Aug201214

Well after a brief hiatus on blogging while I got back into the swing of things. I will continue my European adventure.

Day 12 started early…We needed to take the car back to the airport to hand it in. This was the smoothest transaction I have ever experienced. We literally drove it into the rental car return section, left the keys in the car and walked away. That was that! So, we went to the info booth at the airport and purchased the Munich 3 Day pass for both of us. This was definitely a great investment. It paid for itself with just the train ride into Munich and back…plus we had countless discounts on food…we certainly used it to our advantage.

Straight from the airport, we were heading out to Dachau Concentration Camp for a day of history, emotions and sadness.

We got on the train early in the morning and started the journey out to Dachau, an old medieval town about 15 km northwest of Munich. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp in Germany and it served as a model for all other camps that followed.

Once you get off the train at Dachau, there is a map outside the station that you can follow to take the exact path that so many walked in history. Along the way, there are signs given a description of what the many men and women felt and experienced as they dredged on their final journey.

As we walked this same path, the emotions were overwhelming, but we had no idea what we were in store for this day.

We rented the audio package so that we could listen to stories and hear the history.  I am so glad we did this…At first when you enter the camp, there is a large outdoor center area.  We followed along with the audio package taking us on a journey through time with original stories of horror.  You walk through the camp and read everything, see everything, feel everything.  We literally spent all day there, in fact we ran out of time.  If you are touched by such history and plan to visit this camp, I highly recommend that you plan to stay all day.  We ended up rushing through the last bit of the camp because we needed to get back to the city for our tour that evening.

The things we saw there…while obviously no comparison to surviving it, but the things we saw there…it is so important for people to remember what happened there.  As the mural says when you walk into the camp…”NEVER AGAIN”.  I will never forget this day for as long as I live, I will remember.

As I knew this would be an emotional day, I had scheduled a Beer History Tour for the evening, so we left Dachau and headed back to the city for the tour…more on that later.

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Aug201213

Well, the end of Budapest for us has come.  We must leave this wonderful city and start the long journey back to Munich for the final 3 days of our Euro vacation.

Since the Grand Market Hall is closed on Sunday’s and we haven’t purchased any souvenirs yet, we wanted to go to the Grand Market Hall before we left Hungary.  We wanted to pick up some Paprika of course, a spice the country is famous for.  As well, I wanted to purchase a Kinder Egg surprise for Carson.  I didn’t really know what to get Carson, so we decided to get her a Kinder Egg in all the different languages that we came across…so we needed to get one with Hungarian writing on it.  Carson has always loved Kinder Eggs, her whole life.

We also wanted to spend the last of our Hungarian Forints.  We were able to spend every single last coin, we were so proud.

After a quick walk around the market, we went to retrieve the car so that we could check out of the hotel.  We walked to the location of the parkade where I left the car.  We traveled up the elevator to the 6th floor, which is where the car was parked…or so I thought.  You see, when I originally parked the car, with the combination of not being able to find the parkade, the stress of having to park in that super tight spot, and then trying to walk my way back to our hotel, I supposed I only looked at the stall number and not the floor number.  Our stall number was 64…I assumed the 6th floor.  It certainly felt like I drove up 6 floors with all the ramps I went up.

But alas, when we arrived at the 6th floor, it was very bright and open almost as though we were on the top floor, which is definitely not where I parked.  Of course I started to freak out.  So we started to walk down the floors one by one…going down down down…the more floors we climbed down the more I freaked out.  What if the car was towed? What if the car was stolen? OMG, traggic.  We found the car, on the 2nd floor, wow, how confused I must have been.  We grabbed the parking ticket from the car, so we could go back to the front desk and pay for the parking, then we could leave.

We got to the front desk and I had the wrong ticket.  So I was going to have to go back to the car to get the correct ticket, but luckily the guy at the front desk was extremely nice and just made a fake ticket for us to get out.  So we paid the parking costs, went back to the 2nd floor and got the car.  We drove to our hotel and checked out.  We were on our way.

We decided that we would drive through the Czech Republic for lunch and the closest “bigger” city to the border of Austria and not too much out of our way was Budweis.  We programmed in Budweis, Czech Republic and off we went.  For the most part the GPS did good.

We knew nothing about Budweis when we arrived and we were only stopping in on our way back to Munich, just for some lunch.   While we were there we did learn quite a bit.

Budweis is well-known for a brewery Budvar.  When you think of Budweis, Budweiser beer should come to your mind firstly – it is well-known in the world. Not many people know that Budvar sues with the American brewery Anheuser Busch for the name “Budweiser”. So, don’t mix up these two beers, although the name “Budweiser” is the same.

The original Budweiser Bier or Budweiser Bürgerbräu, was founded in 1785 Budweis.  The company began exporting to the US in 1871. In the U.S., Anheuser-Busch started using the Budweiser brand in 1876 and registered it two years later.

