On the return trip from my Austrian hiking adventure I stopped over in Munich to partake in some authentic experiences: drink eine Maß Bier in a Biergarten, practice speaking German, and grab the German edition of WIRED. Ok, the last one might not be on everybody’s list, but it was third on mine.
The second edition of WIRED.de is available in German kiosks and it has all the great features of the U.S. WIRED magazine: creative typography, cross-discipline technological articles, and a touch of cyberpunk, but with German seasoning and some unique additions. The zweite edition weighs in at 138 pages, slightly longer than the latest U.S. edition with a Steve Jobs cover article at 122 pages. The first edition was released back in September 2011.
WIRED.de has the same great infographics as its U.S. partner. In a hilarious and informative two-page spread (see picture), WIRED compares over 40 religions positions on various sinful activities, like gambling and sex. Jainism appears the most restrictive and New Age the most liberal… if you’re into that kind of stuff…
A welcome addition was a comic of the fall of Kim Dotcom. Six pages of sharp illustrations made for an enjoyable mix-up from normal articles, one that I would be happy to see in the U.S. version. They also had great articles on a bionic eyeball webcam, advertisements for a McLaren and a great feature on the struggle of the open web.
My only complaint is that it appears difficult to obtain in the U.S.! Kiosk distribution in German-speaking countries seems to be the primary mechanism, but they also have an iPad app (you might have to use the VPN trick to get on the German app store). I guess I’ll just have to go back to pick up the third issue, although that habit may become expensive over time…
Until I can land a job as a full-time Alpine hiker, I generally start planning (dreaming of) my next trip on the flight back from my existing trip. Granted, the realist in me appreciates that wandering (it is very fitting that the german verb “to hike” is “wandern”) probably isn’t going to be my full-time career. Besides, what would I do for a vacation then? Most likely visit a metropolis and work as software engineer for two weeks. 😉
Before we get to the next trip, let’s wrap up this one. First, I want to make some comments about the gear that I used:
Handheld hiking GPS. I know Garmin’s stock went down when Apple announced it’s maps initiative, but the iPhone can’t beat the battery life and sensitivity of a dedicated GPS (currently), especially one that can’t get connected to the Internet. My Garmin eTrex 20 was fun on the trail, with constant moving averages and recorded the data to produce those great Google Earth maps.
Camelback. Absolutely essential in my opinion. I had a backpack with a Camelback sleeve and it makes a huge difference having the water fit nicely in the mid of your back vice carrying water bottles. Plus, it’s easy access to water. I was drinking about 3 Liters of water each trip and honestly, I should have been drinking more in the 80+ degrees.
Dry-fit clothing. I sweat profusely. After switching to all dry-fit clothing I adamantly avoid cotton on hikes. When we stopped for breaks and I took my bag off, my shirts would dry. The smell on the other hand…
A lot of spoken German practice for me, which was fun. After a few trips to Germany, I quickly became a fan of the German Trinkkultur, hiking and the language. I mean, it’s a great language for Computer Scientists since it uses a stack; in some cases all the verbs pile up at the end of the sentence and once complete, one pops the stack of all the verbs! I even was able to help hikers and tourist with directions in the area, in German! So, you know… go me.
Hotel-to-hotel-hiking is the way to go. My previous hiking in Berchtesgaden and Lauterbrunnen were both amazing in their own rights, but having a luggage service really opens up the day to maximize time in the mountains. This was also my first experience with a travel agency and Wanderweg Holidays really made this effortless. They also specialize in this kind of trip. I highly recommend you check them out if you are interested in a similar vacation!
So, what’s next? Some possibilities:
Another hiking trip. I would love to go back to German speaking countries (mainly for point number 1 above). But there’s a lot on this geoid where I haven’t been, mainly I’ve never been in the Southern Hemisphere! Despite a circumnavigation through both major canals and visiting Singapore (1 degree away!!), I’m still a pollywog. So, if it is a hiking trip, New Zealand is looking like the candidate. Or New Hampshire if we’re driving 🙂
Cruise. Cruises are effortless vacations. I get massive amounts of reading done on these while I’m sitting on a deck looking out onto the sea. It’s great, relatively cheap and easy. While great, we’ve done our share, so meh.
The Alps in the winter. My wife is a skier, I’m a faller-down-the-mountain-and-kill-myself-so-just-stay-in-the-lodge-and-read-guy, so it works out great! Plus, point 1 again.
So, probably back to Germany 😮 , but I’ll work on my plans some more. Of course, if you have suggestions, feel free to leave a comment! Well, I don’t have any more hiking adventures upcoming anytime soon, but I’m burning through a backlog of books and my database class is interesting (sounds of massive unsubscribing… 🙂 ), so feel free to stick around.
