Germany - June 13 - 29, 2023
With our vaccinations in force, and the pandemic seemingly in the background at this time, we decided to go to a part of Germany that we had not visited. We selected Munich, Berlin and Dresden for this trip. Each of the cities was a little different from each other, but all were well worth the time to visit. They have so many beautiful buildings, many that were rebuilt after being bombed in WWII. The public transportation is excellent, and there are many large plazas and pedestrian or bicycle only streets that make moving around the cities easy and enjoyable.
We used the Viator app and website to schedule our day trips. We have used them for many years.
Fortunately, we had no trouble finding English speaking folks in all the businesses and tourist venues. The weather was very pleasant and we only had one day that was affected by rain. We hope you enjoy coming along with us on this holiday.
[Tuesday] After lunch at home, we left for the airport at 12:30PM and arrived at our gate E5 at 3:00PM. They were a little late boarding our United Airlines UA-102, Boeing 767-380, but we departed almost on time. This being an overnight flight to Europe, we spent the rest of the day in the air.
[Wednesday] We arrived safely at the Munich airport and had to ride a bus from the airplane to the airport terminal. We took a taxi to the hotel, which was a long way and cost 100 euros!! Our most expensive taxi ride ever. Our room at Hotel Trobrau Munchen was not ready, so we walked to the nearby Marienplatz area and walked around.
Marienplatz is one of the main tourist plazas. It is in front of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), and many other beautiful buildings in the area.< New Town Hall. < Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).
We went inside two of the churches in the area. The first church was Heilig Geist Church (Holy Spirit Church), a Gothic 14th-century church featuring ornate 18th-century decorative art on the vaulted ceiling. It was severely damaged in WWII and was rebuilt in the 1950s.
The next church we went in was St. Peter's Pfarrkirche (St. Peter's Parish Church), a Catholic church. It is said to be Munich's oldest church. It was also heavily damaged in WWII.
We got a call from the hotel that our room was ready, so we went back and rested a couple of hours.
We walked back to Marienplatz and watched the glockenspiel that is on the front of the New Town Hall chime at 5:00PM. There was a large crowd of tourist there for the performance of the clock. We ate supper at a restaurant across from it.
[Thursday] We ate a good breakfast in the hotel this morning and then walked to the Munich Residenz Palace, where we took the audio tour of the massive building complex. This is the former residence of Bavarian kings and has been a museum since 1920. After several hours of walking inside, we stopped to eat lunch at a restaurant across the street from the palace.
After lunch, we went back and toured the beautiful theater, which is a part of the palace complex. After about 30 minutes, we walked back to the hotel, stopping along the way for ice cream.
After a brief rest in the hotel, we took the subway from the nearby Isator station to Munich Central Station and walked to where we were to meet a tour tomorrow. We then rode the subway back to Isator.
[Friday] Today we took the subway to Munich Central Station and met our group for the Munich WWII Combo: Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and Third Reich Walking Tour. Here is a brief summary of the tour from the tour company:
Munich WWII Combo: Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and Third Reich Walking Tour
Gain insight into the Third Reich's rise to power and visit Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site on this full-day Munich combo tour. Travel to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany, and explore the memorial site with a guide. Then, learn about the history of Nazi Germany during World War II, and see some of the buildings associated with Adolf Hitler on a walking tour. Round-trip transportation from Munich to Dachau is included. Full-day Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and Third Reich combo tour. See poignant sites at Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Take a walking tour of Munich's historical buildings such as the former Gestapo (secret police) headquarters. Learn about the social issues, events and people of the Third Reich. Small-group tour with max 25 people.
We took the train with the group to Dachou and a bus to the memorial site on the outskirts of the scenic little town of Dachau. It was a memorable experience, hardly possible for me to summarize in a few words. The gate to the camp is described here:
Every newly arrived prisoner passed through a wrought-iron gate with the inscription "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work sets you free"). This saying reflected how the Nazi propaganda aimed to downplay what took place in the concentration camp, presenting it as a "work and education camp".
In reality, the ONLY way to get out was DEAD!! The pictures don't do it justice.
On the wall at the entrance is a bronze plaque in honor of the 20th Armored Division of the U.S. 7th Army that participated in the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp, April 29, 1945.
We returned to Munich Central Station and after a brief lunch stop, we took the second tour at 3:00PM. We ended up at about 5:30PM at Hofbraeuhaus, where we enjoyed a beef goulash meal and appropriate drinks. We sat at a table in the crowded building with a German couple and enjoyed conversation in English with them.
