Tag Archives: Munich

BAVARIA. Get Lost!


Schloss Neuschwanstein - Bavarian Alps, Germany - May 2011

In Texas, we have something called “Texas Pride”. Now, I’m not saying that Mozambique, Estonia, Arkansas, Hungary, or The Philippines don’t have pride. I’m merely saying that no where else in the world will you find “Texas Pride”. Or so I thought. To steal a line from ESPN’s (Coach) Lee Corso… “NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!”.

The charming and unspoiled town of Fussen, Bavaria - Germany - May 2011

So, what IS “Texas Pride”? In my opinion, it’s when you’re in Queenstown, New Zealand; Barcelona, Spain; London, England; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Guanacaste, Costa Rica; or more recently, Lake Bled, Slovenia, and somebody asks you… “Where are you from?” and you simply smile and say “TEXAS”. I’ve heard the same question asked to others, and I’ve heard “Switzerland”, or “Sao Paulo, Brazil”. But most commonly, you’ll hear “we’re from the US”. Then they might mention their city and state (i.e. Little Rock, Arkansas).

Munchen - Hoffbrau Haus - May 2011

You’re probably scratching your head wondering “what’s the difference?” and “why does he keep mentioning Arkansas?“. I’ll tell you. My Alma Mater – Texas A&M is playing Arkansas this weekend in Dallas, Texas. I’ve been distracted by college football all week! Oh, and so the difference is… Texans are Texans first. Americans second. It’s not arrogance. It’s just “Texas Pride”. Sorry. The Bavarians proved to me that they have that same bloodline of pride. Bavarians first. Germans second. And after spending some time in Bavaria… I understand.

Traditional Bavarian Beer Garden - Munich's Viktualienmarkt - Germany 2011
Munchen, Germany - They don't know Tex Mex food; But... The Bavarians KNOW beer!

Small confession. It took my wife (Anna) and I over 10 hours to get from Munich, Germany to Salzburg, Austria. If you live in Texas… that’s about the same distance from Austin to San Antonio. In other words… well under 100 miles.  115km to be exact. If you look at a map of Germany, it’s quite easy to see why Munich is considered The Gateway to Bavaria; so, as bad ass as it is to travel mach 5 with your hair on fire at 200km/h on the Autobahn… we wanted to take “the road less traveled” and visit Schloss Neuschwanstein – The Walt Disney looking castle. It’s common sense that if you want to find a castle on a mountain, you have to drive to the mountains. Our first stop… The Bavarian Alps.

The picturesque town center of Fussen, Bavaria - Germany

Now before I get too far into my wordy story, I want to share some insight about our general attitude when we travel. As a rule of thumb, we only truly care about TWO things:

1. Enjoying and appreciating our destination.

2. Knowing where we’re sleeping each night.

Other than that… NOTHING is set in stone when we travel.

Ratskellar - Munich, Germany - May 2011

Looking like a couple of Cheshire Cats, we grinned from ear to ear in anticipation of our visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein. Two Texans in Munich, Germany, driving a Swedish Volvo V60 D5 with a British navigation system we called “Margaret”. I quite fancied her; however, I’ve been fooled by a pretty voice before. Let’s not bother with that story. Anyway, moving on. We made the decision to stop at the 700 year old Bavarian town of Füssen. What I’ve discovered about travel is… The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected. Situated at the southern end of the Romantic Road, Füssen is an absolutely charming and well preserved Medieval town. It was quite easy to see why it is considered the romantic soul of Bavaria.

Fussen - "The Romantic Soul of Bavaria"

Arriving early that morning, we leisurely strolled along the town center’s uncrowded pedestrian streets and narrow lanes. One charming vision of art and beautiful architecture after another. From the base of the town center, we embarked on what I can honestly say, without hesitation was the BEST cafe mocha I have ever had in my life. Served at a small cafe in Füssen Bavaria by an Italian man. Could have just been the atmosphere. Or perhaps it was his meticulous preparation and care he put into making each of us a glorious cup of coffee. Sure, he was Italian; but, he showed us Bavarian Pride! I think one of the things I most admire about practically ALL Bavarian cities, towns and villages (correct me if I’m wrong), is the architectural and religious presence of a church. Religious or not, it is hard to deny the beauty and historical value this presence serves in Bavarian society. I, myself made it a point to say a prayer for friends, families, and those who came before me to the Basilica, as part of my appreciation for my destination. As if you couldn’t already tell… I’m a fan of Füssen.

