Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 11 - Heading Home

Day started with 6:30am alarm (which is 11:30pm Kansas time). We both slept really well last night, but woke up not feeling so hot. Sore throats and head congestion. Bleh.

I hopped in the shower first, then Roman and Corinna both got up at 7. Roman to go get gas, and Corinna to get is breakfast! They were the best hosts!

We quickly ate, and then finished packing everything up. I thought I did a pretty good job of organizing and packing everything last night, but apparently not. I could not, for the life of me, get my suitcase to zip this morning. I tried to take some stuff out and shuffle it to Matt's bag, but then his wouldn't shut. I was kind of freaking out for a minute. I literally had to wrestle my suitcase, haha. I mean I had to jump on top of it multiple times and push and pull for all I was worth. There is a lovely picture of the ordeal, and I did eventually get it shut!

We had said goodbye to Corinna and were out the door by 7:35, just about on time. Roman drove us to the airport instead of making us take the train. He said it would take at least 30 minutes to get there, but he was flying down the highway! We were close to 200kph again! It was a pretty quiet ride (none of us were fully awake yet) and we made it to the Munich airport in record time - more like 20 minutes - and had to say goodbye to Roman.  He really is so great. :)

Found our Delta/Air France check in desk, and waited in the long line with everyone else. There was a big group of Americans on a tour together in front of us, and they all seemed so confused with what was going on, ha. Decided to just check our bags through. Tired of dealing with them. We knew it was a sold out and completely full flight, but when we got up to the desk, we asked the lady if she had ANY seats together. She said no, and that I didn't buy them together. Which is not true. I bought both our tickets together! I was asking her to look for one seat with an aisle (we both had middle seats) so we could at least try and ask someone to switch on the plane, when the lady directing the lines - who must of been a supervisor - came up and started speaking in German to our lady. After a minute of that, our lady said, "Okay, you have luck!" Ha, I have no idea how any of that worked out - I really don't - but that lady must of heard us talking and somehow pulled some strings to get us two seats together!! YES!

Made it through security in a breeze (another stamp in the passport!) and found a little Munich beer mug at a souvenir store for my Christmas ornament. Still had time to kill, so we ordered FOUR croissants from a little bakery and sat down for some more breakfast. All the fresh baked goods are so much better over here than bake home!

Boarded the plane shortly after that.  Our seats were almost in the last row, but I was just glad we got to sit together. After I popped some Benadryl, I slept for a few hours I think. I watched a movie, 5 Year Engagement, and it really wasn't very good. Tried to sleep a little more after that, but there were these two guys across the aisle from us who were laughing SO loud at some comedian they were watching. It was ridiculously annoying, and I really wanted to say something to them. It wasn't quiet chuckling, it was like loud belly laughing, keeping everyone else around them awake. Rude. And on top of that, there was some guy directly behind them that had to of had some sort of OCD. He opened and shut his window every 15 to 20 minutes, and in the dark airplane, it was blinding light! But apart from those clowns, it actually wasn't a bad flight. Better than the way over anyways. Since I couldn't sleep through that, I watched The Lucky One to kill a couple more hours...

Landed in Atlanta around 2. Immigration was easy, as was customs. We were a little worried about the cheese we were bringing back from Switzerland. Apparently that's illegal? I really didn't know that until Roman told us, but there was no way I was throwing that out. I just made Matt carry it in his backpack, haha! No issues though. Can't wait to try it sometime this week!

Three hours to wait in Atlanta. We found an earlier flight to KC and tried to get on it, but it was full. Ordered a smoothie and some ice cream, walked the entire B terminal, watched some football, and messed around on the Internet. Anything to kill some time...

