28.10.2008 – 10:12am
I’m just over one week into my three week InterRail journey throughout Europe. As I write this post, I’m sitting on a train going from Munich to Salzburg. I’ll spend the day in Salzburg before catching a train to Budapest.
I’m fully convinced train travel is the most enjoyable way to travel. If possible, I’d never again set foot on an airplane – let alone a bloody airport full of ques, chaos, security checks, baggage weight limits, and the list could go on. I’m sitting in a six-person cabin which Brian and I have to ourselves. There’s plenty of legroom with no one telling me to wear my seatbelt or when I can and can’t go to the toilet. Instead of the sounds of jet engines and views of only clouds, I’m listening to the clicking of the train tracks and watching the green, mountainous, countryside of southern Germany slowly pass by. I believe you feel much more connected to your journey on a train – you’re able to see the ground you cover and watch the landscapes gradually change.
I greatly enjoyed my three days spent in southern Germany – in Bavaria. Munich was lovely; a perfectly sized city of just over one million people. One million welcoming, laid back, and beer loving people – on average, Germans drink over 130 liters of beer a year. Munich is the perfect example of a city where you could come to spend a week and stay a lifetime. If only I knew German. Other than hello, goodbye, please, and thank you, “Noch zwei dunkle bitte,” is as far as I got. ‘I’d like two more dark beers please.”
Brian and I had our first German breakfast with our couchsurfing host, Tami. Tami took us to a large, open, Bavarian beer hall with tiled floors, dark wooden benches, and a high ceiling where we had pretzels, white sausages, and a wheat beer. Beautiful. I guess there are certain beers you drink at certain times of the day – a fruity wheat beer according to Tami is a breakfast beer. We unfortunately didn’t have much of a chance to get to know Tami as she left Saturday afternoon to see her boyfriend in France. She did give us the perfect introduction to Bavaria.
On Saturday afternoon, Brian and I had a couple hours to kill before catching a train to see the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen; the castle is a 19th century Bavarian palce and is one of the most photographed buildings in Germany. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we decided we would grab a beer in one of Munich’s many biergartens. Our afternoon got off to a questionable start. We found ourselves a sunny table and sat down. Unlike the UK or Ireland, you don’t go to the bar to get your beers. Instead, a waitress comes to your table and takes your order … or so we thought. We sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Something wasn’t right; there were two or three waitresses running around with food and beers, but none of them seemed to take notice of us.
Finally, someone took pity on us, “This table,” they said in broken English, “is reserved for everyday people.” I later found out that we were sitting in a Stammtisch – a regulars’ table. The waiters and waitresses will refuse service to tourists who occupy a local patron’s table. Some luck! We moved tables, and soon we had two 1 liter steins of Bavarian pilsner to enjoy.
So, I’ll be in Salzburg, Austria, by 11am to spend the day and hopefully go on some Salzburg tours. If all goes as planned, I’ll catch the 5pm train and be in Budapest by 11pm tonight. mk
This post was made possible by Local Salzburg Tours.