Monthly Archives: December 2009

Damn, it’s been busy

The last few days we’ve had huge numbers on the tours and although there were moments where I wasn’t completely sure everyone would make it and stay happy…surprisingly, everything went quite well and I believe everyone enjoyed themselves…and that’s what really matters.

The numbers have literally been some of the highest of the year and back-to-back, too…kinda crazy.  I’m not sure if it was all the tours, but it was all the tours I do.  I survived and now I can relax for a few days.

Tomorrow we’re going to have my friend from Finland over for NYE…we’ll set off fireworks and maybe try out some of our new wii games that we got for Christmas.

On a side note, I think we have 7 bottles of bubbly….not sure how I feel about that.

Happy New Year everybody!

Merry Christmas

This year Radius Tours only takes a 2 day break from doing tours, but I have until Tuesday, which feels good.  I’m off to my mother-in-law’s place for a couple days where they actually have snow.  That’s right, it’s 40F here and although you can find snow if you search (where people piled it up while shoveling), there is no snow on the grass and certainly none on the sidewalks or streets of Munich..

I love having no snow, I really do.  I’m told back in Minnesota there’s a big snow storm, and it’s really nice that those just don’t happen in Germany.


Merry Christmas, drive safely, and stay away from that awful snow!

[Listening to MXPX from the album Christmas Party]

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A bat in the throne room

Yesterday’s tour was not the greatest, I’ll admit.  The bus drivers decided they would try to do everything as chaotic as possible which meant a hell of a lot of pushing by everyone…and not a lot of fun.

The weather, around 40F, wasn’t bad at all…and when the group was in the throne room, there was a bat flying all over.  Yes, it was a real bat, and no, I don’t think everyone saw it.  The thing is, when I tour Neuschwanstein,  I’ve seen it hundreds of times and I’m not looking at nor paying much attention to what the tour guides say or do.  Anyways, I was entertained for 2 minutes…and it made my day.  In a huge room like that, it’s fun to see a bat.  A bat for Christmas.

Almost Christmas, I can’t wait

Christmas in Munich is a busy time.  Christmas in Salzburg is a busy time.  Therefore, I’ve been busy and quite frankly over-run with tourists.  At least on the days that I have tours.  Since it’s the winter, I’m only working half the time…although I think we actually have easily enough tourists to have tours every day.  It’s not my call…so oh well.

On my days that I’ve had free of course I’ve gone downtown past the Christmas markets, but since I’m not interested in buying overpriced Christmas ornaments, I just take pictures and walk on.  Last week I took a few pictures, so I might as well let you take a peek as well:

These first few were taken at Marienplatz, if you’ve ever been to Munich, I’m sure you recognize it…

This next one is of a very cheesy middle ages market that is located right around the corner from Odeonsplatz

Now, I know what many of you are thinking:  where’s the snow?  well, it’s generally too warm for snow in Munich.  We get snow, yes…but it doesn’t tend to stay very long (certainly not in December).  In the last seven years there has never been snow on the ground in Munich on Christmas eve.  The temperature right now is above freezing and it’s 8pm…so…what we have at the moment, which is very little, is melting….I’m pretty certain it will be gone by Christmas.  Tomorrow I have a Neuschwanstein tour and it looks like rain even down there…or an ugly mix….good times.

That being said, I’m spending Christmas about an hour outside of Munich …and there’s usually snow there.

Good luck on your travels, wherever you’re going for Christmas!

[Listening to Die Toten Hosen from the album Ertrinken]

Overflowing trains, but no major problems

The last couple of tours down to Salzburg have been extremely busy, but not nearly as bad as previous years.  As long as I’ve gotten my group onto the train 20 minutes before it leaves, I’m good.  On Thursday’s tour, if we were 10 seconds later, everyone would have been standing the entire two hour ride to Salzburg.

On the down side, it’s not completely comfortable with people’s arm pits in your face as they stand smushed together in the aisles.  Everyone in my groups get seats…and that’s what matters to me.  During the summer, on the train to Neuschwanstein, it’s quite often a major seating problem as well, but I have to say…I’m REALLY good at getting everyone a seat and pissing off the lesser tour companies.

I’m considering carrying a hockey stick wherever I go to use as crowd control.  Maybe put some bright orange hockey take on the blade…  If I could get my mom to mail me my aluminum hockey stick from home, I think I’d bring it on the next tour.

And the best news of the season for me:  I don’t have to go to Salzburg again until after the Christmas markets close!!!  (you don’t know how wonderful that feels…the stress is too much…even if I have been damn lucky)

Instead I’ll be going down to Neuschwanstein every couple days for the rest of the month.  Apparently, we’ll have a couple very large groups too…but it should be no problem that direction, just cold.  Mary’s bridge is closed til spring…and many of the restaurants and souvenir shops don’t bother opening in the winter…followed by Fuessen COMPLETELY shutting down at 4pm…they really try to make it difficult.

Despite all of this, nearly every tour this year has gone very well.  (there are always exceptions…less than 5% and it’s a good year…considering all the train break downs, train delays, bus break downs, bus delays, snow, ice, rain, motorhead fans, drunken bachelor parties, rowdy Italians, football (soccer) hooligans, and others that try and make it difficult)

[Listening to Jetty Boys from the album St. Patrick’s Day]

Just in time for the holidays

Are you planning your trip to Germany?  Planning a trip to Europe?  Just got back from Europe and want to do more research?

