The first friend to cross an ocean for us (but he won’t be the last)

Six months after moving to Germany, we finally received a visit from one of our friends!

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(He got bumped to coach and sat next to a crying baby)

He was able to stay with us last weekend from Saturday morning until Tuesday morning. If you’re thinking, “three days isn’t enough time to see everything,” you’re right. Three days isn’t enough timebut neither is a week, a month, or a year. You’ve just gotta prioritize. Our hosting skills were certainly put to the test!

We picked a few of the best things around our area for our friend to experience. It was a hectic weekend, and we stuffed him full of Bavarian beer, food, and culture. Here’s everything we did. Note: None of the pictures below were taken by me. I took the weekend “off,” and let our friend Nate and my husband be the guest photographers.

  1. Ate lunch at Munich Hofbräuhaus. Lee and I hadn’t been here before. When it comes to restaurants, we tend to migrate away from the tourist hotspots in search of a more authentic experience. Judging from how many people were taking pictures inside the hall or sporting traveling backpacks, I’d say this qualifies as a tourist trap. However, we did see many Germans relaxing over good conversation and live music. It was like the Fest, but less crazy–and still fun. The food was good–far from the best I’ve ever had, but it was warm and comforting. The beer was quite delicious. We split two Maß of Hofbräu Original between the three of us.

2. Toured St. Cajetan’s Theatine Church in Munich

3. Got fancy pastries at Maelu in Munich

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4. Drank beer on the train, conversed with the conductor about American politics, and spent the evening strolling around Regensburg. Our stops included the Dom St. Peter, the Old Stone Bridge, Alte Kapelle, and Der Hutmacher (it was closed, but we still admired the hats through the window).

5. Ate dinner at Weltenburger Am Dom. This has been on our list for a while, and we’re glad we experienced it for the first time with Nate. Weltenburg Abbey is the oldest monastery in Bavaria, and the oldest brewery in the world. Their beer recipe dates back to 1050, so you’re literally drinking history. Lee and Nate got Barock Dunkels, and I ordered a Dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer). Superb.

We ordered three soups as appetizers: chestnut cream soup, pumpkin soup, and salty venison broth with a quail egg. Yes, yes, and yes. We coerced Nate to order a Schwabenpfandl, which is a traditional Bavarian dish of pork medallions, mushroom gravy, and Käsespätzle roasted together in an iron skillet and garnished with fried onions. He had a smile plastered on his face the entire time he was eating it. I ordered pork medallions with roasted pumpkin on top and a side of Kartoffelkroketten (fried mashed potatoes). Lee got a plate of bacon-wrapped venison swimming in pepper gravy with a side of baked sweet potatoes. I give it a 10/10.

6. Ate breakfast at McDonald’s. This is probably one of my favorite weekend activities, although we don’t do it very often. We got chicken muffins, coffee, and a piece of delicious Apfelkuchen for the road.

7. Went “Castling.” It was cold, snowy, and windy, but we braved the elements and stormed the following castles:

Wolfsteinunfortunately, we couldn’t cross the bridge into the actual ruins. It seems that they close this one down in the winter.

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Velburg–It’s a fair hike up the hill to this one, but the view is well worth it.

Hohenfels–less than a 5 minute drive from our house. It was an absolutely necessary to take Nate to our “hometown” castle.

Kallmünz–An extraordinary, picturesque town on the river. To summit the castle ruins, you have to climb up a steep set of stairs. It was extremely icy this time of year, but the view was out of this world. We spent a good deal of time just looking out over the countryside, enjoying the peace and quiet.

We visited all of these castles and were still home before lunch. That’s how close they all are to us (can you believe it?)

8. Took a much-needed and well-deserved afternoon nap.

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9. We ate dinner at one of our local favorites, Zum Goldenes Kreuz. The cool thing about this place is a German guy married a Vietnamese lady, and the menu is half Asian-inspired and half traditional German. The dining room has the small-town Bavarian ambience, and you feel like you’re eating at someone’s house. The Vietnamese food is the most authentic that you can get in the area, and it doesn’t matter what you get, because everything is good. I think the fact that you can order German beer with your Vietnamese food makes everything taste even better. Nate got an Eichhofener Helles and exclaimed, “this is the best beer I’ve ever had!”

Also, no one can seem to get our name correct when we make a reservation. I find this hilarious, because Zimmer is a common German word. It means “room.” When Lee calls for reservations he always says, “Zimmer. Z-I-M-M-E-R. Like ‘room.'” And every time, we get a new surprise on our reservation card. That night, we were “Wimmer.”

 10. We walked around Old Town Nuremberg. Some of the things we saw were the Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg Castle, the notoriously beautiful street Weissgerbergasse, and various shops and antique stores. We also stopped for a pick-me-up and got the most delicious hot chocolate with espresso.

11. We warmed up at the Bratwursthausl. They serve a very simple menu of traditional Nürnberger sausages, Kartoffelsalat, rolls, pretzels, and of course, beer. Everything is cooked in the middle of the restaurant over a woodchip fire pit. This gives the sausages an amazing smoky flavor that’s unlike anything I’ve had in Germany thus far. I’m very serious when I say these are the best sausages in the region. 

12. Toured the churches in Nuremberg. This included St. Sebaldus, St. Lorenz, and Frauenkirche.

13. Went on drives through a Bavarian winter wonderland.

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14. Showed Nate how beer is sold in German grocery stores (and how cheap it is).

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15. Ate one final German dinner together at Winkler Brau. We convinced Nate to order the Schweineshaxe, or pork knuckle. It looks ridiculously medieval, and you look equally ridiculous trying to eat it, but everyone has to try this buttery pork with a crispy skin at least once. We all ordered Kupfer Spezial, and picked up a bar of Kupfer chocolate on the way out.

It’s definitely the most German food and German beer I’ve had in one weekend, but I’m happy I could sacrifice my stomach and my liver to show our close friend a great time. I’m sure we tired him out a great deal, and we certainly had to rally as well. But it was so worth it to show him a little Bavarian hospitality.

 

 

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