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Friday, September 28, 2007

Back to Munich

Thursday, September 27

Thursday morning I got up, had another coffee and a chocolate croissant, and headed back to the airport to return to Munich. I checked into my hotel which was by the Hauptbahnhof this time, just off of Bayerstrasse (Goethestrasse 11.) The Hotel Dolomit was a very convenient location in a neighborhood I had stayed in before. (http://www.hotel-dolomit.de/)

The room was small, but I was not to be there for long. The bathroom was incredibly orange.




My first mission was to do what I had forgotten to accomplish before I left Munich for Paris two days ago—buy this year’s Oktoberfest mug, bringing my total collection to three.


After a couple of focus groups that evening, I finished the night at the Augustiner Keller near Marienplatz, having one more Oktoberfest Mass before retiring for the evening and returning to Atlanta the next day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paris

Tuesday, September 25

Jonathan woke up extremely early to take the train back to Stuttgart to catch a plane back to Atlanta. I went down to meet others for breakfast at 6:30 am, then retreated back upstairs to catch a few more hours of sleep before flying to Paris.

Where we had warm, sunny weather the whole time we had been in Munich, Tuesday was rainy and cold. A great day to pack up and leave!

I got to Paris and headed into town. I stayed at a very nice hotel, the Radisson SAS Champs-Elysées, on Avenue Marceau. I could see the Arc de Triomphe from my window.



I was cold and wet from walking from the station and trying to find the hotel, so a hot shower was in order. That evening, I strolled the Marais, and checked in on some of my favorite Paris bars before returning to the hotel.

Wednesday, September 26

After waking up and having un grand croissant chocolat et café, I decided that I would tour Paris’ famous cemetery, Père-Lachaise. I had read much about this final resting place of so many famous people, and had determined after seeing Julie Delpy’s film Two Days in Paris that I would visit it.







I took the number 3 line to Gambetta station, which is enters the cemetery near the rear, the highest point in the 118 acre cemetery, not far from the tomb of Oscar Wilde. From there, I made my way to the grave of Edith Piaf, along the way, passing many tombs of those killed in the Holocaust, as well as those killed during the end of the Paris Commune. After Edith Piaf, I found the tom of Marcel Proust, then Honoré de Balzac. Then I found the grave of The Doors’ singer Jim Morrison. Here are pictures of their final resting places:






Oscar Wilde:







Edith Piaf:





Marcel Proust:




Honoré de Balzac:






Jim Morrison:

Moliere:



Earlier, I had seen the beginnings of a gathering near a funeral tent. I noticed a few TV cameras, but there was not a sizeable crowd gathered. Returning towards that area, more people had crowded around the tent. I asked a guard whose funeral it was, and she replied, “Marcel Marceau.”


The funeral was just about to begin, so I stayed to listen. The former head Rabbi of France, René-Samuel Sirat led the ceremony. By this point, it was raining, and a cold wind was blowing. I could understand some of the French and very little of the Hebrew. After the Rabbi spoke, there were some prayers, and then music, which I discovered later was the cellist Roland Pidoux playing Bach’s Sarabande. Then, the coffin was lifted, taken right by where I was standing, to be interred. I couldn’t believe I had stumbled unto the funeral of Marcel Marceau.















Before leaving, I found the tomb of Molière, then returned to the hotel, grabbed a sandwich, and checked some emails. After dark, I once again headed out to the Marais and Les Halles, grabbing some street food along the way. Before going back to the hotel, I walked past Hotel de Ville towards the Seine, to a point where I could see Notre Dame and Hotel De Ville and enjoy the beauty of the lights and the river… one of my favorite places in the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Munich--OKTOBERFEST!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We started the day in Stuttgart with breakfast at the hotel—one of the things I really liked about this particular hotel. Breakfast is served in a sun room, with a nice selection of hams, cheeses, fruits, and breads.

We checked out of the hotel, saying goodbye to Phillip our desk clerk, and headed to the train station to catch the 10:54 train to Munich. From the Munich Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), we took the U-1 Wettersteinplatz, where we checked into the Hotel Wetterstein on Grűnwalder Strasse 16. There, we had a note waiting for us from our friends who had arrived earlier, instructing us to meet them at the Paulaner Keller, where we would begin the festival honoring Munich’s beers (or otherwise, honoring the anniversary of the wedding of King Ludwig to Therese.) After a couple of beers and some sausages at Paulaner Keller beer garden, we headed to our traditional first beer stop, Augustiner Keller beer garden.

Paulaner Keller Biergarten
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<---- Augustiner Keller Biergarten















Afterwards, we headed out to the Theresienwiese (the fairgrounds) to the Oktoberfest festivities.

We rode lots of rides including one we’ve dubbed “the shoeripper,” as well as the Tobaggan, which zips people up on a conveyor belt before they slide back down. I also rode one that looked harmless enough, called the Hupferl. It spun around and throbbed and had no seat belts, sending me hurling into the middle of it. Jonathan thought I would come up bleeding. In general, the rides seem much more thrilling than US rides do, twirling in spinning in ways that would probably be illegal in the US.












Then around 10:00 pm, we decided to hit the festival tents, (Bierzelts), starting with the Haufbräu Festzelt. This is the largest tent, holding 10,000 people. Being Saturday night, and late in the opening night of Oktoberfest, this was not the most pleasant place to be. After rushing the stage and standing under the angel Aloisius, a large figure hanging in the middle of the tent (who was mysteriously dripping on us), we left to go to a calmer tent (Augustiner Festhalle.)


