Europe Backpacking Trip

Germany Travel Blog

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Europe was an interesting place and somewhere I probably never would have been if it hadn’t been for Heather (Girlfriend). I always thought of it as a giant museum and from Childhood days I hated museums. However after having a bit of culture knocked into me by the plays we went to see, a trip I did up to Scotland with a couple of friends from the Hostel and just generally waking up to the world. I could appreciate it.
I started in Berlin in Germany for a day. I actually got there checked into a hostel, did a walking tour and then checked out the next day on my way to Amsterdam to meet a friend there for the weekend.

The Berlin walking tour was quite interesting tho. Germany built a huge Holocaust monument which basically consists out of a large square full of concrete blocks. In a odd twist of fate these blocks where covered with a chemical to prevent graffiti, which was party supplied by the same company who supplied Hitlers gas chambers. They did eventually catch onto this and changed the supplier tho.
We ended the tour in a large square with Universities where Einstein studied and had to retreat into the library as a blizzard hit.

Amsterdam, well its Amsterdam isn’t it? We took a bus trip out to a small village outside of Amsterdam and I was amazed by the story book character of the place. They actually exist, those perfectly painted little houses standing in a row with the streams and the the willow trees hanging over them.Not to be fooled, I walked into the back roads off the main “touristy” road to see if it actually looks the same back there. AND IT DOES!!
Anyway, we was a windmill they showed us how they made wooden shoes and we off course visited the red light district and the sex museum and even visited a “coffee shop”.

From there I made my way to first Brussels, where I have to say the only interesting things about it was the huge main square with the amazing palace/castle building on it and all the little restaurant. Oh and the Atomium. Which is basically a huge sculpture representing I think uranium's molecule. But it huge, around 7 or 8 stories height. From the top you can enjoy a rather nice few of Brussels in the distance though very dirty windows.

You can also go and see Manetjie Piss. A small statue of a being boy surrounded by chocolate shops.
I eventually made my way down to Munich. Now that was a trip, my first train was cancelled, my second one diverted. The next one cancelled and I had to wait for an hour for the next train and at the end of each leg go to the ticket office to get my ticket modified. But I did in the process stumble onto a little place called Cologne (I think that’s the spelling) in Germany.

It had the most amazing Gothic Style Church that I’ve ever seen. It is gigantic and made to look even bigger since the square on which it is build barely seems big enough to contain it. So I got a few pics and carried on with my Journey to Munich which by this stage I hoped actually existed.
When I eventually arrived in Munich there was snow. Snow everywhere packed up onto the side walks in mounds as the people tried to keep the roads clear enough to drive. It was cold as hell and late. So I did as I usually did when I got to a new city. Asked the closest person I could find if there was an Internet cafe around. Eventually got a place to stay and the next morning set off on another walking tour. This one ended up in a beer house and I and the rest of the walking group got very drunk on the incredible beer. I’m not lying when I say I drank 4 litres. Which in that beer house was the same as having 4 drinks. YES THEY COME BY THE LITRE. You have not tasted beer until you’ve drank in beer in Germany! There is actually a bit of history where the king of Germany had beer that use to be imported made, because of the expense and the general attitude at the time was that a meal was not a meal without a beer. Even breakfast…
I found my way back to the hostel, not sure how I did that and you can image why I can't find any pictures I took there. But I woke the next morning with a hangover and decided that since its Germany. I had a beer with breakfast.

I was then on my way thought the alps to Italy. On a train of course, and after being basically been told to go play by a bunch of Swiss people in Zurich I made my way to Bern. Nice little city, had some Italian food there and their views where amazing.
However by this time I was starting to feel tiered and I had seen all I wanted to see after the walking tour and because it was to cold to walk around everywhere I decided to take the earlier train. I had to catch a connecting train at Brig, a small town in the middle of the alps. I though, well if I had to spend the next 8 hours sitting around I may as well do it somewhere I can go walking around and exploring. I didn’t however bargain in the fact that in a small town on a Saturday, everything would be closed by 8pm. Which mean I had to sit from 8pm to 1am the next morning in the freezing cold waiting for a bloody train. I did however after a bit of exploring find a little bar/cinema where they where showing the German version of Pink Panther. I almost watched it but by the time I wanted to buy the ticket, they had sold out. So I just sat at a table in the corner with a beer.
Eventually time came closer and I went and sat in a very crowded little waiting booth on the platform for the last hour.

