Germany Pictures (Munich & Berlin)

I think Germany (Munich and Berlin are tied) has been my favorite place so far. Cameron is a little more weary to declare a favorite place, but he says Germany is up there.

There are a lot of things that make it so great and many reasons why I enjoyed it so much. To try and sum it up: Germany is incredibly modern, something apparently happened in the 40’s that necessitated most of the major cities to be rebuilt. Yet much of the history remains and shows itself through the modern flair of cities such as Munich and Berlin. It’s that juxtaposition of new and old and the way they work so harmoniously together that made Germany so enjoyable. That, and all the awesome beer.

Munich:

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Dachau Memorial Site (15 minutes from Munich, free entry but much better if you pay for a guide):

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Hofbrauhaus (back in Munich again):

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You’ll see as many locals as you will tourists at this huge brew house. Many of them will be dressed up like this awesome dude.

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The “dunkle” (dark beer) is the way to go.

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Suckling pig, potato dumpling and gravy. Yes.

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Pork knuckle. Cam just couldn’t wait to let me snap the picture. I don’t blame him.

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Berlin:

We took a free walking tour of Berlin and I just snapped a ton of pictures along the way. I’m sorry for some of the buildings I can’t offer the most detail. They just looked pretty.

If you want to do a walking tour definitely go with “neweurope tours” and try to get Rob Willis as your guide. He was both incredibly informative and hilarious, which is the best way to be. The tour is advertised as free, but let’s face it, nothing is free. They work off tips and ask you to give what you feel they earned. They tell you up front that that’s how it works so don’t get to the end and say “well the sign said it was free” cause then you’re a jerk. Rob was an excellent guide who deserved a great tip and it still came out to be much cheaper than many other organized tours.

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This is Rob, by the way.

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Berlin Memorial to the Jews who died in WWII.

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Graffiti at the East Side Gallery, the largest stretch of the Berlin Wall that is still standing.

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Our pub crawl guide, who I dubbed “Foxy Cleopatra.” We did our pub crawl with “neweurope tours” as well and it was just as excellent as the walking tour. Our one complaint: the last stop is on the outskirts of town and the tour guides just leave you there to figure out your own way to get back. At 3 AM. When all the trains/metro have stopped. And you’ve just done a pub crawl. Other than that it was a fun time.

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We clearly had a good time.

Thanks for reading,

-Kelly & Cameron

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Quenching our thirst for Tex-Mex

It’s scientific knowledge that a Texan can’t live very long without chips and salsa, Queso, margaritas or Mexican beer. It’s in our blood.

Just a little over three weeks away from Texas and Cameron and I have already had several conversations about what our first meal would be when we got back. It was undoubtedly going to be Mexican food, but we weren’t sure where. We’ve settled on Papposito’s and since making our decision we’ve been fantasizing about the amazing fajita goodness we’re going to stuff ourselves with on July 5th. However, upon arriving in Amsterdam yesterday we saw a really nice looking Mexican restaurant and couldn’t resist.

First thing we did when we got to Amsterdam was not rush out to a “coffee shop” or cruise down the streets of the red light district, it was eat Mexican food. Seasoned travelers and backpacking purists may frown upon this all they like, but my blood-salsa-content was desperately low, it had to be done.

Los Pilones turned out to be some of the best Mexican food we’ve ever had. It wasn’t Tex-Mex, but rather authentic Mexican. Which, thanks to some special people in our lives (Aracelli and Patricia!) we have an appreciation for as much as Tex Mex.

Margaritas, Negro Modelo, Dos XX and Pacifico flowed as we munched on chips, salsa and “Queso” (it wasn’t the runny Texan kind, but thick and stringy melted cheese instead, but my Queso deprived self didn’t mind). Cameron had some amazing shrimp tacos and I had Tinga! A traditional Mexican dish that my long-time neighbor and second Mom, Patricia Clinton, introduced me to at a young age. It wasn’t as good as Patricia’s home made Tinga, but it was spicy and delicious and amazing all the same.

