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The Flying Dutchman

To the Land of Schnitzel and Lederhosen

GERMANY | Wednesday, 14 April 2010 | Views [1234] | Comments [1]

After sending Bonnie back to Canada from Zurich, I stood in the airport all alone with nowhere to be.  I could get on any train I wanted, go in any direction, to any country (with my rail pass), and I still didn't know where this freedom would take me for the next month and a half.  My wallet had informed me that it was time to leave Switzerland, so that much was certain.  I still hadn't been to Germany so I decided that I would sleep in Munich that night.  

I had a couple hours before my train, so I went into Zurich and walked around the city.  It was clear, as opposed to how cloudy it had been the first time I was there, so I got some better views of the lake and mountains.  I sat on a bench overlooking the lake and marveled at how different it was to be alone.  I was entirely independent in that moment, and it was the strangest feeling in the world.  

I went to the Apple store in hopes of fixing my computer, but the Genius Bar was booked solid for the day.   I made an appointment for the store in Munich the next day though.  I also booked my hostel in Munich from a computer in the store.  

I caught the train to Munich and found my hostel.  It was right next to the main train station and walking distance from the city centre as well.  ALSO, it had a Nintendo Wii!!!  

I met all the people in my room, which was filled with South Africans, Canadians, Americans, and Argentines. I had a conversation with an Argentine woman, but when she heard that I could speak "kinda-Spanish", she wouldn't talk to me unless I talked to her in Spanish.  This was really good for me, as I had never been forced to have a complete conversation in Spanish before.  It was the best Spanish practice that I had had, and I was in Germany.  

The next day I went straight to the Apple store, downtown.  They told me that the hard-drive was messed, and it was an expensive fix, but the guy recommended an Apple premium reseller out in the 'burbs of Munich, and said that they did this sort of thing for cheap, and sometimes even free (big plus).  

I got on the subway and went to the shop.  It was a bit of a walk from the subway station, and I hadn't been given very good directions, so it took me a couple tries and asking people before I found it.  They had a look at the computer and said that we had three options.  The first was the easiest and cheapest, but might not work.  It didn't.  They tried the second option and said that if it didn't work, I would not be able to salvage my files before they put in the brand-new hard-drive, which was option three.   They tried option two, and I waited outside the operating room, pacing back and forth (actually I played the Wheel of Fortune App on one of the iphones, and won! BIG MONEY!).  

After a long time the guy came out with news.  "Calm down, carrot." he said (apologies to those who don't get the reference), "We tried option two, we did our very best, but it was unsuccessful"  The iphone fell from my hands and I screamed out between sobs, tears pouring down my face.  "There was nothing more we could do", he pleaded, "I am so sorry... this leaves us with option three".

(Parts of the preceding paragraph may be embellished for dramatic effect, or untrue altogether.)

So ya, they had to put in a new hard drive, and wouldn't be able to retrieve any of my files.  Also, Past Neil hadn't paid for the extended warranty, so the warranty had expired half a year ago.  Past Neil also hadn't backed up any of the files, meaning I (that's Future Neil to you, Past Neil) would lose all my music (o ya, THAT's how I justify never paying for music), but - thank the heavens - Alice had all of my pictures on USB.  So I didn't really lose all that much.  I kept hoping this would be one of those times when they would do the job for free, but no.  The bill came to 200 euro, which is like 50 Canadian Dollars right? Well, probably closer to $300. 

I left the computer and would go pick it up the next day.  I went into downtown Munich and saw the huge cathedral and the old buildings and walked around, all things that were free, which I greatly appreciated.  

The next day I got on the S-bahn train (which is covered by my eurail pass, WOOT) and went to Dachau.  I toured the Nazi-era work camp, with the audio-guide filling me in on all the horrible details.  I spent about two hours there, and cannot say that I would want to go back, but am glad that I did it.  I wanted to leave the whole time, but couldn't.  The story was well represented and I would recommend the visit.  

