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Brandon O'Brien

Travel and Adventure Journal

I wanted a place to journal all my travels and adventures around the world. I always enjoy going back and reflecting on my past travels and getting to relive them through my words and photos.

You're reading posts I wrote while in Germany. Return home.

It's all catching up with me

Thursday, September 26, 2013 @ 6:52 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 92

All of the cold wet weather, living in hostels, crappy sleep, and eating pasta several times a week finally caught up with me. Yesterday I started to feel a little out of it and by the time last night rolled around I could tell I was getting sick.

I went to bed really early last night in hopes of fighting the cold but I was tossing and turning all night, plus some of the people in my room started having a conversation at 3:30am again. I got up around 9, ate and then pretty much stayed at the hostel the rest of the day.

I ran out a couple times though... one to get some of Germany's Nyquil equivalent, another to get some fresh air by walking around the Alexanderplatz and a third to go get dinner. I cut my second outing short since it was pretty chilly and I figured that wasn't really doing me any good.

I was going to meet with Katja and Joerg tonight (friends of Scott and Stephanie) but because I'm feeling like crap and didn't want to get them sick we decided to call it off. Over the course of the day I booked the rest of my lodging in Italy which means I have everything taken care of between now and Paris. The only real thing left is to buy train tickets but all the ones left are simply regional trains that don't need reservations. I was looking at the weather for Italy and it looks like it's going to be much warmer and sunny which is going to be very welcome after two and a half weeks of wet and cold.

Tomorrow I get on a train to Prague where I'll spend 3 nights. I've heard great things about the city and I'm really hoping this cold doesn't keep me from seeing and doing everything I want to there.

Tags: daily journal, germany, berlin

Posted from: Germany

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 @ 4:37 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 91

The rain stayed away today so I spent the first half of the day out exploring. There's a huge section of the Berlin Wall not too far from the hostel called the East Side Gallery. I walked over there and walked along the stretch of wall. Most of the artwork on the wall was done in 2009 and only some of the stuff was original.

From there, I jumped on the S-Bahn and went to Alexanderplatz where I walked the Unter der Linden to the Brandenburg Gate. The walk is supposed to be a really scenic street but literally the entire road for about a mile was under construction. I'm not sure what the deal was but instead of being a peaceful stroll it was a frustrating mess of construction, people and diversions.

The Brandenburg Gate area was slammed pack full of people taking photos. I'm glad I was able to get some when I first arrived before people showed up. I didn't even bother trying to take any today because it was so crowded.

The Holocaust Memorial isn't too far from the Brandenburg Gate so I walked to it. It's a pretty cool grid of various sized rectangle concrete blocks over an uneven floor which makes walking through it pretty neat. I wanted to go back to the Victory Column but for some reason they had all the routes blocked off. I'm not sure what's getting ready to happen but it I couldn't head over there. Instead, I walked back to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and got the connections back to the hostel.

Since getting back I've been working more on getting my travel and lodging booked between now and Paris. I was stumped how I was going to get from Vienna to Italy since all of the trains ran at funny times and I wasn't really too pumped about another overnight train experience. Instead, I simply booked an hour long flight from Vienna to Florence, Italy. From Florence I'll get a regional train to Lucca where I'll spend a couple days.

Tomorrow I'm going to head to Charlottenburg Palace which is supposed to be modeled after Versailles, including the expansive gardens.

Teaser photos:

Holocaust Memorial
Holocaust Memorial
Reichstag
Reichstag

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Tags: daily journal, berlin, germany

Posted from: Germany

Raaaaiiiinnnnn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 @ 6:48 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 90

Some people in my room came in drunk at 4:45 this morning and proceeded to discuss food, religion, drinking and drug habits for an hour before finally going to bed. Needless to say I was pretty pissed off from being woken up that early and didn't really get good sleep after that.

It was raining when I woke up and hasn't stopped all day. I went to the Turkish Market that's pretty close to the hostel and got soaked. It would have been a fun time if it wasn't for the rain. There were tons of food, vegetable, fruit, bread, cloth, and misc vendors set up along a big street. Even in the rain it was still pretty busy.

Rather than deal with low 60's and constant rain I came back to the hostel to read and work. If the weather is nice tomorrow I'll head out and do some more exploring. If it's cold and raining again I'll probably just make it another working day. I'm passed the point in my travels where I feel the need to go out and get soaked all for a few photos. I saw the majority of what I wanted to see during the first two days when it was better weather.

Tags: daily journal, germany, berlin

Posted from: Germany

Checkpoint Charlie and Gypsy Scams

Checkpoint Charlie and Gypsy Scams

Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:19 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 89

I slept really well last night after the sleeper train the night before and hiking around with my backpack all day. This morning I got up, had a cup of coffee and then went out to get some food. Since all the markets were closed yesterday I didn't have a chance to pick up any breakfast food.

