Author Archives: NOFXmike

Augsburg Tours

Well, the first Augsburg tour went on April 5th.  My first Augsburg customer being from Estonia.  She had a wonderful day (or so she claimed) and it was a beautiful day as well.  Augsburg is refreshing after many years in Munich.  The main thing that I find different is just the general attitude of the people.  Augsburg isn’t so saturated with tour companies even though it has a more substantial history than Munich…but what really sticks in my mind from the Tuesday’s tour is the smell of the city.  Downtown Munich or Berlin or Vienna is mostly shops, churches, palaces, but not food.  Augsburg’s downtown area has food around every corner…and very international options as well…literally everywhere, it’s quite amazing what that does to my stomach after half a tour!  For food alone…this tour is great.


Book through Radius Tours

The season is almost here and I’m as excited about it as any of you tourists out there.

If you want the no-hassle all-in tour from Munich, please visit Radius Tours and book there.  Once you have booked the tour, please stop by the office at least 5 minutes before the tour to trade the print-out for a real ticket and then you’re all set to go.

The tour costs €35…which includes all transportation to Augsburg and back to Munich.  The meeting time is 9:45am and it returns at 6pm.

For more info on meeting up with the tour in Augsburg:



Augsburg Tours!

As of April 1st, I’ll be doing Augsburg tours every Tuesday and Friday.

Why Augsburg?  Well, it’s the most historically significant place within a few hours of Munich, in fact it’s well over a thousand years older than Munich with the sights to prove it!

Founded in 15BC by the order of Augustus Caesar, Augsburg really hit its peak during the 1500’s when it was a free imperial city at the center of the largest trading organization on earth.  The Fugger family was, without question, the wealthiest family in the world and they along with their rivals the Welser family, pretty much ran the city of Augsburg.  At that time of course Augsburg was the big city and Munich was the small unimportant town.  Even Vienna’s importance paled in comparison.  The great thing is Augsburg never had a collapse so that even today you can see how amazing Augsburg was because everything is still there and looking great.

More info will be posted soon along with a website dedicated to the tour itself!





Winter in Munich

This was the first Christmas spent wi th my parents since 2002, so Christmas was nice…New Year’s Eve we spent at the Fest hall of the Hofbraeu Haus…so…THAT was nice…

Other than that, I’ve been mainly doing Neuschwanstein tours lately.  Looking into other prospects…

I need to completely re-do my private tour page as those msg’ing are asking the impossible.

January is oddly warmer than December.

Petra and I got new phones as well as new Kindles for Christmas, so that’s pretty awesome.

A couple days ago I became the “Mayor” of Neuschwanstein on Foursquare…

Random photos I take with my new phone are uploaded to photobucket automagically (see link on the left)




IMG_0370 IMG_1639

This is a very random post.  Sorry.  I’ll be less random next time…well, okay, maybe not.

Back from Spain

We’re back in Munich from a long weekend in Spain.  I love Spain…ever since I first visited Spain in 1997 I’ve loved the place.  That first trip may not have been perfect, but at least in my mind, over the years, I’ve made it out to be perfect. 

 Alcocebre 1997

On that trip, most of the time I spent in a small town called Alcocebre, which is on the East coast of Spain.  I stayed with a host family, who are from Madrid (mas o menos) and spend their summers in Alcocebre for the wonderful life on the sea with nice sandy beaches and great seafood.  From there we traveled to Peñíscola, Teruel, Sigüenza, Madrid, Segovia, La Granja palace, El Escorial, and places in between.  It being my first time in Europe, I fell in love with the place.


 Teruel, 1997

Peniscola, 1997

Peniscola, 1997

Segovia, 1997

Thirteen years have gone by since that summer and finally I had the opportunity to visit Spain again, this time with my wife.  As a wedding present, my Uncle Bob and his wife Susan invited us down to spend a long weekend at their house in Javea.  Javea is vaguely similar to Alcocebre in that it is a beach town on the coast of Spain, but this was a very different experience.


This time it was mainly relaxing, sight seeing only as a side.  For me, that’s a huge change from our normal vacation which is pretty non-stop.  It was great, however.  We got to spend a good amount of time with Bob and Susan, had some wonderful food, and met some very nice and interesting people. 


