Spring and Summer 2009 in Munich

Cycling to Andechs - May 2009

Weather great again so out on the bike again. Headed down to Ammersee about 40km South West of Munich. Quite a ride but well worth it. Cycled around Wörthsee, up to Inning on the Ammersee. Down to Herrsching and the 4km up, up and up again to Kloster Andechs. I was so knackered I could barely stand and that was before I tried their beer.

Cycling down the River Lech to Augsburg

Weather great again, again so out on the bike again. 25 degrees, Winter seems a long time ago. Took the train West and rode along the river, through the woods off the beaten track, down some paths designed only for horses and through a foot down pool and mud and water which I had the wade out of. There is so much open space over here. Beautiful rivers, lakes, woods and hardly a soul around apart from the naturist beach which seemed to have attracted quite a turn out.

Augsburg is nice. Cobbled streets, typical German buildings, outside cafes, trams and very few cars. When the sun is out lovely place to relax after a 4 hour bum numbing cycle. The Rathaus in Augsburg. If nothing else the Germans know how to build an impressive Town Hall.

Bratislava (and on to Vienna) - Ascension Day long weekend

Long weekend away to Bratislava and Vienna. 4 hour train to Vienna along side the Alps then across Vienna and another hour to Bratislava. From Vienna to Bratislava the countryside is covered in Wind Turbines. They are everywhere, thousands of them. Is this supposed to be the Green way to produce energy? The whole area looks totally spoilt. Bratislava itself is nice, small city with a small but beautiful traffic-free Old Town, a castle on the hill and a huge Danube running right through the middle. Fun for a couple of days but overly built-up for my liking. No green space at all in the middle. The city seems to be dominated by two things. The University, students everywhere drinking, and Stag Nights, drunken Brits, Germans and Italians invading for cheap beer and ...

The high-light for me was Tesco's. It proves they can do a decent supermarket on the continent with a little help from the Brits. We really need Tesco's in Munich.

Bratislava is full of strange statues. Turn the corner and there's another one. Above from left to right A town guard in the Main Square, Hans Christian Anderson, a Workman in a man-hole, a local celebrity from 100 years ago who used to wear top-hat and tails and go around giving flowers to beautiful women, some guy leaning on a bench and a member of the paparazzi peeking around the corner. Weird but fun.

The castle dominates the city, I think Bratislava marked the border between East and West since Roman times. But at moment the castle is closed for renovation. I can just imagine it in the Middle Ages, sorry please don't invade for the next 9 months, health and safety has said we must ensure that the towers are sured up and all the paths are mad safe before we're allowed to use this defensive building. Slovakian beer seems to be the usual continental lager stuff and drunk at all times of day by young and old alike. The food is heavy, stick to your ribs fare. Goulash, potato dumplings, deep fried sort of filled pancake things, loads of meat and loads of sheep's cheese.

The women in general are very good looking. A bit like the Slovenian women but a lot less up themselves, less make-up, far more natural looking and a lot less conservatively dressed than the women in Munich ;-)

To get back to Vienna I took the ferry along the Danube. 90 minutes up the river, and it's a seriously big river considering how far inland we are. It's real working river with huge ships transporting stuff up and down. Closer to Vienna there are loads of little fishing cabins along the banks a little get away for people from the city, at one with nature. The satellite dish spoils the back to nature thing a bit though. They seem to fish using big nets that they lower into the water. Not seen that sort of set-up anywhere but SE Asia before.

To get into the centre of Vienna we take the Danube Canal, I this runs as far as Holland and into the North See.

Vienna - 23rd, 24th May

So a day and a half in Vienna. First impressions it's far busier than Bratislava, actually far busier than Munich too. More traffic, more people and tourists everywhere. Never seen so many Japanese in my life. I struggled through the crowds and saw the main sights. St Stephens Cathedral, Opera House and the Hofburg the Grand Palace that also houses the Spanish Riding School. Around the Rathaus there was a festival run by the City Council. Wien in Europa, Europa in Wien. More tax payers money spent promoting the EU. If it really was as good as they say it is it wouldn't need advertising. One web-site says "A trip to Vienna would not be complete without experiencing a performance at the Spanish Riding School, or taking in a waltz music concert, an operetta or musical and/or paying a visit to the famous Opera Hall." So I guess I'll have to go back sometime and prepare in advance ordering some tickets.

Vienna is grand, everywhere huge, old beautiful buildings. Statues of composers and writers, shops and restaurants established in 1700, grand cafes and huge hotels. I can see why people come here but like most places in Europe London has the same and much, much more other stuff too. Vienna Opera House, London has the Royal Albert Hall, for St Stephens, see St Pauls. I liked Vienna but after living in Munich I don't want to be around so many tourists any more.

The beer in Vienna, the usual Euro-piss. Food quite like Munich, I guess over the years Austria and Bavaria have been very closely linked. So Wiener Snitzels and Apple Struddle it is. I had to go to Figlmüller famous for the huge schnitzels just for the photo. It certainly filled the plate but to be honest tasted bland and I've had far better in Munich. The great food surprise was a lucky find. I logged on to Virtual Tourist for a recommendation and saw a restaurant near my hotel. So I decided to give it a go despite the less than promising name. Yak and Yeti. All it needed was Everest somewhere in the title and you'd had everything the country is famous for. Nepalese. Only every had Nepalese once before outside of Nepal and enjoyed it so gave it a go. It was great. Mixed Momo for starter which are like Chinese steamed dumplings with a short of Shish Kebab filling and the Thali for main which included a dish from the North, one from the South and a Royal dish. Very, very tasty.

Yak & Yeti   Vienna

Below the two sides of the roof of St. Peter's Cathedral and the statue of Johan Strauss.