Wonderful Winter Vacation (Day 7)

January 5, 2011

Finally, a day to sit back and relax… for the most part. December 22nd was listed in the brochure as “Daylight Sailing”. Every morning since we arrived in Munich, it had been “up before the sun, find a place to have some breakfast, and start touring some sites we’d never seen.”

On this day, we could sleep in a bit, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then wander up to the lounge to find a nice seat with a view. We were armed with our cameras and binoculars and wishing we could be sitting up on the open deck above us. The sub-freezing temperature combined with the wind-chill factor put that idea out of our minds rather quickly.

One of seemingly hundreds of churches along the Danube.

We had crossed into Austria and were headed for Vienna. There would be two stops before reaching our final destination. The first was to allow people taking an optional tour of the Wachau Valley (a grape growing/wine making region) to get off, and the second was to allow them to re-board the ship at the end of their tour.

I must have been half-asleep when we docked to let the folks off the boat. I have no recollection of it and no pictures to document it. I believe at one time Lu and I discussed getting off briefly just so we could take a short walk and stretch out legs. I don’t remember doing either. And all I had to drink by that time was coffee!

Another of the many villages along the Danube.

I took one hundred sixty-one pictures between Passau and Vienna. That’s what a digital camera with extra memory cards does to people like me. I used to take lots of pictures with my 35mm camera, but considering the cost of the film and the cost of processing the negatives, I was much more selective.

Now, being a person who hates to throw away anything with the slightest value, I’m stuck with hundreds of photos that no one but me will ever see. Doesn’t that make you feel better? I’m not going to include all those photos… just most of them!

These folks know how to handle falling rocks.

As I’ve stated earlier, there are many things the Europeans do that I think should be carefully examined by us – the non-Europeans. Whenever I saw something that seemed like an interesting idea, I took a picture. I also took lots of other pictures, but I’ll try to confine what I include to the things I found unusual or interesting.

Another field covered with netting – What is grown like that?

I took this picture as we were entering the grape growing region. We’d seen similar fields on our way between Munich and Nuremberg. Surely someone can tell us what is being grown. In this case, we saw no grapevines under the netting.

Terraces for grapevines.

I included this picture because it reminded me of the terraces around Acapulco, Mexico. There they were growing corn on every available inch of land. I guess the Austrian wines are so popular that they do likewise with grapes.

I believe this was known as the Devil’s Mountain.

Someone explained that this mountain stood between people who lived outside of the village and the church. Any time someone would try to go to the church, more of the mountain would break away. You could say this was an effective way to keep people from being regular attendees. I wonder if they still sent in their tithes.

Yet another old castle.

I think the churches outnumbered the castles, but the castles usually occupied the higher ground. Could there be a metaphor in that?

The standard size and shape of a dock on the Danube.

Spitz might have been the place we dropped off the people for the optional tour. The shape of the dock was similar to the shape of many bridge abutments – the pointed end faced the current of the river and reduced the pressure on the structure.

The pick-up point?

I’m assuming this is where we picked up the optional tourists. We were permitted to go ashore and were given a good amount of time to roam about… which is precisely what we did. The bus loads of our fellow shipmates may have returned and unloaded while we were climbing the steps of an old church. If I’m not mistaken, we were doing our “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” routine to see what we could see.

I can’t forget to show this one!

As we were nearing the dock in Krems, I went up to the top deck to see how the captain could possibly bring the ship carefully up to the dock while sitting in the pilot house – in the middle of the upper deck. I had figured he was communicating via radio with his crew members who were giving him instructions.

You can see how wrong I was. Modern technology allowed him to take a wireless joy stick to the side of the ship. He didn’t need any help from his crew members. They were taking directions from him.

Narrow cobblestone streets were typical even in the larger cities.

Old stone steps led to the church on the hill.

Almost everyone who had gone ashore felt the pull of those steps. While I had quit on Lu in Nuremberg, I was determined to make it to the top of this hill. I took some pictures along the way to allow myself to catch my breath.