Well, just in time for the holidays, I decided to become an associate and open an associate store for this site.  What does that mean?  Well, basically I hand-picked a bunch of stuff from that I think will be useful for my readers.  If you purchase something through “my store”, I get a small percentage and you pay the exact same amount you would if you just went straight to Amazon.  So you can find things easily and you’re helping me too…it’s a win-win.

Anyways, the store is up now with the first bunch of things I could think of, but I will probably add a lot more in the coming weeks.

There’s a link to it on the left hand side, or you can check it out here:  The Professional Tourist’s store.

[Listening to D.O.A. from the album Cocktail Time In Hell]

Munich’s new main bus station

Recently in the news here in Germnay, there has been quite a lot of speculation as far as the relaxing of laws which restrict bus services within Germany. Since 1931 long haul bus services have been restricted, except those that travel to and from Berlin. Currently, only companies that apply for a special Deutsche Bahn (usually just referred to as DB) approved permit can get around the ban.

One of the questions I get most is "where can I get a bus to ____, since buses have to be cheaper."…well, there really aren’t any at the moment, but there could be soon. The new coalition government of the CDU and FDP plan to change the laws and allow bus companies to compete on a level playing field, apparently. Currently, bus companies are claiming they could offer prices at least 30% ceaper than DB’s trains.

I like cheap prices and all the options I can get…(ask anyone that has ever been on one of my tours…), so I like the idea, though it will certainly shake things up.

If this goes through, the new bus terminal in Munich will see a hell of a lot more traffic than it was today. This afternoon I decided it was finally time that I go and have a look at this new bus terminal which has been open since September. It’s located about a 5-10 minute walk from the main train station, just up the road. It was dead quiet around there, but the building looks good at least.

Here’s some pictures from today:

…and finally…the view from the main bus station to the main train station in Munich:

This is where it's at...although both Bing and Google haven't updated their maps

[Listening to One Man Army from the album She Wants Me Dead]

Wikipedia’s featured picture

As usual, I wake up and I have a look at the BBC news, then check twitter out, then facebook…and then wikipedia. Today’s featured picture on wikipedia is of the Frauenkirche. It’s one of the few places I would say every visitor to Munich absolutely has to go to see. At the same time, it’s not a personal favorite, but it is one of the symbols of Munich.

A few facts:

Capacity: 20,000
Length: 109 meters (358 ft)
Width: 40 meters (131 ft)

The Frauenkirche, today it's Munich's cathedral (but only recently)

(this is my own picture, which is better than wiki’s, in my opinion)

[Listening to: Done Reckoning – Avail – Wrecktrospective (0:-1)]

Answers to Monday’s trivia questions

1. For nearly 60 years the mayor of Munich has been tapping the first keg at the Oktoberfest, what brand of beer was that first keg?

Hofbräu (in 1950, which was the first year the mayor tapped the first keg starting the tradition,  the tent had a price dispute with Spaten…)

Me, rating HB beer a few years back

2. Is there any part of the famous glockenspiel at the New Town Hall in Munich that has anything to do with a plague?

Not one single part of it, sorry free tours. The fictitious plague of 1517 is just that, fictitious.

Munich's famous glockenspiel

3. How did Emperor Ludwig IV the Bavarian die?

While bear hunting, at the age of 65, he had a stroke…remember, this was back in 1347! He’s my all time favorite Wittelsbach for many reasons, including these…

Ludwig IV(this picture is of a cenotaph to Ludwig IV which is located in the Frauenkirche)

4. Where are the hearts of the Wittelsbach dynasty? (the royal family of Bavaria)

Altötting…in the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of the Miraculous Image).

The Gnadenkapelle in Altötting

[Listening to: Unite – Randy – Wrecktrospective (2:25)]

An actual smoking ban in Bavaria?

The numbers are in and although the press conference is in 20 minutes, it looks pretty clear.

I’m currently seeing 13.9%…which sounds pretty darn good to me.

EDIT: results below…these are the numbers of German citizens in Bavaria that signed the petition for a real smoking ban.




[Listening to: Dumb reminders – No Use For a Name – Live at the backstage, Munich (2:47)]

Bavaria: smoking or non?

For the first several years living here I dealt with more smoke than you could possibly believe…people would light up and blow smoke right at my food.

In the last couple of years Bavaria has been kinda strange. First, there was a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars…but it was A: not enforced, and B: ignored pretty easily with a loophole allowing for “smokers clubs” (which included a lot of restaurants).

Then, the conservative government (CSU) decided to go ahead and relax the smoking laws allowing for more people to smoke wherever the hell they want. That brings us to the big petition that is going on right now getting 10% of Bavarian citizens to force the state govt to re-ban smoking (and hopefully outlaw smoking clubs). There’s one more day left…and it looks to be close…

If you know of any Bavarian that hasn’t gone down to their local Rathaus and signed the petition, please…drag them there in the next 24 hrs (Munich’s Rathaus is open til 8pm today and tomorrow).

I’ve had a LOT of tourists visit and say how wonderful it is that they can breathe in the HBhaus or any of the other beer halls, where in previous years they couldn’t..

BTW: I have nothing against you smoking, just as you probably have nothing against me eating mexican food and farting up a storm, but not in confined spaces, please.

For those playing the home game, here’s a few links:

TT forum, in English

Live updates of the vote in Munich (as the thing is over, this link is now dead)

…and this is the one from the organizers, only in German (sorry)