Day 7 of 6. Leaving the now familiar Salzburger Hof, we reversed the multi-hopped route back to Munich. The 260 Bus from Lofer to Salzburg and Deutsche Bahn to Munich’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station). For our last night in Europe, we treated ourselves to a more upscale place, Fleming’s Hotel. Which, was also conveniently located near the train station, but not too near the train station, where an abundance of travelers hang out much like they did outside a famous publishing company’s headquarters on Ursa Minor Beta.
This was my third or fourth trip to Munich, so I had seen most of the major tourist attractions, including the 200th Oktoberfest. Also, we really only had the afternoon and evening to enjoy in Munich since our flight left the next morning. So, being the geek that I am, I went back to the Deutsches Museum. This is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world and it is amazing. It outshines my beloved Franklin Institute, the Smithsonian and the Exploratorium (from what I remember of it, I visited it a few years ago…)
Sure, all of these museums have interesting exhibits, but where the Deutsches Museum outperforms the competition, and makes it the best technological museum I have ever seen, is the detail of its technical descriptions. Other museums really only scratch the surface, but the Deutsches Museum describes the science behind the exhibit with a depth of detail. For example, in its Informatik (Computer Science) exhibit, one can find the following interactive exhibits:
Logical operators, AND, OR, NOT, etc… implemented in both electronic and physical means! One of which used capsules filled with mercury, where if the capsule was at a certain angle it would complete the circuit.
A terminal explaining how the Von Neumann architecture works.
An Enigma machine (not interactive, and I can’t remember if it was a four or three rotor version).
Also, fans of Gravity’s Rainbow will appreciate the V-2 Rocket on display. One certainly gains more respect for the Raketemensch after seeing one of these up close…
Having our technological fill, we were now hungry and crossed the city to attend the famous Augustiner Brewery & Biergarten, Munich’s oldest brewery, founded in 1328. It was Saturday night and the outside Biergarten was full, as well as the restaurant. We awkwardly loitered outside the foyer trying to figure out how this was going to work. Meanwhile, visibly incapacitated patrons, complete in Trachten Lederhosen, stumbled into the bathrooms of the opposite gender. A table opened up in the Biergarten and we quickly sat down.
Ordering “eine Maß” (one liter of beer) and our appetizer, a pretzel, that overflowed the 12” plate, we relaxed amongst the boisterous bachelor and bachelorette parties the occupied the shaded gravel that night. But before our food arrived, a german couple about the age of our parents joined us at our small table. While taboo in the USA, this behavior not uncommon from what I’ve experienced in Germany. The couple was also visiting Munich and we had fun trying to communicate with each other. So, in half-english-half-german, we talked about our trip to Austria, Euromeister 2012, and how revealing Drindl have become.
With our succesful Biergarten experience now complete, we returned to the hotel. The next day we fortunately had an uneventful return trip back to the U.S. and started plotting our next trip. But, that will have to wait for another day…
This is Day 1 of 6 hiking days in and around Lofer, Austria. But first, some comments on Day 0, or the travel day to Lofer. My flight was routed through NYC (JFK) to London Heathrow and then to Munich, Germany on British Airways. Arriving late in Heathrow in Terminal 5 I had a funny experience with the BA staff, mainly I participated in a group run through the terminal. There was a very nice staff member who met the lot of us going to Munich at the exit of our plane where we were instructed to run to the lift. In the lift, she told us that despite how fast we run, we may not make it and that we
shouldn’t be upset at her. When the lift opened, a group of 20 tired travelers dashed through the terminal to the next waiting point 🙂 We didn’t make it to the gate on time, but it was no problem rebooking the flight and overall, it was a fun game in the terminal. Oh, and we received a full bottle of Champagne from the BA steward (separate story), but we couldn’t take it with us since we had to go back through security again in Heathrow, uggg!
Once in Munich, I bought a Deutsche Bahn ticket in the Munich airport all the way to Salzburg. For two people, it was only around 27 Euro or so since we used the local regional train, which only arrived 30 minutes later than the nearly twice as expensive trains. The automated ticketing machines are so easy it really makes traveling by train in Germany a breeze! So, S-Bahn to München-Ost and then the RE to Salzburg. From Salzburg, the 260 Bus for 1.5 hours to Lofer, Austria.
After much-needed rest at the Salzburger Hof, we started Day 1! A hike up the Salzburger Steig to almost 1100m (see elevation graph) and then down to the beautiful Maria Kirchental. There was a service ending as we arrived so the Pilgrim’s church and surrounding shops were bustling with
churchgoers. Cutting between Lofer and St. Martin and then walking north along the Salaach River, I learned an important lesson about hiking maps. The lesson is: a dotted black trail on the map basically means you pave your own path. After 45 minutes of forging my own path through a black forest, I realized it’s better just to follow the more established “red” paths…
Anyway, back on the road and following the Salaach upstream back into Lofer, we finished Day 1!