Javea is a much larger town than Alcocebre…or at least than Alcocebre in 1997 anyways.  Javea is much more expat friendly than anything I’m used to and DEFINITELY more expat friendly than Alcocebre was.  Spain is still Spain, though, and the Chopitos (fried baby squid) won me over once more.

Next time I think we’ll head to Málaga

Oktoberfest 2010

Hey everybody, I’m currently sobering up from the Oktoberfest last night.  This year I went more than any other year I think…every Sunday and one Saturday.  Usually I’ll go one weekday and one weekend…hmm.


I had plenty of oxen sandwiches & beers…was quite thrilled with the “historic” section of the Oktoberfest…definitely the best beer I’ve had on the Wies’n…wish they’d produce it every year.  Partied in the Hippodrom with my buddy Andi from down at Neuschwanstein as well as the Radius crew over at the HB tent…all in all, I had fun.






Anyways,  tours have been going great lately, and I’ve been kept busy with and


In a few days I’m off to Spain for a long weekend, to soak up some sun (hopefully).  We’ve never flown ryanair, so we’re a little skeptical, but well…gonna give it a try.

I’ve been busy

Hi everybody.  If you’re wondering what I’m doing lately and there is a gap on here…which I hope isn’t the case as I love my site…but I realize it does happen seasonally…you can check out what I’ve been writing over at Nileguide.  Have a look:

I’ve just started with it…and this is the extreme busy season, so when things start to slow down here, expect me to hit high gear there…and hopefully here as well.  Then again, I don’t get anything from posting here *cough*

I will say the season is pretty much wrapped up…the tourists for the most part are gone until the Oktoberfest…and I’m kinda happy about that actually.  Sometimes you need a break from trying to manage 40+ people all day, every day.


Back to business, summer tours

Hi everybody, sorry for the long delay (again), this time it was mainly due to our vacation to the states.  It was nearly 4 years since the last time we were there.  We had a great time, I just wish we had more time…several people I meant to get back to at the wedding I never actually did…and that really sucks.  Just not enough time…still, it was a lot of fun and I had my first “real” summer in years…since Germany never actually achieves summer weather.

Speaking of summer in Germany, the last week of tours have been damn busy, but all good (ok, maybe not so much Saturday as it was pouring rain…and quite awkward with the 2nd guide).  The bus drivers have been extremely nice to us down at Neuschwanstein this year…and well…I’ve been working pretty constant since I got back so I can’t complain too much.

Anyways, I had a real update planned, but thought I’d just post something to fill the gap.

More Notes from Salzburg

These notes were written over a couple recent trips to Salzburg…they are rather random.

The one thing I fear as a tour guide is a group of kids.  I don’t mean, of course, leading a school group or even having a fair number of random kids on my tour, I mean large groups of (usually German, Austrian, or Italian) 12-20 year olds without supervision making life hell for anyone within a 50 meter radius.  Since the trains and buses tourists use are the same as these hellish ghouls they call children here, there is hardly a way to avoid the situation.  I have seen blood shed, beer spilt, and hundreds of items thrown.

Speaking of kids on trains, on my way to Salzburg the other day, if anyone in my 1/4 of the train needed to use the bathroom, they had to go through the carriage before it which:

  1. smelled like a petting zoo
  2. was loud as hell with at least four different cell phones blaring music of different types at full volume
  3. had what appeared to be a full-on dodge ball game going on
  4. was covered in seeds of various sorts which might have been part of the reason for #1

Idiots are telling tourists that the constant rain here is unusual and that it’s the volcano in Iceland’s fault.   Complete bull…should I bring out the statistics?  This is normal weather in Munich…rain, rain, and more rain.

I find myself easily agitated lately and fairly short fused which is worrying and normally indicative of me doing too many tours.  Easily solved, unless it’s late May and everyone is asking you to do their tours as well as your own.  I may flip at any time…wish me luck!