An ally way between a newer church and the hill.

The structure behind the church seems to have been built right into the side of the mountain.

About half way up the hill.

Two thirds?

Almost there.

Made it!

No way. I refuse to go any farther.

Fortunately, there was no way to get to the steps leading up to the top of the tower.

This is the inside of the small church on top of the hill.

The iron gate kept us from entering the church, but we couldn’t help wondering what happened to the pews. Perhaps the much larger church at the bottom of the hill now served the community and this was simply a chapel used for other purposes.

A small cluster of homes sat behind the church.

We saw there was yet another hill to climb before we could claim that we reached the top. I was more than glad to forego that claim. Besides, we didn’t want to miss the boat.

The Diamond was still there.

Lu in front of a statue in the town square.

It’s amazing how many monuments and statues can be found throughout this part of the world. The sad part is that we had no tour guide to tell us the history or meaning of many of these memorials. When we go back, I’ll have to learn how to read German so the plaques will make sense to me.

A defensive position facing the river.

I had seen slots in so many structures similar to this one, that I knew right away they were openings for the archers. The archers in the tower had freedom to move around and take careful aim, but only a Robin Hood could hope to guide an arrow through the slot to take out that marksman. Of course, I find myself wondering if any attacker ever got lucky and took out an enemy holed up in the tower.

We soon re-boarded and continued on our way to Vienna. However, the ship’s captain and crew had one more surprise for us before we reached our final destination.

Instead of the tiny sandwiches and pastries normally served in the late afternoon, we were served a Bavarian buffet. Soft pretzels, schnitzel, bratwurst, and beer were served and there was enough for everyone to have more than his or her fair share.

Lu was gracious enough to accept a glass of beer, take a sip, turn up her nose, and politely ask if I would like to finish it. (We’d gone through a similar routine when we toured the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.)

I graciously accepted and thoroughly enjoyed the two beers while savoring the Bavarian delicacies. All the time I was wondering how I would manage to eat my dinner after such a marvelous “snack”.

Somehow I managed.

We arrived in Vienna and tied up next to another ship from the Amadeus line. It wasn’t until after dinner, when we departed for our bus ride into the Vienna Christmas Market that we discovered there were two ships between us and the shore.

Austrians know how to make an incinerator look interesting.

Our bus drove us to town with one goal in mind – drop us off at the Christmas Market. Along the way, our guide made special note of the garbage incineration plant. It was more than a little bit interesting.

Otherwise, the Christmas Market was pretty much the same as the others we had seen. There was one major difference. Gate 1 Travel had given us each a coupon to redeem for a free cup of glühwein (hot mulled wine). What made it really special was that the coupon also covered the deposit on the mug.

The only mugs we kept.

In Vienna’s Christmas Market, the glühwein cost 3 Euros fifty cents and the deposit on the ceramic mug was 2 Euros fifty. So, not only did we get 7 Euros (about $9.50) worth of hot wine, we didn’t have to pay the deposit (about $6.75). Thus, we brought home two souvenirs.

We kicked around the market for an hour or so and then went back to the bus and back to the ship. Most of the next day would be spent in Vienna, and we had a lot more than touring to do.

Before I close today’s recap of events, I’d like to put in a good word for Gate 1 Travel.

This was the second trip to Europe we took through their company that is headquartered in Pennsylvania. A few years back we spent five days in Paris, then rode the train through the Chunnel and spent five more days in London. They arranged the flights, the hotels, the train, and a couple of side trips. We had a marvelous time.

On this trip, they arranged the flights and the cruise. We booked the hotel and transportation for two days in Munich and an extra day in Vienna. They did a great job of matching our plans to their packaged tour. Once we caught up with Monika, their guide, at the Munich airport, everything was in their hands until we parted company in Vienna. Monika and the crew of the MS Amadeus Diamond did a fantastic job of making us feel like honored guests. Each town included a bus or walking tour as well as free time for us to wander as we saw fit.

