Sausages, Beer, and Schnitzel

A sleepless night due to the flu, a long bus ride with a horrible driver, gale force Spanish winds, an overnight stay in the airport of Barcelona, and a missed bus to Berlin – and that was all within the first 24 hours of our German holiday.

From the Monday afternoon we left our apartment residence to the following Monday when we returned, not one of us 5 knew what the week ahead would hold in store. It seemed like anything and everything that could go wrong did; and it might sound like I’m exaggerating, but ask any one of the other 4 girls and they would say the exact same thing. Of course, they weren’t the ones who felt like they were going to die and not even make it out of the country; however, it is pretty safe to say that we each had our own share of chaos during the week-long adventure.

This whole trip had so much riding on it being the first week of holidays of the semester. (And the fact that it was over as fast as it got here just stupefies me.) Originally, I wanted to spend it in Italy: Venice, Florence, and maybe the south. My heart was pretty set on experiencing Carnevale di Venezia, so it was a little bit of a downer when I came to the realisation that that wasn’t going to happen. Although, my goal here is to visit places that I haven’t traveled to yet. Plus, my mentality is “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be,” “Everything happens for a reason,” and “It’ll be better when the weather is warmer.” So, it wasn’t too heart-breaking. Next, we tried for Prague and Vienna… Needless to say, we learned our lesson the hard way and won’t wait to book flights/trains/accommodation until the last minute.

Therefore, going with the cheapest option we (aka not me) had the patience to find, it was decided that we would visit the German cities of Berlin and Munich.

The day before our departure from Toulouse, I came down with a fever that I spent the whole night trying to break. This means that 1) I was already so sleep-deprived going into the travel and 2) the girls would be traveling with someone who was about to battle the flu. Sounds like a great time, right?

The first two days were dedicated to travel; and it was horrible, absolutely horrible. I even considered turning around and coming back to Toulouse. I didn’t even know how I’d get there, or what I’d do once I was there because I felt completely helpless and hopeless. Did I mention that it even got to the point where I couldn’t even speak? I was a mess, and I still don’t understand why or how the girls put up with me. I couldn’t even put up with myself.

Monday night was spent in Barcelona. It was my very first time there, so it was unfortunate that I was in the state I was. At the end of the week we had to come back to Spain to catch our bus back to Toulouse and I got to see more of the city then, from the back of a speeding taxi cab that is (more on that later). Still, the combination of both wasn’t much; I think Barcelona is more than worthy of a return and a longer stay. A weekend in Barcelona will happen before the semester is over, and hopefully I will be 100% and healthy this time.

Like I said earlier, we slept overnight in the airport, which would have been an experience in itself. The fact that I was wanting to see a doctor just amplifies it. At this point though I just needed to sleep, and after a couple of hours on a McDonald’s couch, I was feeling slightly better for our early flight to Munich. We flew with Lufthansa and I am still thinking of the croissant they gave us. I’d definitely fly with them again. An hour and a half later, we arrived in a gloomy Munich, Germany.

We were on a time crunch and needed to catch our bus to Berlin at the train station that was 40 minutes away with exactly 40 minutes to get there.. Spoiler alert: We missed the bus. We got there right when the bus was backing up, and the driver didn’t seem to have any sympathy as he drove away while we stood on the sidewalk with our luggages and frowns on each of our faces. Fortunately, there was another bus to Berlin 2 hours later; unfortunately, we didn’t get refunds for our missed bus.

It was probably a good thing that we had a couple of hours at the bus station because we were able to grab some lunch, visit a pharmacy, and buy some snacks/water for the road. See, everything does happen for a reason. Even if you don’t know that reason when it’s happening. I was able to take some medicine and sleep on the bus to Berlin, which was very nice. When I woke up, we were finally at our destination. We couldn’t be happier for a proper bed, shower, and wifi.

The next day was better. I still was sick with who even knows what, but I was able to speak again. The plan was for me to rest for the day and stay behind in the hostel, but I feel like because I didn’t do that, I started to feel better over the week. Fresh air is one of the best cures I think.

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I’ll be honest, Berlin wasn’t a favorite. I did like seeing the Berlin Wall though. I think that if you have high expectations for it, however, you would be disappointed because it literally is just a wall. But of course, one cannot deny its significance and history behind it.

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Our last full day in Berlin happened to be Jéssica’s birthday. It was too bad that we weren’t all up to party or do something really special for her, but I like to believe that we semi-made up for it on our last night in Germany. Plus, I think 2/5 girls still had a nice time celebrating, and that is including the birthday girl. :) It was a rough morning after for some of us on our bus ride from Berlin, but we couldn’t miss our bus a second time..