Needless to say I slept like the dead most of my way to Venice and woke just as the train was crossing the long bridge into the city. I must admit Venice was a surprise to me in allot of ways. I knew it was built on water but I didn’t realize how close it came to going into the sea. The water highways was also interesting, complete with lamppost.
Its really admirable how the Europeans can make bad situations into good ones. I mean there is pigeon problem so you can get pigeon crap on you everyday. But it Europe that’s good luck, people fling buckets of water out of their doors and catch unsuspecting walkers by with a morning shower, but that too is good luck. Same way as in Venice, if the St Marks Square floods every now and again its also good luck.

I did buy a packet of corn in the square and had about 50 pigeons trying to get to it at once however, I am glad to announce, that luckily I wasn’t lucky.
I also had the privilege of getting lost in Venice. Just so you’d know there is no way of walking in a straight line in Venice. I walked around for about 2 hours, even had lunch on the way and when I finally gave up and went to the nearest station, it was the one I started from. My goal was to talk a straight line away from it towards the station on the other side of the wind of the winding river. No suck luck. It was a nice walk tho. But I was really getting to the point where I counted off the amount of cities I still needed to go. By this time I was nearing the end of my second week on tour, and I still wanted to see 4 cities. So I pushed on.
Florence was interesting, from the initial let down at the station where I saw a guy wee against the wall of the station and the dodgee little Internet cafe that wanted my Passport, to the stunning little city with all its beautiful bridges. Michelangelo’s Park has a stunning view over the city with the river winding its way through it and the Big Chapels/Cathedrals sticking out here and there. I had arrived in Florence around 6pm and gone straight to bed in my very dilapidated room. It was the cheapest one in Florence after all. I was up the next morning at 5am walking down towards the bridge with all the jewelry on it. By the time I got there is was still closed, so I walked up Michelangelo’s Park without really knowing where I was going. I was the bronze statue of David up there and the other one outside the art gallery but was only fortunate enough to see the feet of the real one before I was encouraged to leave the museum because it was closed on that day. My pleas to the woman at the door of how this was going to be my last trip to Florence possibly ever fell on deaf ears, she possibly didn't understand a word I was saying. So by lunchtime I was back on the train.
I stopped over in Pisa, and even though I only spent around 3 hours there, it was a very nice little city. My feet by this stage had started to blister so I kind a limped my way down the little streets of Pisa towards the tower.I never really wondered about the physics of how the building was leaning over. I was always more amazed by the fact that the masonry could hold the weight of the tower at that angle. So I was rather surprised to discover that actually the entire foundation of the tower is leaning.
I finally stopped at Rome. And saying my feet where blistered no longer fully explained the situation. Every step was an effort. I had a blister on almost all of my toes, to top it off I was tiered and gatvol.So the first day I decided that the red buss tour was perfect. Seeing as I only had to sit, but I did get off at the Colosseum. Was not as interesting as I hoped, and the size of it is nothing like they had it in gladiator. But it was impressive non the less, if only for its reputation and age.
St Peters Square was stunning, especially at night with its fountains. It was raining at times when I was there and the reflection off the wet stone floor combined with the lights of the fountains made for a beautiful sight.
I was rather unimpressed with Michelangelo’s Chapel. Especially after they had me walking though a maze of small museum and rooms some much more interesting than others. I finally emerged into a room. And after a few moments figured out this room was in fact Michelangelo’s Chapel. I also did not know that the two touching hands where life sized. I always thought it was a big thing. It was nonetheless very well done I have to say. Looks more like sculptures on the roof than only a painting.
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724 km (450 miles) traveled
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