Having a beer with Alan and John in Munich

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…)

Surfing in Munich: On a previous trip to Munich in 2008 I took this picture of river-surfers on the Eisbach, in the Englischer Garten.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. A Turing machine simulator.
  3. A terminal explaining how the Von Neumann architecture works.
  4. 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.

Enjoying a drink at the Augustiner Biergarten

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…

Trip Metrics:

  • Total Distance: 105.1km over 6 days (65.3 miles)
  • Highest Elevation: 1457m on Loferer Alm, Day 2

Hiking in Austria Day 1: Lofer to Lofer

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

St. Martin, Austria

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!

Day 1 Map from Google Earth

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

Wallfahrtskirche in the Maria Kirchental

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!

Metrics:

  • Date completed: 17.6.12
  • Distance: 18.6km
  • Start Time: 0929
  • Start Elevation: 644m
  • Highest Elevation: 1070m @ 1115
  • End Time: 1614
Day 1 Elevation Plot

Amazing Race: Albeit more geeky and less athletic

It’s called DASH: Different Area Same Hunt. It’s a game where teams solve the same set of puzzles in different locations across the country (hence the name).  I participated in the NYC event, which was a lot of fun!  The puzzles generally contain multiple meta-puzzles.  For example, first one must solve a word-scramble like puzzle, which will give the directions to solve part two.  Both of these answers are needed to solve the third part and finally when the puzzle is “solved,” that answer must be decoded into a symbol which reveals the location for the next puzzle.

The NYC version is played in Central Park.  Puzzle locations whisk teams from the Met, to the Museum of Natural History, to the Hans Christian Anderson Statue, back to Strawberry Fields, etc…  Advanced Puzzlers finish in a few hours.  Amateurs, like myself, are hurried along in order to complete the task, which starts at 11:00 am, by dusk.  We played with a large group of friends, one of which who was pregnant, so we took our time and had fun.  Too much fun, as we did not complete the game and instead split off to a go to a roof-top beer-garden in the Flatiron District, which was packed upon arrival so we went back home.

Having felt slighted for missing a rooftop beer drinking experience, I went out and found my favorite beer: Weihenstephaner Hefewissbier.  Last time I was in Munich, I toured the Paulaner Breweryon the start of the 200th Oktoberfest.  It was a bit quiet, as most of the employees were carting casts of beer from the brewery to the Oktoberfest tents and

Weihenstephaner Wiessbier

ironically, their tap was having problems so we drank (freshly) bottled beer.  However, I really wished I had time to visit the Weihenstephan Brewery.  While slightly outside of Munich, I think it would have been quite the trip.  Maybe next time.

So lesson for next year’s DASH: Solve the puzzles in an german-style biergarten.  If anything, there will be more creative answers… Prost!