We realized, not too long before we were supposed to depart, that our seats weren't together on that flight either. We knew that when we checked in in Munich, we just forgot to do anything about it when we got to Atlanta. So I went up to the desk to ask, but the guy said I was a full flight. He wrote down our seat numbers (both middle seats again), though, and said he would see what he could do. We didn't have much hope as we sat around for the last bit of waiting. When I handed him my boarding pass to scan, I said, "Any luck??" And sure enough. He handed me back a little slip of paper with a new seat assignment! Now that's more like my kind of good luck I usually have when traveling! I was in the aisle in the row in front of Matt. So when we got on, I just asked the guy sitting next to him if he would switch me and move up one row. Of course he didn't mind, so it was a successful day for getting to sit together on flights after all!

We both kind of wanted (or needed) to stay awake on that flight, so as to not mess up our sleep schedule too much, but I think I was out before the plane even took off. And I slept almost the entire 2 hour flight to KC. Oops. Sure hope we can sleep tonight, or work tomorrow is going to be awful!

Took forever to get our bags at the airport, but my sweet momma was right outside waiting on us! Neither of us are feeling too hot still, but we made it home safe and had a great trip! Maybe my favorite one yet! :)

(SO mad I forgot to get a picture of us when we got back! :( )

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 10 - Oktoberfest

We set an alarm again for this morning. Not too early, only 8:30. I just don't want to sleep in too much with so much to do in not much time! Plus I thought I heard Roman and Corinna, so I hopped up. But...must of been the people above us because they were still asleep!

We felt much better this morning (slept pretty well), but still had sore throats and nasal stuff. So we chugged more fizzy things and took another multi vitamin. We had to be feeling top notch today to take on the 7 million people in Munich for Oktoberfest!

It was another overcast day, but not too chilly. We showered before Roman and Corinna got up, since there is only one bathroom. I literally held my breathe before I plugged in my hair dryer. Really didn't want to blow anything! Surprisingly, it worked. But only for a couple minutes. I think it overheats or something. I finished up with Corinna's and all was good.

Roman got up while we were finishing getting ready, and went to the bakery for some fresh croissants and bread. Then he made scrambled eggs and bacon, got out juice and fresh jam and yogurt...oh it was just delicious! Really hit the spot and we were feeling great.

Corinna slept in (she wasn't feeling well), so Roman took us down to the little shop by his house to look for the traditional German Oktoberfest outfits: dirndl (for me) and lederhosen (for Matt). They were much more expensive, but much higher quality than the ones down by the airport. They were really nice!

Roman talked to a lady working there about what size I was, and then she pointed to the rack for me.  I had a hard time deciding what ones to take with me to the dressing room - they all looked so fun!

Meanwhile, Roman took Matt downstairs to the guys stuff and left me to fend for myself, haha. I found three or four that I really liked, and waited in line for a dressing room. The store was packed! I couldn't believe it how many people were in there on a Saturday morning - already half way through Oktoberfest.

While I was trying on my dress (I ended up buying the first one I tried on, even though it was super tight), Roman negotiated a really good deal for Matt. For 200 Euros, he got leather shoes, long socks, leather lederhosen, and a shirt! For 170 euros, I got a dress, shirt, and necklace. We got matching blue ones, and they are awesome!! Can't wait to wear them for Halloween! (Just need Christa to do some braided up-do with my hair like everyone has over here...)

As soon as we got home, we put them on and took some pictures. We just couldn't stop laughing. They're so hilarious! (I wanted to get a short one, but went with the traditional longer one.)

Corinna still wasn't feeling well, so she stayed home and planned on meeting us out later for Oktoberfest. We set out to see the city of our Oktoberfest outfits! We walked down to the train station and headed for central station. We actually bought a group pass train ticket for the day, since Roman was with us. I better not have to pay to pee today since I paid for a train ticket! ;)

Waiting on the train...
It was about 15 minutes in to town, and lots of other people on the train were dressed up, too. I think our outfits were the best. ;)

When we got off the train, it was nuts. SO many people. And we weren't even at Oktoberfest. We were just in downtown Munich. We walked around and saw some churches, a park, an opera house...just lots of giant old gorgeous buildings. One even had a Glockenspiel!