The one and only negative I found was with the local tour guides. While a few were excellent, too many seemed to know very little about the towns they were guiding us through.

There were too many of us for Monika to take on the tours; besides, she had her hands full trying to track down missing luggage and missing passengers – having all the London and Paris airports tied up from the snow storm really made things difficult. As for the missing luggage, the ship’s crew took it upon themselves to launder the clothes for the unfortunate passengers until they were able to purchase new clothes during our ports of call.

I have the web site of Gate 1 Travel bookmarked and I’m on their mailing list. I recently checked out future cruises hoping that our friends – who were not able to join us this time around – might be able to go with us in the near future. I was astounded by the prices. The lowest cruise price I saw was four times what we paid! Gate 1 Travel had found us an unbelievable bargain.

I’m sure they can do it again… and I wouldn’t think twice about using them again.

Wonderful Winter Vacation (Day 4)

December 31, 2010

I’m a person who likes to know as many details about a destination as possible. Therefore, I used Google Earth™ to extensively track our course once we boarded the Amadeus Diamond… I did this prior to leaving home. In so doing, I discovered that the Danube River flows nowhere near Nuremberg; but I was able to trace a body of water from Regensberg, Germany back to, and beyond, Nuremberg. It was the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal that links the Danube with the Rhine. It’s Europe’s answer to our Northwest Passage (which is yet to be found).

The locks along the canal - We started in Nuremberg and went up!

The canal was created, not so much for the cruise ships, but for the cargo vessels. It has proven to be a tremendous commercial success in allowing goods to be transported less expensively across parts of Europe.

Using Google Earth™ I took a guess at the most logical place for us to board the ship, and shortly after boarding, I asked a man in a naval uniform for details about our location. He informed me that we were in an inlet of some sort and would have to back out and turn around once we got to the main canal.

His answer caught me off-guard. I was sure we could simply start forward and continue that way. But what did I know?

I later learned that the man I was speaking with was the “Hotel” manager and had nothing to do with the navigation of the vessel. I could only wait until we actually began sailing to learn which was correct – his answer or my guess.

On December 19th we woke with no need for a wake-up call. My internal clock was still somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. We made it to breakfast with ease and ate too much. The breakfast buffet included bacon, sausage, baked beans, scrambled eggs, and triangles of minced potatoes that had been deep fried. There were also numerous choices of cold cuts, cheeses, Kippers, raw salmon, hard boiled eggs, rolls and pastries, various dry cereals, fruit, and other platters I bypassed. Each table also held a menu of items that could be cooked to order, such as omelets, pancakes, French toast, and the like. Of course, there was a wide variety of juices (including prune for the less than regular guys), tea, and coffee. The one mistake I made was imbibing in the Kippers. The taste was with me the rest of the day.

While preparing to board the buses for our tour of Nuremberg, I discovered the answer to a mystery from Munich. A day or so prior, as we were leaving the HofBrau Haus (Note the spelling of HofBrau – I had it wrong in earlier installments), there was a group of people gathered around a man speaking into a microphone. I thought it rather odd because I could hear him perfectly well – but not because of some sort of amplification system. I wondered if the man new his amplifier had died on him.

The magic sound system for walking tours.

Now, as we left the ship, we were given small audio receivers to hang around our necks. Each was numbered and we boarded buses or hooked up with tour guides with the same numbers. When the guides spoke into their microphones, we heard them through our headphones.

Our first guide took us on a bus tour of Nuremberg. I’m sure there were many points of interest, but the young lady was more inclined to chat about herself and her Christmas traditions. From time to time she’d say. “What should I tell you about now? Does anyone have any questions?” She did go into detail about the Nazi parade grounds.

Nazi Parade Grounds in Nuremberg

Another view of the Parade Grounds

We learned that Hitler began his rise to power in Munich – at the HofBrau Haus – but later moved his base to Nuremberg. Adolf Hitler would rally his troops and the local citizens by standing on the highest point of the grandstand and delivering his fiery speeches to thousands of cheering supporters. As I stated in an earlier account, his message was one of “Hope” that most Germans needed desperately to hear. His country had been broken by the Treaty of Versailles, and his actions brought the country out of depression and hyperinflation. Who wouldn’t have seen him as the savior? It wasn’t until years later that the German people discovered the true monster in whom they had placed their trust.