When I got back to Munich, I hopped on the metro and went out to the suburbs again.  I had noticed the day before that nowhere had I had to show my ticket or use it to get on the subway, so I took my chances today, made sure I had my ticket for the day before (just in case it might help if there was someone checking tickets), and rode the metro without buying a ticket.  (Rebel, right? No, I just didn't feel like it was fair to pay money so that I could go and pay 200 euro)

I got to the store and they told me that the computer wasn't ready yet, and to come back in three hours.  Thank goodness I hadn't paid for the ride out there, because I took it right home again, and went to the hostel.  I played Wii with my roommates for a while and had a shower before jumping back on the metro and getting to the Apple reseller, again.  They told me it was ALMOST ready, so I waited in the store, and set a new high score on Wheel of Fortune.

Finally, they brought it out and showed to me that it now did, in fact, turn on, and then handed me the bill and I [begrudgingly] paid it - in cash (no paper trail, obvs.)

I took the metro home and got to the hostel where I enjoyed the wonders of a working computer for the rest of the night.  I was surprised at myself for how happy I was at the end of that day.  I had kicked it all off with a tour of a Concentration camp, and then finished the day by dropping $300 on a computer they had no idea why had stopped working.  O ya, there was Nintendo Wii in there though!

The next day I hung out with everybody at the hostel before getting on a train headed to Fussen, Germany, for a day trip.  Fussen (which means feet in German) sits at the foot of the Alps and is filled with beautiful Medieval buildings and has a wall around it.  From there I took a bus to the nearby village of Hohenschwangau, which sits right up against the Alps between two castles.

The first castle is the childhood home of "Mad" King Ludwig II.  He was overthrown in the 19th century because it was thought that he had gone crazy.  They thought that he had gone crazy because he had been building castles all over Germany - long after castles had become obsolete - merely because he thought they were beautiful and romantic.  One of the castles that he built, Neuschwanstein Castle (or the "Cinderella Castle"), was the inspiration for the castle at Disney World, and on the Disney logo.  This is the second castle of Hohenschwangau, and the main reason most tourists are here. 

I couldn't find a map of the town, and didn't know which way to go to get to either of the castles.  I looked around for a bit, but after no luck, I used the old fail-safe method of getting to the tourist attraction when lost in Europe: follow the Chinese tourists.  Works like a charm!

Neuschwanstein Castle sits partway up the first Alp at the southern tip of Germany, and I think it might technically be in Austria.  It has a commanding view of the entire region, and on a clear day visitors can see for miles out over Bavaria.  I did the 35 minute climb uphill to the castle (did it in 22 minutes, just sayin'), because I would have felt dumb sitting in a horse and carriage by myself, and didn't want to have to pay for it.  At the top, the view was as described, and the castle was amazing.  There was a surprising amount of people up there, but the castle was closed to the public as it was after hours.  I didn't really care, it's not the inside of the castle that is famous. 

After taking way too many pictures of everything (seriously, I look back through my pictures and I have like five of every view of the castle, and the mountains, and Germany) I went back to Fussen and had half an hour before the train went back to Munich, so I explored the old town a bit.  I went down by the river, and ended up getting a little bit lost, but made it back to the train with three minutes to spare, after being in great danger of missing it.  Thank goodness the locals spoke English.  

I got back to Munich and went on my working computer to plan my trains for the next day.  The American on the top bunk was starving for social interaction though, so we had a conversation, and then he started monologuing (at me) about the differences between certain places in Austria.  I really had to figure out my trains the next day, so I tried to end the conversation (politely) with a string of ok's, ya's, and cool's as responses whenever it seemed like my turn to talk.  This didn't slow him down at all though, and he didn't take the hint that I really had stuff to do and didn't feel like talking to him at the moment.  The guy could talk for hours about anything, or nothing.  Nice enough guy, but fit the stereotype of the "super-talkative American who has to comment on everything" to a tee. 

The next day, I checked out of the hostel and headed to Prague, which promised to be an unforgettable destination.  

Tags: bavaria, dachau, germany, munich, neil loewen, neuschwanstein castle, switzerland, zurich




CALM DOWN CARROT!!!! No joke (get it?!?!) that MADE my morning!!!!!

  Alice Apr 14, 2010 6:37 AM



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