We tried to get in to The Hofbrauhaus, which is one of the most famous beer halls, but it was insane. The lines were so big you could hardly even get close to the building. Matt and Roman had both been in there before anyways, so we didn't try it. It was just too much.  (I wish I would of gotten a picture of the crowd trying to get in to it though!)

One of Matt's friends is a big fan of one of Germany's soccer teams, so we stopped in a souvenir shop to look at jerseys. They were very expensive, just like everything else during Oktoberfest. I'm sure they jack the prices up on any and every thing for these couple of weeks. I did buy a Deutschland tshirt, and Matt bought a couple tshirts for his brother and roommate. My family is going to be sorely disappointed when I get home. On top of not having room to bring anything back, I wouldn't be able to afford it anyways! (Sorry, Christa, no cool tshirts!) Oh, and Matt also bought a German hat - the old school traditional one. It completes his already amazing outfit. We look so ridiculous!

Trying on Matt's hat...and holding his beer.
We found a little shop on the side of the street with not much line, so we ducked in and ordered lunch: leberkaese. It was some sort of pork and mustard on bread. I went to a deli next door and ordered a slice of cheese for mine, and it was actually really good! The boys had beer, too, of course.

We quickly stopped for some strawberry gelato (for me) before walking around some more. It started to sprinkle, so we walked in to a little Australia pub, but it was literally too packed to move in. And it was so hot! (Roman said there were too many Brits in there anyways.) So we found a little tent outside to sit under and the boys chugged another beer. Literally chugged, because by the time it came, it was time to go meet Corinna and head to Oktoberfest. It was still sprinkling, and getting cold!

The subway was nuts!  Seriously.  NUTS.  We barely even made it on! And it got even crazier when we go off near the actual Oktoberfest. was full-on raining by that point. :( About half the people were so drunk they didn't care they were soaking wet, and the other half were just pissed off, haha.

The beyond crowded subway
So, Oktoberfest is actually just a giant drunken fair. Like rides and stuff - think a state fair times 100. But the difference is the giant beer tents they have set up around the edges. GIANT. And you have to reserve a spot like 6 months in advance to get in. Woops. We didn't know that one! And Romans only been once before. (We did look inside one and it was just a giant tent with giant tables of people squished in drinking beer out of giant mugs.)

(The view through a window in to one of the beer tents...)
 So...we sat under a little overhang and ate foot long sausages and watched the drunks. One guy standing next to us even puked right there and then just kept drinking like nothing ever happened. (Hardly any pics, which sucks, but it was raining so hard I didn't want to get my camera out!)

(our view while huddled under an overhang)

We were all so cold and so wet. We tried to wait it out, but we just gave in after about an hour. Poor choice of shoes on my part again today. Those stupid Toms flats aren't good in snow OR rain. They were just squishing with every step I took. The hat Matt bought and the three tshirts did come in handy though. He wore his hat, and each of us used a tshirt draped over our heads as an umbrella. (They were SOAKED by the time we were done with them.) It was just such a mess. I mean, I'm glad we went and I'm glad I've seen it. But Oktoberfest, or what I saw of it, is really just a giant drunk fest. And if you know me, you know that's really not my thing.

Forcing a smile in the rain before leaving Oktoberfest
We decided to leave, and maybe try and find a bar downtown to have a drink at. But by the time we even made it to the subway, we were so cold and wet and tired of dealing with the people that we decided to just go home to warm up.

Ooohhh the subway. What a mess. It was so packed we could hardly even make it off the escalator to the platform. It was solid shoulder to shoulder drunk people yelling and singing. There was security all over the place, and a guy on the intercom just yelling in German who knows what. It took two trains to even get on, and it was a mad dash of shoving to get on that one. One lady next to Roman and Corinna was eating chicken out of a bag, and she was so drunk she tried to eat the bones! And a drunk mom of two young boys (who were with her) was next to Matt and I. She was so drunk she literally couldn't even stand up. Her husband was physically holding her slunched over body up, and at one point, she tried to take her shirt off. It really was sad. Those poor boys were embarrassed.