I actually had a tourist complain about the outrageously well behaved dogs being everywhere you go in Germany.  (In Austria it depends where you are, some places they’re not as nice to dogs, for example:  if you’re a dog lover, stay away from Vienna)

I’m possibly the only tour guide that sits here and critiques his own tour…daily.

I’m having lots of luck today…earlier I was walking past McDonald’s and saw this group of teenagers getting thrown out for loitering (there were 6 of them, they bought nothing, and just wanted to sit on the semi-comfy furniture in the cafe area).  Anyways, they were ridiculously obnoxious and only left when the employee finally said he was calling the police.  Now I’m sitting on the opposite end of the mall…and guess who just sat next to me? (and standing in front of me…basically surrounding me…goddamn it)

I may turn into my grandpa any minute now.

The other day I had a tourist turn to me toward the end of a Neuschwanstein tour.  He said “wow, there were so many moments where I would have cracked…how do you manage to stay calm?”  to which I replied “if you got worried over the little things we had today, you’d have a heart attack on the fun days…it always works out, ALWAYS”…”wow, you’re really into the zen”…I guess.

Apparently India produces 13,501,000 tons of mangos a year, I should go there.

My pillow’s made in Poland.  I’m not quit sure how I feel about that.

I just said no to taking someone’s photo on the Makart bridge in Salzburg for two reasons:

  • It’s just rude to block the traffic of an entire bridge (easily 30+ people pass by every 30 seconds)
  • at the angle they wanted their picture all you would have in the background is a muddy river and trees…you wouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s Salzburg…screw that, I have my principles

I finally gave in and tried Ikea’s food.  There’s good and bad.  The price is fairly reasonable (not cheap, though), but it tastes like crap.  It was literally the worst asparagus & potatoes I have ever had…and I’ve had a LOT of asparagus & potatoes in my time.

Our bus got in an accident today (June 4th).  I didn’t have time to take pictures, but we apparently just rammed another bus.  what sucks most is that I had already stamped our tickets.

Would it be rude to line up my tourists every morning and hand out helmets to those I feel may benefit from them?

I actually got the parking lot attendant at Neuschwanstein to not only give the whole bus the finger (repeatedly), but also to threaten it with a shovel.  Let me explain:  we take a PUBLIC BUS…which parks on a public road…and the bus company chooses where to pick us up, not me.  Not one car passed by in the time we took to load the bus.  This idiot thinks I do it to piss him off and drive away business from his parking lot.  Let’s recap:  it’s a public bus parked in front of his parking lot for less than 5 minutes (on a public road, not blocking the parking lot entrance at all) with no possible customers driving by, at all…and the guy threatens physical confrontation with me.  wow.  He needs more beer.

[Listening to The Hold Steady‘s album A Positive Rage]

A guide to Minnesota for Germans

For months now I’ve been meaning to get together some information for all the friends and in-laws coming over for my American wedding.  This same information might be useful for anyone visiting Minnesota, but the focus here will be on things that may be useful for them.  So, friends and family, help has arrived:

First of all, lets start with some basic facts about Minnesota.

The normal abbreviation for Minnesota is MN (might be useful even later in this post).

The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: Mnisota. The root mni (also spelled mini or minne) means, "water". Mnisota can be translated as sky-tinted water or somewhat clouded water.

Minnesota is about 225,181 km2, almost the same size as the former West Germany.

Minnesota only has just over 5.2 million people in total.  You can compare that to Germany’s 81.8 Million…or for a direct size comparison, West Germany in 1990 had 63 million…again, for the same area.

About 3.3 Million of those people live in what is known as the Twin Cities metro area, (Minneapolis and Saint Paul) which is by most people’s standards one big city.  That makes it somewhere between Hamburg and Berlin as far as population.  Below you can see where Minneapolis/St. Paul is in relation to Owatonna at the bottom.  It is about a 45 minutes to an hour drive.

Map picture

The large majority of residents are of German or Nordic descent, but ethnic diversity has increased in recent decades.

Politically, the state is known for its moderate to progressive politics and social policies, civic involvement, and high voter turnout. Minnesota ranks among the healthiest states, and has a highly literate population.

Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, although technically it has 11,842 lakes, making Minnesota over 8.4% water.  Germany is about 2.4% water.  Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline:  more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.  Besides the lakes, Minnesota also has 6,564 (69,200 miles) natural rivers and streams.

Since Minnesota has all of this water (much of which is prime breeding ground for Mosquitoes), we also have more bugs than Germany.  You have never experienced the amount of mosquitoes that Minnesota is going to unleash on you, good luck with that.  Although our state bird is the common loon, many in Minnesota will argue that it is really the mosquito…alternatively known as a “blood sucking skeeter”.

The Weather

Minnesota gets the extremes on both ends.  We can have –40C in the winter and 40C in the summer.  For early July, I would be prepared for anything from 15C to 40C.  There is a fairly good chance of rain at some stage while you’re in Minnesota.

The Beer

At the wedding itself, I recommend sticking to Schell’s or Schell’s dark.  I’m hoping they’ll have the Zommerfest out and widely available when I get there.  Alternatively, Leinenkugel’s is excellent beer to try as well.  One thing to note is that there is a huge variety of beers in America…and I mean HUGE.  Even if you’re not a beer drinker here in Germany, you may find yourself drinking a few over there.  Alcohol percentages are the same for the same type of beer. (lagers are usually around 5% by volume, same as Germany, ales are typically weaker).  One thing you will not find is mixes.  If you try to order a radler in MN, they might die of laughter…as no one mixes with beer there.  If not a fan of beer at all…try the sodas, I recommend Mountain Dew…I REALLY recommend Mountain Dew…

Sight seeing

The first place most people think of to send visitors is, sadly, a mall.  However, it is possibly the coolest mall you’ll ever see, and definitely worth a visit even if you’re in the state only for a few days (hell, even hours…as it’s very close the the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport).  The Mall of America is the 2nd largest mall in the world (behind the West Edmonton Mall) and includes an entire amusement park in its center…foods of all types, and easily better deals than you’ll find anywhere in Germany.  It’s easy to get in, get out, and find your way around…there’s just no excuse in my mind as to why you would miss it.

Especially since the wedding is in Owatonna, a visit to another store is in order and that store is Cabela’s.  Cabela’s is a massive hunting, fishing, and outdoors-related store.  Again, even if you have no interest in buying anything…this is entertainment.

For things to do and see in Minneapolis, have a look here.  Also, a very up-to-date and interesting source of what’s available while you’re in MN, this time in magazine format, have a look here.

The state Capitol building, in St. Paul, is worth seeing…

Minneapolis and St. Paul each have one major church worth visiting.  Minneapolis has the Basilica of Saint Mary and St. Paul has the Cathedral of Saint Paul (Minnesota) National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.  Both were built in the early 1900’s.

The Minnesota Zoo is, in my opinion, far and away better than any of the German zoos (I really like zoos in general, even German zoos…).

While in Owatonna, I would recommend stopping at the mineral springs park and having a look at the origins of the city. 

You could also try out a round of Disc golf there.  Hell, Owatonna also has 4 regular golf courses if you want to golf.  I HIGHLY recommend a round if you’ve never tried.  Brook tree was my home course…used to play up to 5 days a week.  Let me know if you want to…

Other things in the area:

One thing that Petra and I are definitely doing while we’re there is going to The Wisconsin Dells.  The dells has everything from some of the world’s largest water parks to a pretty awesome mini golf, to Ripley’s believe it or not…to circus world…to waterskiing shows…it’s a whole city of (mostly fun) touristy things to do.  Could be a real American experience for ya.

For all your amusement park needs, head over to Valley Fair .  I love Valley fair, some of the best roller coasters in the country. Always a good time…similar to a Six Flags and better than pretty much anything in Germany.  (though there are two parks over by NRW that I’d like to check out)

Although I went to high school in Owatonna, my original home town is down the road (35 miles) in Albert Lea.  If you want to see my hometown, I’m sure I could try to give you a tour…as long as you don’t expect to see a big white castle at some stage.

For a really beautiful drive, highway 61 along the Mississippi is the way to go.  I would recommend driving from La Crosse (WI) to Winona (MN), stop by the top of a bluff.  Below you can see highway 61 running on the left (west) side of the Mississippi river between La Crosse and Winona.

