Tag Archives: tourism

Bavaria Day!

The very best day of my trip to Munich was actually spent mostly outside of Munich.

On Saturday, we dressed up in authentic Bavarian dirndls. As I told Andrea, if the the five-year-old version of me had known that I would someday dress up old-fashioned to visit a fairy tale castle, she might have died first of overexcitement.

Andrea borrowed her dad’s car so that we could visit Neuschwanstein Castle, which you may recognize from the children’s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The drive there was a treat. We passed through some quaint German villages that conformed quite closely to my expectations of quaint German villages. Better yet, I finally got my first glimpse of the Alps that took my breath away. I had seen them from Switzerland and France, but on those occasions, I was, frankly, a bit disappointed. They lacked the grandeur I expected from growing up on The Sound of Music. (First World Problems.)

Germany changed that. The weather was gorgeous, and the scenery was so incredibly beautiful that I could have been in a living postcard.

The hills were definitely alive with the sound of music, so needless to say, I burst into song.

We were disappointed to learn that we wouldn’t be able to tour the castle. It was sold out until the evening, and we had other plans back in the city. (Stay tuned.)

The bus ride up the mount was a challenge for someone as terrified of heights as I am. My knuckles were white as I had daymare visions of the bus rolling out of control down the mountainside, crushing down giant pines along the way. And then we stepped out onto the bridge.

See that tiny thing covered with people a jillion meters in the air?

This is what you saw if you looked down. Andrea took this picture while I was busy hyperventilating.

But this is what you saw if you looked out. I pulled myself together just long enough to take one picture.

That's the original Swan Lake in the background! This picture wasn't so difficult because I was on firm ground, rather than a bridge that groaned under the weight of a jillion tourists.

Neuschwanstein was built—commissioned, rather—by “Mad” King Ludwig II, a really interesting guy, if you ask me. If he were a broad, I’d consider naming a beer after him, so it’s unfortunate for both of us that he was born male.

Ludwig II was coronated at the age of 17 when his father died. He hated kinging, and preferred the company of Bavarian villagers. He married, of course, because kings always do, but popular opinion maintains that he was gay. He was known for having strapping young Bavarian dudes come to the castle under the pretense that their muscles would be drawn for anatomy books.

Like most royals, his life tragic. He wanted to live in a fairy tale, which would explain the fact that he commissioned multiple outrageous castles. In 1886, he was declared insane and deposed. He died the next day under mysterious circumstances—it’s unclear whether he was assassinated or committed suicide.

It’s a sad story, but the happy ending is some badass architecture.

After exploring the castle grounds, we headed back toward München, stopping along the way in Germany’s answer to a roadhouse grille: a biergarten with delightful Bavarian fare. I love Europe.

A mac n' cheesey sort of thing, curry fries, and schnitzel. Pas mal!

We hurried back to the city to catch Swan Lake at the National Opera.

Lemme just say: Natalie Portman, shut up.

I haven’t seen classical ballet since my childhood, so the dance and the music were a tremendous treat. Better yet, we didn’t know when we bought our tickets that the story had been re-choreographed to tell the story of our dear leader Mad King Ludwig II! We felt a bit odd showing up at the gorgeous National Opera House in dirndls until we realized that we were more appropriately dressed than anyone else there!

The parallels in the stories were uncanny, and the ballet was incredible. I like avant garde dance, but it’s possible that I like ballet even more, because I like things that are orderly, and ballet is the most orderly kind of art I’ve ever seen.

Alps, castles in the sky, gay kings, and ballet: that , my friends, is why I’m in love with Bavaria.

München on meat

If you saw me in Munich, you wouldn’t believe that I’m not much of a meat eater. You definitely wouldn’t believe that I’m a recovered vegan, but it’s true. For five days, I was a total carnivore.

First dinner in Germany: delicious juicy roast pork with a crispy skin, a big potato dumpling, and a kraut salad.

Barbeque dinner at Andrea's bestie's house. The gigantic wieners are stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon, just to prove a point, I suppose.