We eventually made it to the stop for Roman and Corinna's apartment, and after being hot from the train, had to walk in the cold rain again back to their apartment (tshirts draped over heads). If we don't get sick from this, it will be a miracle.

As soon as we got back, I dried off and put on tights, socks, boots, a sweater and a scarf...just to sit in the kitchen and sip hot tea. I was so freezing!

We didn't stay at the apartment too long. We went out to get Indian food. Somehow, Roman drove by the place three times before we found a parking spot. It was hilarious. And when we got in, there was a long wait. We weren't in the mood to wait, so back to the car and off to an Italian place. Thankfully, no line there. It was a nice little place. I had tomato soup and shared a pizza with Matt. We both really enjoyed hanging out with Roman and Corinna again, just relaxing and sipping wine. It was another good night, after a rough day, haha.

Back at the house, we had to start packing up to figure out how our new purchases were going to fit in our bags! OH - I forgot - we tried to check in for our flight on-line this morning, and somehow, our seats aren't together!! NOT happy about having to sit apart for a 10 hour flight. It's a full flight, but I'm really hoping somehow we can work something out in the morning...

Anyways, it's already 10:30pm and we aren't packed up, so I'll cut this off here. Will be back home in KC tomorrow (Sunday) night!

(I leave you with a picture that always makes me sad:  when the dirty underwear bag is full and the clean underwear bag is almost empty.  Time to go home. :( )

Day 9 - Switzerland to Germany

We set an alarm for 7:45, just because we didn't want to sleep in too long. Especially with not much time left to spend here in Switzerland!

Dik came around last night and shut all the big wooden window shutters for us - from the outside of the house - so the sun wouldn't wake us. I slept great!!

I hopped in the shower right away. The bath tubs here are smaller than ours. It got a little steamy in the little bathroom, so I cracked the window.  The brisk morning Alps air was amazing. And the cow bells are so peaceful. I just love it here!

Dik ran in to the bakery to get breakfast for us, and Christa washed dishes. No dishwasher here, which she is not happy about. Their new house will definitely have one!

We all sat down around the table and had croissants and bread with fresh jam. And oj. They eat Kellogg's cereal here. Corn flakes and choco-puffs are Christa's favorites! (Apparently there is a big Kellogg's factory near here...)

We learned that Dik can do amazing animal impersonations while eating. I guess he worked on Christa's family farm for the first month or two he lived here (before he found a job) and he wanted to entertain the animals. His pig, cow, and chicken are all spot on. It's scary, haha. Christa's mom thought he was crazy, always standing around the pig pen talking to them, ha. It cracked us all up! That, and the fact that Christa is obsessed with Halloween! She has seen in on television in the US and wants to come visit for Halloween to dress up!

After breakfast, we looked up train schedules so Christa could just drop us in Burgdorf instead of all the way back to Bern. (11:38 train put us in Bern in time to catch our 12:02 from there to Zurich.) Then we loaded up all our stuff (kind of getting tired of unpacking and packing, since I have to sit on my suitcase every time to get it zipped) and left to see the new house they are building.

Nothing but blue sky again, so the drive up the hill to their land was spectacular. Christa kept telling me that this area was beautiful, too (before I came), and she was right. We stopped once to take some pictures. Big green rolling hills dotted with cows, and the Jungfrau region off in the distance...

I rode with Christa and Matt rode with Dik. We drove through a little village - the one Christa grew up in - and just up a hill that overlooks it was the beginning of their very own house being built. It was pretty cool to see. They are very excited about it, as they should be! It's going to be a big, nice house with great views of the village below. They gave us boots to wear (it was muddy) and gave us a tour of what was there so far. Guest room in the basement has already been claimed by us. We definitely will be back when it's finished -- maybe for their wedding!

Turns out the guy who owned the land was a family friend of Christa's. He bought all of his cows from them. So when they were looking for land to buy a couple of years ago, he let them choose the land they wanted, and gave them a deal on it. Pretty cool!

