The week started with Oktoberfest. That’s a pretty good start to any week.
Our good friend Anne-Meike was living in Munich, so she kindly offered to let us stay for a few nights. Ahh, the luxury (to be honest, one day, we hardly left the apartment). It was Oktoberfest so it was a key destination for us. After trawling through charity shops previously, we both had some ‘appropriate’ attire for the event. The main part of the festival is essentially a massive fun fair in a car park. But, in amongst these are huge aircraft type hangars filled with tables, servers, the odd traditional band, and wasted Germans. As people are permanently standing on tables, it is just one big German music sing-a-long (YMCA & Rick Astley, interspersed with the odd traditional folk song). Speaking zero German, it wasn’t the mingling opportunity anticipated, but a huge bucket list tick.
We’ve had a few country nemesis’ in our time, and the Neuschwanstein Castle is right up there. The first time on the Mongol Rally, the waiting time was so long that we simply couldn’t be bothered, and then during Eurhair trip, it was covered in scaffolding when we went by. This time, we booked in advance, and were determined to see it. Now, a very impressive building from the outside, but the Prince died (in slightly suspicious circumstances) before it was completed inside, so there is actually very little to see. Whilst it was heaving with tourists, being pumped through in groups of 50 in 10 minute intervals, I have to say, its not actually much to write home about (except for the fact that Disney allegedly modelled his castle on it)
Next up, was another Nemesis town. During our first trip together in 2011, our little Citroen Saxo (Mitch) broke down pretty early on, and Ansbach was the town it decided to do so. As such, we spent about 3 or 4 nights there trying to get it fixed. We felt it appropriate as we were in the area, to pop in and say hello for a cup of coffee. It brought back some fond (ish!) memories.
At the end of the week, we got our WWII properly on, and visited both Nuremburg and Dresden. Both pretty significant places on the Nazi map. Nuremburg still had the Nazi Party Rally Grounds that was partly (well, mostly) built before the war started. It was modelled on the Roman Coliseum and had a really impressive museum housed in it. It was really quite creepy as you could sense the plans Hitler had for this place, and the tens of thousands of troops & Nazi supporters that would have filled it (the whole area was part of Hitler’s grand Germania plans).
The final stop was Dresden. The place was pretty much flattened in WWII, but had been rebuilt as it had originally looked. It was impressive, but when you’ve been to Vienna, it’s a bit difficult to give it the credit it probably deserves. However, what did surprise us, was the ‘hipster’ part of town. A lot of cool cafes, bars, a bit of street art, and some really interesting little side alleys with various shops (although, this day and age, a lot of those sort of artsy-magnets-scarfs-handbags-2 pairs of shoes-painted tiles-etc shops that seem to have sprung up). It appears that any city worth its salt this day & age needs to have its historical bit, and then it’s trendy coffee shop with a bit of edgy street art area to juxtapose. I don’t think I’m getting cynical about it, yet there does seem to be a bit of a ‘globalisation of independence’ with the shops, art, fashion, barbers, bread shops, bric-a-brac shops - does that make sense?!
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