A second company (now named Budvar) was established in 1895 by mainly Czech brewers, which also started exporting beer under the name Budweiser.  These exports into the US market led to the Budweiser trademark dispute. Negotiations between the three companies, the two from the original town and the American Anheuser-Busch, about using “Budweiser” reached an agreement in march 1938 that allowed Anheuser-Busch to use the brand “Budweiser” only in North America.

In most European countries American Budweiser is not labelled as Budweiser but as Bud, and the name Budweiser refers to the original Czech beer, Budweiser Budvar, except for Ireland and the United Kingdom, where both beers are sold as Budweiser.

While I am not a fan of Budweiser, I am however a fan of the original Budvar beer from Czech.  If you want to try this beer here in Canada, you can buy it in the liquor stores, it is marketed as CzechVar.  I highly recommend you try it.

We needed to pay for parking and of course the parking meters only took Czech Crown, which we had none of, so I had to exchange some of our Euro to pay for parking.  We chose our restaurant and truly enjoyed our Czech lunch.  Yum!

Then back in the car and on our way to Munich.  The scenic country roads, rolling hills, warm air, what a delightful day.  We arrived back in Munich fairly late and we were about to check into the hotel.

Now, a slight back track here…I booked all our hotels on Expedia.ca and so far we have not had any issues.  Every hotel was paid for as soon as I booked online.  However, when I went to check into this hotel, it had not been paid for.  I was slightly alarmed as all the other hotels were pre-booked and pre-paid.  It took me forever to log into the credit card account online to review all the purchases and ensure that the hotel had not been pre-paid.  Which it wasn’t, so crisis averted, although I am sure that Rob wasn’t took happy that it took so long.  After such a long day of driving, you really want everything to be smooth.

We checked into the hotel, Motel One, which was very very nice and clean.  Rested for a bit and then went out for a walk.  Munich is such a great city for walking around day or night.  I love the vibe here.  We had to have a somewhat early night because we needed to be up early to grab the car and return it to the airport the next morning.  So we walked for a bit, then turned in…excited for our first day in Munich together.

Some photos of Budweis

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Aug201210

We had such high hopes for today.  We were going to take on the rest of Budapest today.  We got up early and headed downstairs to eat breakfast…and there is Rob sitting across from me at the table…green.  Uh-oh…we were doing so well with not getting sick or over doing it.  Rob was not feeling well today at all.  I quickly handed over the key to the room and sent him back upstairs since he was clearly not going to make it through breakfast.  I finished my breaky and then headed back upstairs to see how he was doing.  When I arrived…he wasn’t doing well.

He was so sick…poor Rob.  So we decided that there was really no rush to getting going…we had all day to do whatever we wanted and we didn’t have to be anywhere specific today.  So we were going to hang in the room till 10am, in the air-conditioning and see how things felt at that time.  I spent the morning reading my book while he slept.  At 10am I woke him up to see how he was feeling and he wasn’t doing any better at all…so we extended the time to noon.  This time, I completely passed out too.  Obviously our bodies had had enough of all the adventure and they were revolting against us.  We needed the rest.

At noon, I checked in again, and still not any better.  Turns out, with the exhaustion, the beer and the heatwave in Budapest…Rob got a case of Heat Stroke.  The best thing for that is rest, hydration and keep cool.  We both slept until 5ish that day and then decided that we were up for an evening walk.

We headed over the bridge, across the Danube to the other side of Budapest…otherwise known as “Pest”, since were staying on the “Buda” side.  Yes, the city is technically two in one.  We were going to attempt to hike Gellert Hill up to the Citadel.  This would normally not be an issue, but given our exhaustion, we needed to take it easy.  Most people ride a bus to the top, but we hiked up the hill on the path.  We are so glad we did, the 360 views from the top of the hill were breathtaking…not to mention the breeze was very welcome.

A little history of Gellert Hill and the Citadel:

The fortress was built in 1851 by Julius Jacob von Haynau, a commander of the Habsburg Monarchy, and designed by Emánuel Zita and Ferenc Kasselik, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. It occupies almost the entire 235 metres high plateau. The fortress is a U-shaped structure built about a central courtyard, being 220 metres long, 60 metres wide, and 4 metres tall. It had a complement of sixty cannons.

Actually built by Hungarian forced labourers, it was finished in 1854. In June 1854 Austrian troops settled in the citadel. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 and the establishment of Austria–Hungary, the Hungarians demanded the destruction of the Citadel, but the garrison troops left only in 1897, when the main gate was symbolically damaged. It was not until late 1899 when the city took possession of the Citadel. A few months later, in 1900, the walls were demolished.

In the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Soviet troops occupied the Citadella. Tanks fired down into the city during the assault that overthrew the Nagy-led Hungarian government. – Wikipedia

There is some amazing history up there…and they made a museum out of it with tons of information.  Budapest sure has been through a lot in history.

That was pretty much it for us for the evening.  We just walked around a little more and took in the city night.  This was our last night in Budapest and I was very sad to say goodbye.  I fell in love with Budapest.  Oh, and when I took the picture of the temperature…that was 9pm.  32 degrees at 9pm.

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