Project rediscover the Midwest.

I have recently moved back to Minnesota.  I know many (including myself sometimes) never thought I would move back (it was 10 years), but I have moved…and it’s been interesting.

Why the move?  Many reasons, but at the end of the day it’s what my wife and I decided long ago and we’re giving it the old college try.  Is it permanent?  Who knows.

What am I going to do with this site?  Hopefully be more active again and become entrenched in Minnesota tourism.  I really do love to travel and I don’t think moving to Minnesota will change anything other than flight possibilities.

So far this year we’ve done a fair amount of new touristy things in the area, but from this point on I’ll hopefully post about them here.

I call it project rediscover the Midwest as that’s what this is: a rediscovering.  Many of the places and things I plan to see and do I have seen and done before, but in what seems like a lifetime ago in a weird dream.  This time I’m showing my wife and child the intricacies of my culture while at the same time checking out things I’ve wanted to do since I can remember.  Also, thanks to the internet, I now know of options I never knew existed…making the list of options almost endless.  Project rediscover the Midwest will take years, but it should be fun and you’re welcome to join us…if you have ideas, post’em!

Radius started a blog

Radius Tours, the main tour company I’ve worked with since 2005, is having its 25th anniversary this month!  It’s time to party while trying to conduct tours…

Anyways, the company has started its own blog which you can find here:  http://radiustours.wordpress.com/

Please like, share, and take a few tours if you’re in town 🙂

Innsbruck

So last weekend we spent in Innsbruck, a beautiful lesser regional capital with a very cool club if you enjoy live music (the pmk). Apparently I’m the mayor of it on foursquare at the moment.  So anyways…

Last year we were there a few times…twice for sight-seeing and once for a concert. Although it is possible to do Innsbruck (sight-seeing) in a day from Munich…either you won’t see much at all or you’ll be completely exhausted from running around all day…leave EARLY and come back late (early is more important as museums, castles, palaces, and churches close by sun down or earlier).
I recommend 2-3 days, quite similar to Salzburg…though Salzburg is much prettier…

Innsbruck Christmas market

 

I enjoy being in Innsbruck…but I certainly wouldn’t want to work there as a tour guide…

So yeah…things you should not miss:

The cenotaph of Max I (it’s in a church, across from the palace, gotta pay to enter, but it’s well worth it)….castle Ambras….and the museum of the golden roof…the imperial palace is nice as well, but we’ve got much better in Munich 🙂

Want a more impressive run-down on what is in Innsbruck and my opinions of each?  ask in the comments or e-mail me!  (I just don’t want to write a novel if no one cares 🙂 )

 

Beer Tours in Munich

As many of you know, I used to do the Radius “Bavarian beer and food tour.”  Last night I went on the tour with a group of fellow guides & Radius employees as well as a few tourists.  I rarely go on tours from other guides…just as most guides rarely go on mine.  It’s usually very annoying to me so I sneak away from the group and try not to listen to the guide.  There are many reasons for this…

2012-12-04-647[1]

Anyways, so last night I went with the group to the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum (which is great), had a few beers there & then went on to eat at the Hofbräu Keller (which is a highly recommended restaurant for good reason), and then we ended up at the infamous Hofbräuhaus.  Well, okay, to be fair we continued after that…but not with the full group.

2012-12-04-653[1]

This is actually a fairly typical night out, partly because so many of the places in Munich close by 11 or 12.  So then you have to hunt for a smaller hole in the wall that will let you drink for another hour or two.

Several companies these days to pub crawls, but when we created the Bavarian Beer and Food Tour we were the first to focus on the actual TOUR…the beer and its role in Bavarian culture.  Depending on the group as well as the guide, however, in practice the tour can make many detours and digress very quickly into a drink-a-thon pub crawl with food thrown in for the hell of it.  Half truths filling in for reality and accepted because of either pandering to nationalism or an emphasis on entertainment rather than correctness.

2012-09-27-567[1]

I think it may be impossible to do a proper beer tour day after day without this variance though.  That may be a big part of why I don’t do the tour any longer.  At least not for random groups.

I love beer.  I love Bavarian culture.  I love Munich.  *sigh* oh well.

Want a private beer tour?  €220 + the price of the beers and I can make it happen.  Please enquire at least three weeks in advance of the proposed tour date. Cheaper if you don’t mind me drinking soda while you’re drinking beer, that way I can work the next day.

Beer?

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Really, it’s not good.  Snow has been falling the last couple of days and although it hasn’t amounted to hardly anything (it’s pretty much all gone), it makes a tour guide’s life hell.  It’s just cold and wet…that’s no fun.

Wednesday I had a Neuschwanstein tour…it mostly drizzled and you couldn’t see anything.  The tour group were all happy at the end of the tour, but it really is hard to make someone actually HAPPY when you can’t show them anything.  The good part is for those moments that you CAN see the building from further than 20 feet away, there is no longer any scaffolding covering it! 

I keep having Spanish people on my tours…yet they say they have 25% unemployment.  Rather odd.

Supposedly they have a special glühbier this year at the Christmas market…gonna have to try it soon.  Tomorrow we’re going to Die Toten Hosen…it’s been years since I’ve seen them…

IMG_1515

Fridays mean nothing to a tour guide

It’s black friday, but I don’t have time to shop. At the moment I’m on a train out toward where I used to live. This is a test to see how this app for my phone works with wordpress…so far so good.
Speaking of where I used to live, Seefeld, there’s a massive 14th century castle there that may be well worth a visit on your way to Andechs monastery…well, that is if you like Egyptian stuff.

How to plan that perfect vacation in Europe

Everyone’s idea of the perfect trip is different.  I saw that a popular travel blogger recently told people that they can see the world for far cheaper than they imagined and he’ll tell you how:  stay at hostels in the middle of no where in 3rd world countries…and walk there.  (ok, fine, I added the walk there part)

My point is that travel is expensive and I don’t have a magical way of seeing everything for free.  I myself am ridiculously frugal, though, and if I am advising you on your travel plans you can be assured that I am taking that into account.  At the same time, you want to see everything since you will probably not be back.  I like to see EVERYTHING myself and am quite annoyed that every guidebook is incomplete…

Nearly all of my vacations in Europe are sight seeing at ancient monuments, churches, palaces, castles, and such.  Many of these are in major cities or able to be done as a day trip from a major city.  So what do I recommend?  Guide books? wikipedia? Google?  local tourist boards?

Well, I recommend reading everything.   I know, you don’t have time.  Well, you have found me and I have very likely been to the place you want to go.

So the best way, in my opinion, to plan your vacation to a major city in Europe?  Have an expert, like me, do the planning for you.

When I take a trip I read through a couple guide books on the place in question from cover to cover.  Then, I Google everything while checking out their wikipedia sites as well as their official websites.  In the end I come up with an excel spreadsheet with all of the basic information on the places, expected prices, opening times, days they are closed, if they are covered by some kind of pass, and oftentimes notes on when is the best time to be there.  For the ones I do for myself I don’t have to be as thorough as if I were doing it for someone else since I only need an outline really, not the full speech…if ya know what I’m saying.

Anyways, I plan to post a few old spreadsheets of mine on here at some point to help others out, but if anyone would like me to do one for you…I can be bought.  Especially if you’re planning months in advance, it should be no problem for me to make up a spreadsheet for you along with a few extended notes.  You can pay me via paypal if you want after the spreadsheet is received.  cost?  let me know in a comment or e-mail what you’d want to pay for this service…and I’ll at least consider any offer.

Thoughts anyone?

Maybe I’ll do one for Munich….

IMG_4542

One last thing: anyone know where this picture was taken?  Hint:  not in Munich.