I went to Lidl and got an apple pastry for breakfast, lunch stuff (bread, strawberry preserves and fake Nutella) and some pasta for dinner. Back at the hostel I ate my breakfast and had some more coffee then set off for Checkpoint Charlie. Even though I have an unlimited train card, I wanted to get some fresh air and the walk was pretty nice.

Checkpoint Charlie is in the middle of a busy street surrounded by all kinds of restaurants, shops, street food vendors (Checkpoint Curry anyone?) and souvenir stands. There was also an outdoor museum with a lot of information about Checkpoint Charlie, the wall and the history surrounding it all.

From there I headed north and then got diverted over to Museum Island due to road construction. I saw the Berlin Cathedral and walked around some of the museums. I didn't go in any of them due to the entry costs being so high. Maybe later in the week I'll venture into one though.

One thing to note... for some reason there are a lot of... for a lack of a better word... gypsies, out around Berlin. I'm not sure what the scam is but I walked around enough today to pick up a sense for something not being right. Basically what happens is a young boy or girl will come up to you asking if you speak english. They have some kind of leaflets in their hand as well. All of this takes place in busy areas and their parents/cohorts aren't usually too far away.

I never acknowledged them so I'm not sure how the scam plays out, but I'm assuming they find out you speak English and either try to sell you some kind of leaflet or use it to distract you while someone else conveniently "bumps" into you and makes off with your valuables. I've read about those scams enough online to think that's probably what's going on.

Anyway, after museum island I went back to Alexanderplatz where I ate lunch and walked through a huge electronics store called Saturn. I was hoping I could get an actual European plug for my laptop so I didn't have to keep using my adapter. Unfortunately they didn't sell just the cord I needed.

I came back to the hostel and worked for several hours before making dinner. I overheard some people at the hostel today talking about how every Tuesday and Friday there's a huge Turkish outdoor market. It's within easy walking distance from my hostel so I'm going to head over there tomorrow and check it out.

Teaser photos:

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Berlin Cathedral
Berlin Cathedral

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Tags: daily journal, germany, berlin

Posted from: Germany

I made it to Berlin!

I made it to Berlin!

Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 4:41 PM in 2013 Europe

Day 88

The train ride last night went pretty well. I watched the countryside go by until it got dark, read for a bit and then went to sleep. I got up around 6 to get ready for the arrival into the Berlin HBF. The first thing I did when I got to the train station was buy a 7 day unlimited card for use on the S bahn and U bahn (underground and above ground trains).

I had a chai tea latte and a muffin for breakfast then started walking around the area near the train station. I saw the Reichstag (German Parliament building), the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. All in all it was about 4 miles of walking first thing in the morning.

I got on the train to Alexanderplatz and walked around there for a bit. I saw the Berliner Fernsehturm (a giant tower in the middle of town). I ended up having some beer and tried some currywurst. I've been trying to try some of the local food wherever I go and currywurst was recommended for Berlin. It's basically a bratwurst cut up and covered in a curry/ketchup sauce and served with a roll. It was pretty good.

I got on the train to the area near my hostel which ended up being a really lively area full of Turkish restaurants, cafes, bars, markets and people everywhere. I eventually found the hostel and got checked in.

I walked over to a Lidl to get some food for the next few nights but unfortunately I forgot that most groceries are closed on Sunday. I'm getting pretty hungry but I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet for food. I'll probably have to give one of the turkish places a try since another food that was recommended to try in Berlin is a Doner (basically a Turkish version of the gyro).

I'm already feeling tired as well so I don't think tonight will be a late one. Tomorrow I'll set out to do some more exploring around the city.

Teaser photos:

Brandenburg Gate - Berlin
Brandenburg Gate - Berlin
Top of the Victory Column
Top of the Victory Column
TV Tower and the Alexanderplatz
TV Tower and the Alexanderplatz

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Tags: daily journal, berlin, germany

Posted from: Germany

Frottstadt to Munich to Venice - Day 8 - Eurotrip 2008

Frottstadt to Munich to Venice - Day 8 - Eurotrip 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008 @ 11:00 PM in 2008 Europe Wedding

A recurring theme with our planning of this trip was being overly ambitious in regards to seeing as many sights as we could. That being said, we spent today mostly on trains traveling from Frottstadt to Venice, via Munich.

We said goodbye to all of our friends in the morning as everyone was going their separate ways. Patrick and Chrissy were heading off to spend some time with Tobias while Scott and Stefanie were going to their honeymoon in the Greek islands.

