On Friday we woke up early and drove to Schwangau where we went to a big fairytale-like castle called the Neauschwanstein. It was a 45 minute walk up the mountain through snow covered trees and there were stunning views – very cold though! Afterwards we drove a few hours to Natalie’s grandma’s house which was on the border of Austria. Only about 4,000 people live in the town and it’s surrounded by snowy mountains. She lives in a big apartment where she lives on the ground floor. We stayed on the first floor and Lilo and Claus (Nat’s parents) stayed on the second floor. The house was very cute and ‘grandma-ish’.
On Christmas Day we started off the day with a walk, up the hill and up a look-out tower. From there we could see all off Freudenstadt and views of the Black Forest. Christmas doesn’t officially start until 7 pm in Germany so we had a a wee of a nap because we knew we had a busy evening planned. For Christmas Dinner we had a massive Fondu with Nat’s family with lots of different meat, veggies and dipping sauces. After a few wines and a yummy cocktail we went to a pretty pumping two-storey club in town (the only club in town). It was soooooooooo packed and it was a mission going to the toilet. I saw a guy buy a massive bottle of Absolute Vodka, it looked like 6 l for like 200 euros!!! At the bar you can buy bottles of vodka and mixers, but we got the smaller ones, not the ‘high roller one’…even they were 40 euro. We danced the night away until about 6 am, I taxied home but Si stayed on until 7.30 am.
We woke up at like 2 pm on the 25th, which was weird because it was technically NZ’s Christmas, but Germany’s Boxing Day. Natalie’s family organised a massive breakfast with yummy croissants and it was also Elena’s 21st birthday (Natalie’s sister). It was pretty much a right off day, we watched a couple of movie’s and went to bed!
We went to the Merecedes Museum, but it was shut so we went to the big TV tower which was sort of like the Sky Tower. Afterwards we went to the Christmas Markets and shops down the main street. I couldn’t really find anything because they have lots of winter stuff and it’s quite expensive, I’ll save myself for Thailand. In the evening we went to the mall but it was more like a big department store where all the high roller shops! We went to the pharmarcy to buy some snoring medicine (I don’t know why but all of a sudden I’m snoring now). I tried it and it made me dry-reach so I was worried I didn’t follow the pharmacist’s instructions properly! I looked forward to seeing Nat so she could translate the German instructions.
On Tuesday we went to the Mercedes Museum and a couple hours. It was pretty flash inside and had a lot of German/world history as well as Mercedes car history. Si and I went in a car simulator which was pretty average but on the whole I’d recommend going there. When we got back we caught the Train to Freudenstadt. It was a nice train ride and we saw heaps of small towns and saw a lot of the Black Forest. Lots of the houses look the same (big houses with big triangle rooves) and Nat’s family is so hospitible. The house is soooooo toasty and warm n they have heated tiles mmmm. We had yummy French/German pizzas for dinner and had some drinks with Nat’s sister’s bf/friends. They went to the local pubs for drinks but I was so tired I watched Euro Trip in bed and went to sleep.
Germans celebrate Christmas on the 24th at 7 pm onwards so I’ll be celebrating it at exactly the same as the kiwis, yayy!!!
Not too much to report on – I woke up at 2 pm and Si got out of bed at 4 pm. EVERYTHING is shut on Sundays apart from Kebab shops.
In the evening we went to the Christmas markets, the best I’ve seen yet. They had soooo many Christmas lights and little huts selling stuff and food. They even had a lit up ice skating rink! We decided to try some German sausages, we didn’t know what ANY of they words were on the menu so we just pointed to something and asked if they spoke English. Unfortunately the guy didn’t and Si asked what type of sausage it was, the guy was baffled and then starting oinking like a pig so we were like OHHHH PORK! OINK OINK!! We all cracked up laughing. The Germans know how to make sausages!
After oversleeping and not able to go to sleep we decided to watch a movie in bed, Bloodstone Diamond – a pretty good movie!
At Nat’s friends house we started the day with good kiwi tucker – bacon, eggs, toast and baked beans! After blobbing around for a wee bit we checked into our hostel in town. It’s in a pretty good location and all you need in a room, at least we have a sink ! We share our bathroom with a couple other rooms, but I haven’t seen anyone on our floor really anyway. We caught up on some laundry (quite interesting communicating with the German/Greek lady) then headed back to Oli’s house for dinner and drinks. Her friends are pretty cool and they all were good at English. We walked into town and went to a few different night clubs. The clubs here are pretty cool and there were lots of people out! They have this weird rule that they don’t let in groups of more than five and they won’t like in like 3 guys. Being like 15 of us we had to split into groups and go in separately. Drinks at the bars are quite expensive, especially spirits. Beer is a reasonable price though, about NZ$7. After a big night dancing we got a kebab and they don’t really have any other fastfood open in the early hours – sorry Kirsty, when you go to Europe there will be no KFC after town! The kebab place was pretty pumping with massive cues and loud music, sort of like the ones in Auckland. We caught a taxi around 5ish
I’m sooooooooo glad you can trust taxi drivers here
Well not much to report on for today. We have sore heads. Blah We went to the airport wayyyy before we were due to due in because our hostel didn’t even had a luggage storage and we couldn’t be bothered catching like four metros to lock our stuff at a station. So yes, we played the waiting game, we all watched Step Brothers on Si’s laptop and ate Mc Donalds. Mc Donalds it’s VERY expensive here, for my ‘menu’ (combo) it was NZ$15! And that was a burger, fries, drink and tomato sauce! I hope German food isn’t really expensive!