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Now that our need for Mexican food has been filled (for now) we can set out to enjoy Amsterdam in a more “authentic” way…whatever that may involve. 😉

We’ll be sure to update along the way!

-Kelly & Cameron

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Our dads are a big part of why we are over here traveling the world in the first place. Besides the obvious bits about helping us come into existence, both our dads had similar travel experiences when they were our age and have been so encouraging of our own desires to travel.

Thanks for all of the encouragement in this, as well as all of our endeavors in life. We have some amazing dads! Thank you Gordon Krupa and Gary Guthrie!

We love you!

Big shout out to Frank and Al, as well. In addition to awesome dads we both have badass grandpas who we love and admire!

Hope everyone back home has a great Father’s Day! Sad we can’t be with our own dads today, but we’re thinking of y’all!

-Kelly and Cameron

Munich Surfers

Due to the absence of sandy beaches in Munich, surfers have had to get creative. This video shows people surfing at what has been dubbed “surfer’s wave” in the English Gardens, Munich’s huge park that puts all other parks to shame.

View on YouTube

The rest of the English Gardens were really cool, too. The name makes this park sound like its some quaint little area with rose bushes and a few benches and maybe some pigeons poking around. Wrong.

The English Gardens are a ginormous, behemoth of a park. Like, nice try Central Park, but you ain’t got nothin’ on the English Garden.

There’s TWO different beer gardens within the park which were full of patrons when we walked through. 20130615-142725.jpg Tons of happy beer drinkers.

There’s also a huge section of the park that’s full of young people just hanging out and drinking. It reminded me of the rio we’d always hang out at in Sevilla, but ten times larger and twenty times the amount of people. 20130615-143015.jpg20130615-143032.jpg20130615-143049.jpg People. Everywhere.

Another section of the park had a large pond as its main focus and you could rent those small boats that you peddle your feet to paddle. This section of the park had considerably less people in it but what it lacked in people it made up for in geese. And one bird with very strange feet.20130615-143307.jpg20130615-143343.jpg Geese. Everywhere.

20130615-143724.jpg Just look at those freaky little feet.

So, in conclusion, the English Garden is a spectacular part of Munich. It’s number 2 on Trip Advisor’s “things to do in Munich” behind some helicopter tour that probably costs a thousand dollars. English Garden should be number 1.

9 Awesome displays of awesomeness in Munich, Germany

Munich is an awesome place. Here are 9 awesome things we saw there:

1. This awesome proposition:
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2. This awesome question.
20130615-125526.jpg Well, how do you?

3. This awesome wifi password and it’s display.
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4. These awesome vending machine items and their accompanying descriptions.
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5. This awesome place to surf in the middle of the city.
20130615-130140.jpg Surfing video coming soon.

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6. This awesome sign.
20130615-130314.jpg I was about to pull on that handle.

7. This awesome restaurant. (Hint: it’s a French fry cafe)
20130615-130536.jpgAlso known as Heaven on Earth.

8. This awesome-ly sized glass of beer.
20130615-130745.jpg1 liter of pure liquid perfection.

9. And this awesome sign someone made after reading our blog.
20130615-130923.jpgSo sweet of them to say that.

Well, there you have it, Munich is an awesome place. We’re headed now to Berlin (wifi on the train chicka yeaaaah). We’ll probably maybe post a more serious description of our last 2 days in Munich when we get there. And a video of the Munich surfers.

Thanks for reading!

A short story about the greatest slice of pizza ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, you can all stop searching for the worlds greatest pizza because I, Kelly Krupa, have found it.

It’s not in some tiny, unassuming little back-alley pizzeria in Italy. No, it’s in Munich, right across the street from the train station. Upon first approaching the place we were greeted by these awesome pictures.
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20130613-201110.jpg(Me, anytime I eat spaghetti.)

Next I noticed that each of the tables had giant basil plants on them. Like duh, don’t assume how much basil the customer wants on their meal, just give them a damn plant on their table so they can pluck as many fresh and full green leaves as they please and add them to their plate.
20130613-201337.jpg(Like, duh.)