Map picture

Camping.  Now, the German idea of Camping and the American idea of camping are two completely different things.  Perhaps if you’ve seen enough American movies you might understand…but if you want the true experience, stop by my Aunt and Uncle’s camp ground and spend a couple nights.  You can find their place at:  Camp Maiden Rock

What’s most important is that you let me know as soon as possible what you want to do or ideas you have for your trip!  I am not a mind reader, but if I’m told what you’re planning I can help.  My resources in Minnesota can be quite impressive…try me.

I’m sure I forgot some places and things to do…but I can always add more later…or not.  Anyways, here’s a good start.

[Listening to The Apers album You Are Only As Strong As The Table you dance on]

Notes from Munich

The high temperature yesterday (May 18th, 2010) was 48F.  Despite this, it seems half the damn town was wearing shorts.  I find that retarded.

Crowds at concerts in Germany want to drink beer and stare, dancing is not allowed.  Then again, if you try to dance, beer flies all over everyone else…I see that a lot too.

When will the bus company in Füssen learn that they need two buses MINIMUM, not maximum?

I know biking is extremely popular with tourists here in Munich, but I’ll never understand why.

I should look into being a professional photographer.  Weddings on weekends and keg parties during the week, with completely different hourly rates.

Our landlord now apparently has decided (after 8 weeks) that we don’t need cable and should just use DSL.  The cable company will pay for the complete installation and it would be an upgrade to the building, so this whole fiasco just pisses me off.

I’ll continue this another time, maybe I should get back to that Vienna rant.

[Listening to Ozzy Osbourne‘s album Prince Of Darkness (Box Set)]

Notes from Salzburg

Yesterday I could swear I saw a woman who is the human equivalent to the Chinese crested.

In the last year all the formerly free public toilets of Salzburg have become pay toilets.  I recommend going to the university or the mall if you need to go.

If you’re going to the Sudan, I’d go in the spring or autumn.

McDonalds French fries must have crack in them.

It’s interesting how American “formal wear” places that rent tuxes are unbelievably concerned about proper measurements, yet tux rental places here just glance at you, hand you a tux, and it fits perfect.  Do we have higher standards in the states?  Maybe, but I’m easy to please I guess.

If you’re going to Dubai, go in the winter.

Australians assume that you’ve never heard of their country, let alone their city.  When you insist that you’ve met around 2,000 people from their city, and know all about it anyways, they will still proceed to tell you exactly where it is and then continue about extreme basic geography of Australia.

South Africans honestly believe they’re completely set for the football world cup this June.  I’m not so certain.  The thing that may save them is that the numbers will be considerably less than we got here in Germany in 2006.

Everyone thinks Munich and Salzburg get huge amounts of snow and extreme weather, which is flat out not true.  In the last 6 Christmases, there has never been snow on the ground here.  (though 50 miles out, yes…about 1cm of it)

I wish Nokia would just release their damn N8 already, cause I want it.  Alternatively, I’d quite easily settle for Sony’s Vivaz if they would make an announcement that they’ll move to Symbian^3 when it’s released and also offer a mapping program where you can download the maps so that when you’re “roaming” you don’t have to go online to use your GPS navigation.

There is no smoking at the mall in Salzburg, so all the Austrians sit in the bathroom stalls to smoke, there is nearly never a stall open…but when there is, there will be several cigarette butts floating there.

The entire Salzburg train station is completely gutted at the moment.  According to the Austrian rail company, it’s not alone…10 of the biggest stations in the country are currently ripped apart.  Any bets on when this will end?  I’d put my money on 2011, but then they’ll just start on the next thing to annoy me.  Salzburg’s station was looking rather sad, though, I admit that.

Given a choice between a tip given in liquid or straight-up money, guides prefer money every time.

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[Listening to Nine Inch Nails‘s album With Teeth]

Still waiting for a phone & internet connection

If any of you think Germans are efficient by nature, you obviously haven’t been to Germany…certainly haven’t lived here.  They’re no faster or slower than Americans, except there is absolutely no customer service culture here so that any time you’re dealing with customer service, it may be months.