[Saturday] This morning after breakfast in the hotel, we rode the subway to Karlplatz station and walked to Marienplatz, stopping at Burgersaalkirche, St. Michael's Church and Frauenkirche.
We then attempted to go to the Nymphenburg Castle, which is on the outskirts of town, but had trouble catching the tram - it never came.
We rode one of the subway trains out into the suburbs and back to Karlsplatz and found the meeting place for tomorrow's day trip. We walked back to our hotel, stopping for dinner at the Glockenspiel Restaurant.
[Sunday] Last night Lawson tried unsuccessfully many times online to buy tickets for the train Monday to Berlin, so we got up at 6:00AM and rode the subway to the Central Train Station. We were able to buy tickets from a human agent there.
We then walked back to Karlsplaz, ate breakfast at the McDonalds and at 9:00AM met our bus for our all day tour of Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Castle, which are about 75 miles southwest of Munich. We returned to Munich at 7:30PM after a pretty exhausting day of walking up stairs and mountains to see the two castles, which were both built by King Ludwig II. Disney's Disneyland Castle was based on Neuschwanstein.
Following is a description of the tour from the tour company:
VIP tour to the royal castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof from Munich
See Neuschwanstein Castle's fairytale turrets and Linderhof Castle, inspired by Versailles, on this convenient day trip from Munich, with snacks and soft drinks on board. It's almost impossible to see both castles in a day on public transport, but this tour delivers, with a stop at a viewpoint to capture the perfect Neuschwanstein photo too. A live guide tells fascinating tales of Mad King Ludwig and so much more. Guided day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Castle. Save around four hours' travel time compared to public transport. Take the perfect Neuschwanstein selfie on Marienbrucke pedestrian bridge. Guide puts the history and architecture in context - no need to open a book.
As is the case in so many tourist attractions, they strictly enforce a no inside photography rule at the castles.
We took the subway back to the Isator station and ate a late supper at a restaurant near the hotel.
[Monday] This morning after breakfast in the hotel, we checked out and took a taxi to the Munich Central Train Station. We took the DB ICE508 high speed train to Berlin Hbf. The train went through Nurnberg, Bamberg and Leipzig. We left Munich at 10:55AM and arrived in Berlin at 3:30PM. The fastest speed I saw us go was 165mph. We checked into the NH Collection Berlin Hotel at about 4:30PM.
The handle on Lawson's suitcase broke as we were going to the train station, so after we got to Berlin and checked into our hotel, we wasted a few hours trying to find a place to repair it. We were unsuccessful. Later on, Lawson made some radical modifications and was able to repair the handle.
[Tuesday] This morning after breakfast in the hotel, we took the S-Bahn to Brandenburg Gate. There was a light mist when we arrived at the gate. The rain became heavier so we had to leave after viewing the gate and walking on the other side to see where they were running the 2023 Special Olympics in Berlin. We returned to the hotel to pick up more appropriate rain protection.
The rain departed by about 1:00PM. We ate lunch at a pizza place near our hotel and took the U-Bahn to a station near Checkpoint Charley. We walked a short walk to the checkpoint.
Nearby was the Yadegar Assisi Panorama, which depicted a life size Berlin cityscape when the wall existed. They showed many pictures and videos of life during the wall, its construction and its being torn down.
We walked down the street a ways to a portion of the wall that is still preserved.
We took the U-Bahn back to the hotel. We decided to find the meeting place for tomorrow's tour. We rode the S-Bahn train and walked to the meeting place. On the way back to the train station, we stopped to eat supper at a Mexican restaurant. We ordered tacos to see how close they were to Texas. They were not the same, but they were actually very good.
As we went back to the hotel via the train, we stopped at the Central Station and bought train tickets for our trip to Dresden on Saturday. Unfortunately, first class was sold out and we had to get second class. Second is OK, but you have more room in first, and with luggage, it's easier to deal with.
[Wednesday] Today we ate breakfast in the hotel and rode the S-Bahn to the Savignplatz station and walked to the meeting place for our 4-hour day trip to Potsdam and tour of Sanssouci Palace, the summer palace of Frederick the Great. This Rococo palace was built in 1745-7. We boarded the bus and took the 1.5 hour trip to the palace, seeing historic sights along the way. Fortunately, we were allowed to take photos inside this palace. We saw several sights in Potsdam. After about a 1.5 hour tour of the palace and garden, we boarded the bus and headed back to Berlin.Here is a brief summary of the tour from our tour company:
Potsdam Half-Day Sightseeing Tour With Guided Sanssouci Palace Visit from Berlin
Visit the head of the former Prussian Empire on a half-day trip to Potsdam. Enjoy a guided tour of the famous Sanssouci Palace and walk through its gardens-during the summer months. Listen to informative commentary from your guide about the history of the Prussian Empire as you stroll through this UNESCO-listed city and visit attractions such as the Dutch Quarter, the rebuilt City Palace, and the New Palace.
