Making the Best of Munich

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

By the time I’d reached Munich I’d begun to thoroughly regret my decisions on traveling for so long to so many places. I’d caught a cold from someone along the way and was tired and achy and just feeling awful. I missed being able to understand the language around me and longed to be back in my own bed.


Can I be done now?

However, though it was tempting to give up, I had to keep going. And I was determined to see some of Munich even if it exhausted me.

I arrived in the afternoon and checked into my hostel. I stayed at Wombats, which is now one of my favorite hostels ever. I would highly recommend you check them out. They also have branches in London, Budapest, and Vienna. They were extremely friendly and provided a clean and comfortable hostel right near public transportation for a very budget price. Plus a really delicious breakfast buffet for a bit extra and some good areas to socialize with other travelers.

In spite of my tiredness, I decided to actually try to get out and see some of the city. I’d visited Munich before during my last two-week Eurail adventure, but I hadn’t seen much as it had just been a day destination rather than somewhere I spent the night. So to finally be back, I was determined to actually see a few things further afield rather than what was located right around the train station.

My first place I set out for was the English gardens. I’d had people recommend it to me, and it was indeed lovely to see. My favorite part was the surfers in one of the canals. Very fun to watch!

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After walking for a bit I headed off towards the city center and walked there a bit too. There was very little I was dying to check out in terms of sites. Munich is fun more for walking around than for any one major tourist attraction. Although, if I’d been there longer, I know I would have found some other good things to do. I actually really wanted to go to one of the concentration camps nearby, but by the time I would have arrived it would have been too late to really see much. And running on as little energy as I was, it was probably for the best that I didn’t emotionally exhaust myself on top of everything else.

After a short venture around the main areas downtown, it began to get dark so I started considering food. I headed to a restaurant the hostel had recommended (they gave a handy list), but unfortunately it was quite crowded. Feeling as gross and tired as I did, I opted to head back to my hostel and either relax for a bit before venturing back out, or see if there was food at the bar.

Sure enough the bar served pizza! So yay for having some good food without too much effort. Plus Wombats provides you with a free welcome drink too, so free alcohol too. So that was my evening.

Anyhow, sad to say it was time for bed for me after that. Sorry for any expecting a long post on how awesome this city is. Unfortunately I cannot give a true testament to Munich. I’d say from the little I’ve seen it’s a very aesthetically pleasing city and certainly one to hit up if you’re going around Germany. Do your research maybe and see what else there is to check out. I wish I could help more! However, that’s just traveling sometimes. You’ve just got to keep on going.

A Stop in Dresden Doesn’t Hurt

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”-Ursula K. Le Guin

Honestly I didn’t have any great desire to go to Dresden. It really just was a logical place to stop between Hamburg and Prague. Although Prague was really just a logical place to rest between Hamburg and Budapest… wow. Essentially you can tell that I never ever want to do a night train again. (to be honest I had a bad experience, but I think if you do it better than I did and pay a little more you can actually have a quite nice time…but I don’t like spending more money and to use the Eurorail… again I’ll get to this in another post).


So I headed to Dresden out of hopes of not exhausting myself and thinking I’d at least be able to see something new.

I arrived in the afternoon and caught a tram over to the Neustadt where my hostel was located. I stayed at Lollis Homestay, and I might just rave about this hostel a little.

Again, I’ll need another post just on hostels to cover this accurately, but the main thing you should know is that I really enjoyed my time here. And the reason for that was simple. The hostel strove to create a good environment where you could meet people. And it was small enough that it could do so effectively. But I’ll mention more on that later.

After checking in I headed out to go to the Zwinger palace and museums. They are absolutely gorgeous buildings, but inside there are also three collections. A porcelain museum, a fine arts museum, and a museum of scientific instruments.


I was interested in both the porcelain and art museum. Figured I’d skip the science one. However, the tickets came bundled at a cheaper price, so I gave in and bought one for all three. I started with the porcelain. It was a giant collection, and I enjoyed seeing the variety. I can’t say I really took my time, but I did walk through the whole place and stop to examine some pieces n greater detail. Then from there I moved to the Old Masters art gallery.