The building that housed the Nuremberg Trials after WW II

The above photo is the Justice Building where the Nuremberg Trials were held. A number of Nazis were tried; most were convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging. A few were acquitted. Of the ones sentenced to hang, some committed suicide; if they couldn’t face a firing squad, they did not want to die by hanging. No one knows how cyanide was smuggled into the prison.

Close-up of the statues on the Justice Building

Does anyone know what the statues along the Justice Building represent?

After visiting the various Nazi historical sites, we were taken to the Christmas Market inside the walls of the old city.

Walls of the old city - seen from a speeding bus.

I was fascinated by the many walls around certain parts of the towns we visited. It was like traveling back in time to the days of castles and knights. I’m not sure where Germany stands as far as the number of castles, but they seemed to be everywhere… as did the old walls surrounding parts of the cities. Although this was a “Christmas Market” tour, I would’ve loved to devote more time to exploring the walls, towers, moats, and castles. Obviously, we have to go back and take a slower tour of the country!

Entrance to the Nuremberg Christmas Market

This sculpture was at the entrance to the Nuremberg Christmas Market. By the time we saw it, our guide had already left us on our own and had given us a time and place to meet so we could re-board the bus and return to the ship.

Close-up of Sculpture

I’m sure there was a story behind the people adorning this structure, but our guide saw no need to explain.

Roman Catholic Church near the Christmas Market

This is the Roman Catholic Church that stood at the rear of the market. We went into the church hoping to take some pictures, but they were in the middle of Communion. We’d forgotten it was Sunday.

The nearby Lutheran Church

This is the Lutheran Church which was a few blocks away from the Christmas Market. It too had a service in progress. Had we been able to go in, it would’ve cost us each one Euro for the privilege. I guess that’s a better way to raise money than a fish fry.

It’s interesting that we’d been dropped off to wander the market and spend our Euros, but Lu and I had spent so much time at the Christmas Market in Munich that we were quickly bored and spent more time exploring the town around the market.

Lu on bridge

This is Lu standing on a bridge overlooking a stream that might have filled the moat – although our guide said the moat had always been dry. Makes one wonder why anyone would bother having a moat if it isn’t full of water. Note that had a moved my gloved finger a bit more to the right, I could have taken Lu out of that picture entirely.

Jim on bridge

Lu did a much better job of taking my picture.

Nuremberg Castle

High on a hill overlooking the town and Christmas Market stood the castle. I walked half-way up the hill with Lu and decided I’d eaten too much for breakfast to go any farther. (The snack of brat wursts I had at the Christmas Market had nothing to do with it.) Lu, being much younger than I, continued on.

More of the castle

The complex was extensive with all sorts of buildings, walls, and storage structures. At one point Lu aimed her camera back down the hill and tried to find me.

Looking down from the Royal position

I may be that person standing down there wondering what happened to my bride, or that might be a total stranger. In all honesty, I was off taking more important photos.

A relic from the past

With the advent of cell phones, this may become obsolete. Future travelers may not be able to view such relics.

All too soon our fun in Nuremberg had to end and we returned to the bus and the ship. We were scheduled to set sail just as lunch was being served.

We were hardly into the soup course when I realized we had come to a stop. I looked out the window and saw a wall. We were in a lock! And I wasn’t out on deck to witness this wonder of modern engineering. I had waited weeks to experience going through a lock for the first time, and there I was – stuck eating soup!

As I finished my soup and waited for the next course, I saw the wall going down. By the time I finished the main course, we were looking out over the wall and waiting for the gates to open. All too soon we were on our way again… and I had only seen the process from the limited view of the dining room. Poop!

After lunch, we went up to the lounge and found seats near the front of the vessel. I had no idea how long it would be before the next lock, but I wasn’t about to miss it.

