienna and the Danube, but here in the morning it is disturbed by the back light. However, it is not this part of the trip that is most interesting. It is the trip down. It takes place on foot through the beautiful forest and through lots of vineyards. Austria produces some white wine and down Kahlenberg, there are plenty of vineyards. It is nice with the views of Vienna and the Danube in the background. After an hour going down hill I am in Kahlenbergdorf where I jump on a bus that brings me back to Heiligenstadt and further connections to the U-bahn.
Tour 2 later in the day goes by tram to the center. And while public transport is fine - but the information lag - or my understanding does. 2 times I get on a tram that runs in completely wrong direction. Else I just walk around the Innere Stadt through small streets, hoping to avoid the tourist hords that walks up and down the pedestrian street between the major sights - The Tourist Triangle – they call the route.
Wednesday 22 July
This day starts with a tramride to the Prater. Prater is a large park and a colorfull theme park. The park includes the famous Ferris wheel - Risenrad - which was built in 1897. I take a tour in that. The tour takes 10 minutes. Otherwise, there is much more you can do in such a park - for example gamblinghalls.
From Prater I walk to another park called Augarten. It is very hot today - so hot that there are nearly noone in the park - and those that are, they stay in the shade. The park is also home to the world's oldest boyband - Wienersängerknaben - and includes 2 ugly flaktürme. These are concrete monsters from World War II, built in a quality, so it’s impossible to tear them down again. In the park, I find a good lunch place - 2 sausages and a Radler. A Radler is a refreshing local drink which consists of half beer and half lemon water.
Finally I walk throug the neighborhood Leopoldstadt before I take a tram back to the hotel.
The evening is a quiet and hot trip around the area where I line and dinner in a local snitzelhaus – the snitzlens response to McD.
Thursday 23 July
It is time to head back home. The trip back is cut into 2. Today, I leave Westbahnhof kl. 10:40 to Nuremberg. Here I arrive 15.30 - just as a massive rainstorm hits the city.
I have not booked a hotel, but soon find the nice Lorenz Hotel in mid-center. The only strange thing is that you must go through a shoeshop to get to the reception.
Rain has been replaced by rain, so I take a quick photo tour of the city. There are some old houses, a river, 3 churches, 2 squares and a castle – that’s it.
Dinner is at the big beerstube Barfüsser. Excellent beer and plenty of food.
Friday 24 July.
Then it’s the final stretch back home. 11.30 from Nürnberg arrives in Hamburg at 16.00 - and 17.30 from Hamburg is in Aarhus at 22.20. It is a nice trip on 1 class, though the bistro car in the Aarhus train had forgotten water for coffee.