We hung around there for a little bit, and had to say our good-byes to Dik who had to go back to work. Christa took us on up to her family farm just a few minutes away, up above their building spot. What a beautiful house she grew up in! It's a huge 200 year old farm house. Her dad was sitting outside on the porch when we pulled up.

Christa gave us the tour: garden, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, sheep, and cows! So cool! The horse was so calm and we got to get right up next to him and pet him. He was HUGE!

We were heading up for Christa to show us somehow else when I realized the time. It was 11:05, and Christa had said earlier we needed to leave by 11 to make it to Burgdorf for our train. Woops!

So we quickly hopped in the car and took off. Christa said, "Oh shit, Christa! Why don't you leave earlier?!" In her little Swiss accent, it was just hilarious. She started driving like a bat out of hell on the little windy Swiss country roads, well exceeding the posted speed limits. She even told us she was going to drive crazy, ha. Matt and I both thought we were going to throw up before we made it to Burgdorf. Somehow we didn't, but neither of us felt well as we pulled in to town.

Christa kept telling us we would make it. We all had our eyes on the clock. But as we got close to the station, the whole road was under construction and comes off. "Oh, shit! This big problem! This problem for us!!" She didn't know where to go, so we kept driving. I calmly asked her how far it was to Bern, to see if we had any chance of her driving us all the way there to catch the 12:02 train. But all of a sudden, she flipped a u-turn by some bicycles and said, "That way! We run!" Ha, it was an intense couple of minutes, but we actually got there - completely out of breath - with two or three minutes to spare! We said our good-byes on the train platform, and vowed it wouldn't be another 5 years until we saw each other again. I just love that girl (and Dik). They are really good people. :)

Saying goodbye on the train platform

It only took 18 minutes to get to Bern. We jumped off, found our next train to Zurich, and hopped right back on. We only had a few minutes. That train (Bern to Zurich) was about an hour. Most of that time was spent eating the bread and sausage Christa packed for us. So sweet! (As well as the last of our amazing cookies from Murren!) The train was packed and we barely found two seats together with room for our bags. In Zurich, we only had about 15 minutes to find our next train to Munich. We popped up, grabbed some water and ham/salami sandwiches for the long ride, and went back down to the platform.

We went ahead and reserved two seats on this train. First, it's a very long one, so I didn't want to be standing that long. And second, it's a popular route, especially for the last weekend of Oktoberfest, so we thought it might be packed. And packed it was. We got on somewhere in the middle, and couldn't for the life of us find car 708, which was on our ticket. Couldn't find any workers either! We walked from car to car, and I was getting beyond frustrated. And motion sick. The train was moving and bouncing back and forth as we tried to maneuver through people. Ugh! We finally found a guy who motioned that it was six cars in the opposite direction. Bleh! So off we went, me about to murder someone. Aaaand the last two cars of the train were not numbered. There were people in our seat numbers on both cars. We stopped in the very last (or first, I guess) car and just stood there trying to decide what to do. There were two girls in our seats on this one, and by the time I'd had enough and was going to go ask them to move, they were asleep and I didn't want to wake them. We were in second class, after all, and that's pretty much a free for all. We just happened to reserve seats there. So two nice American girls heard us and offered to move their bags so we could sit with them. We did for awhile, and ate our sandwiches. I got up to go to the bathroom, and these trains aren't near as nice as the ones in Switzerland. The bathroom was gross and the the whole in toilet went straight through to the train tracks below! How disgusting!

Anyways, at the next stop, the two girls got off - thank goodness - so we moved to our seats. It was going to be a long four hours (or probably three at that point) squished in with the American girls. It was a much nicer trip after that. Except the sun was beating down on us and it was nuclear! Our long sleeve shirts definitely came off. We made a few more stops, slept a little, snacked a little, and eventually got off in Munich's central station. (But not before two old people, who also had reserved seats, sat down right next to us and made us move all our stuff. We just moved seats instead so we had more room.) Oh, and when the guy came around to check our tickets, we couldn't find the ones with our seat reservations on them anyways - the ones we payed $26 to get THE DAY we left Kansas - so we just used the generic ones we had for any train. What a waste that little fiasco was.

