I spend the free time I have planning for our journey in March to Germany. RM and I are traveling just the two of us and intend to stay for about 10 days. Four days in the northeast section of Germany centered in Berlin, then a half a day train ride south to Munich to stay for three days and then we catch Rail Europe for Trier in the Mosel Valley (think Napa) very close geographically to Luxembourg and near France. This map from Rick Steve’s Germany 2015 shows the reverse route but we wanted to end our trip in Trier so we could spend the week-end with our “adopted” fourth daughter, Melina. She has visited us several times for extensive stays but we haven’t seen her home, met her family, or toured her birth city of Trier which also happens to be one of Fort Worth’s Sister Cities.
We have purchased airline and train tickets, made hotel reservations, identified our major “must sees”, researched restaurants and cuisines we want to taste, spotted a couple bookstores, antique shops and shopping excursions but mostly we want to soak in the history, the arts and the culture.
We are staying in East Berlin (hard for this baby boomer to think possible) as it is now gentrified in many areas especially in Prenzlauer Berg where we are staying. Our hotel is near the Hackescher Markt and we hope to walk to most sites but I did secure a transportation pass for four days of “free” travel on Berlin public transportation options. Steves says to not miss seeing the German History Museum, Pergamon Museum, Reichstag, and Bradenburg Gate. The Ann Frank Center is on our list. We will have a pilsner of beer at Clarchens Ballhaus — it is one of the oldest dining and drinking establishments in Berlin, having just celebrated it’s 100-year anniversary in 2013. See picture below.
In Munich, we are staying in the old center. An area south of Marienplatz, an ideal location for walking and near to the most famous landmarks in Munich. The hotel we are staying in is referred to as a pension which I gather means a very basic room (we have a bath and water closet in our pension room) but I don’t think this is always true (maybe down the hall or shared?) and then breakfast is included. I think the family name is associated with this type of hotel like Pension Marshall if RM and I owned and operated one. I wanted this option so we could eat a typical German breakfast. Must sees for us are Marienplatz and maybe a glockenspiel joust, Viktualienmarkt, English Garden and an important stop outside of Munich to the powerful museum and memorial at Dachau Concentration Camp.
We catch the train to Trier with one transfer– the trip is about five hours total and I hope to see some beautiful scenery along the way. The Trier experience we will leave to Melina and family as we know they are outstanding hosts. All of our daughters have been to Trier, some multiple times, and each one comes back just bursting with excitement about the experience. Germany will be chilly in March so we are packing like when we went to Chicago last March with lots of layers, a good coat and boots.
Before I take a trip, I try to study the place a bit before I go. I read travel books, make dishes from Pinterest, and read books famous from authors from the country I am visiting. This time I am reading Thomas Mann’s novel titled the Buddenbrooks, The Decline of a Family, which was first published in 1900 when Thomas Mann was just 25. He chronicles four generations of a North German mercantile family from prosperity to bankruptcy — I am half way through it and can imagine the stir it made back then as it is quite gossipy and filled with earthy humor.
Many of you have already traveled and lived in Germany and I so appreciate your suggestions, ideas and comments. Güte Reise!