After our flight, which I pretty much slept through we drove to Stuttgart from Frankfurt, it was about 2 hours. The autobahns are wicked! Your allowed to as fast as you want, as long as you stick to the right when you’re not passing. I saw Dobbo do 190 km/hr but apparently he was pushing faster speeds! Once we got to Nat’s friend’s place it was about 2-2.30 am and we crashed on the floor.
We spent the day going back to some of places we saw on the walking tour for a closer look. We got a ticket that let us go visit six attractions including the St James church (the one with the arm hanging at the door), Jewish synagogues (where we saw children’s drawings from the war) and the Jewish cemetery, which had more than 80,000 graves from the war. While we were having a beer breaks (beer is pretty cheap here, like NZ$3.50 average for a bottle or 0.5l glass) we saw a car being towed away for parking illegally. The police took photos of the car, called the tow company then it hoisted up the WHOLE car and whipped it onto the truck, all within like 15 minutes! We saw the guy come back to his BMW go absolutely nuts, Czech style haha. Afterwards we made our way to the Famous John Lenon wall, a massive wall with lots of graffiti, comments and a little shrine to of course John Lenon, I wish I had bought a paint pen to mark my territory! Later on we went to a Chinese restaurant for some pretty average sweet and sour pork. By the way that haven’t made it illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants so it’s pretty weird! I prefer smokefree restaurants!
Yesterday we went to Petrin Hill to find a church that has weird architecture and looks sort of like a Thai temple – but we couldn’t find it! When we came back to the hotel we found out it was actually a wee hike from the hill. Anyway while we were there we saw some communist statues and went up the observation tower, a tower that the Eiffel Tower was based on but 1/4 the size. It was 299 stairs to get to the top! It was worth it once we got up there though. Afterwards we fluffed around the town and came back to our hotel early as we needed nana naps before a night on the town. We managed to finish a bottle of duty free and then went to some bars in town. There was a really cool bar called Bombays and met a young French girl who had a filthy rich and old Japanese boyfriend – that kind of tells you how the recession is hitting some people! We ended up at a 5 story night club and the top floor was kind of like boogie nights. We needed to stay up until 4am because that’s what time the metro opens. Well about 3.40 am we went on a KFC hunt and it was CLOSED! After wandering around and not finding ANY fast food we went to the metro station and it looked anything but open, I think it was supposed to actually open at 5 am. We yes we were pretty much stranded because we didn’t want to catch a taxi. Taxis are REALLY DODGY here and only locals catch them because they apparently take you to quiet places and met up with other people to beat you up and take your money, or worse! After realizing we had no other options we got a taxi with a reasonable negotiation price and ended up at our hotel safe, but golly gosh it was the SCARIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE. For those who have seen Hostel, all the drivers are like the mafia-looking guys from that. Did I mention whenever we see groups of children we call them the candy gang – THANKS A LOT HOSTEL!!!! :S
Today we met up with a guy for a walking tour in Old Town Square. We started it at the cathedral that has a clock that tells at least 6 types of time. Every hour the little skeleton men ring the bells, the windows open and the 12 apostles spin around, pretty cool! It was an amazing four hour tour and we saw heaps of stuff including Old Town Square (where important people were hung/prosecuted) cathedrals, the grand castle with the guards, the ghettos where the Jewish were sent during WW2, and the Charles Bridge. Man I don’t know how people wear high heels in Prague because most of the streets are made of cobblestones. We had a mulled wine break then went to the new mall which opened only a few months ago. Didn’t buy any clothes because must of it is winter stuff. We caught the metro back and had a celebratory wine as we were too tired last night. Dobbo got scared of the lady in bathroom because she went nuts after he didn’t pay his 50 koruna (50 cents) to go to the toilet. Later in the evening we went to a pizza restaurant down the street. Food in Czech is about the same price in New Zealand if not cheaper and my salmon pasta was pretty good! The customer service is noticeably not as polite at the USA, probably because they’re not working as hard for tips!
Dobbo and Natalie picked us up from the airport. It was soooooo easy to get into the country, we didn’t have to sign any customs declaration forms or anything! When we were OUTSIDE the airport the airport security (with guns) asked us if we had anything, it was quite random. NZ has the toughest customs in the world!
Anyway after driving around for ages to get a park we walked around the Xmas markets and Si and I tried our first mulled wines – they were quite yummy! It kept our bellies warm :). There were so many cute little wooden huts selling all sorts of things, very German! In the evening we flew out to Prague, I was so tired from only getting 15 mins sleep to Germany that I pretty much fell straight asleep! Prague looked amazing driving to our hotel. The cathedrals and castles were all lit up and it looked pretty magical!
Today Mark and Michelle went back off to San Fransisco while we went to Sports Authority (a 3 storey sports shop). Si bought a snowboard, boots and bindings – hopefully it wont be too much of a pain traveling around, especially in Thailand. We caught up with some washing (and had a swim/spa while we were waiting hehe) then went out to the Hard Rock cafe for an excellent steak! Afterwards we watched Harold and Kumar, hilarious movie!
On Sunday we woke up to snow and F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G temperatures, -17 degrees celcius! The cold weather prompted Si to buy a man scarf – very metro.
Afterwards we went to the airport for another long haul flight to Frankfurt. I don’t like flying long distances