"Fresh Bread" - Fussen, Bavaria - May 2011

After a slow and pleasant walk back to the car, I programmed Margaret for our key tourist destination… Falkenstein Castle. Pulling out of Fussen and making our way around a few roundabouts, something felt a bit off. Or as my Cousin Roger from England would say… “well dodgy!”. Nevertheless, I’d like to believe that Margaret was smarter than I am; however, when she had me pull off the main road up a mountain path that looked like somebody’s driveway, we decided it was best to pull over and see where the heck she was taking us.

The Bavarian Alps - Germany - May 2011

I vaguely recall Anna asking me to check the map again. Yeah, “Falkenstein Castle”. It was showing the destination was only a couple kilometers away. Anna being the smart person she is, quickly identified that you can see Neuschwanstein Castle from miles away. Like a fool… I had typed in FALKENSTEIN CASTLE, located in the Texas Hill Country – built by Texas businessman, Terry Young and his wife, Kim. The irony of it all… there really IS a Falkenstein Castle in Bavaria. The highest castle ruin of Germany.

LOST in Bavaria - somewhere between Fussen and Schloss Neuchenwanstein

WE WERE LOST! Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit here. You’re never truly lost if you have a physical map and a car with a navigation system. Overall, probably the best mistake we made during our vacation, because we found our way through a portion of Bavaria that we may never have seen. We discovered pristine alpine lakes and views, and in all reality, we weren’t that far away from Neuschwanstein Castle after all. Once again… The greatest surprises in life are the adventures never expected.

Anna - Lost in The Bavarian Alps, Germany - May 2011

Walking up to Neuschwanstein Castle has got to be one of the most awe inspiring feats of architecture I have ever seen in my life. Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is truly impressive. So is St. Mark’s in Venice, Italy; however, Schloss Neuschwanstein poised amongst the Bavarian Alps was absolutely incredible. It was obvious that King Ludwig II was clearly off his rocker when he had this place constructed. I’ve got some more architectural wonders to check out during my lifetime that I’m sure will surpass this experience – The Vatican, Taj Majal, and Taktsang Palphug Monastery (“Tiger’s Nest”) in Bhutan; but, for now… Neuschwanstein was fantastic!

The hike up to Neuschwanstein Castle - May 2011
Schloss Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle - Germany

I don’t recall how many hours we spent at Neuschwanstein. The day was getting long, so we called our residence for the evening at Hotel & Villa Auersperg in Salzburg, to inform them… we’d be a little bit late. If you’re ever visiting Salzburg, I highly recommend Hotel & Villa Auersperg. Warm, friendly, and attentive staff. CLEAN rooms. Sure, air conditioning is absent; but, it’s Europe. I live in Texas. No Austrian heat can phase me. Plus, even in May, the nights were cool with an awesome breeze, so we slept with the windows open. Care to learn more about my thoughts on Austria, you can check out one of my previous blogs: Austria! Well, then… G’day mate!

Austria Lake District - Mondsee on the way to St. Gilgen, Austria - May 2011

Although time was irrelevant, we started feeling a bit like the cast of Gilligan’s Island. Just a bit off the map. A few jaunts through some beautiful winding Bavarian roads along the Deutsche Alpenstraße and we found ourselves in Bad Tölz – another unspoiled village that drew us with its amazing charm.

Bad Tolz, Bavaria - May 2011
The unspoiled charm of Bad Tolz
Anna - "window shopping" in Bad Tolz, Bavaria - Germany 2011

I’m not Bavarian. I don’t live in Germany. But, in my opinion, and from my short stay in Bavaria… I would define “Bavarian Pride” as “An unbelievable preservation of culture, history, architecture, cuisine, sociability and hospitality within a magically picturesque region of Germany”. Bavarians first. Germans second. In summary, and my recommendation if you should find yourself in Bavaria… Take your time. Get lost!

The charming town of Fussen, Bavaria - May 2011

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Sometimes… a picture says 1,000 words


The first time I saw Shamu… I was 4o years old. The first time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. Every week since then, he asks us when we can go back to SeaWorld San Antonio again and again… and again. We’ve been back probably 4-5 times over the past 18mos. The only other question that trumps Shamu in frequency asked is “Daddy… Can we go to the beach?”. “Soon Cameron… Soon”. That’s my cliche answer. My wife often gives me that look that silently… but oh, so blatantly says “you’ve gotta do better than that!”. Hey, I was able to fool him a few times by telling him Lake Travis and Lake Austin Spa Resort were the ocean; but, he’s watched Finding Nemo and one too many episodes of Hawaii 5-0 to know that his father is a liar.

