Europe: Day 6

Bamberg, Germany

Today, Mel has her cousin’s birthday party to attend in the evening so we made the most of the morning and early afternoon. The plan for the day is to visit two of the lakes in Bavaria, a monastery and then off to Bamberg, where Mel is from.

I did not attend the birthday party because 1) I don’t know her cousin, and 2) I don’t know her cousin. Plus, it would be a little awkward being in company where everyone speaks German. I’m sure that they probably speak English as well, but I didn’t want them to change that on my account. So I opted out of the birthday party to wandering around Bamberg.

Our first stop was to Starnberger See, located southwest of Munich and is one of the many lakes in Bavaria. It was a small little lake town, but large enough that there plenty of activities occurring all around. People were going on walks, taking a little swim and sailing in boats. We just ended up walking around until we reached what looked like the end of the walkway and then we turned around. We were slightly on a timeline so we kept the visit short. Plus, parking was free for 30 minutes.

Up next was Kloster Andechs, or Andechs Monastery. It was nice and cool in the church. The walls and ceiling were covered in murals, depicting stories from the bible, I assume but I couldn’t make out any of the references. There seemed to be a lot of gold colour things every. I think that’s what caught me off guard at first.

They also brew beer at this monastery. It didn’t occur to me at the time that monasteries brewed beer but now that I think about it, I’ve heard that one of the oldest breweries is run by monks. I think even Friar Tuck from the Robin Hood stories brewed alcohol of some sort.

I got a regular size beer while Mel got her regular radler since she had to drive. The beer tasted light with a slight bitterness to it. Almost like a light Heineken. It was a refreshing drink as we sat outside and chatted.

After finishing our drinks, we took a quick drive to Ammersee. It was not far from Kloster Andechs so it only made sense to stop by. It’s similar to Starnberger See, only it seems livelier. It was a nice stroll along the lakeshore and it was too hot either.

Then we hit the road to Bamberg. Little did I know that every highway we travelled on is an “autobahn.” It occurred after being on the highway for a while that “autobahn” is German for highway. I felt a little stupid not being able to make the connection earlier. I always thought that the autobahn was a section of the highway where there were not speed limits. Speaking of which, that was kind of cool to see. The way it works is that, as you’re driving, the speed limits are posted on digital signs. From time to time, it goes from 80km/h to 100km/h to 130km/h to blank. But when it’s blank, you can go as fast as you want. We had cars whizzing by like they’re late they’ve committed a bank robbery or something. I think the fastest Mel drove was 140-160km/h. The autobahn can be scary if you’re not used to the rules. The thing is, there are cars from other countries on it and not all of them know the rules of the road. One car from the Netherlands would let us merge and there was no one to their left.

As we drove along, we saw a metallic red BMW M3 (I think). This happens to be my dream car. Wow, it looked nice. And it wasn’t a glossy metallic red either. It was more of a matte metallic red. Just the right shine. Guys and cars, what can I say?

We drove into Nürnberg quickly, just to look around. At the center of the city was a walled fortress. Initially, if I left Bamberg in time, I would have stopped by Nürnberg and checked it out, but I didn’t end up getting to do that.

Mel had to meet up with her brother Michael, close to an Ikea somewhere. We switched cars and Mike dropped me off somewhere in Bamberg. I didn’t have a map but was told that the cathedral was one way while the train station was the other way. Also, Mel recommended that I try a “rauchbier” called “Schenkerla.” Apparently, a lot of places in Bamberg served it. So if I had time, I was going to try that beer.

And so, my little adventure started. Usually, what I do first is search around for Wi-Fi, just in case there’s some opened one that I can use to gain access to Google Maps. Luckily, someone had their Wi-Fi open and it was located conveniently close to a sitting spot. I connected and quickly loaded up directions to the cathedral. I decided to leave the train stations for when I get back. I’m sure that the access point will still be on.

As I started walking around, I noticed a small little tour going on. I joined the tour quietly, to see what it was all about. It was just mainly history of the building that they were standing in front of. I didn’t have time for all the history so I just left.

Bamberg is to Germany what Venice is to Italy. There aren’t that many canals, but there are a few bridges that cross the river. So in that sense, it’s similar to Venice.

Getting to the cathedral meant walking uphill for thirty minutes or so. That’s all I’ve been doing since I got to Europe. I miss riding my motorcycle. There are lots of those around. Perhaps next time I’ll bring my motorcycle over.

The cathedral was located in Domplatz. This area was fairly busy with vehicle traffic. I thought there would be more foot traffic but no. Every two minutes or so, there was a car turning the corner to go somewhere.

As I finished taking pictures, I felt that I could go higher. The street that leads away from the cathedral was going in an upward direction so I followed it. As I was wondering around, I came across a bar that served Schenkerla but I thought that perhaps I’ll finishing my tour first and then reward myself with beer. There were signs by the bar that pointed to something called Michaelsberg so I followed it. Michaelsberg turned out to be the highest point so far. It had a nice view of Bamberg.

After walking around for a few hours, my legs were getting tired, so I decided to head on back. But before going down the hill, I swung by the bar again… only to find that they had closed. Oh well, next time, I guess.

Along the way, I did a little window shopping. I saw this in the window of one of the shops. Google translates it as “every day is your day.” Nice little motto to live by.

I headed back to my little Wi-Fi access point spot and loaded up the directions to the train station. It looked like I had two hours to catch the very last train to Nürnberg that connects to Munich. The train station was only a few minutes away so there was no rush. I managed to catch a bit of the sunset during my walk. It was quite nice over the river.

Just before the train station was a bar. I took a chance to see if perhaps they had Schenkerla. And they did! I almost didn’t get to drink this beer. I sat down at a table, ordered a beer and bruschetta. I don’t think I’ve ever had that combo before, but really, I just wanted the beer and something quick to eat before catching the train.

As I finished my “dinner” one of the waitresses came by and asked, “Can I do everything for you?” I just stared at her because i wasn’t sure what she meant. In my head, I was thinking, maybe she wants to finish my beer but then I thought maybe she meant, “May I get you anything else?” I shook my head and she took away my plate. So I guess correctly as to what she meant.

As I sat there finishing my beer, which by far, the best that I’ve had, I checked up the train schedule, only to realize that the last train wasn’t leaving in an hour. The last train from Bamberg to Nürnberg was leaving in 10 minutes and the last train from Nürnberg to Munich would leave as soon as the Bamberg train arrives there. I had to rush and get the bill and then ran to the train station. Luckily, I found the platform that the train was leaving from with 2 minutes to spear. But then I had to run to the other platform to ask if I could use my train ticket with this train. Luckily, I could.

So that was Bamberg. It looks just like it does in the postcard that Mel sent me. The atmosphere is fairly lively. There are lots of people walking around and also a lot of people sitting around as well. Although, I’m starting to think that the most popular thing to do in Germany is sit around drinking beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.