We left Frottstadt around 1:30pm and after several connections got to Munich around 6:40pm. We had a couple hours to kill before we had to catch our overnight train to Venice which left a little after 9pm. We walked around the main square area of Munich and had dinner while waiting for our train.

The train wasn't too bad. We were in a room with 6 beds that were stacked hostel style. I remember waking up quite a bit, but that's to be expected on sleeper trains.

Note: This post was written about 13 years after I went on this trip. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal so this is pieced together from our itinerary and photos.

Teaser photos:

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Tags: germany, frottstadt, munich, venice, train

Posted from: Germany

Wedding Day - Day 7 - Eurotrip 2008

Wedding Day - Day 7 - Eurotrip 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008 @ 10:00 PM in 2008 Europe Wedding

Today is the wedding day! We started out heading up to the Wartburg Castle which isn't too far from Frottstadt. The castle was in great shape thanks to some restorations in the past. We were all pretty hungover from the night before but it was a fun time seeing and exploring the castle. Scott and Stefanie had some photos taken here before we went to the equivalent of their city hall for the official marriage signing.

After the wedding vows were done in front of a small group, everyone gathered in the town square for some traditional ceremonies and champagne. One thing they had to do was cut a giant heart out of a sheet with some dull scissors and then Scott had to carry Stefanie through it. After this, they got in a horse drawn cart and were taken to the reception venue.

Once we got to the venue, Scott and Stefanie had to saw a log in half using an extremely long and flexible saw. This was supposed to represent the give and take in a marriage. It was pretty funny watching them try to keep the saw moving.

As the night carried on, there was some delicious food, a huge variety of desserts and even more booze. This was followed by a lot of dancing and celebrating late into the night.

Note: This post was written about 13 years after I went on this trip. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal so this is pieced together from our itinerary and photos.

Teaser photos:

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Tags: germany, frottstadt

Posted from: Germany

Munich to Frottstadt - Day 6 - Eurotrip 2008

Munich to Frottstadt - Day 6 - Eurotrip 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008 @ 9:00 PM in 2008 Europe Wedding

We all checked out of the hostel by 6:00 this morning (tough after all the drinking yesterday) so we could catch our first train in the journey up to Frottstadt. Our first train left Munich at 7:22am with a connection in Saalfeld and Neudietendorf before finally arriving in Frottstadt at 11:30am.

We met Scott and Stefanie at the train station and they drove us through town and to the hotel we'd be staying at for the ceremony.

The main event of the day was the big reception / party that Stefanie's family threw. There was an overwhelming amount of beer flowing and everyone had a great time hanging out and catching up.

Note: This post was written about 13 years after I went on this trip. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal so this is pieced together from our itinerary and photos.

Teaser photos:

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Tags: germany, munich, frottstadt

Posted from: Germany

Munich Bike Tour and Augustiner - Day 5 - Eurotrip 2008

Munich Bike Tour and Augustiner - Day 5 - Eurotrip 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008 @ 9:00 PM in 2008 Europe Wedding

Most of today was spent on a bike tour that hit several beer gardens and took us through several of the sights in Munich. We got to see people surfing in the river in the Englischer Garten too.

We ended the night at the Augustiner brewery where we all had some delicious beer.

Note: This post was written about 13 years after I went on this trip. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal so this is pieced together from our itinerary and photos.

Teaser photos:

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Tags: germany, munich

Posted from: Germany

Paris to Munich - Day 4 - Eurotrip 2008

Paris to Munich - Day 4 - Eurotrip 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 @ 9:00 PM in 2008 Europe Wedding

We arrived in Munich a couple weeks before Oktoberfest, but there was still a lot of beer to be drunk! Our train from Paris departed at 7:25am and got us into Munich at 1:30pm after a transfer in Stuttgart. The train systems throughout Europe are incredible and do a great job of getting you around. This trip was my first time using the trains and I really came to appreciate how easy they were to use.

After we got to Munich, we checked into our room at the Euro Youth Hostel and then set out to meet up with Patrick, Chrissy, Scott and the rest of the gang that showed up for the wedding. Our meeting spot was the Hofbrauhaus! I tried ordering a half liter of beer but was shamed by the waitress into ordering a full liter, haha. We also had some sausages with good German mustard. All in all the experience was fantastic.

After beer and food, we wandered around Munich and somehow ended up at a playground. We goofed around on the ropes for a while before we stumbled on the Oktoberfest grounds and walked around there as they were setting up.

We finished the night at another beer garden before heading back to the hostel to call it a night.

Note: This post was written about 13 years after I went on this trip. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal so this is pieced together from our itinerary and photos.

Teaser photos:

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Tags: germany, munich

Posted from: Germany