I told my mom afterwards that I’d seen the cherubs painting from our local coffee shop. It sounds dumb, but one of my favorite coffee shops back in my hometown in the US had a replica of this painting (or the cherubs I should say) and had them sitting with coffee at a table. It no longer exists sadly as the shop closed down, but I loved that painting as a child. I never actually learned the name of the painting until now. So I present the Sistine Madonna by Raphael. Better known for its cherubs than the madonna of course!


This was the most famous work in the museum, but there were a few other pretty ones. All in all a nice collection and housed in such a beautiful place! I will mention you can feel free to roam the outside without paying. So for anyone not interested in the museums, you’re fine!

Last I stopped by the scientific instruments museum. I skimmed through it because I wasn’t all that interested in the content and was beginning to find myself zoning staring in display cases anyways.

So I headed out to go explore more of the city. It was beginning to get dark so I walked around downtown a little bit. I didn’t see quite as much as I wanted to, but I don’t know that I really would have wanted another day there since there weren’t a lot of other “major” sites to see. And I felt more self-conscious of my lack of German skills in a place like Dresden as well.


I picked up a few groceries at an incredibly busy grocery store. Like in France, Germany has a lot of places that are closed on Sundays meaning the few that aren’t are incredibly busy. After eating two warm and fresh rolls on my way out of the store, I headed back to my hostel. They were having a free dinner. Carrot ginger soup and spinach rolls. And it was an awesome experience. I talked with so many other people from a variety of other countries. It was a good chance to connect and eat delicious food.

So I chatted with a girl from Georgia (the country) and a Korean and two ex-British men who were now living on the continent. I was getting sleepy with the filling and warm meal so I couldn’t stay as long as I liked, but  it was a great experience nonetheless. If any are interested in staying in Dresden I really recommend Lollis Homestay. It’s a lovely place! Very eclectic and fun and wonderful to meet people. I’d say its only downside is it’s a little far from the old town. But if you’re into the newer town with all the bars and such it’s a good location. Just depends what you want!

Off to bed before leaving Germany to head for…Prague!

Hello Hamburg!

So day two of my incredible journey. Well two and three. Might as well just blog about my whole time in Hamburg in one go.

The train ride to Hamburg was much less eventful than the one to Cologne. Just was stuck next to a German boy with bad breath who kept coughing into his hands (why can’t European people use their arms like Americans do?). Oh and I also was squeezed onto the train with a crowd of people all trying to go to some convention in Dusseldorf. So I had to squeeze off because I was too uncomfortable to last for four hours and go hop on another car. It was much less crowded there. Sometimes people just move like sheep and all crowd in a space without paying attention.

Anyhow, once to Hamburg I headed straight to my hostel. Well, after a little bit of confusion over how the metro system works. No need to validate your ticket, which was very strange, and at first it can be hard to tell which line goes which directions, but at the station there is always something that shows the stops following. Once I figured that out it was much easier.

I decided to stay in Jugendherberge Hamburg Auf dem Stintfang. It’s a part of Hostel International, which I’ve enjoyed before, so I figured it should be good. What I wasn’t anticipating was a breathtaking view, pleasant facilities, and a delicious and filling breakfast all very close to the action and just a short walk to a metro stop! I think the only letdown was realizing there wasn’t any wifi. I usually don’t even bother to check because most places have it now a days, but if you need wifi…you’re in trouble in this hostel. Otherwise it is great. I enjoyed dinner there my second day. Very big filling and pretty tasty meal for only eight euros.

Regardless I checked in, used a small bit of time to recharge, before heading off to explore. I thought I’d go see the Miniature Wunderland, which is supposed to be an incredible collection of model trains and other mini figures etc. Anyhow, I took my time heading over to that, snapping pictures and enjoying the sights of the harbor. From what I saw of Hamburg, some of the best of it is just wandering and seeing the beautiful architecture, waterfront, and various sights.

