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13 December 2006

Past Travels to Germany and Switzerland

Memories of a memorable journey
On the german Autobahn

It's almost a month ago that I travelled to Germany and Switzerland, but the rain of the last days here made me remember that memorable trip. I'll attempt to sum it up. It's been a while, but some of the very "interesting" moments stay well in my memory, so let's see how well I can bring it back. It all started a few days before I left, when I tried to prepare my server for the upgrade I would do when in Germany. In the process I managed to crash the poor box, and had to ask someone to go by there and reboot it. It seems that wasn't such a good omen. I set out on Saturday morning (18.11.) for my flight to Munich. When I arrived in Munich, it was raining...

In my memory it continued raining for days on end. That possibly isn't very far from the truth either, and I vividly recall my shock upon landing in Munich and discovering that the world outside was wet. Eleni and her friend Jutta picked me up from the airport. The first evening was spent cleaning up after the EU security measures, home cooking and going out to drink in a typical bavarian student beer place. Everybody was having large beers, while I drank a campari and some weird, but good bavarian schnapps.

Munich Tourism

On Sunday we visited the museum of bavarian comedians Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt. We also walked through the city, visiting some of the better known tourist places. At noon we went with Jutta and her boyfriend to eat a genuine bavarian "Schweinsbraten", in a restaurant where the waiters wear leatherpants. That's how a vacation in Munich is supposed to be. The evening was spent with more drinking.

Monday morning I picked up a rental car and hit the Autobahn. Now, if you haven't been there and dream of driving as fast as you can (no speed limit), then yes, it's fantastic. In theory there is no speed limit. Usually that just means that you are stuck in traffic anyway (the first picture shows no traffic on my side, everything closed on the opposite lane). And then you have to look out for all the areas where due to circumstances they put up a speed limit anyway. In my case I wouldn't have wanted to drive too fast in the rented car and it was raining all the time anyway. The first leg of my drive was to Bayreuth. That city is most renown for the Richard Wagner Opera Festival, but I got spared that. I came for a business meeting to talk about a software we are evaluating to use at the office.

From there I went to some place near Karlsruhe/Mannheim, on family business. More Autobahn driving there. Yes, there are a lot of Autobahns in Germany, and a lot of cars too. Tuesday morning I went on (even more Autobahn) to Ulm, where the PowerMac G3 was awaiting its well deserved upgrade and new harddisk. I arrived well too early for the doors to open to the computer club where the machine was housed. When I got in, I went straight to the machine. The big cycle of moving disks in and out would begin, so I could copy data around till everything was on the new disk.

the street with red carpet in St.Gallen

The machine gone

At some point in the moving in, restarting, moving out, restarting, repeat circle, the machine wouldn't boot any more. I can still feel my desperation in that moment. I had travelled so far, had prepared in advance. Now I had a few hours to try to get the machine back alive, then I would have to move on with my travel schedule. In the end the G3 didn't move any more and I had to. I packed up and drove through the late, late evening back to Munich.

For the first time in years I was without my own server. That may sound funny and unimportant to many people. But I got accustomed to having my own server, a machine that on the one hand serves me (holds my mails, notes, writings, etc. so I can access them from wherever I am) and on the other hand gives something to every visitor who comes by to visit my online place. For the moment I adapted by forgetting about it all, pretending that nothing had happened and that the broken machine wasn't there at all.

Starting off to Switzerland

On Wednesday morning, still very early we went to give back the rental car. After that we went to the University, where Eleni had some meetings and courses. While she was busy I went to the Internet room and wrote some mails, informing the office about my successes and troubles. In a break we went to a student cafe/restaurant and had some breakfast. German cafes are famous (at least in my opinion) for serving fancy variations of breakfast, in student cities often long into the day. The cafe "Puck" in Munich has breakfast till 18:00, on the weekend till 20:00. Makes getting up late easier.

Chocolaterie in St.Gallen

After breakfast Eleni had another class, an advanced Greek course for translating texts. I was bored waiting, so we asked her teacher if I could crash the class. I received a stern talking to ("this is Germany, everything has to go with order, we can't allow non-students to class"), then I was allowed to sit in. I actually took part and helped out with my superb knowledge of Greek (which I have acquired in a motorcycle repair shop, not in a university). Never mind what the students say, university is fun.

behind the Drahtseilbahn in St.Gallen

Then our time came to pack up and go to the train station. We went by train to St.Gallen in Switzerland, to arrive there in early evening. It was stone cold when we came there. The thing is, I'm not used to cold any more, I have now lived for 2.5 years in Greece. We went straight to Ruth's (my father's partner) restaurant "Drahtseilbahn" - a bit unfortunate, as my father was just a few minutes late to pick us up at the train station. But in the end we were all united, to eat the famous "Chäschnöpfli" that are one speciality of her restaurant(Chnöpfli are something similar to Spätzle and in this case served with melted cheese). For the night we stayed at my fathers place.

