Here we are in Berat, The City of 1000 Windows. Can you guess why? Standing on the foot bridge that connects two of the historic neighborhoods in Berat, you can get the most unrestricted views of the city in its entirety. The boys were only able to make a short trip here, really about 24 waking hours, before we took flight for our trip to Munich.
This is a shot of the inside of the Tirana airport. Yeah, we have FREE wireless internet! Unfortunately, the way that our flights ended up, the boys had a three hour wait at the Tirana airport, followed by a two hour layover in Slovenia, before they landed in Germany, whereas my flight left before theirs and was a direct (hour and a half) trip to Munich, where I then waited about five hours for them to arrive!
Once we all arrived in Munich, about 9pm, we made the mistake of renting a car. Trying to navigate the way to the hotel in the dark, in an unfamiliar rental car, with Mark reading the map, without his glasses, was not the best way to start the trip. This is just one of the many shots of Dad perplexed by the street maps of Munich. Image, making spaghetti, drain the noodles, and then pour the noodles out randomly all over the floor... I think that is how they came up with the street "plan" for this city! The car was returned after one day, and we were all about the public transport after that!
First stop, the city center, MarianPlatz. Behind the boys is a shot of the Old Town Hall. Across the street (not able to see in this photo) is the New Town Hall. Funny thing, because the whole city was bombed out during WWII, they had a little rebuilding to do after the war was over. They constructed the New Town Hall first and then proceeded with the reconstruction of the Old Town Hall. So, in fact, the New Town Hall is actually older than the Old Town Hall! We got all this information and more when we decided to join a free tour around the city center. After a three hour walking tour, we had a greater appreciation for the history of Munich and Germans, and a better feeling for the layout of the city.
Dinner on our first night in Germany was celebrated at the legendary Haufbrauhaus! Great beer drinking and lots of meat eating could be the theme of this trip. I think I did more of both in one week than I had in a long time. And yes, that is a beer in little Stevie's hand! In Germany the legal drinking age in 16, so he was able to join in with a little celebrating, too. Most of the nights, however, he chose to drink the Radler Beer, which is a mix of Beer, lemonade or sometimes a sprite-similar beverage. This is what the bicyclers drink when they are out on the town, so that at the end of the night they are still able to safely see themselves home without incident.
We were lucky enough to have our friend Austin Engel, who is living in Munich as a tour guide and English teacher, take time from his busy schedule to show us around. He was gracious enough to take an afternoon and lead us on a private tour around the Dachau concentration camp. Used as the "model" camp during and before WWII, Dachau is now open to the public to enter and to act in and of its self as a memorial to all the prisoners who died within its walls during this dark time in history.