I arrived at Miniature Wunderland, but unfortunately they told me it would be an hour wait to get in, because it’s a super popular attraction. Had I known, I would have booked tickets online, but it was too late by that time. I just said no thanks and walked out. I wasn’t going to spend an hour of my forty-eight (less actually) waiting in a room. No way.

So I set off to go see the Planten un Blomen. It’s a gigantic park in the middle of Hamburg with all kinds of flora. I took far too many pictures there, so I’ll try to only post a few…but it will be difficult. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure it’s even better in spring and summer with the fountains going too!

After that it was getting dark and starting to rain, so I figured I’d head back towards my hostel where I had been recommended a restaurant for dinner.

My hostel had recommended Block Brau for good German food. It was also incredibly close, which was very convenient. I walked over from the metro. No English menu posted. My hostel had to know what they were doing though right? But I noticed unlike a lot of German restaurants that there was a person at a sort of front desk area, making it easy for me to at least ask if they had an English menu. So I went in and asked and said I wanted to eat there by myself.

Now the day before I’d sat at a table awkwardly by myself and had my dinner. I mean, I get a little anxious sometimes about what people think, so it can be uncomfortable eating alone. But I’ve started trying to not care because I’m a young single woman who still wants to enjoy life. And sometimes that just means enjoying a good meal by yourself.

Well…unfortunately in this case it didn’t. It meant they looked around the restaurant and saw nowhere to seat me, just as two German ladies walked up and asked for a table. So they asked them if I could join. I don’t speak German, but I could understand that much. And I stood there feeling pathetic and embarrassed while they talked and then they both smiled at me and motioned me after them.

I embarrassingly admitted I didn’t speak their language and they said they spoke a little English. I apologized and awkwardly sat down at the same table with them. They kindly offered me a seat where I could look out the window and see the river. I thanked them more than once and focused on looking at the English menu. I’m only a little embarrassed to say I ordered a hamburger. Honestly…it was too funny not to. And the restaurant listed it as a specialty. Had a beer too, even though I’m one of those people who doesn’t care much for beer. When in Germany…

Anyhow, I thanked the ladies again when I left, and then went back to my hostel to relax a little for the night, but not before taking a few night harbor pictures.


The next day I started by enjoying the lovely breakfast my hostel provided. There was meat, cheese, bread, fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice, and coffee all included in the price! So I definitely pigged out. My philosophy on food purchases while traveling is usually to make the most of included breakfast, buy a grocery store lunch, and eat out for dinner. Or sometimes I swap the first two. This trip I’ve been doing a lot of crackers and apples for lunch because I’ve hit awkward times for meals due to train rides. Saving money, but definitely ending up a little hungry at the end. So included breakfast can make a huge difference.

After breakfast I took the metro to the Rathaus, city hall where I was supposed to meet up with my walking tour. When I went to Berlin two years ago a girl in my hostel recommended Sandeman’s walking tour and I did it and LOVED it. Put Berlin on the map as one of my favorite cities for a long while. So I definitely wanted to check out the Hamburg Sandeman New Europe tour.

Definitely a good decision. Our guide was funny and insightful. He led us through the city helping to point out things I’d never have noticed just walking on my own. And relying only on tips, he clearly did his best to make it interesting and to be helpful. So at the end I was able to pay what I wanted to pay for his services. Makes it work very well!

We walked all over, but here are a few pictures of the different things we saw. If I was more into the party scene I would have been interested to see the evening tour covering the Rieperbahn which is a sort of party district…apparently quite famous.

After the three hour tour I headed to the hostel for a break, I was getting chilly and tired. So I recharged and then headed off in search of the International Maritime Museum.

Oh my goodness. I cannot begin to describe what an amazing museum it was. Ten floors of ship models and information on sailing and historical artifacts etc. I told my mother that only the main signs are in English, not each individual artifact, and I spent almost two hours there without being able to read everything. It’s an incredibly in depth museum, well worth the money and time in my opinion. Very nicely laid out and with great visuals. It looked like a great place for kids too.