Andrea is a very proud Bavarian, so she wanted to make me taste the very Bavarian specialty of wießwurst (white sausage). It’s traditionally eaten for breakfast, so one morning, she took me to the lovely café where she used to work for a breakfast of juice, coffee, and weißwurst.

This is what weißwurst looks like.

Andrea explained to me that you don’t eat the casing of this particular sausage. You cut into into at one end, then slurp the meat out of the casing. Needless to say, immature fellatio jokes ensue.

I wondered how sausage could possibly be white, but I liked the taste just fine. I wasn’t crazy about fellating it, though, because I didn’t care for the texture of the casing dangling like an overgrown foreskin at the end of the weiner.

It was only after I began struggling with that foreskin that Andrea said, “Do you know what the casing is made of?”

Cue foreboding music.

“How do you call the part of the intestines where the poop is made?”

Spit take! “The colon?!”

“I think they have some way of cleaning the poop,” she said to console me.

I did not proceed with the sucking process. I took the slightly less brave route of cutting open the colon to remove the shit with a knife and fork.

This is what the colon looks like when you're done.

I’ll save my last Bavarian meal for my next entry on Bavaria Day!

(Mun)ich liebe München!

Top 10 things about 5 days in München:

1. Biking all over the city in gorgeous sunny weather. Other than Angry Town (which doesn’t count because I live here), Munich is the first European city I’ve been able to explore by bike. Of all the cities I’ve visited—listen up, Portland!—it was second only to Amsterdam in terms of bike accessibility and popularity.

Here I am on a borrowed bike outside of the 1972 Olympic Stadium. I think the futuristic roof looks like a whale skin stretched too tight over a metal skeleton.

2. Urban surfing in a landlocked city. No joke.

This canal that runs through the city is a hotspot for awesome surfers like this guy, and decidedly less awesome onlookers like yours truly.

Weird image: dudes carrying their surfboards through the middle of the city.

3. Meat, meat, meat. Stay tuned for a post on my almost exclusively carnivorous Bavarian diet.

4. I went to University with Andrea one day, for her Advanced French Grammar class. For the rest of my life, I will tell this story as, “I did some graduate work in Germany.

5. Bavaria had some nutty kings, namely Ludwigs I & II. Ludwig I was fascinated with female beauty, which he considered a manifestation of moral purity. He commissioned portraits of the 36 most beautiful women in Bavaria to hang in the “Hall of Beauties” at Nymphenburg Palace.

It was difficult for him to commission my portrait since I wasn't born yet, so I did him the favor of inserting myself.

6. Bavaria Day! Stay tuned for a post on…
7. Wearing a dirndl to visit…
7. The castle in the sky (!) and…
8. Swan Lake!

9. It felt really good to be in a society that values beer for the first time since I left Minnesota. Restaurants and beer gardens sell it by the liter!

10. But the very best thing of all was visiting this lovely lady!

My dear friend Andrea, former fellow teaching assistant and resident of Angry Town.

Paris in the spring

I’ve been saying some not-so-nice things about Paris lately. That’s because we’re frenemies. I find her irritating, and frankly not even very nice to me, yet for some reason, I keep feeling compelled to visit her, as Caitlin and I did this past weekend.

I’m pleased to report that gorgeous spring weather revealed a side of Paris that I’ve never seen before (perhaps she was suffering from S.A.D.?), so I can comfortably call us real friends now.

Picnic lunch in the Jardin du Luxembourg. (Also, I stand corrected about chairs--Paris does provide them, though Vienna's remain far superior.)

The point of this picture is not the Prada store. Au contraire, the point is the street sign: 7, rue de Grenelle!

What’s so special about 7, rue de Grenelle? Why, it’s the setting of Muriel Barbery’s fantastic novels Gourmet Rhapsody and The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The latter was adapted into in a film called The Hedgehog that I’ve watched in French. To those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend that you go see it at the MPLS International Film Festival this month. You can watch the preview here.

Canal St. Martin: Paris :: Brooklyn : New York

I’m infatuated with Canal St. Martin now , because it’s the first part of Paris to remind me of things I like about Minneapolis like bikes and tattoos.