                           Awake...eating my favorite licorice!                               Out cold.

You know what I don't get?! Why do we call it Munich?! No one we does! It's Munchen over here!

Anyways, Munich central station was CRAZY! Everyone was dressed up for Oktoberfest! I mean, EVERYone! It was hilarious to see! I have to get an outfit like that!! (Oh, and most of them were three sheets to the wind, too!  Very entertaining.) We started walking around, with really no idea where we were going, and stumbled upon a souvenir shop. Of course we couldn't leave without buying the official Oktoberfest 2012 beer mug!! I love it! Perfect souvenir for this part of the trip.

Next adventure was to find a bathroom. Matt had just warned me that he remembered it being hard to find a bathroom there, but I said no way. It's Munich central station. There have to be bathrooms all over the place.

I hate it when he's right. No bathroom. Anywhere. We finally asked, and there was a giant line, because its the only one around, AND you have to pay 1 euro to use it!! That's like $1.30!  What a crock! I really wished I had just listened and went on the train.

People dressed the line for the bathroom

We found some dirndl and lederhosen for sale right outside the train station. They weren't that outrageously priced - around 100 euros - but we decided we should ask Roman before buying anything like that. (He said it was a good price, but there was a shop near his house we should look for better quality ones.)

So we found our S4 train to Ebersberg, but it was leaving in 7 minutes and we didn't have time to wait in line and buy a ticket for it, so we just snuck down the platform and hopped on, hoping no one checked us for a ticket! Luckily, no one did. One free train in Germany! Hey, if they're going to me me pay 1 euro every time I pee, then I'm going to sneak on their trains! ;)

It was a 20-30 minute train out to Romans stop, just outside the city in a quiet little neighborhood. The train was packed the whole time, but we found some seats to squish into. As soon as we got off and walked out of the train station, Roman was right there walking in to meet us!

He walked with us back to his cute apartment, maybe 5 minutes away. It's a really nice place! Up on the second floor with views of a nice park and soccer field out back. Nice balcony with a grill, big bathroom with separate bath tubs and shower, really cool was all just so nice!

Walking up to their apartment building

Family room of their apartment (soccer field out the window)

Once we dropped our bags off in the guest room (with chocolates on top of the towels!) we sat down at the table that was already set with big soft pretzels, cheeses, spreads, and sausages. It was all delicious!

We have both developed some nice sore throats this week. Well, I actually had it first, but we both woke up feeling pretty rotten this morning (just head stuff). So we chugged down some fizzy vitamin c thing in our water AND a multi vitamin. Surely that will help...

Roman broke out the wine (I drank oj all night), even though he had said earlier he was a little under the weather and we would just take it easy tonight. Wine lead to a shot of awful Italian grappa, and then Swiss schnapps. Ha, I guess that is their version of taking it easy! ;)

It was just a great night of relaxing and telling stories. Some of the boys' college days, some from their wedding last weekend, some from our travels and theirs. (And some about us moving to Europe...someday!)

They really are great people.  Roman had us laughing all night long. He and Corinna have been together over 5 years now, and he said they waited so long to get married because he was "just checking it out for awhile." Ha! :) We talked more about our countries and government and healthcare, etc. I also got a history lesson on Germany and the Berlin Wall. It was actually really interesting! We went through pictures from their wedding, and had some good laughs. (Roman is very German, but at the same time, he's been Americanized from living in the US for 7 years!) Just a perfect night!

We are just now getting in bed at 11:30pm, and I am happy to say we did NOT blow a fuse tonight when we used our German adaptor! Hallelujah! ;)

Off to sleep now - after we shut our super cool blinds on the outside of the house via a rope on the inside! Tomorrow we will look for some German outfits and then hit Oktoberfest!! :)

You just pull on these straps on the INSIDE and the shutters come down on the OUTSIDE!