Inside the Augustiner Festehalle



After the tent closed at 10:30, we decided it would be a good idea to stop at a little pizza bar on our way home. We stayed there way too late. (This was the first of three nights we ended there—great pizza. Luckily, the other nights weren’t quite as long.)

Sunday, September 23

The next morning, I slept in, then Jonathan and I headed to Marienplatz to do some shopping before meeting the others back at the hotel. We had 6:15 pm tent reservations at Hacker-Pshorr, so we left again for the Theresienwiese to do some more rides before entering the tent. This time, Jonathan, Mark, Lisa, Geoff and I rode the huge Ferris Wheel, giving a great view of the fairgrounds and the city.

The view from the Ferris Wheel











The Ferris Wheel at night:

After the Ferris Wheel, we made our way to the Hacker Festzelt for four and a half hours of listening to the band, singing Ein Prosit, and drinking beers. The tents are amazing—they look more like permanent constructions, but they are taken down and built anew every year.


Inside the Hacker Tent:





After leaving, we once again ended up at the great pizza place, but luckily did not stay as long this time. However, we did end up hanging out in the lobby bar of the hotel for a bit upon our return, where we met a group of Danes as well as some Swiss who, coincidentally, had been just tables away from us at the Hacker-Pshorr tent.

Monday, September 24

I got up much earlier on Monday, headed down to breakfast with the gang, and then we left for a day of bike riding. We rented bikes from a place just behind the Haufbrau House downtown, and spent the day biking along the Isar, the river running through Munich.

One of the amazing sights—people actually surfing on the rapids.



We had a nice ride, that started out relaxing, but by the end was pretty exhausting. Along the way, we stopped at a couple of beer gardens, one along a nice lake. The other was the Hofbräuhaus Keller.

video
We then left there, riding back through the city after a liter of beer in rush hour traffic.

After once again trying on Lederhosen (for future reference, I need EU size 50), we headed to see what tent beer gardens we could all be seated at. After many trials, we settled upon the Ochsenbraterei tent, which serves Spatenbräu, and specializes in roasted oxen (the meaning of its name). It was quite tasty.
Outside the Ochsenbraterei Tent

Afterwards, we strolled around inside the Hacker tent again, before watching people fall on the Tobaggan (again) and heading to our little pizza place (again) which was amazingly fun. And again, we hung out at the hotel bar for a while before bed, with Jeff and Nancy bringing out the German “black pirate” game they had bought—evidently, the most popular board game in Germany.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Munich Beers-- a note

Oktoberfest is a celebration of beer. And it starts with the Mayor of Munich tapping the first keg.

Only Munich breweries serve beer in the Oktoberfest tents, and the beer is served in glass liter mugs with the name of the brewery written on each. (One asks for "ein mass".)

Each Oktoberfest tent serves a different brew. Here are some of the varieties I had over my time in Munich this year:












Friday, September 21, 2007

Stuttgart, Germany

September 21, 2007


Jonathan and I arrived in Stuttgart this morning at 8:30 am, and took the train from the airport to the main train station in Stuttgart. Since I really didn’t know where I’d be flying, I didn’t have reservations. But having stayed in Stuttgart two years ago, I knew of a nice, small, and fairly inexpensive hotel called City Hotel that was away from the station, in a bit of a more residential area. I have no idea how I stumbled upon it last time, but after some searching I found it again. (For future reference, it is located near Charlottenstrasse, on Uhlandstrasse. [http://www.cityhotel-stuttgart.de/]




We headed out to explore, shopping on Konigstrasse and having pizza and Schwabenbrau while watching street performers on the Schlossplatz.




Then we walked around a bit, checking out the residence of the Dukes of Württemberg, a castle going back to the 10th century. Now it is the Landesmuseum Württemberg.


Courtyard to the Castle Württemberg (right)
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After going back to the room for a while, we headed out for some drinks (a couple of wheat beers) and dinner, eating at the Hotel Restaurant Arche (Bärenstrasse 2). I had a grilled meat plate, with chicken, lamb (I think) and some form of steak with French fries. Pretty tasty, for the most part.

The Fountain on the Schlossplatz

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Charleston


The weekend of September 8 I traveled to Charleston for my cousin Rob's wedding. Mom, Dad, Angela and I all stayed at the Francis Marion. Saturday morning, I got up early and toured College of Charleston, where my fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, was founded. Here's a picture of dad and I (both Pi Kapps) in front of the gateway the fraternity gave the college in 1929.





Later that day, the whole family (Mom, Dad, Angela, Catherine, Rhonda, Johnny, Melanie, Eunice, Robert Lee, Betty Jane, and me) took a tour of the city via horse drawn carriage.
















Some of us walked to the market, where we met the carriage, and others took the rickshaw.

We had lunch at Hyman's Seafood, one of my favorite places to eat in Charleston. Afterwards, mom, Robert Lee and I had frozen drinks ( Robert Lee and I had a "call-a-cab" and mom had a "chocolate thunder."

After returning to the Francis Marion to clean up, we headed to Middleton Plantation for the wedding. The ceremony took place under this magnificent oak:




Other scenes from the Middleton Plantation:





Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tokyo, Japan


I'm sitting in the Northwest Lounge in Tokyo's Narita airport... Guess I won't see much of Tokyo. And I'll pass on the salted octopus guts with wasabi.



But I will help myself to some sushi and sake.

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