I spent most of my day there and then headed back to the hostel for a dinner there. Figured I’d save money, be filled up, and not have to worry about getting put at a table with German people. Besides, who could resist the view! And the pumpkin soup they had turned out to be one of the most delicious things I’ve had so far on the trip!


Walked around a little at night to enjoy the lights. As I’m not a party person and alone to boot, I didn’t go check out any of the scene here in Hamburg, but it was quite active even early on a Saturday night, so if you’re looking for that kind of thing Hamburg is certainly the place to be!

Off to bed in my hostel. Hoping for a good day tomorrow as I head to Dresden!


The Adventure Begins: Cologne

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” -Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

So for any not keeping up with my blog, here’s a quick summary. I’m living in France for a year to teach English and now am on my fall break. So… what to do with two weeks without classes… how about travel?

Therefore I decided to purchase a Eurorail ticket and travel across Europe by train.

I’ll post another time on the ticket itself, because I think that deserves a blog, but for now I want to update friends and readers on what has been happening so far.

So first part of the journey was to head to Cologne, Germany. I’d tried to pick a large city not too far from my hometown, but far enough away that I likely wouldn’t do a weekend trip. Besides, I had some kind of an idea of grandeur when it came to Cologne, so I figured it was worth a shot.


My friend Chrystal and I started a tradition of doing a selfie at each train station you stop at, therefore commemorating the great European train route. So here’s the first one in my hometown!

I started my journey with a 6:30 AM train from my home town of Armentieres, to Lille the next major city. I have a train pass, so no need to use my Eurorail yet, which was part of why I’d left so early. See, if a Eurorail pass isn’t stamped it’s not valid. So I needed to ensure I had enough time to get my pass stamped before boarding my 8:08 train to Froyennes, Belgium.

Well, I arrived in Lille with no problems and headed straight for the train office. And it was… dark. The doors were closed and no one was in there. I stared at the sign listing the hours and noted it didn’t open until 9:30! My train would have come and gone by the time I could get my pass activated.

Feeling a little panicked I decided that if the station I was at wasn’t open, maybe the bigger “mainline” station would be. So I hopped on the metro and rode to the next stop (they are very close making it easy) and sure enough the office was open.

Walked back to the station with my pass in hand, only to walk by the office again and notice it was open! Looks like I misread the times and if I’d waited just a little longer I would have been fine. Oh well.

So my first train was to Froyennes about 30 minutes away. I sat back and relaxed for a bit with some coffee. I was surprised to see that a large crowd gathered at the doors when we stopped. I didn’t think Froyennes was very big, but I happily followed after them.


They all headed confidently down the railway platform to a door and disappeared inside. Assuming it was the train station, I followed after, delighted by the thought of going inside since it had begun to rain. I followed them through the door into…

A field.

It looked like a door but it was more like a gate. Walking through it simply led to a field with trees and small dirt path.

I looked around and tried to figure out where all the people were going. I didn’t see any train station anywhere nearby, and beyond the trees simply seemed too far.

It began to rain harder.

I did my best to keep my calm. The rain was pouring down and all the people had long since disappeared into the trees. I looked around and saw nothing. No buildings. No cars. I wasn’t even sure what part of Belgium I was in and whether I could use French with the people or would encounter Flemish speaking ones instead. I did my best to breathe as I fought for a solution.

I looked on my map on my phone and it provided no clues as to whether there was an actual train station building or not. I walked back to the platform, wondering how people could possibly know when to come to catch a train without at least a reader board.

And that’s when I saw it.

A dusty old plaque listing the various trains and when they would come and what platform to wait for them at. I crossed my fingers and headed to the first platform, huddling in a concrete shelter out of the rain and hoping the train would come.

Thankfully a few minutes later a train pulled up. I stepped on, figuring if nothing else maybe it would get me to a bigger city. I sat down and took a deep breath.