Because we still had Munich to see! I have to say that getting to Munich was when the trip really started to turn around. I am a firm believer that things have to get worse before they can get better; and after the rough start, it was very nice to be somewhere where it was sunny because people are happier. Leave it to the girl from southern California to say that, but it’s true. I feel like all of us had a change in attitude and were in higher spirits by then.

Our first late afternoon/evening there, we had a late lunch and a little walk around the area around our hostel. Then, the next day we went on a free walking tour of the city. Our tour guide took us to see Marienplatz, the New and Old Town Halls, the Opera House, and a couple other places. It was very good for being a free tour.

Amongst several recommendations from our guide, we first chose to pay 1euro to climb the tower of St. Peter’s Church.

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I think a lot of people fall in love at the top of this tower. I know I did.

I fell in love with Munich.

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München. Although not how I typically imagine Germany (I’ve only been to Kandersteg before – extremely cute German town), it still had its own little charm that I appreciated so much. It was also a very beautiful day, so Bavaria’s capital also had that going for it.

Another recommendation (and something I personally wanted to do when we were in Germany) was a meal and drink at a Hofbräuhaus beer hall. Old enough to have a 0.5l beer. I just had to.

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A little more sight-seeing, ending our day in Englischer Garten to watch the sunset and listen to some singing man with a guitar. Life was good at that moment.

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That night we went out with some new friends we met at the hostel. It was nice to be with my people again. And by my people, I mean Americans.

To spend our last day in Germany, we thought it’d be a great idea to see THE castle that inspired Cinderella’s castle: Neuschwanstein. This was easily a highlight of our trip just because I’m such a castle-person and I love castles.

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This castle was built by King Ludwig II, but it was never finished because he died before it could be completed. From what our tour guide in Munich told us, Ludwig wanted to be remembered as a fairy-tale prince. *cue the aw’s ;) It was even more heart-rending to learn that he died unmarried and childless. Poor guy. I’ll always think of him as the fairy-tale prince though.

Since the Cinderella castle was a day trip, we didn’t arrive back to Munich until 8 or 9 in the evening. It was a little less than an hour train ride, then a 45-minute bus ride that about 50+ other tourists, Amanda, Vanessa, and I had to spend standing up. Yes, on a bus. I feel like the situation could have been handled better, but I guess not that night. Anyways, after a long day, we wanted to have a sort of last German supper since we only ate out for lunch during this trip. Of course, I couldn’t leave without having a Wiener Schnitzel.

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We also wanted to do something special for Jess, so we talked to the waiter and he made this happen.

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It was such a wonderful way to end our German holiday which was so stressful and tiring, but also so memorable and definitely one for the books.

Then, it was Monday again and another long day of travel was on the agenda. We arrived at the airport in Munich and got on our plane to Barcelona without a hitch. However, it was once we landed in Spain that our Amazing Race-esque challenge commenced.

We landed in Barcelona at 1:20 in the afternoon, and we needed to catch our bus back to Toulouse that was scheduled to depart at 2pm. After a traumatizing bus experience in Germany, we weren’t going to have a repeat situation. It was literally so intense because we were waiting for what seemed like ages for one checked luggage. As we watched the time go by, we were getting anxious. We couldn’t miss our bus back home.

It was probably 20 ’til when we ran out to the taxis, and it was a race to the finish. Mind you, only two of us knew Spanish (one technically, since she is a native speaker) so the ability to communicate with our drivers was limited. When asked how long it would take to get to the bus station, our driver said “Quinze minutos, màs o menos.” That I understood, gracias to my Spanish high school teacher. It didn’t do much to help my anxiety levels though at this point.

So as we’re racing down the Spanish highway, I was able to see just how beautifully sunny Barcelona could be. I was also thinking about what we could do if and when our bus left without us. Maybe drink some sangrias and see some sights…

Yet in some crazy twist of fate, we made it to the bus station on time. More importantly, the bus was still there. We didn’t even depart the station until around 2:15/20. It blows my mind just how evident the huge difference between German and Spanish culture is. If it was a German bus we had to catch, we would have been stranded. We would know, it happened once before!

As you can tell, it was an adventure from start to finish. On the bus ride back to Toulouse, I couldn’t help but reflect on the crazy week we had. I could have cried, laughed, smiled, screamed… Even a combination of those. However, the prevalent emotion was contentment. Before I never would have imagined a week of holidays like this one, but now I feel like we could do anything.

It was an insane trip, and although I do wish I wasn’t sick for any bit of it, I have no regrets and would do it again (but not sick) in a heartbeat. I don’t want to believe that I am past the halfway point of my stay in Toulouse! But with spring and its warmer weather just around the corner, I am ready to conquer the rest of Europe.

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