I was lucky enough to spend a week in southern Germany and Prague just before Christmas starting in the Black Forest then Munich and then Prague. If you have never been at that time of year, you have to go at least once, every town, no every square pretty much has Christmas markets set up, most of the stalls sell pretty much the same crap and unless you live there and are looking for candles or Christmas ornaments there’s nothing really you’d want to buy BUT the markets have the best and cheapest food and it’s awesome to walk around sipping on hot mulled wine.
Now the bad part of the trip, and the reason why I’m posting this so late, I was sick as hell the entire trip. Came down with a cold a few days before leaving Atlanta, and let’s just say 8 hours on a plane didn’t do me any favors, so basically this is just going to be a random collection of thoughts/rants, starting with traveling while sick in a foreign country….sucks. It sucks big time, not only do you not feel like yourself and you can’t really your time as much as you should, but it’s also damn hard to treat yourself. Both Germany and the Czech Republic keep all their medications behind the counter in drug stores, so you can’t just walk in and look at the packages and try to figure out what the hell you’re buying. You have to talk to the pharmacist, tell them what’s wrong or what kind of drugs you’re looking for, granted they mostly speak better English than I do, but still. I ended up on I think basically German Dayquil and German Afrin and Czech something or other, and some German shit from Bayer that was kind of like alka seltzer but worse tasting. It wasn’t fun being sick, really wasn’t, in fact I’m still sort of deaf from it.
So i started out in the Black Forest, which is a really beautiful corner of the country, I think it’s slightly less touristed than say Bavaria, there’s no major cities, there’s no famous castles, but the towns are really well preserved ( I think it wasn’t bombed as heavily in WWII) and the forest and mountains are beautiful. It’s not that hard to get to either, fly into Frankfurt and take the train direct from the airport you can be in Freiberg in just under two hours.
If you go to Munich, go to the Zugspitze, it’s the highest point in Germany, right on the border literally the border runs through it, with Austria and is only an hour and a half south of Munich. It’s 43 Euros to get up and back down, so it’s not cheap, you take this old cogwheeled train part way up and then an aerial cable car the rest of the way. I got there way later that I had planned in part from being sick in the morning and in part because of a two hour delay from someone killing themselves by running in front of the train from Munich, so I only had 20 minutes up at the top before it got dark, but completely worth it, you feel like you’re stepping out into a photograph.
By the way when did Germany get beggars? I feel like you never saw that in Germany before. I’ve been to Germany in 1997, 2000 and 2008, and don’t remember ever seeing anything at all like that.
Also when did it become ok to even show Hitler’s face? I remember him being sort of like Voldemort, he who could not be named.
Speaking of Hitler, or his dirty work. As beautiful a city as Prague is, the bridge, the castle, the churches, go tour the old Jewish ghetto, the ghetto itself frankly is nothing of interest, Jews had mostly left a long time before WWII and the area rebuilt in the late 1800’s to look like Paris, but the old synagogues and cemetery remains, and there’s a really moving tribute to all the Czech Jews that died during the holocaust including an exhibit of artwork from children that were in the camps, each piece had the name of the child and for 90% of them the age and date they were killed. You can only learn so much from books or Hollywood, to see stuff like that in person is a very different story
Finally as a beer lover, I gotta say, as much as I respect the history of beer and the culture of beer drinking…..we make better beer in the US, we’re just willing to experiment and take more chances than Europeans are.