By the way, the Hotel Manager was totally wrong in his prediction of our sailing. We simply pulled away from shore and headed in the direction I’d determined based on my research. I didn’t say, “I told you so”, but I didn’t bother asking him anything more about the navigation of the ship.

Approaching the second lock

It wasn’t long before my wait was over… or so I thought.

Getting closer - OH! The Excitement!

The lock was within reach, and we began to slow down. However, we also started to move to the left. I hoped the captain knew what he was doing, because the way he was going, he was going to ram the wall to the left of the gate. It was then I noticed the cargo vessel to our right.

A "parked" cargo vessel

But it was tied up and it seemed to be parked there permanently. Before long, we were tied up on the left side of the canal and we were informed that a ship was stuck in a lock a dam or two further on. Traffic was halted until they worked out the problem. They expected us to be stalled for at least two hours.

Finally moving again

Night had fallen by the time we got the go-ahead to move into the lock. I decided to go to our cabin and get my jacket. I planned to stand on the deck (in sub-freezing weather) to get some good pictures. While in the cabin, I turned on the television to see if the crew was sending us any messages on their on-board network. That’s when I discovered they had a camera mounted on the front of the ship and it did a much better job of recording our journey after dark.

The view from our cabin's TV

The picture on the TV in our cabin was much better than I could hope to take with my Kodak, but I had to get the first hand experience or being on deck.

View from my camera

I rest my case.

That night, the ship televised an old movie, “Judgment at Nuremberg”. Lu and I decided to watch a bit of it before falling to sleep.

Did I mention the ice in the canal? Well, after going up through a number of locks, we were quite a bit higher above sea level and the ice on the canal was very much thicker. Lu began fearing we might duplicate the fate of the Titanic. I kept reminding myself that the canal was no more than ten feet deep and, even if we did sink; we could go up to the lounge and be high and dry. We could then walk across the ice to solid ground.

In the meantime, we turned the volume on the TV as high as it would go and still couldn’t hear the dialogue over the sound of ice crushing against the hull of our ship. I likened it to being in a thunder storm with constant thunder.

We finally gave up and turned off the television. We soon fell asleep to the calming sound of ice being crushed and shoved aside by our relentless moving toward our first port of call. Morning would find us arriving at Regensberg. This time it would be a walking tour, but we were looking forward to walking off as many calories as we could prior to another round of delicious meals.

Wonderful Winter Vacation (Day 2)

December 29, 2010

We were up bright and early on the morning of December 17th. We had a date with Helmut Gottschling at St. Lukas Lutheran Church on the east side of town.

But, before I get to that, let me explain that our first day in Munich did not end with dinner in the Viktuallenmarkt. After a most enjoyable meal, we returned the way we had come… past the old gates of the city and through Marienplatz. Most of the pedestrian area was dedicated to the Christmas Market.

New City Hall

As we walked, we heard beautiful Christmas Music. One song would be by a children’s choir; the next played by an 0om-pah band; and then a male and female quartet. The music sounded “live” and we looked around for a stage. When we looked up at the New City Hall (which is over 100 years old), we spotted the three groups that were providing the wonderful music.

Musicians on the balconies

Returning to our hotel, we passed by a store with a window display dedicated to the “Star Wars” movies… and all the characters were built with Lego blocks.

R2-D2 in the flesh - er, Legos!

Now, back to St. Lukas. We rode the number 17 tram to Effnerplatz and got off at Mariannenplatz… not to be confused with Marienplatz. Recall that we had a three day pass and could ride any form of public transportation. Thus, we did not need to worry about figuring out the money and fares, and were left plenty of time and brain power to figure out the names of streets.

We arrived near the church an hour before our appointment and wandered around the neighborhood for a while. We stopped in a small store and quickly realized it was a health food store. I saw no meat, and most of the products were labeled “BIO”. We bought some trail mix, a couple of candy bars, and two pairs of 100% Alpaca wool socks (which don’t fit me – Lu wins on that one!) The cashier, recognizing us as American tourists, gave us a free plastic bag (they normally sell for 10 cents) and a bag of loose tea. (Lu wins again!)