So all of the pizza looked great but there was this one just staring at me. It looked like this:
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Chunks of fresh mozzarella, crudely sliced tomatoes and heaps of arugula. Which happens to be my FAVORITE leafy green. I would’ve taken it just like that and enjoyed the ever living daylights out of it. But no, this girl who worked there had to take it to a whole ‘nother level. She took my beautiful slice and she put it in the oven. The arugula wilted, the mozzarella melted just ever so slightly to where it started to barely bubble and the tomatoes heated up to the absolute perfect temperature. She didn’t stop there though, oh no. She took the slice from the oven and grabbed a heaping spoonful of grated Parmesan and sprinkled it all over what I thought was an already perfect slice. AND THEN SHE GRABBED A BOTTLE OF BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND DRIZZLED IT’S THICK AMAZING GOODNESS ALL OVER THIS NOW TRULY PERFECT SLICE OF PIZZA AND SHE HANDED IT TO ME AND I DIED AND WENT TO AN AMAZING PIZZA HEAVEN.

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The end. You’re welcome.

Oh and ps Cameron also had a slice which he enjoyed very much.

Snails and slugs and Salzburg and more alliteration

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While we attempt to cook up a delicious Southwest style scramble (we even found some “salsa”!!) I figured I would bust out a quick post about our last few days in beautiful Salzburg, Austria.

As luck would have it we awoke this morning to clear skies and a bright sun, something our last two days here have been lacking. But despite poor weather we were able to hike (and I do mean hike) around Salzburg and it’s beautiful hills and mountains!

And see all the snails and slugs.

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They’re everywhere.

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And they’re awesome.

20130613-112118.jpg I had no idea I liked slugs and snails so much.

Okay, moving on. Our first day here we arrived pretty late. The trains have been all sorts of delayed and re-routed due to the flooding. By the time we got to our hostel most everything nearby (bars, restaurants, grocery stores) was closed and we were tired so we stayed in and drank some wine and played pool. More of that downtime that is so necessary on a trip like this. The next morning we woke up ready to take on the city. We bused into town (despite our hostel literally being named “Salzburg CITY CENTER hostel” it’s nowhere near the city center..) and hopped off at a stop that looked “cool.” We walked through the city headed in the general direction of the large Salzburg castle on the hill, but without any concrete route mapped out. We just wandered and took it all in. Salzburg is beautiful, much like Budapest or Prague with it’s green, domes atop churches and prominent buildings.

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We eventually made it to the bottom of the hill (mountain?) that the Salzburg castle sits on top of. And so began our hike. A quarter of the way up is a funicular that (for 11 euro) will quickly take you the rest of the way up. We thought it best to hike all the way up considering all the amazing Austrian curry wurst and bratwurst we’ve been devouring. The hike also has several lookout points with amazing views.

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Once inside the castle we explored all of the many rooms it had to offer. A large space of several rooms was dedicated to an art exhibit, while other rooms housed old weapons or pottery from different time periods of the castle’s life. Our favorite rooms by far though were the state rooms. So ornately decorated and well-preserved, they were a marvel to walk through and take in.

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20130613-113519.jpg All these pictures are crooked, I know. It was the old castle floors, okay?

When we made our way back down, instead of going the way we’d come, we headed in the opposite direction down what looked (and later proved) to be a trail. This trail spit us out at a different castle/fortress that had an amazing view of the castle we’d just come from as well as awesome views of the city.

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20130613-113809.jpg Cameron had himself a cigar and all was right in the world.

Day 2 in Salzburg was taken up by a hike..and more slugs and snails (!!!!!). Behind our hostel was the beginning of a really popular hiking trail, so that was fortunate. City Center Hostel may not have been in the city center but the hiking paths redeemed that.

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Last night we made some more Canadian friends (I swear everyone we meet is from Canada) and shared some drinks with them. Small talk turned into a 4 or 5-hour conversation with our new friends Emily and Christina. The night faded away and now it’s check-out time and time to head to Munich! But first I’ve got to go eat this deliciousness:

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Thanks for reading, kids!

Budapest Pictures

Pictures from all three days in Budapest. Some of these go along with Cameron’s “Buses and Baths” post while others are from our final day there! Enjoy! 20130610-170954.jpg

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Cam trying his hand at archery.

20130610-171041.jpg Budapest parliament building. The third largest in the world behind Buenos Aires and London’s parliament buildings.

20130610-171203.jpg The baths.

20130610-171330.jpg The royal palace which now houses a number of different museums and the national gallery.

20130610-171424.jpg A very “Disney-like” castle with brightly colored roof and tons of pointed, high towers.

20130610-171544.jpg View of Budapest from up where the royal palace sits. You can see parliament across the Danube.

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20130610-171740.jpg Flood waters. The Danube was swelled up so high it was covering what would normally be busy streets. You can see some of the street signs peaking out of the water.

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20130610-172017.jpg The Chain Bridge.

20130610-172125.jpg St. Stephen’s Basilica.

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20130610-172238.jpg A few shots from inside the basilica. It was stunning.

20130610-172412.jpg And finally, last night’s dinner. Some of the best burgers we’ve ever had, Jack’s Burger is a new establishment in the heart of Budapest that was packed, with a line snaking it’s way outside. The burgers were well worth the wait and we were reminded of home as we listened to George Strait play while we ate.

We’ve been making our way to Salzburg for the better part of this day. The flooding has all the trains delayed and certain areas are shut off completely which resulted in our having to take a bus for one leg of the journey. We’re about 30 minutes from our final destination though and we’ll be sure to update once we’ve settled in.

Thanks for reading, as always!

-Kelly & Cameron

Budapest Day 2: Buses and Baths

Fresh off a full night of “sleep” on our cloth-covered spring mattresses filled with springs and then refilled with springs, we attempted to wake up and be ready in time for the free walking tour around Budapest that meets down at the bottom of our hostel every day at 1045. After losing track of time, we missed it by 5 minutes. Although what seemed like a failure on our part ended up being a blessing (and a drain on our wallet) in disguise. On our trek to try and catch up with the walking tour (which we couldn’t find) we were convinced by one of the numerous salesmen trying to sell you “hop-on, hop-off” style tours around Budapest, this one from the company Big Bus Tours.

Our friend showed us the map of all throughout where the bus travels, how it you can hop on and hop off however you like, as well as listen to great commentary about what you are seeing on top of their double-decker buses. In addition, you can buy their package deal which includes admission to any one of the four major bath houses that are so famous in Budapest! Lucky us, right? For only 71 euros (or 20,000 Ft) for both of us, which would save us around 9,000 Ft since we wanted to go to the baths anyway, we could get the deal… After giving it some thought, as Kelly and her mom had signed on for a similar around Washington D.C. for more than that total for each of them, we decided it was a good deal.

With our tour tickets (including today and tomorrow service, a free night tour, as well as our complimentary access to the famous Budapest bath houses) in hand, we ate at another restaurant near one of the bus stops (which didn’t quite have the flair and prices of our first culinary experience) ready to get on and see the city. It was soon discovered that it was a great idea to get the Big Bus tickets, because the first place that we wanted to go took us about 10-15 minutes by bus to get there and climb up the hill to reach the historic and panoramic heaven of the Citadella. While on the map this looks like a reasonable trek by foot, I mean come on, we’ve been walking all over every city we’ve come to and its never been a problem, would have ended up being a massive hassle and workout to get to the Citadella and would have taken up most of our day.

Fortunately, we had the bus tickets. The old fortress atop the biggest hill was the same location that in 1944 when over 65,000 Nazi troops occupied Budapest, was the headquarters of said occupation before being ousted in a battle that lasted over 100 days and level more than 75% of Budapest before the Russians drove the Germans out. Not but 12 years later in 1956 did the Citadella once again play a key role in “defense” of the city as Soviet tanks were in place here as they fired down into crowds of “pro-revolutionary” Budapest forces. All-in-all, our first stop alone was beginning to be worth the money.