The hard part wasn’t over. On the right train or not, I had one more transfer in order to make it to Cologne for the night. And this was the tricky one. Ten minute transfer time.

I’ll write a post on Eurorail passes, as I said, but the thing to know is that you cannot get on just any train with a Eurorail pass. You must only use trains that do not require reservations, unless you book an extra reservation yourself. As a result, some of the means of getting to and from places can be tricky. But I was willing to try.

I arrived in Brussels and bolted for station to try to see where I should go. Thankfully, unlike the little rural station, this one had a reader board and I saw my train and the platform where I should go. I made it with a few minutes to spare!

The next challenge was finding seats. Some trains have a reservation “option” therefore, you must find a seat that is not reserved. But how do you tell? Most of the seats had the word Reserviert above them. Thankfully, a British couple behind me was struggling as well, so we figured it out together. As long as it doesn’t say a city name on it, you’re good.

So I sat down for a long ride, munching some snacks I’d brought along. It was nice to know I was on my way to Cologne and the hardest parts were over.

I arrived in the city and walked out to find the most amazing site. The Cologne Cathedral sits right in front of the main station. And there it was in all its glory. It was pouring rain, but I snapped a few photos nonetheless, promising to come back later to see inside. For the moment I simply wanted to get my luggage to my hostel, because even with packing somewhat light, lugging a backpack with all your clothes around just doesn’t make for good sight seeing.


I arrived at the Cologne Downtown Hostel a little early, but they let me sit and wait until my room was ready to check in. For anyone looking for a hostel close to the city center, I highly recommend this one. Friendly staff, good level of cleanliness, and a good atmosphere!

So with umbrella in hand I set out to see more of Cologne.

The cathedral was my first destination. I walked in and enjoyed gazing up at the high ceilings in awe with the other tourists. It’s a very beautiful church, one I highly recommend seeing if you’re in town.


After that I tried going to the perfume museum. That seemed appropriate given the location. However, they required a scheduled tour, and the only ones they had available for the day were in Portuguese or Chinese.

So it was off to Plan B. Wallraf-Richartz Museum.

It’s nothing fancy, just a decent sized collection of art work from medieval times up until the 20th century. It has a few Van Gogh and Rodin pieces, and was one of the better ranked museums on Tripadvisor. Besides, it was raining…so anything to get inside for an hour or two.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s worth seeing if you can find other things. In better weather I might have just stuck with wandering around the old town instead. Not highly recommended in my books, but this is coming from someone who has a fair amount of museums tucked under her belt.

After wandering around until exhausted, I headed back to my hostel to rest up for a bit before finding dinner. I’d asked for recommendations, but when I went by the places my hostel recommended they looked far too local for my tastes. What’s bad about local? The fact that I sadly only speak about three words of German… anyhow so if you’re looking for a good local place supposedly Papa Joe’s is good, but don’t take my word for it.

So I was bad and went to a place that clearly had an English menu. It was right on the square in the old town, though not good enough weather to actually sit on the town. I’m definitely looking forward to spring break at this point so I can actually enjoy eating outside in some of the places I visit.

I went to dinner at Keule’s if anyone is interested. Decent food. Kind staff. Cute atmosphere and a mix of tourists and locals.

Afterwards I went and walked around the old town a little and went to see the cathedral all lit up before heading back to the hostel for the night. Had a great chat with a British girl and an Australian couple about the differences in all of our cultures and about good places to travel. This is what I love about hostels, being able to meet new people from all over the world. Sure, it’s uncomfortable at times, but this makes it worth it for me… well and saving some money for good food and seeing the sites as well.


So that’s my review on Cologne. Was one day enough? Probably not. But I feel like I saw some of the main sites and had a good time exploring. As I’m writing this in semi-real-time I cannot say how Cologne compares to other places. Will have to sum up my thoughts at the end I guess. For now off on the next stop of my tour… Hamburg!