Next morning we slept longer, then went to my fathers foto studio. I had some boxes with old things there that needed sorting out. We took our time to get there by train and bus, but this way Eleni got to see a bit more about the boring countryside in Switzerland. In the studio I was then busy digging through things and sorting things out in what could go, what would stay there and what I would take with me home to Greece. In the evening we went around St.Gallen, where we saw that funny street that is "carpeted" with some red material (at some point it looks like they put the "carpet" over a parked car), see pic.

Friday had us visiting the cathedral in St.Gallen, then take the train to Zurich. We went on to Oerlikon, the town and namesake of the famous weapons factory (the one that managed to sell antiaircraft guns to both sides in the second world war). Nowadays there is also SF, the swiss Senioren Fernsehen - national TV station. I had talked with Pat from the pimpsNhosis (ex-Start TV people network), he was working there. We met him for lunch and along was Jeanne, another friend from Start TV times.

Then we went to look at Zurich itself. This time I was doing the guide and Eleni was the tourist. We saw a lot of the Zurich tourist places, and walked a bit along the lake. We went to a supermarket and bought a lot of chocolate. Then we took the bus along the lake to visit Stefan, another friend from pimpsNhosis. He's working at a film production company and they probably have the most beautiful offices in the world. They are in an old factory office building (restored it to useful state themselves) directly overlooking the lake.

Back we took the train to St.Gallen, where we arrived in time for the "Nachrichten", my father's monthly stand up comedy program. He appears as a slightly slimy news speaker, who goes through the month's news with witty remarks and a good joke about everything serious. Chance had it that an uncle and aunt of mine were also in the audience. Saturday morning we met them again when we all had a big breakfast at my fathers and Ruth's place.

We went to shop for some more chocolate, first at a "chocolaterie" belonging to two local chocolate factories (pic), then (because there was one chocolate that Eleni had missed in previous shops) we went to a supermarket to buy some more. Over there they had a special cashier only for customers who buy chocolate (pic of the german sign). We said goodby and were escorted to the train that took us back to Munich. On the train we were a bit scared that the customs would search us, since 7 kilos of chocolate are most likely more than one can take with you without paying customs taxes.

Nymphenburg Palace and park

Nymphenburg Palace

Munich held some more relaxing time for me. On Sunday we went to visit the Nymphenburg Palace, with accompanying park. Especially the park is terrific. It's very big. It even has a small village in there. There is a very long channel (which makes for some great pictures, as it is aligned straight to the palace). Sadly Athens has nothing comparable. Over here when there is a bit of green larger than (say) 10 parking spaces, it gets labeled "park" right away, we'd probably make the park of Nymphenburg Palace into its own agricultural province (or build it over with apartment blocks).

Nymphenburg Palace and park

Monday morning I ran around town, trying to find a bag big enough to transport my longboard to Greece. It really took some persistence, in the end I got a 2nd hand army bag. That's what you get for buying a skateboard almost a meter long. With that thing I took the plane home where it was much warmer, but also a lot lonelier without Eleni.

Posted by betabug at 21:14 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (1)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: Past Travels to Germany and Switzerland

Great story!
Liked that pix behind the Drahtseilbahn in St.Gallen.

Posted by: Rodolfo Gouveia at December 14,2006 15:23
Re: Past Travels to Germany and Switzerland

Spanx Rodolfo!

That place is really very nice, but much too cold it was then. Even in summer due to the water there is a cold current of air coming down.

Posted by: betabug at December 14,2006 15:32
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Nymphenburg Palace On Ice

Yesterday we went for a walk next to the channel leading to the
`Nymphenburg Palace`_. I've been there before_, but this time the little
lake at the start of the channel and the channel itself were frozen.
People skating on the ice and playing Eisstockschiessen_ (ice stock
sport, aka bavarian curling). It had been cold for a few days, and it
was cold as we marched along the channel. See some pictures, bigger
than usual, because of my nice new camera...

Read the linking post here: ch-athens at January 06,2008 18:43