We took the S-Bahn back to Friedrichstrabe Station next to our hotel. After resting a little, we walked to the Spree River bridge near our hotel and saw where the tour boats dock. We then walked back and ate supper at the Nolle Restaurant across from our hotel.
[Thursday] Today we decided to walk to Bebelplatz and see some of the historic buildings. Bebelplatz is where in 1933, the Nazis burned 25,000 books that they deemed unacceptable. We stopped at Neue Wache, a monument to Victims of Fascism and Militarism.
We walked past the Zeughaus (a former arsenal), built in 1706.
At the Spree River bridge, we saw a tour boat about to leave on a 1-hour river tour, so we decided to get on board. It was OK, but nothing too exciting for me.
Afterwards we walked past the Altes Museum, but didn't go in. We went to Berliner Dom and went inside while a service was in progress. We got to hear the organ. The service was in German.
We then went to the Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church). This was Martin Luther's church, and a statue of him is outside.
We then went to Rotes Rathaus, Berlin's main town hall. Very impressive - inside and out.
We walked the short distance to Alexanderplatz and saw an unusual clock there. We rode the S-Bahn back to the hotel and enjoyed another ice cream cone before we got back to our hotel.
Tonight we went to a Japanese restaurant nearby and had a very interesting and good tasting dinner.
[Friday] After we went to bed last night we heard it start thundering. We woke up to rain. It rained all day and we got wet from our knees down, even though we had umbrellas and jackets that repelled water some. It rained all day, so we decided that we were going to have to deal with it, if we didn't want to spend the day in the hotel. After breakfast in the hotel, we rode the S-Bahn to the station near the Kaiser Wilhelm-Gedachtnis-Kirche. The church was built in 1895 and destroyed by bombs in 1943. The only thing that remains is the front tower.
In 1963 a new octagonal church was built in blue glass and a new freestanding bell tower.
We went across the way to Franzosischer Dom - another building (not a church) with a dome inside.
We came back to the hotel and after a short rest, we went across to the Tex-Mex Restaurant and ate an enchilada dinner. It was definitely not Tex-Mex. The manager said that it was their concept of Tex-Mex.
[Saturday] This morning we ate breakfast in the hotel and at 10:00AM we checked out and took a taxi to the train station. The Berlin Hbf is a massive structure with many different levels and the hub for 3 train systems. It was very crowded and we had some trouble finding where our train was to depart. We successfully found our train gate for DB EC-379, but ended up in the wrong car and wrong seats because we didn't understand the tickets very well until too late. The train was very crowded with people with lots of luggage. Fortunately the right people for our seats didn't show up the whole trip, so we were able to get to Dresden without moving. (We obviously weren't the only ones that didn't go to the right seats.) We had to keep our luggage at the seat because Lawson wasn't able to heft the suitcases up in the storage above the seats. June through August are NOT good months to vacation in Europe!!! There are too many tourists!!!
When we arrived in Dresden, we got a taxi to the Amedia Plaza Dresden Hotel.
After we checked in, we walked next door to the Vapiano Restaurant and ate lunch. We then walked across the plaza to Frauenkirche church (a Lutheran church) and went inside.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at an interesting store and bought some trinkets.
Later, after unpacking, we walked around the area and looked at all the amazing buildings. Dresden has one of the most amazing old towns that we have ever seen. We found the meeting place for our tour tomorrow. We came back near our hotel and ate supper near Frauenkirche at the Ontario Restaurant - a Canadian restaurant.
[Sunday] This morning we ate breakfast in the hotel and at 11:00AM we walked across the plaza to the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) and attended the Sunday service. They played the majestic organ and they also had a small choir and orchestra. The service was in German, but the music was beautiful. The music was all by Mozart and Bach - quite a difference from church in Texas. The attendance was pretty good - some tourist scattered around, no doubt. We shook hands with the pastor on the way out - he spoke some English.
We ate a sandwich at a cafe near the hotel, then we took a walking tour of Historic Dresden from 2:30PM until 4:00PM.
