Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Bier Steins, Bicycles and Austria

After a great kick start to our tour, we left The Netherlands and set course for Deutschland.

I closed my eyes for a snooze, opening them to the sight of the post card scene of the Rhein Valley's Black Forest, Germany.

We carved down the hills to the riverside and into the the little town of St. Goar, arriving at our hotel. We checked in to a tasty german supper, and used our free afternoon for a relaxing walk along the Rhein river, taking in the sights of medieval castles and villages. We retired to bed early for an early start the next morning.

After breakfast we headed straight to a Bier Stein crash course on the making of and history of the sturdy German beer glasses. Amongst their collection are limited edition Steins such as their Berlin Steins, which each have a piece of the actual Berlin Wall when it was destroyed, uniting East and West Germany. The Steins are so much more than containers to the Germans, not to mention the excellent craftsmanship and painting on them, which caught my eye, forcing me to buy my own little Stein as a reminder of this little bit of German history.

Across the road was a Black Forest Cuckoo clock shop, where more stunning craftsmanship in the shape of these wooden clocks. The fine details and artwork got the better of Rox and she now has her own piece of the Black Forest. We then packed up and headed to Munich.

After a long drive, we arrived in the amazing city and hopped straight onto bicycles for a riding tour - my highlight of the tour so far!

All 50 of us made our way through the streets, stopping at the many historical monuments and landmarks of the history books hosted by the city, including palaces, court houses and gardens where Royalty of the 16th century went about their royalness...

We arrived at The Englischte Gartens (English Gardens) - the most perfect example of public gardens or a park you could imagine. Huge green fields, sunshine, forest and a river were the prime features.

We rode through the leafy, green forest paths to a point along the river where we decided to take a dip. This was where the braver of the group stripped down to undies (it's a nudist legal park, so we were fine) and jumped in! We were immediately accelerated to 20-25km/h in the freezing, fresh water! Fast flowing downstream, we grabbed an overhanging bridge and shimmied to the side. We ran back to the park and lined up for round two! No one was keen for a third round, so we got dressed and made our way to the Bier Garten for some supper.

The Germans are renown for their beer, meat and pretzels, so when in Germany... Do as the Germans do! We all grabbed a Stein (1 litre) of the Deutsche brew, and an oversized meal to go with it, mine being a massive Eisbein (Pork Knuckle), and Rox a pretzel bigger than her plate!

A wobbly gaggle of tourists hopped back on the bicycles and we headed back out the park. On our way, we stopped at a section of the river where a wave forms as it follows the contour of the riverbed, making a natural wavehouse! The surfers lined the banks, taking turns jumping in to surf the wave - quite a sight to see in a park in the middle of a city!

After a (rather squiggly) ride back, we walked into town to see the famous Bier Hause (Beer Halls), including the Haus that Hitler burst into when an opposition party were meeting, and fired a shot from his gun through the roof to silence them. The bullet hole is still there of course!

We had a night on the town planned for the evening, so we freshened up at the hotel and made our way to the high-end German night club, Pacha. We kick started a great night out, making memories and stories with our new mates.

The next morning, our very quiet bus took us to the post card country of Austria, but that's a whole new blog!

Cheers for now!

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