Its not every day that you are riding in Branson Hoog’s jeep on your way to a coffee shop in Fort Collins that he turns and asks you if you want to go to Germany. However, it is everyday that you immediately turn and say, “yes”. And that’s how this whole story started. To be honest I don’t think either of us thought this was actually happening until I got a text the night before we were supposed to leave telling me to meet him at the airport at 6:30 the next morning. I still didn’t really believe it was happening until we landed in Munich and stepped out of the airport suddenly realized that I was in Germany.
Now this trip was so last minute and unscheduled that we could basically go and do whatever we wanted. We knew we were planning on going to Oktoberfest on Saturday (or was is Friday.. I’m not even sure but when we get to the photos I’ll be able to tell you) and there was a possibility of Austria somewhere in the mix. So our days started like this, Step 1. Get wifi. Step 2. Decide what we wanted to do/where we wanted to go. Step 3. Figure out how to get there. Step 4. Go and do said activity/travel. Step 5. Figure out how to get back to where we were sleeping. Step 6. Wash, rinse repeat. For me, this was truly a great way to travel. Pack what you could carry around and just go with the flow. It’s exciting because you never really know where you will end up at the end of the day, and that’s where true adventure starts. But there are drawbacks such as not always having a place to stay at night, or a way to get to the bus station when you need to (more on that later) but its part of the fun trying to get yourself out of situations where you have no help or anyone who actually speaks English.
Alright lets get to the actual trip. I met up with Branson at DIA at 6:30 on September 23rd and we hopped on a plane to Dulles Airport in Washington state.
From there we were on an 8 and a half hour flight that included a barking dog (seriously not joking here there a dog on the other side of the plane that barked for the first 30 minutes of the flight) and lots of movies. We left the states at somewhere around 5 in the afternoon and arrived in Munich at 7 a.m.
and landed us here. And since we were smart enough to not sleep on the plane we were creating one very long day for us. I don't remember exactly how long we were up that day but it was a while. This was the first time we realized we definitely should have brushed up on our German before landing since we were lost and had no idea how to communicate where we were trying to go since we didn't actually know and didn't have a name for the campsite. Eventually we got turned in the right direction and found some signs that pointed us to the campsite. We had a nice stroll along the Isarwerkkanal, we checked in to our campsite, set our bags down and went exploring.
Now I’m not sure how to describe the feeling of riding an escalator out of the subway and being greeted with a sight like this but its incredible to say the least.
We made it to Oktoberfest (which was on a Friday by the way). It has to be one of the craziest things I have ever been to. Basically you go into these giant beer halls full of about 1000 people and just try to survive. Maybe survive is a little overboard but all I know is we lasted about three hours before we were done. Theres nothing like a bunch of dudes in lederhosen and girls in traditional dresses, chanting Seven Nation Army while pounding beer steins on a huge wooden table while pretzels are flying every which way over your head.
I wish we could have stayed and spent more time but sometimes thats what happens when you travel like this and just go with things. Our group was heading out to catch a train to Austria so we headed back to the tent for a nap and more exploring around Munich and steak sandwiches. Yes thats a thing there. You can literally buy a steak on bread and its got to be one of the best street foods I've ever had in my life.
Next stop. Salzburg, Austria
Getting to Salzburg was an adventure in itself. Almost jumped on the wrong train. Figured out where we needed to go with 20 minutes till our train left. Ran across the train station. Tried to get a ticket but couldn’t. Ran back across the train station. Tried to get a ticket and got it but couldn’t return our other ticket. Ran back across the train station. Returned the old ticket. Ran across the train station to our train. Got yelled at by a conductor that this was the wrong train. Ran off the train and up the platform. Got on the right train and sat down with a minute to spare. Then we rode the train to a bus and then the bus to Salzburg Central Station. Which is where we spent 3 hours at a Starbucks with wifi trying to find Branson’s sister Morgan and a place to sleep. There was only one hostel in Salzburg and it was booked out. So we tried to figure something out and a while later we somehow magically were able to get two beds and we were off on a 30 minute walk to the hostel.
After finally finding Morgan and her boyfriend Lucas, we explored the town for a bit, ate at a hole in the wall Italian place that had some great pizza and ran around the Salzburg Oktoberfest. We bought a ticket to ride a ride and I lost mine when I got on the ride so I didn’t get to go. (But its secretly ok cause I hate roller coasters and rides). Said goodbye and goodnight to everyone and retreated back to our room for some much needed sleep after a long day of travel and exploring.
The next day started with a hike through this small forest outside our hostel. Which is how we would eventually start every morning because it was an awesome forest.
We wound our way through the trials and overlooks and found a castle at the very top. There was some kind of art exhibit the day before but there were still a few pieces outside that were some really awesome looking pieces of art.
