Kerry and I were designated drivers so we both had a chance to keep up with traffic on the autobahn at speeds of 90-100 mph. Even so, we were often passed in the no-speed-limit zones by cars going much faster. Frankly, there's nothing more intimidating than to see bright lights coming at you from behind at a high rate of speed. It keeps the more sane (and scared) motorists like us hugging the far right lanes. Both of us had English-speaking GPS systems in our cars, which is a technology that now makes traveling in other countries with unfamiliar rules much easier. Kerry's was a portable device that could be carried on walking tours. Her first big problem though came when she forgot to switch it off its pedestrian mode and ended up driving a short distance on a cobblestone sidewalk, realizing her mistake just short of a wide down stairway. Chris also had a mishap when, while riding on one of the downtown trams, he reached for a straphanger on the bumpy ride only to grab the emergency stop strap. The driver and fellow passengers were not amused.
Munich was Hitler's favorite city and the birthplace of his Nazi movement in the 1920s. The Hofbrauhaus is where he supposedly rallied his troops. But since 70 percent of Munich was destroyed by allied bombs in 1944, few of the original buildings exist and much of the city's history is now folklore. Still, Munich "looks" historical, with the post-war leaders choosing to restore the central city, unlike Frankfurt, which rebuilt to look much like Los Angeles, skyscrapers and all. Munich's painstaking restoration process continues today, particularly at the three famous churches around New Town Hall, known for its rebuilt glockenspiel, which now "jousts" again several times each day. We learned that the Nazis, having learned of the massive allied bombing raids being planned, hired top professionals to carefully photograph the Town Hall and other 16th-, 17th- and 18th century buildings so that some day they could be restored.
As cities go in Germany, Munich is the wealthiest, the most expensive and the most desirable place in the country. That makes hotels pricey, although, using Priceline, we found comfortable rooms for 60-75 euros a night, about $90-$100. There are an abundance of good restaurants with reasonably priced meals and, of course, bakeries with diet-breaking sumptuous pastries at every corner. Most attractions, including the huge Deutsch Museum in Munich and the mountaintop fortress in Salzburg are reasonably priced with a funicular that whisks up the mountainside for a spectacular view of the Austrian Alps. Our last stop was at a castle King Ludwig II built in the Alps two hours from Munich. Colorful, immense, it's what Walt Disney used to model his Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles, though Ludwig's has 230 stairs up and another 230 down, making our visit there memorable indeed. After that, the thought of sitting on the plane for 12 hours didn't seem so bad.