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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paris

I flew to Paris from Munich in the morning, meeting my friend Chris at the Hilton by the airport (CDG). He had never been into the city, so we had plenty to see. Unfortunately, we got off to a later start due to some confusion with the train. There was a strike going on (of course) so the train I was used to taking didn't go where I thought it was going, instead stopping at Paris Nord. As we sat and it started going the opposite direction, I realized I had messed up. It took a little while to get back on track, but after we finally did, we returned to Paris Nord, go out this time, and took the Metro to the Notre Dame.

Then, walking around the great Cathedral, we crossed over to Ile St. Louis where we purchased the best chocolate ice cream you can ever taste (Berthillon). Then, crossing over the Seine, we walked into the Marais, then down Rue de Rivoli to the Louvre, where we toured the tremendous courtyards. Then, we headed through le Jardin des Tuileries to the obelisk at The Place de la Concorde. From there, we could see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance, and decided to take the Metro there.

I had never been to the top, so we made the climb up the steps to see the beautiful view of Les Champs Elysées. We waited there as night descended on the city, watching as the Eifel Tower lit up for the evening.



Going back to the Metro station, we returned to the Marais to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Au Gamin de Paris, where we both had the steak au poivre vert with the mushrooms as an appetizer, after being served a kir while we awaited our table. After a long, relaxing dinner, we returned to Paris Nord just in time to take the last train back to the hotel.

The next evening, after our business meeting, we returned to the city, this time taking the funicular to Montmatre to see the Sacre Coeur. After seeing the stunning views of the city from there, we had some wine, cheese, and charcuterie at Au Pichet de Tertre.

Then, we took in the spectacular night time views of the skyline and the Sacre Coeur.

Walking down the hill, we headed into Pigalle to see the Moulin Rouge.

Finally, we stopped into Chao Ba for a drink before returning to the hotel for the evening.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Munich


After taking the train from Salzburg to Munich, we checked into our hotel, the Sheraton at Arabella Park. It is conveniently located at the end of one of the U train lines, and along the same line as the Oktoberfest fairgrounds, the Theresienwiese, so a perfect location.

Our tent reservations at the Hacker-Pschorr Festzelt were at 6:00, so we met up with others at 5:00 to head to the fairgrounds. This year, cigarette girls were not allowed to sell their wares, so it was perhaps less smokey than in previous years, but certainly just as hot. Scenes from Oktoberfest:


After we left the tent, we went to Sinan's, just outside the Theresienwiese, the crazy little pizza-joint turned after hours disco that we found last year. It did not disappoint. Great pizza, and always a fun place.

The next day, Jonathan and I went into Munich, walking the now familiar streets and seeing the sights—Marienplatz, the Rathaus, the Glockenspiel. We had lunch at the Spaten Haus, where I enjoyed a delicious jaegerschnitzle with a creamy mushroom sauce and a delicious cheesy spatzle. But we also went shopping—and after years of looking at lederhosen, we both finally bought a pair, as well as the shirts and socks.


After making our purchases, we settled in for a beer at a bar by Sendlinger Tor, then went back to the hotel. Later, we met the others at the Theresienwiesn at what I dubbed the 'alcoholic karrussel,' surprising them with our lederhosen.
After riding a few rides, we hit Sinan's one more time, then headed back to Arabella Park with a final night cap at the hotel.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Salzburg


I love Salzburg. It is so beautiful, and I can't help but think that the success of the movie The Sound of Music is due in large part to the beautiful scenery and charming nature of Salzburg. Which, I suppose, led me to want to do The Sound of Music Tour for the second time, this time in a different season. Below, a lake just outside of Salzburg.




And remember these places from the Do Re Mi song? These are all in Mirabel Gardens.






























I stayed at the Goldener Hirsch again, which I highly recommend. (This time, I was in room 50.)

The hotel is in the old city, in a stunning setting on a small street that is just doors down from the house Mozart was born in. The view of the street (Getreidegasse) from my window:




Me on the pedestrian bridge with the castle in the background:


Our night in Salzburg was a little later than our night in Vienna, since we didn't really have to get up early. We had no plans for the next day until 6:00 pm. We found a couple of really fun bars, including one with a bartender named Christine who had us doing the Macarena and the Chicken Dance and singing “I Will Follow Him” from the movie Sister Act.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vienna


Jonathan and I arrived in Vienna and checked into our hotel, the Sofitel. (It was a very nice hotel, and very convenient to everything. It will shortly be renamed Hotel Am Konzerthaus as of October 1. (http://www.hotelamkonzerthaus.com/)

Immediately, we hit the road to start exploring. It was my first time in Vienna, and about the only thing I had previous knowledge about was the Opera House, which was one of the first things we visited. Below: The Opera House.



















We did a guided tour, which showcased various beautiful rooms within as well as taking us into the gigantic backstage. Afterwards, we walked to the Secession Building, a museum featuring works of the Secessionist movement, including Gustave Klimt's Beethoven's Frieze. Above: The Secession Building.

Afterwards, we walked through the grounds of the Schönbrunn Palace, the Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs, stopping at the Augustiner Keller to have our first beer of the Oktoberfest season, as well as a beautiful plate of Wiener Schnitzel (named after Vienna—Wiene in German). Below: Scenes from the grounds, and of course, the Wiener Schnitzel.












After a long walk, we went back to the hotel to clean up before hitting a couple of bars for a not-so-late night as we had an early train to Salzburg the next morning.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lake Hartwell, GA



This was a great weekend for camping at Lake Hartwell. What a perfect way to start wrapping up the summer.

I hadn't camped in over 10 years, but eagerly anticipated hanging out this weekend with the Hash House Harriers at Hartwell. Above: relaxing with Mary Huysman

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