So many stairs. Which was not the most fun this to walk down after hiking up. We had one more night in the hostel but decided not to book another night since we wanted to try couch surfing. It’s an app where you can find people who are offering their spare rooms/couches or even floors to sleep and spend the night for free. Trying to find someone so last minute wasn’t the easiest thing but after a few no’s we finally had a guy named Steven who agreed to let us stay. Through that app we were in touch with a guy named Lukas who already had two Canadian girls staying at his place but he gave us their Facebook info and told us we should go hang out. So we messaged the girls and set up a time to go eat dinner and hang out. They turned out to be some really awesome girls. They had quit their jobs in Canada to backpack through Europe. They had already been in Europe for around 3 months and were hitchhiking and couch surfing around. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. That’s also some serious bravery. We ate and walked around and grabbed a few drinks and hung out in the lobby of the hostel until Lukas was home to let them in. I wish we would have grabbed a photo with them but I totally forgot. I was pretty exhausted at this point. Like ready to fall asleep anytime I sat for more than a minute. We headed up to the room and feel asleep for what felt like forever.
When I was going through photos this was the point that I realized that I really didn’t take to many photos on this trip. In a way its kind of a vacation for me and since taking pictures is my job, its nice to be able to not have a camera attached to me 24/7. But I had it incase something felt worthy of pulling my camera out of my bag and snapping a photo.
The next day was spent wondering around the forest some more while waiting for Steven to get off work so we could head to his house.
Branson and I had a lot of really good conversations while walking through that forest. Something I’ve always liked about that guy is that I can always hold a genuine and meaningful conversation about things. He’s taught me a lot about how to live that’s for sure.
After that it was back to the hostel to plan out how we were going to get to Stevens which was about a 20 minute drive outside of Salzburg. After a bus ride and a quick walk through the countryside we were there. As we were walking we got to watch the sun set behind the mountains, which was an amazing thing to see. And it also made me realize that this was the first time I had seen the sun since leaving the states and it was actually a really welcoming sight. Rainy cloudy days are for sure my favorite weather but a little sunshine here and there doesn’t hurt.
Steven was a great host. We talked about what its like being a musician in Austria and how hard it is since he used to sing in a metal band. He and Branson talked about graphic design. Steven designs the decals for KTM motorcycles and all of his roommates work for KTM. Way cool. I booked us a taxi for the next morning at 4:30 to take us to the bus station but never really felt like it was really going to pick us up but we were hoping it would since we had to be at the bus station by 5 and the city busses don’t run till 5:30 and it was an hour and a half walk to the bus station. We talked for a bit and wanted to hang out longer but Branson and I needed to sleep since we had to get up in a few hours for a full day of travel. So we said goodnight and got ready for a long day.
As we suspected, the taxi didn’t show up. It wasn’t until I got home that I got the email saying we couldn’t book a taxi that short of notice. The next step was to grab some cardboard and make a sign and hope that someone was going to be nice enough to give us a lift to the bus station.
We took off walking down the road at 4 a.m. hoping for a car but they were scarce. As fate would have it, we hadn’t been walking for 10 minutes and a taxi starting coming down the road and picked us up.
We made it to the bus station in the nick of time. 2 hours of bus riding through Austria and watching the sun rise and we had made it to the bus station in Munich.
Which was great except we needed the airport. Branson went up to our bus driver and asked how to get to the airport and the driver turned around and yelled, “GET ON THE BUS! NEXT STOP GET ON THE BUS”! So we got on the bus and eventually made it to the airport but we were to late to hop on the first flight. Which I’m glad we didn’t since it was a 12 hour flight and I don’t know how I could have got through that one at the end of this trip. We had some breakfast at an airport café, then went through about four passport and security checks and were almost always pulled aside by security for our bags to get checked and we got swabbed and wanded down. I guess wearing all black and grey and sticking out has its downsides.
Branson got the first class upgrade on the flight from Munich to Washington and I got to live that Economy Plus life. Teriyaki chicken airplane dinner again for me haha. I almost didn’t make it on the flight home from Washington. I was the second to last person on the plane. I thought for sure I was going to be spending 4 more hours hanging out in an airport but luckily I made it on and had a fun time of not having any leg room in the back of the plane. But I can’t complain cause I would rather spend 4 hours on a flight home with no leg room than a in an airport waiting for another 4 hour flight.
We were finally home. It was a great feeling being comfortable again but it only took a day or two until I was ready to take off for another adventure. I don't really know how to sum up this blog or the whole trip really. I got to travel to two counties I've never been to before with one of my best friends. Met some amazing people and brought back some memories that I'll never forget. I would do it again in a heartbeat.