Anyways, it’ll be 6 weeks on Thursday since we ordered our phone & internet connection at our new apartment and a major part of my excuse as to why I haven’t continued my series on Vienna is that I haven’t been online…which isn’t completely true, as I’m connected, just with a crap connection from a 3G stick.  I just wanted to say that I’m still alive and doing tours…just well, not REALLY online.  It kinda sucks.

Moving, but just to the other end of the building

First off, I’d like to say that yes I will be continuing the series on Vienna, I just took a break for no apparent reason…which slid into an actual reason.  The reason for the last week for no posts was that we’ve been moving…and since we have a LOT of crap, it takes quite a lot of work.  I’m writing this while I still have no internet access.  However, later today I should be able to upload this since we have a UMTS stick that will give us internet access while we wait for a cable connection.

That’s right, we’re ditching DSL and going to cable.  When I moved to Germany (to Seefeld for a couple years), we got DSL through T-online (Deutsche telecom), it took them nearly 6 weeks to hook it up.  When I moved to Munich, we decided to switch to one of the new offers that were MUCH faster than we had before and yet about 1/3 the price. We went to a company called m-net.  That took over 9 weeks to hook up because T-online control all the DSL lines and have to hand them to the other companies as slow as they can physically do it.  SO, that brings us to the current move where we decided to try the only other option, so that T-online has nothing to do with it, and that is cable (Kabel Deutschland).  However, since our building isn’t hooked up to cable yet, they said it would take 2+ weeks to hook up…if this is true, they’re still the fastest option!  Anyways, for half the money we were paying we’re going from 16mbit to 32mbit and so we should be happy once it’s connected.

To get us through the couple week wait, this UMTS stick should do the trick, it’s a lil expensive, but at least I can stay connected…the last time (the 9+ week wait), I nearly went insane (arguably I have gone insane, but really, it is debatable).

So, we moved…the new apartment is in the same building, though. It’s about 30 square meters bigger than our last place, which means we have a 2nd (small) bedroom for guests.  More importantly, we not have space for a DISHWASHER!  For anyone that has our old address, the new one is the same without the B.

[Listening to Angelic Upstarts‘s album Blood On The Terraces]

(I happen to be going to the Angelic Upstarts show tonight, so this is fitting)

EDIT: this was written yesterday, April 1st.  I didn’t get online long enough to post this, apparently.   I’ll post pics of the new apartment in a couple days.  It’s Petra’s birthday weekend, that’s my new excuse, work with me here…

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Vienna part 2: more comparisons of the transportation systems

My first post on Vienna focused mainly on my first impression of the city of Vienna based on coming in by rail, from Munich, and comparing the trains.  I feel public transportation is extremely important when visiting most major European capitals, because lets face it:  I walk at least 12km/day and when I’m on vacation it’s got to be double that because my whole body falls apart.  So, to at least minimize this, public transport is a must.

In Munich I’m spoiled.  Our public transport is one of the best in the world.  Of course there are flaws (the ticketing system is difficult for even Germans to figure out), but the network is set up better than any I have seen yet. (…and yes, I have been to Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, New York, etc.)

So anyways, I thought I’d do a quick direct comparison of the local transport of Vienna and Munich.


There are 4 main ways to get around town:  S-bahn, U-bahn, Trams, and buses.

The S-bahns are the commuter trains that are almost always above ground, but are underground for 5 stops.  These are by far the most useful and used part of the public transport system for tourists.  They are the fastest way from the main train station (where most hotels are located) to the center of town and back.  The S-bahn is also the cheapest and easiest way to get from the city center to the airport or vice versa.

The U-bahn is the underground system (subway).  These are almost always under ground at all times.  U-bahns are useful for commuters, but not so much for tourists as most of them merely take tourists away from the sights and do not connect them (easily at least) to the places they want to go.  As with anything there are exceptions of course:  the soccer stadium is on the U6 and the Olympic park is on the U3.

The Trams are the street cars.  They are either on the road itself of in the median of the road at all times…always above ground.