Here is a brief description from the tour company:
Small Group Shared Walking Tour of Historic Dresden in English
Absolutely the best way to get acquainted with Dresden. This walk weaves its way though the iconic buildings of Dresden's historic centre while narrating history in a fun and informative manner. The small size of our groups allows us to pay individual attention to your areas of interest and your questions. If you would rather just listen in, then that's fine as well. You will learn about the many layers of Dresden's history through medieval, renaissance and baroque times, it's fate during WW2, the story of the rebuilding during the East German GDR times. Human stories, architecture, iconography are all covered. We are licenced guides passionate about increasing our knowledge and committed to delivering it all in an entertaining and engaging fashion.
After a rest in the hotel we attended the 6:00PM service at the Frauenkirche. Since there was no choir or orchestra, the organ was the source of the music. The music was wonderful again.
[Monday] This morning after breakfast in the hotel, we walked to the Kreuzkirche (Holy Cross Church), a Catholic Church near the hotel.
We then walked back to the Elbe River near our hotel and walked along it for a short distance. We ate lunch at a restaurant nearby.
At 1:00PM we met Jason and Cheryl, Baptist missionaries that live in Dresden, and spent the afternoon with them. They took us on a walk in the area, then we rode a tram to an interesting neighborhood that was off the tourists track.
We then went to their apartment and met their two sons. Jason drove us across the river around the south part of the city to show us some of the sights. We then went to a restaurant and enjoyed dinner with them. While at the restaurant, a rain storm came through and the temperature dropped and it felt good from the heat of the afternoon. Afterwards, they drove us back to our hotel.
[Tuesday] We ate breakfast in the hotel again and planned going to Meissen to the famous porcelain factory. The route on public transport was complicated so we decided against it. There was a Meissen store close to the hotel, so Kay was able to get something there.
We walked to the Hofkirche (Dresden Church) and went inside the beautiful Catholic church.
Across from the church was the Standehaus, a government building that we couldn't enter. We walked over to the Opera House to see if they had tours, but they didn't. We returned toward the hotel and stopped and ate a pizza for lunch.
We returned to the hotel and rested for a while. The weather today was perfect - high of 69 and a brisk breeze.
After our rest, we walked across the bridge across the Elbe River and to the Dreikonigskirche church. We went inside and looked at the reconstructed church with the old altar area still as it was after the bombing. We chatted with a lady there. It is a Lutheran church.
We walked back to the hotel and ate dinner in the Vapiano restaurant adjacent to the hotel. We then got an ice cream cone and returned to the hotel. About 9:00PM that night, we had another thunderstorm.
[Wednesday] This morning we ate breakfast again in the hotel. We started making our journey back home today. We caught a taxi to Dresden Hbf and ate lunch at the train station. We rode DB ICE-1556 to Erfurt Hbf and changed trains to ICE-1601 to Munich Hbf. We left Dresden at 2:10 PM and arrived in Munich at 7:03PM. We caught a taxi from the train station to our hotel (Novotel Munchen Airport Hotel) at the airport.
[Thursday] We ate breakfast in the hotel and took a taxi to terminal 2. We took the airport bus again to our airplane (flight UA-160, a Boeing 777-200) at 11:25AM. Our flight was delayed and departed about 12:30PM. The pilot came on and said that we were going to fly further north than usual. North of Iceland and over part of Greenland. I think it was to avoid some weather in the North Atlantic. Too bad we couldn't bring some of the nice cool Germany weather back to hot Houston. We left the 70's and went back to the upper 90's in Texas!!
Some Notes on Germany:
You see lots of solar arrays and wind turbines as you ride the trains between cities. We saw one array that was fenced and populated with sheep to keep the weeds away. Great idea!
There are no pick-up trucks in Germany. None!! That is a major change from Texas!
Everyone seems to ride a bicycle in Germany. There are way more bicycles than cars in the cities, I think. There are bike lanes everywhere, even in the countryside. You can go everywhere safely on a bike.
We didn't see any obese people. I think it must be because of the bicycles and a lot of walking due to the use of public transit.
On the highways, they don't have passing or no passing lanes. There are no yellow markers for the center lane where you can't pass. You are on your own to determine whether or when it is safe to pass a car. That's a good system.
Most of the toilets cost 0.50 to 1.00 euros to use, and have an attendant to keep them clean. Even the McDonalds did. Good system!!
The public transport system is excellent. It seems to extend well into the rural areas. The regional and long distance trains are clean, fast and reliable.
It looks to me like Germans eat an awful lot of bread. They certainly did at breakfast in the hotels. Of course they drink a lot of beer!
This draws to a close our brief trip to Germany. We hope you enjoyed the photos and brief descriptions of our activities. God willing, join us again soon for another travel adventure.
Goodbye for now,
Lawson & Kay
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV)