Cross The Border

Munich: Short Trip with Enough of Beer, Great Impressions, a lot of Inspiration and not Enough of Time.

More than a month has passed and I’m finally ready to look back to my short trip to Munich (Bavaria, Germany) on January 2012. Firstly, I have to mention that it was perfectly planned trip (probably because I wasn’t the one who planned it, but these were my German friends) where in 3 days I saw more than I could imagine. 

So from Riga I got to Frankfurt Hahn airport (thank you, Ryanair) and then I had half of the day to get from Frankfurt to Munich. I must admit that I was pretty sure that I’ll get lost somewhere changing the trains 4 times with just 5 -20 min between them being the first time in Germany alone. It didn’t happen – it’s kind of impossible to get lost with German trains: clear signs on train stations and everything always happens on time, so I got to Munich safe and happy on late evening. And I was welcomed warmly with German beer.

The next morning I got typical German breakfast (that’s what they told me) what was definitely too much for me. Oh, and that’s a Sunday breakfast... with beer! 

One really great place we visited on Sunday out of Munich was Monastery Andechs.  It took more than 1 hour hiking through the forest up to the hill to get there, but it’s worth it even in spite of the weather of January. That’s a place where pilgrims have been coming from all around the world for centuries and you can see there great collection of candles brought there by pilgrims. The small church there is absolutely fabulous – gold and paintings, so many small detail that you can spend there hours trying to figure out symbols and stories.  Guess what else they have there – brewery! So after your spiritual way up to the hill and seeing the territory of the monastery it’s time to enjoy Bavarian food and ... beer!  And then down the hill again. 

I can’t name for you all places I visited in Munich. My Munich day started with the Olympic Tower which was built for the Olympic games in 1973 – the best place to see everything from the height of birds flight (or even higher). Close to the tower we also got into the BMW centre – shiny and cool place with old and new BMW cars, car lovers’ paradise (that’s what I think of this place not being familiar with any kind of cars). 

And here comes the old part of Munich: shopping streets, fountains, Marienplatz with stunning gothic Rathaus (The New Town Hall) – one more place to stand for loooooong time staring at the small details of this building. I’m sorry, but I really can’t name (or count) all these beautiful buildings I saw from one gates to another ones (as old part of Munich historically was surrounded by wall there were 4 gates into it from the 14th century). 

If you like rococo architecture head to Asamkirche (church) - it’s a real rococo highlight which will take your breath away. I also have to mention English Garden in Munich – it’s huge and with nice view to the city (I saw it already when it was dark), and I heard so many stories of how cool it is on summer that I want to go back there. 

Ludwig Maximilians University – please, please, go there!!! The entrance hall with statues, arches and columns will make you to want to be a student forever. It’s the most beautiful place to get education I’ve ever seen. And close to this university you also can visit the library - Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Well, you won’t get very far inside there, but that is one more amazing entrance hall where the light interior and the portraits of great philosophers and thinkers will look at you inspiring to study, study, study...

Sorry, I have no pictures at all, I can’t name any nice cafe (there was one really nice place with coffee and retro furniture which you can even buy, for example, if you like the table you are sitting at and if you are willing to pay for it – you can take it home!). Oh, but now I have my favourite train station (never thought I’ll have it)! It's not in Munich. It’s Frankfurt Main where I got on my way back. While in other train stations 7 min waiting for the next train is more than enough, in Frankfurt Main Hauptbahnhof I had 30 min and I wouldn’t mind to sit there doing nothing and observing it for longer time: it’s the busiest train station in Germany and besides adorable metal construction architecture amazing train station atmosphere lives there!

Yes, it’s worth to spend in Munich more than 3 days.

13 days, ~4400 km, 6 countries, 39 cars: 
Riga (LV) – Braila (RO) – Riga (LV)

This was my trip of the summer 2011: 13 days starting from  23rd of June. I’ve never before hitchhiked such a long distance and I know it’s not the last time I do it. The plan was to get from Latvia to Romania and it was faster and easier than I thought it will be. We were two girls on the road with the map of Europe, Poland and Romania. The way from Riga to Romania (and back) took just 2 days in place of planned 3-4 days and I got a lot of new positive emotions, thanks to the beautiful sights, people I met on the road and the feeling of freedom. Of course, it was also a challenge for myself and I’m glad I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I am.
2 days almostly non-stop driving, from car to car in around 5-20 min, with 2 hours break at night in one gas station in Poland and being stuck in Slovakia – Presov – the city with no signs on the streets to find the right direction. Oh, and that scary moment of walking at the middle of the night through a small, empty village in Poland where almost every yard is filled with gravestones (they make and sell them). That’s when we really understood our route – how to make it faster, which way to choose – talking to drivers. Their opinions helped us a lot. And we got not only an excursion in Bialystok (PL) and found the centre of Europe (also in PL), but even the dinner with Turkish-Romanian family on the border of Romania.

The most enjoyable part of the trip was hitchhiking inside Romania. The beauty of the nature: from the highest mountains to the Black Sea. Before the trip we actually planned that it would be easier not to hitchike through the highest mountains. But it wasn’t such a big problem. And Romanians really are the friendliest people in Europe. So opened hearts, so much smiles and interest about you. The biggest thanks to them – they really care about the people they meet on their way. Well, we had some keys to their hearts - my Romanian language skills, story of volunteering in Romania some time ago and coming back again, but even without that all - Romanian people are very opened and caring.

We visited very beautiful, old city in mountains – Sibiu. 15 cars and we were there in Bucharest: enjoyed nice parks, architecture & a little of it’s nightlife, after we got to the Black Sea at Constanta (unfortunately the weather was too bad for swimming) and to Braila – the city at the Danube. Well, that's not the most popular city in Romania to visit. In fact - tourists there are rare, but I lived in that city almost 1 year some time ago, and of course I had to go there back and see it.

Starting our way back to Latvia we got to Ploiesti – totally industrial environment, walked in Sinaia  (it's the 2nd time when I'm there and The Peles Castle is closed, so I guess that's the reason for me to go there again). And it was just an amazing sight suddenly seeing the lights of Cluj-Napoca at the middle of the night. On morning we had a long walk getting out of Cluj and some hours later – getting out of Oradea. Then we crossed the border of Romania walking.

On our way back home: no more writing long names of the cities: in Hungary we hitchhiked with SK, in Slovakia with PL and in Poland already with LV on the paper. And it worked out. The beauty of Hungary and Slovakia is now in my heart. Fields of sunflowers, mountains, peace...  I guess I would love to know more these contries. You are on the road and get the feeling that all the world is open to you. And it really is.Why do we have vacations & holidays? For enjoying what we can't enjoy in our everyday life, I guess...

ROMANIA - that place where I went to live quite long period of time knowing nothing about the country.  It was fast decision and fast leaving home to stay there almost 1 year.  I was lucky to visit the Capital City, to live in another city and to spend some time at the countryside. Everything togeather with local people.  Pollution (even high in mountains), stray dogs (be carefull), drivers who ask money from hitchikers... :) This country is not only about gypsies and Dracula, but it definitely gives charm to the conuntry. And  I love it. In some words: fabulous nature, friendly people & wine. Forget all stereotypes. Romania is worth visiting. Get off the beaten track and discover - Romania keeps a lot of surprises for you.

Some places I have visited in Romania during my time of volunteering there:

Bucharest – the Capital city. I have to go there again to tell you more. The Arch of Triumph, The second biggest building in the world (after Pentagon), Nicolae Ceausescu & Traian Basescu.
Predeal/Brasov/Sinaia -  All kind of hotels. Mountains around. Fabulous, small, old... Peles castle. Monastery. Great views, sports and leisure.

Campina – I  was there and stayed overnight just by accident and discovered very interesting museum of a poetess Julia Hasdeu who died young. Her father was still searching the contact with his dead daughter through spiritism: fabulous museum with audio guides in several languages. The plans of the buliding have been made during the spiritualism sessions.

Tulcea - the gate to the famous Danube Delta. 

Braila – Romanians are joking that this city smells like a fish because it’s near the Danube.  It’s a very nice place to be: Danube, parks, cosy bars, port, old street, fountains and really great theatre "Maria Filotti" - I went there thinking that they can't surprise me, because I've seen so many good theatre plays, but they really did it - they impressed me (even without understanding the language). ... My city. 

Vama Veche – starting from 1st of May till the end of summer – place for all young and crazy people, camping at the seaside, parties, Black sea. Place of worship/dreamland for young people - festival atmosphere all summer.

Countryside -  friendly people, wine, corn, horses and fabulous home-made food.

I really can't tell about this place and the time I spent there just in some words.