After our getting off at the first stop and snapping some incredible pictures of the surrounding Budapest, we decided to hop back on, and this time stay on and ride around the whole 2 hour or so tour of the city, taking note of where we should come back tomorrow and explore more thoroughly. This proved to be a good decision as we now have several places we would love to go back to, as well as a mode of transportation to get around the much larger city than what appears on the map.

Passing by beautiful cathedrals, old castle districts, and everything else there was to see along the massively overflowing Danube, we finally ended where we had initially planned to go, the baths. We stopped at almost the end of the tour at the same bath house that the guy who sold us the tickets recommended us to go to. Our ticket gave us “free” admission to what would have been a 14,000 Ft (for each of us) toll to enter the famous facilities. The pools are heated year round and full of young and old people alike. Saunas and steam rooms as well a gym, the massive facilities were truly a great place to get a closer look at the real Budapest.

However, the charm of the bath house ran out quickly as Kelly’s headache was significantly magnified while sitting in the water. A minor headache had exploded into Kelly’s first ever migraine that gave her crippling pain on a level she had never previously experienced. With no water or advil, we quickly left and made for our hostel as fast as we could to get her the attention and rest she needed. A plethora of drugs and a Pepsi later, Kelly and I napped as she found to break her fever. A 5 hour nap later and her migraine had subsided. By this time it was almost midnight, and we were once again content to continue to sleep and let Kelly’s immune system battle the cold she’s been battling, let alone her migraine.

Hopefully when we wake up tomorrow, she’ll be feeling worlds better, ready to take on Budapest once again!

Cameron & Kelly

Budapest: Gotta Love That Exchange Rate!

Our train from Vienna was rather late (almost 3 hours late, but it actually worked out for us) if all but uneventful. With all but around ten people or so on the long train to Hungary, we basically had an entire train car to ourselves as Kelly was able to continue her reading of A Clash of Kings (book 2 of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, more commonly known as the A Game of Thrones series), and Cameron was able to fill his time with Candy Crush and Solitaire.

Not sure what to think as we rolled into the third of three Budapest train stations, we were instantly swarmed by people asking us if we had a place to stay and if we would like to be in their hostel. Advice after advice was thrown at us as we were just trying to figure out how to get out of the place, let alone find the metro. When I looked up which countries used the Euro before we left, the list I found on Google said that Hungary was on that list of EU countries to use the Euro. But our first hostel suitor was kind enough to inform us that “we are foreigners in the EU because we use the Forint (it sounds like “foreigns”)” and that our best bet was to withdraw from the ATM in the station rather than use the “shitty conversion rate” as he put it that the exchange counter in the train station uses. Upon withdrawing and doing the math, our friend was actually giving us great advice as Bank of America gave us great exchange rates on the Hungarian Forints.

With a front-zipped chest pocket full of colorful Forints, we headed three stops closer into the heart of the city where we easily found our hostel among bars, shops, restaurants, and other businesses close to one of the major squares, Elizabeth Square. A shower for Kelly and an empty belly for both of us, and it was time to find some Hungarian food! Provided with a brochure of some of the best restaurants at cheap prices, we decided to choose the first one on the list that was actually not too far from our hostel.

When we got there, the food was even cheaper than we had heard it was (around $3.30 for each of our main courses), we feasted on two larger than anticipated appetizers of “meat soup with dumpling” and “spinach” that turned out to be one of the best dumpling soups I’ve ever had and a giant bowl of what looked like Spinach Soup but tasted like heaven. Kelly ordered the paprika chicken with mashed potatoes while Cameron got the beef goulash with “noodles” (which were very similar to the classic italian staple gnocchi). Two glasses of red wine for Kelly and a 0.5 L mug of beer for Cameron, and our entire meal came out to only 3450 Forints, or about $15.50 for our entire meal. Amazing. Tell me where in the states you can eat and drink like kings and only pay $15-16 bucks? To quote a childhood favorite movie, Eurotrip: “Gotta LOOOOVE that exchange rate!”

Tired from traveling and filled with amazing Hungarian food, we decided to call it an early night in preparation for a big day tomorrow exploring Budapest!