Initially we passed through Germany briefly, stopping in Hamburg on our way to Norway. There we enjoyed some delicious Hamburgers, which were named after the city. While there's a bunch of people who claim all sorts of things about where the Hamburger came from, the thing was astounded by in Hamburg is the fact that they eat the delicious meal with a knife and fork. I let them marvel at our ability to eat them with our hands. I feel as though they never saw such a feat.
When we got back to Germany, we stayed in Berlin for a few nights. One of our friends happened to be living in Berlin at the time and showed us around. Berlin was the first place I actually saw an American Consolate, thanks to him pointing it out. They're surprisingly indistinct. The thing I saw the most of, however, was what remained of the Berlin wall. Throughout the city you can find chunks erected as pieces of art, memorials, or bashed up into small souveniers. The largest part of the wall that still stands is at the East Side Gallery, which is a free outdoors museum.
All through the city you can see other reminders of how things were divided, including a line of brick in the ground that marks where the wall once stood, and the differences in the walking signs. When the country was divided, West Germany was equipped with walking signals that had the American man anyone would recognize. East Germany, however, was given a man in a hat, which I thought was quite interesting.
There were few times I had a heavier sense of history than in Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie is one of the few remaining locations that's recognized for what it is. There are so many amazing stories of people who made it from East to West, and there's no way I can tell them all here. There were a lot of heroes.
Our trip continued south to Bastei Bridge, which overlooks amazing rock formations in the valley below. We crossed the Elbe on a ferry that moved entirely with the help of the tide. No motor, only momentum. It was a remarkably steep climb into the mountains, and we ended up needing to walk it with our bags and leave the bikes in the town. Walking with heavy panier is not fun, and doing so up a mountain is even worse. The view was incredible, however, and we had a few days to rest up.
Munich was next, and we reached it just in time for the world-famous Oktoberfest. The festival is held in Bavaria, which is home to pretty much anything and everything you can think of that's German (except for all those war related things). Bavaria is where much of the food, drink, and traditions Americans might recognize originate, and it was a great time.
The city was packed with people, and honestly if you weren't in full Leinenhosen or Drindls, you stuck out. There was so much delicious food it was hard to know what to eat. However, the part everyone knows Oktoberfest for, was kept seperated from the rest of the booths. In order to drink, you had to find a seat at one of the large tents. Each one was dedicated to a specific Bavarian brewery, and the smallest size you could get was a liter.
To finish our stay in Germany, we finished the trip with a ride down to Neuschwanstein Castle, which is also known as the castle to inspire the Disney Castle. It was built between 1868-1892, and has an amazing, unique look to it. The entire building has a fairy tale look to it because it was designed by famous set designers at the time. It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who really built the castle as a way to get away from people.
Let me just build a castle super deep in the mountains so I can avoid awkwardly speaking to people. That, my friends, is how you introvert. The saddest part is the King died in 1886, before the castle was entirely finished. He used up his country's money to fuel his desire of solitude, and died under mysterious circumstances with a doctor who declared him to be insane. All the poor guy wanted was some damn peace and quiet.