Happy July 4th - 100+yr old USA Flag - Woodstock, VT

Living in Texas, we have the luxury of not being a land-locked state, so we actually have a coastline. The challenge with Texas is that everything is BIGGER in Texas. Sounds like a cheesy t-shirt some 38DD Texas gal or a 6ft 9 350lb offensive lineman everybody calls “Tiny” would sport during Spring Break on Panama City Beach, Florida; but, I’m not kidding. Texas is BIG! Story time… I had a friend from Greensboro, North Carolina who drove 9hrs across 4 states to go to school at Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana). He was shocked when I told him I used to drive 11.5hrs from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas to Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. In the same state! Yeah, I only went home once or twice per year, because it was too bloody far! Speed limit was 55mph back then. Now I’m having flashbacks of my driving experience on Germany’s Autobahn. 180km/h. That’s no punk. We could learn a thing or two from the Germans about highway efficiency. But, that’s a whole other topic. Lucky for me, my parents moved to Austin, Texas back in 1991 during my Junior year in college – thus the blog name – Austin GlobeTrekker.

Mustang Island, TX - July 4th Weekend 2011

So… now that the anticipation has been built, the question came from Cameron once again… “Daddy, can we go the beach?”. The answer he had been waiting for… “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach!”. It’s kind of like my frequent visits to Starbuck’s. It’s not that I favor the flavor of a Starbuck’s coffee; but, more out of routine and convenience that I’ve become a regular. My drink? Tall raspberry-hazelnut mocha – no whip. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even say anything. They just make it. I just pay for it. One day, I walked in and said “grande black coffee of the day please”. They laughed at me “ha ha ha! yeah right. We’ll have your drink ready in a minute”. But back to Cameron. When it finally registered in his fuzzy little head that I said “YES! Cameron… we CAN go to the beach“, it was as if the angels came down from the heavens, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra started playing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Ha-lay-eee-loooooo-yah!!! For the rest of the week, he kept callin’ me Moses. A bit much if you ask me; but, I entertained the idea and responded each time politely with a “YES my son?”… in a deep Moses type biblical voice. You know… so he wouldn’t feel awkward. The staff, long grey beard and gold robe may have been a bit overboard on my end; but, I felt it was my responsibility to fit the part.

"The Bird Man" - Mustang Island, Texas

July 4th Weekend arrived, and the family loaded up in the car for our 4.5hr Texas road trip to Corpus Christi on the South Central Coastline of Texas. As we hit Gonzales, Refugio and Cuero, I kept reminding myself that I recently drove 4hrs from Lake Bled, Slovenia through Austria and Bavaria up to Munich, Germany. Similar… but different. VERY different. All eyes were closed when we reached Corpus; but, the excitement began when we pulled into our hotel at Holiday Inn Express – Corpus Christi. Really nice place for a family stay in Corpus. Clean. Friendly. Close proximity to restaurants, USS Lexington aircraft carrier, the Texas State Aquarium, and not too far from North Padre Island – Port Aransas – Rockport, Texas and the surrounding coastline. We made our way around Corpus for the 1st day; however, it was the 2nd day at Mustang Island State Park, Texas that told the story of the entire July 4th Weekend.

Sometimes... a picture says 1,000 words - Cameron at Mustang Island, TX - July 4th Weekend, 2011

Remember… I was 40 years old, the 1st time I saw Shamu. The 1st time my 3.5yr old saw Shamu… he was 2. At that point in time, I had never been so happy in my life for somebody other than myself. That was until July 3rd, 2011 when my boys – Cameron (3.5yrs) and Jordan (19mos) saw the ocean for the FIRST time in their lives. The entire experience can be summed up like one of those Mastercard commercials –

  • July 4th Weekend – Family Road Trip from Austin to Corpus Christi, Texas… 225 miles
  • 20gal tank full of premium unleaded gasoline… $75.00
  • Seeing the ocean through the eyes of your kids for the very first time… PRICELESS!

Sometimes… a picture says 1,000 words. For everything else… sure, there’s probably Mastercard.

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AUSTIN: Hometown Cravings!


Texas State Capitol Building – Austin, Texas USA – “Don’t Mess With Texas!”

The name of my TRAVEL blog is Austin GlobeTrekker; yet, all I’ve blogged about so far in my one month of existence is the “GlobeTrekker” portion. Time to get LOCAL and talk about AUSTIN! This might very well be one of the most conceited and arrogant statements I’ve made in the past 24-36hrs; however, I must say… I live in a BAD ASS city! Austin, Texas might very well be one of the coolest places to call your home. And I rightfully call Austin my hometown, because even though I was born in Leicester, England, I’ve lived in Austin for over 30% of my life; Texas for over 70%. As much as I love to travel… Texas IS home. Don’t worry… I’m still going to ramble on about other countries too.