St. Lukas Lutheran Church

St. Lukas Lutheran Church has a beautiful view of the Isar River.

Isar River near St. Lukas Church

Pastor Helmut Gottschling not only gave us a tour of his church, he also gave us a brief history lesson. First he explained that the area where the church was built in 1896 was a relatively new neighborhood populated by well-to-do families. The area had its own mayor and council who insisted that a very large and impressive church must be built to reflect the prosperity of the community. That goal was most certainly achieved.

He then tried to put the age of his church in perspective. As I recall, it was the oldest Lutheran church in Munich, but only the third or fourth oldest church of any kind. The Roman Catholic churches had been there longer, but one church in particular no longer existed.

It seems that when Hitler and the Nazis came into power, the leaders of the Christian churches were supposed to fall into lock-step with the National Socialist party. The Bishop who occupied the oldest church in Munich – while not going out of his way to defend the Jews or question the tactics of Hitler – was not enthusiastic enough (in the eyes of the Nazis) about the New Christian movement of the Nazis. Therefore, Hitler had his church razed and built a large boulevard through the area the church had once occupied.

Another thing Helmut told us regarded St. Lukas. When the Allies began bombing Munich in World War II, the oldest churches in the city removed all their stained glass windows and put them in crates somewhere underground to protect them. St. Lukas was barely fifty years old at the time and saw no reason to take such action. While the church did not suffer any direct hits, the concussion of bombs exploding nearby shattered every window in the building. For years, the parishioners believed that was the extent of the damage. Then, about five years ago, a large stone (weighing almost a ton) fell from the side of the church and landed in a children’s playground. Fortunately, it was at night and nobody was in the area.

It was later determined that the stone that fell, as well as many others, had been loosened by the bombing a half century earlier. It cost over 4 million Euros to inspect and repair the entire outside of the structure.

Pews - as seen from the balcony of St. Lukas

Another very interesting thing we learned was that the architect who designed St. Lukas had previously designed a Jewish Synagogue (that was later destroyed by the Nazis), and that following the war, Jews who visited St. Lukas said they almost felt at home.

Evidently, prior to the Nazis’ attempts to eradicate the Jews, the Jews in Germany were making every effort to “fit in”. They abandoned their traditional garb, shaved their beards, and spoke German rather than Yiddish. Following the war, they realized such attempts were in vain and returned to their traditional ways.

A number of important facts came out of our discussion with the Pastor. First of all, the Treaty of Versailles almost ruined Germany forever. The demands of the Allies – both monetary and territorial – put a tremendous financial burden on a nation that had virtually no way to pay down the debt. The Weimer Republic, established in 1919, tried to overcome the difficulties by simply printing more money. This led to hyperinflation and people hauling around their paper money in wheelbarrows – trying to spend it before it became totally worthless. It wasn’t long before the citizens of Germany gave up hope of ever seeing their country return to its pre-war grandeur. That hopelessness opened the door for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who offered hope for a better tomorrow.

Many Germans were more than glad to hop on the bandwagon, while others stayed back and questioned the tactics and promises.

It wasn’t long before the German people were divided into two camps, and neither trusted the other. All too soon, those who were against Hitler were afraid to voice their opposition; they’d seen what had happened to others, and they were afraid to trust their long-time friends.

When World War II ended, there were still those who fully supported Hitler and some continue to do so. In the meantime, the new government banned the swastika and all other emblems of the Nazi Regime. It is only in the last decade or so that Germany has begun to turn their shame into a resolve to never let it happen again. Dachu and other concentration camps have become museums and people openly discuss the evils that had once plagued their country.

This discussion and insight was not what we expected in our tour, and I may be editorializing about more than actually transpired, but I believe I’m accurate in my estimation of the Germany of today. Now, getting back to other things we learned.