There are 4 main ways to get around town:  S-bahn, U-bahn, Trams, and buses.

The S-bahns are more like regional trains than commuter trains and are about 20 years older than Munich’s.

The U-bahns are above and below ground randomly.  (They’re fairly similar to Munich’s as far as comfort though.)

The Trams in Vienna are the main way tourists get around town and are strongly encouraged by all the guide books as well as the tourist information.  They are sometimes above ground, sometimes below…so good luck with that.  None of them go through the city center.

Below is a picture of Petra standing next to the tram tracks at an underground tram stop.

Vienna's Tram....underground and ghetto  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was very irritated by the Vienna public transport system.  It always got us where we wanted to go with a fairly minimal wait…but everything was…well, dilapidated and archaic looking and feeling compared to Munich.  The terminology the city chose to describe the various parts of the system doesn’t tell you if you should look on the street or under it, which annoyed me immediately.  I dunno, I was irritated.

Next up I should probably talk about actual sight seeing, eh?  Well…I guess.  It’ll have to be in another post, though, as there are a lot of really cool things to see in Vienna…and we tried to see most of them.

Vienna part one: first impressions, comparison to Munich

Vienna.  Well, the first questions everyone seems to ask are “Did you like it?” and “how was it?”. 

Both of those are loaded questions, in my opinion.  As with anything there is good and bad.  Did I enjoy my vacation in Vienna?  Yes.

I finally got to see a lot of things I’ve wanted to see since I first heard of them many years ago and also discovered cool things that I wasn’t expecting necessarily.  This is why I travel…and is nearly always the case.  After many years living in Munich, Vienna isn’t a huge departure culturally, but is definitely not the same.  A friend of my wife’s that we met in Vienna kept repeating a slogan from the local tourist board “Vienna is different”, and it was.  Not better, or worse, but different.

On the train home from Vienna I thought about all the things I wanted to say about the trip here on the blog, but unfortunately I don’t have a direct link from my brain to the computer, so these things take time as I’m always distracted at the computer by all the random people that want things from me.

I thought I would start with my first impressions of the city…transportation and the hotel.

We took the new rail Rail Jet which is, and I very jokingly quote: “Austria’s high speed train”.  It tops out at 200km/hr, which is reasonably fast…but you have to consider that 90% of the time it’s going 80-100km/hr.  In comparison, you can look at Germany’s high speed train, the ICE, which regularly travels at speeds up to 320km/hr.  The Rail jet, although a comfortable train with friendly service, is not a high speed train by European standards.  Anyways, it was a nice fairly short ride to Vienna and into the West train station.

Our hotel was the “Allegro”, which has a decent location and worked rather well for our purposes.  It is a 3-star hotel for under 50 bucks a night…can you really go wrong there?  Breakfast was included and quite decent as well….better than average in fact.

We came into town, went to a ticket machine for the S-bahn, U-bahn, and trams of Vienna…and their ticket machine was very easy to figure out.  In comparison to Munich, that was SUPER-easy.  The S-bahns and U-bahns, on the other hand…are a bit, umm…I think I would say “ghetto” in comparison to Munich.  Being extremely used to public transportation, we got to our hotel very quickly and without a hassle at all.  Most of this was expected, though, as Vienna has a reputation as being a very comparable city to Munich.  I guess I expected their transportation system to be updated like Munich’s has been…but apparently they don’t have the money to do it there.

Anyways, I think I’ve written enough for this post, I’ll write more on Vienna later, in parts 2-56.

Have a good one


Garden Gnomes

One of the most common question themes I get on tours, probably the most asked, is this:

“What are those little shacks with the little gardens?  Do people live there?”…”Is that where poor Germans live?  …like, their slums?”…

It’s okay, you don’t have to worry.  That’s where the term “garden gnome” comes from!  There are hundreds of thousands of small German people that mostly keep to themselves and live in their own separate communities preferring to live solely amongst their own kind.  Since it is not politically correct to pick on the little people, they are rarely in the news….anyways, click here for further information on the little guys.



[Listening to NOFX from the album Concerns of a GOP Neo-Phyte (]