Texas State Capitol - Austin, Texas USA

I recently met some folks from Canada during a training session in Round Rock, Texas for my “real” job that I actually get paid to do. You’ll rarely hear me talk about “work” on this blog, because… we’re here to share stories and experiences about TRAVEL. Things I like to do when I’m NOT working. Sure, I’ve been to British Columbia (Vancouver, Whistler) and Alberta (Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) and met hundreds of Canadians (ok, like 10); But, it’s not so often that you meet them right here in your hometown and hear them say “I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit Austin!”.  That TEXAS PRIDE kicks in, and an uncontrollable Southern grin crosses your face, and all you can think to say is “WELCOME TO TEXAS!”.

The Lone Star Flag
The Lone Star Flag - Welcome to Texas!

Like most tourists (including myself), you do your research and have your rough itinerary of things you want to see in the city your visiting. About halfway through our conversation about the downtown Austin live music scene, the bats under the Congress Bridge, partying at the bars on 6th Street, eating real Texas BBQ (his words, not mine) and indulging in some authentic Mexican food (her words, not mine), I drifted off into a coma and started talking to myself about the things that I like to do in Austin. I started to tell them that if they REALLY want to see some live music… come back in September (16-18) for ACL – Austin City Limits Festival 2011 at Zilker Park. Back in 2009, I had the pleasure of watching one of my legendary favorites – Pearl Jam put on a spectacular show. This year promises to be incredible too. Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, and so on and so on. Skipped it last year… but, I digress.

Austin City Limits Festival 2009 - Pearl Jam on the Livestrong Stage

Unfortunately for them, they were staying at The Marriott – La Frontera, in Round Rock, Texas. I had to gingerly explain that this is NOT Austin. Saying you’re “staying in Austin” when you’re really in Round Rock, is kinda like the time one of my managers told us we were “staying in Manhattan, New York” when our hotel was really in Secaucus, New Jersey. True story. Similar… but different. It’s close enough that you can get there. But don’t fool yourself thinking it’s a 10min walk. More like an expensive cab ride. In honor of my new Canadian colleagues, I’ve added a photo of one of my favorite hotels in the world – The Fairmont Banff Springs HotelAlberta, Canada. Once again – Similar… but different to Round Rock, Texas. I’m just sayin’.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - Alberta, Canada - Canadian Rockies

Naturally, it wasn’t long before I realized… our “Austin Agendas” are just a tad different. In a traveler’s defense… It’s hard to know a place in 2 days. God bless ’em for tryin’ though. For example… The best bars in Austin (in my opinion mind you) are DIVE BARS. I’m embarrassed on the borderline of sheer pride that MOST of the Dive Bars in (and around) Austin, Texas know me and my group of idiot friends we like to call “The Dive Bar Crew”. For the past 10-12yrs, we’ve frequented some spectacular joints like Ginny’s Little Longhorn, Lustre Pearl Bar, Poodle Dog Lounge, Buddy’s, La-La’s, C-Hunt’s, G&S Lounge, Dry Bean Saloon, Horseshoe Lounge, The Hideout, Deep Eddy Cabaret, Shoal Creek Saloon, The Water Tank, Dog & Duck, Posse East, Nasty’s, Crown & Anchor, Shannanigan’s, Draught House, Canary Hut, The PLT (Parmer Lane Tavern) Carousel Lounge, and my favorite dive bar in Austin, Texas… Donn’s Depot – just to name a few! Oh, and if you’ve got the time… and the courage… take a short trip just outside of Austin to an old biker bar in the Texas Hill Country called The Devil’s Backbone . CLASSIC!

"The Dive Bar Crew" at The Devil's Backbone - Texas USA

I then started to get thirsty. Then I just got flat out hungry after drinking all that cheap ice cold beer (in my mind), and could NOT get BOMB TACOS out of my mind! It was driving me crazy! So, I mentioned Lustre Pearl Bar. It’s a really cool laid back Texas style beer garden at 97 Rainey Street over by the Austin Convention Center. BOMB TACOS is a camper. No lying. It’s not a building establishment. It pulls up to the side of the beer garden in the back of Lustre Pearl Bar, and serves a Bad Ass Burrito. LITERALLY. It’s called the “Bad Ass Burrito”. Check the sign and menu. All Tacos – $3. All Burritos – $6. All Quesadillas – $6. And it’s fresh-cooked, TexMex heavenly cuisine when accompanied by an ice-cold cerveza! I recently got my Bomb Taco fix on my birthday party weekend (May 7th) before heading to Europe (May 9th) – Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Sometimes… you’ve just gotta have it!