Pastor Helmut Gottschling told us his church has over 6,000 members and they were all preparing for a concert to be held on the evening of December 18th. That is why there were risers in front of the altar.

St. Lukas altar in preparation for the Christmas Concert

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to stick around for the concert. Our schedule called for us to be in Nuremberg by then.

After thanking Helmut profusely for spending well over an hour with us, we returned to the tram stop and rode number 17 back to Karlsplatz. That returned us to the Pedestrian area in time to hear and see the Glockenspiel on the New City Hall.

The famous Glockenspiel

After examining some of the items for sale in the Christmas Market, we headed for the HaufBrau Haus – Munich’s most famous beer hall.

My bride and I at the HaufBrau Haus

Lu was especially interested in the oom-pah band.

A real German oom-pah band

I was more interested in the one-liter mugs of beer and king-sized pretzels.

Munich - My Kind of Town!

We ate lunch and made sure to savor their specialties. I had the Crisp roast knuckle of pork in natural gravy, served with a grated potato dumpling, and Lu had the Roast pork from Bavarian production with crackling in natural gravy, served with a grated potato dumpling. We had never tasted pork cooked either way and both were delicious. The dumplings were OK.

Surprisingly, neither Lu nor I took any photos of the Christmas Market booths. However, not to worry; we took pictures of Christmas Market booths in other cities. If you’ve seen one booth, you’ve seen them all!

Following lunch, we returned to the hotel for a while to warm up and set a spell. After a brief rest, we jumped on a tram headed out of the center city. We rode it to the end of the line when we were told we had to get off and catch a different tram back into the city.

What surprised me the most about that ride was that we saw far more apartment houses and condos than private homes. Perhaps that is true of every major city in the world. I just haven’t paid that much attention.

We were less than surprised when the “next” tram back into town was the same one we had just got off. I guess the conductor was just following proper protocol.

Later, in the late afternoon, we headed back to the market and grazed – I think. I’ll have to check with my bride. I don’t recall eating a meal in a restaurant.

There was one booth where they were frying potato pancakes. One man occasionally added lard to the griddle and then spooned out the batter in neat rows of eight or ten cakes along a four by two foot cooking surface. Another man would follow behind and turn four or six cakes at a time. As soon as he reached one end of the griddle, he’d return to the other end and start taking the cakes off and placing them on a grate which allowed some of the grease to drip off. The two men worked in harmony to keep the griddle constantly filled. In the meantime, a woman would place a wafer about the size of a graham cracker on a napkin and stack three cakes on it prior to adding the apple sauce. She immediately handed it to the next person in line.

I would’ve take a picture of this booth had I not been so impatient to get in line. I was lucky and was given four cakes instead of three. Lu began by just asking for a bite. She ate two of the cakes and I ate the other two. They were delicious.

By the way, for breakfast on this first, and only, full day in Munich, we found a coffee shop at the main train station that served wonderful pastries to go with our coffee and tea.

Later in the evening, we returned to the food booth at the entry of the Pedestrian zone.

Food booth by the skating rink

There we bought two bratwurst sandwiches and two bottles of water. Each sandwich had two wursts, and we had our choice of mild or spicy. Lu stuck to the mild; I had one of each. The big surprise was the deposit we were charged for the two plastic water bottles – 1 Euro apiece! We had about $2.75 tied up in empty plastic bottles. You can safely bet that we returned the empties and got our deposit back.

I should also mention that many booths in the Christmas Markets sold mulled wine and served it up in ceramic mugs. Those mugs carried a two and one-half Euro deposit. I’d say the Germans know how to get your attention when it comes to recycling. In fact, I don’t think we saw any sort of Styrofoam container during the entire trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed our “snack” as we watched ice skaters and a Zamboni on the rink behind the food stand.

By this time, a combination of a whole lot of walking and jet lag compelled us to call it a day. We took a couple more photos and returned to the hotel. The next day would have us taking the S-Bahn 8 back to the airport so we could catch the bus to the cruise ship waiting for us in Nuremberg.