Where does one start to describe the past 10 incredible days?
Conveniently Leah was finishing up her Irish adventures at the same time my mid-school term break was to start. Being a supply teacher means I can take days off when I want to without feeling guilty, so I took an extra day either side of my 1 week break.
So, from the beginning then..
This country is spectacular… and we really didn’t do it justice being there for only 4 days. I can not wait to return and explore the country in-depth. If only funds would allow..
We arrived on Friday, 23rd Oct into Munich. It was actually a really last minute decision to go to Germany, as I looked at a map and saw it sat next to our other two destinations, I thought ‘ what the hell…’ and flights were cheaper anyway. On arrival, it dawned on me, we don’t know German! Leah and I put together all the words we knew in German, and our grand total conversation amounted to: ‘Good morning’, the number ‘one’, and ‘I would like a cheeseburger’. Yes, we were prepared!
On our first full day we went out to the memorial Duchau Concentration camp. Duchau was the first German concentration camp, established in 1933. It wasn’t an extermination camp, rather a labour camp, although 42,000+ of the 200,000 prisoners there died. We had an incredibly passionate tour leader, who really got me thinking on some deep issues with the human race. The memorial centre has had to screen their tour groups, as last year a Nazi organisation came through teaching tour groups how to effectively run a concentration camp, based on Duchau. As we walked through the gas chambers and crematorium, it was so hard to comprehend what took place there.. or even that I was literally standing right where thousands of people were murdered. A bit surreal and removed from my comfortable life.
Maybe photos tell a better story..
We spent two nights in an adorable little town called Fussen. It’s at the base of the Neuchwanstein castle – the world famous one which Disney got its inspiration from.
The town is incredibly beautiful and ‘so German’. We went up to the castle (didn’t go in – once you’ve seen one castle, you’ve seen them all!), and got some spectacular views over the countryside.. .oh, I LOVE Autumn!! We decided to walk back to town, rather than take the bus, and we not disappointed. We came across mirror-image lakes reflecting the fiery Autumn colours of the mountains, set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks and clear blue skies.. It even got so hot, the sun was streaming through the trees in the mountains, and we took time out on the aqua waters to sunbake on the white pebbles. We also had an entire house to ourselves, as it wasn’t the tourist peak season. Regardless, we both didn’t sleep as we’ve become insomniacs.
We took a 7.5 hour train from Munich to Amsterdam. We both really enjoyed the city with all its canals lined with Autumn trees and houseboats. And despite its reputation, the city was mild, even the infamous Red Light District, which we ventured to twice, just out of curiosity.. yes mum, that’s what it was… I seriously think the Aussie perception of Amsterdam is seen through the eyes of a horny 18-year-old male. The soft smell of marijuana wafts from the local coffee shops, but the smell is warming, and less offensive than tobacco.
And it’s not the free-flowing drugs that will kill you in this city, but rather the maniac cyclists. They are EVERYWHERE, and no where is safe…
The highlight for me, of our 2 nights in Amsterdam was visiting Anne Frank’s house, and much to my dismay, discovering the bedroom of her hiding place was TWICE the size of my current room in London.
We spent the next two nights at The Hague. It was only the day before we arrived that we discovered that The Hague was actually a city, and not some important building!! We stayed with Andrew’s friend Tom, who’s doing some work for the Peace Palace on war crimes by some dudes in the Congo (I think.. this was also when I discovered that I have very poor listening skills). So naturally, we got a private tour of the beautiful gardens and interiors of the Peace Palace!! For all the non-nerds out there, that is an enviable experience. I regret not taking my camera. I also regret not photographing my deep-fried cheese and ham sandwich.
Tom, Leah and I took a 2 hour train to Brussels in Belgium. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where the real food experience begins! We had a checklist for all things Belgium: beer, mussels, waffles, chocolate and frites. Yes, frites.. any country that claims to have invented the French Frie gets my utmost respect. And, I wasn’t disappointed. First stop was to sample these fatty delights, smeared in mayo, onion and tomato sauce..
Brussels is a beautiful city, and allegedly has more parks per capita than any other European city. They were amazing.. we frolicked around in the autumn leaves like dementia patients recessing to childhood. I also, drank my second, third, fourth and fifth beer of my life! (All the fruity flavours!). The town centre is paved in cobble-stones and has such vibrance, with markets and outlandish artistic fresh-food displays. Needless to say, we ate, and ate, and ate..
The next day we went to the EU commission to release Tom’s inner-nerd desires, and also educate Leah and I. Everything was closed being the weekend.
Leah and I headed out to Bruges the next day – what an amazing, quaint town!! We were greeted with an abundance of Belgium chocolate and waffle shops, giant white swans on the willow-lined river banks, and horse-drawn carriages. It was certainly a highlight of our trip, and I highly recommend a visit!