BOMB TACOS - Lustre Pearl Bar - Austin, Texas - "Home of the Bad Ass Burrito!"

Which leads me to another quick story (not really). My friend Sal lives in Munich, Germany. LOVES it there, and I can clearly see why. FANTASTIC city, culture, people, food, beer and overall scene. BUT… Sal told me how he was craving Mexican food like a banshee! Not really sure how a banshee craves food; however, dude was clearly desperate enough to get into an altercation with a Bavarian over the definition of Mexican food. Sal ordered a quesadilla. Dude gave him a burrito. Similar… but different. Sal’s response – “Hey man! I’m FROM Texas… I know Mexican food!”. So I said, “Sorry you didn’t get your Mexican fix! I wish I could package some TexMex and send it over for you.” His response… “Oh, I ate the burrito! And it was damn good too!”. Hmmm… me thinks NOT! He’s been away from Texas too long. They don’t know TexMex food; But… The Bavarians KNOW beer! PROST!

Bavarian Beer Garden - Munich, Germany - May 2011 - PROST!

So, I’m still stuck in this freaky coma of complexity, dreaming about my local palette, and it leads me to ice cream. While we were recently in Venice, Italy, I think I may have had the BEST mint chocolate chip ice cream in the world! Seriously. No exaggeration! OK… maybe a 3.742% exaggeration. Sometimes, food is just about location. location. location. Ice cream in The Rialto Market on a warm sunny May day in Venice, Italy… that’s almost perfection for location. It was sooooo good, that after completing the generously portioned scoop… I wanted to go back and get another one. If you’ve been to Venice before – good luck getting back to where you were in The Rialto if you never knew where the hell you were in the first place.

"The Rialto" - Venezia, Italia! - BEST mint chocolate chip ice cream in the world!

But, back to local. As great as that ice cream was in Venice… there is almost nothing like a true frozen dessert experience at Amy’s Ice Cream here in Austin, Texas. These artisans are like Wizards of Dessert. I remember a few years back when my cousins Roger, Amanda, Polly and Ella came over from England. Music blaring, “Keep Austin Weird” signs around the place, college students on their laptops (pretending to study), and an ice cream server who looked like his beard should have had a hair net on it for health code reasons. BUT, that’s Austin my friends! After getting all kinds of candy bars and fruit crushed up in her ice cream, my cousin Polly was shocked, yet excited like a cast member of GLEE, when they threw her ice cream over the counter for her to catch in a bowl. Like I said… it’s a true frozen dessert experience.

Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - "A True Frozen Dessert Experience!"
Amy's Ice Cream - Austin, Texas - Cousin Polly catching ice cream from "The Wizards of Dessert"

By now, I’m starting to come out of the coma, and I realize that the Canadians are still talking. Probably something about hockey and asking “why is it so bloody hot down here in Texas!” 103F today. Well, I’ve been drinking beers at dive bars, eating bad ass burritos at Bomb Tacos, and eating Amy’s Ice Cream. It’s like I was in The Matrix. Plugged in… but, more like a robot of “yeah”, “sure!”, “oh definitely”, “you don’t say?”, “uh huh”, “you go girl!”. I’m just ready to go to bed by this point; but in “coma land”, it’s late night 2am in Austin, Texas, so I started thinking about blueberry pancakes at Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Blvd. This place is so good! And it’s a true local Austin diner. Like they say… Everybody Knows – Everybody Goes! I had a ridiculously fantastic strawberry syrup with ice cream pancake at The Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands a few years ago; but, it still wasn’t the same nostalgic experience as a late night closer, or morning hangover remedy at Magnolia Cafe. Ironically, less than half a mile down the road from my favorite dive bar – Donn’s Depot, and across the street from yet another one of my favorites – Deep Eddy Cabaret.

Magnolia Cafe - Austin, TX - late night with my friends Robyn & Jaime

As I’m now fat, full and drunk… I join reality once again, only to hear the Canadians closing comments: “THANK YOU! So I guess we’ll see you tomorrow night!”. As of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I signed myself up for (or THEM for that matter). I guess we’ll find out tomorrow now, won’t we! If they truly want to hit 6th Street… I’ll take them to WEST 6th Street. Who knows… maybe we can grab a slice of good ol’ late night pizza from Roppolo’s Pizzeria!

Late Night Pizza from Roppolo's Pizzeria - W. 6th St - Austin, TX - my friends Cooksey and Maui Meg

OK… I’m done rambling. Stay Tuned for more adventures of Austin GlobeTrekker. Until then… Join the Conversation!

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