Notre Dame and bookstalls are much better in the spring.

And that’s that. Our last hurrah in Paree.

Classy Broad turned Wiener, Part III: ‘ow do you solve a problem like Paree, eh?

10 Reasons Vienna is better than Paris:

  1. In Paris, hustlers try to sell you glow-in-the-dark Eiffel Towers. In Vienna, men dressed up as Mozart try to sell you concert tickets.
  2. Vienna isn’t full of Americans complaining at the top of their lungs.
  3. It is clean and orderly and doesn’t smell like urine.
  4. Metro cars are taller and wider, so you are never packed in them like stranger sardines.

    I also loved the icons that remind you to yield your seat, though is it just me, or are the men with no eyes creepy? I would leave my seat just to get away from them.

  5. The Metro tickets don’t stab your fingers, and you don’t even have to use them in the station because there are no turnstiles, so there’s no line to be help up by tourists who got their bag stuck.
  6. There’s a 36E fine for leaving dog poop, and Austrians obey laws, which means that…
  7. The streets are not full of dog merde.

    Another thing that n'existe pas en France.

  8. The buildings do not all look exactly alike.
  9. Museums are cheaper.
  10. Lederhosen.

Classy Broad turned Wiener, Part II: My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things (about Vienna):

1. Realizing that German was indeed a language that people do indeed use to communicate. Previously, I was unconvinced, but now I want to learn it.
2. Lederhosen: surprisingly sexy.
3. Don’t tell France I said so, but the wines I tasted in Vienna were yummy.
4. They like to eat in solaria.

Exhibit A: Palmenhaus, a café where the greenhouse effect is exploited with elegance.

Exhibit B: solarium at The Glacis Beisl.

5. You see the word “Wiener” everywhere.
6. The city provides lounge chairs in park spaces where you are allowed to walk on the grass. Ca n’existe pas en France.

Wien leight gut apparently means "Vienna lounges well."

7. The Viennese support the newspaper industry, both fiscally and physically. Cafés offer newspaper stands, and each paper is placed in an ingenious wooden holder. (Yes, I do plan to steal this idea when I open Classy Broads Café.)

Poll: Do I look more French or Viennese?

8. The Viennese are fiercely proud of their history. More so than other places in Europe, I found myself constantly thinking of how much history had taken place there. (I suppose the horses helped.)
9.  It caters to tourists in the most classy manner I can imagine. I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind being bombarded with Mozart.

Classiest tourist trap I've ever seen. I like to call it the Op-poo-ra.

10.  I’m lucky enough to have friends there.

Macalester '09 mini-reunion!

Classy Broad turned Wiener, Part I: Crisp apple strudels and schnitzel with noodles

To begin, as I always do, with my stomach…

One of my goals for Vienna was to eat my way through stereotypes. I’ve been singing so for years, and as it turns out, crisp apple strüdels and schnitzel with noodles really are a few of my favorite things.

Wienerschnitzel, served with a typical potato salad in a charming former wine cellar where we were serenaded by a violinist. Oh, Vienna!

To give you an idea of scale, this piece of meat was nearly as big as a sheet of paper.

Spetzel, made of seasonal leeks and served in a creamy cheese sauce. Fantastic. Tied with bratwurst (see below) for the best meal I ate in Austria.

Eis café. I love that the European interpretation of iced coffee involves not ice, but ice cream.

Apfel strüdel!

Roast pork with dumplings and kraut.

Spinach and feta strüdel served in a tomato sauce. (Austrian strüdel meets Greek spanikopitas.)

The best wurst! Hands down, no doubt, the best sausage I have ever eaten in my life. I'm sorry I can't telepathize the taste to each of my readers. There were wee bits of pumpkin seeds in the meat, which gave it a subtle nutty flavor. Unlike American ballpark brats, it wasn't salty and it didn't ooze grease.

Apfel strüdel from Freud's favorite café.

Next time on Classy Broad Abroad: a few more of my favorite things.