All posts by primepassages

Hanging Out in Freising

Freising location
Freising location from central Munich and Munich airport (flughafen)

Freising is a town of 50,000 people located along a main train route about 20 miles northeast of the center of Munich.  Freising is also the closest town to Munich’s airport and is often thought of as the location of the airport.  On my last visit to Munich, I decided to spend a few days winding down there in advance of my flight home.  It’s a great place to base out of if you have an early morning flight due to the frequent bus schedule and a short 15-minute trip duration.

Note: We know COVID-19 is impacting travel plans right now. For a little inspiration, we’ll continue to share stories from our favorite places around the world so you can keep daydreaming about your next adventure.

Make no doubt though, Freising is far more than a convenient travel stop.  Built on two hills that tower above the Isar River,  the area has been inhabited for more than 4000 years.  Freising is said to be the oldest community in the south of Bavaria and has been an important religious and cultural center for the region since the eighth century when the Weihenstephan Benedictine monastery was established on one of the hills.  A church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was established on the other.   The man behind these developments was a French bishop named Korbinian, who was sent by the pope to Christianize Bavaria (Bavaria was ruled at that time by a Duke who was also French.)

engraving depicting Freising
engraving depicting Freising

St. Korbinian figures heavily into local legend and lore to this day.  The miracle of the bear recounts the story of Korbinian encountering and being attacked by a bear while on a journey to Rome.  His horse was killed by the bear so Korbinian somehow convinced the bear to let him strap his saddlebags and the bear served as his pack animal for the rest of the trip.  Today, the image of a bear appears together with St. Korbinian on Freising’s crest and is a very visible town mascot.  Whimsically painted bears crop up all over town.

For beer lovers, Freising is also notable as the location of the oldest continually operating brewery in the world.  The Weihenstephan monastery began brewing beer in the dark ages and was eventually licensed to produce beer in 1040, the founding date claimed by the modern brewery.  The monastery was secularized in 1803 and since then the brewery has been owned and operated by the State of Bavaria.  The brewery is still on the grounds of the old monastery and is now surrounded by a small university specializing in, among other things, brewing and brewery technology.  Freising is also the seat of the region encompassing the Hallertau, one of the most important hops growing regions in the world.  Read about my visit to the Hallertau.

For beer hikers, there is an excellent loop hike that tours the countryside north of town and passes a country beer garden and the Weihenstephan Brewery and biergarten.  You can read about and get route information about this hike here.

Fresising Breweries

Phillip - my guide to Weihenstephaner
Phillip – my guide to Weihenstephaner

Visiting Weihenstephan Brewery in Freising sure feels like entering hallowed ground.  Visits are well organized and are hosted by advanced students of the Technical University of Munich’s (TUM) Weihenstephan brewing technology programs.  My guide, Phillip, told me that there are two tracks in the University’s programs there in Freising.  He is part of a cohort of about 80 students who gain a broad range of knowledge in brewing technology that gives them experience not only with brewing, but with the full range of technologies that go into the process including ingredients, equipment, and distribution.  Another cohort is more focused on becoming master brewers.

Weihenstephan has the feel of a very modern operation in a very old set of buildings.  It is boggling to consider that they have been brewing non-stop on top of this hill through multiple wars, four fires, three plagues, a major earthquake over nearly a thousand years. The output of about 200,000 bbl per year (within the U.S. definition of a craft brewery) is spread across 12 varieties of beer with the flagship being their hefweizen.  There is a beer shop, restaurant, and beer garden on site.

Hofbrauhaus Freising Keller
Hofbrauhaus Freising Keller

Hofbrauhaus Freising is also a very old enterprise dating back to 1160.  Located on Freising’s other hill, it is a beautiful old brewery building on a busy street.  On a bluff above and behind the brewery building is one of the brewery’s four kellers, or beer gardens.  For my sensibilities, this is the best and most classic beer garden in Freising (read about what makes a great beer garden here).  As much as I enjoyed the visit at Weihenstephan, I found that I greatly enjoyed the beers, food, and atmosphere found at Hofbrauhaus Keller.  Yes … I am a sucker for a massive and tasty schnitzel!

An interesting part of the Hofbrauhaus Freising line-up are beers marketed under the Dirndl Brau brand.  Dirndl Brau beers are the creation of the brewery’s female brewing staff.  I tried the Schürzenjäger India Pale Lager (IPL), a nicely hoppy lager.

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Beautiful Freising

Freising is a picturesque town with many urban pathways connecting the two hills.  The cathedral is a twelfth century, Romanesque gem that spans from Gothic to Baroque architectural eras.   I was lucky to be visiting in mid-September during the Freising Volksfest an enjoyable small-town celebration that has been held annually for 90 years.

For more stories about hikes and beers in Germany, CLICK THIS LINK.


The Cretan Way

Mountain, Coast, and Gorge Hiking

The Cretan Way is the premier long-distance hiking route on the island of Crete.  Although our walks were limited to segments of the route in the White Mountains in the western part of Crete, it is possible to cross the entire island (west to east or vice versa).  The Cretan Way is a part of the  European long-distance path E4 which covers more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 mi) between Tarifa in Spain and Cyprus.  The E4 passes through eleven countries in all.  The segment in Crete, the Cretan Way is 320 kilometers (about 200 miles) in length and there are a number of variants that can be taken along the route.

[This post is the last in a series of three articles about a visit to Crete, hiking on the Cretan Way, and exploring the beer culture there.]

We encountered three kinds of hikes during our days on the trail – those that generally followed along the coast; hikes in steep gorges that cut into the mountains from the coast; and hikes up on high mountain routes.  Our nights would be spent in guesthouses in villages along the route.  We would stay for a couple of nights in each and would spend time either on the beach or doing day hikes.  Our luggage would be moved by our hosts freeing us to hike with just day packs carrying water and a snack.  Importantly (for beer hikers like me) there were enough snack bars, cafes, and villages along the way that I never lacked for a cold beer to reward myself along the way.

My highlights on the Cretan Way
My highlights on the Cretan Way

Coastal Hiking

Pathways along the coast connect a series of pretty seaside villages along with some beaches and archeological sites between.  When next to the sea you might be walking on a beach or rocky shore.  At other times the path will move up the side of the hills and mountains adjacent to the sea and be carved into the terrain.  Occasionally the terrain makes the shoreline impassible and the route will climb up over mountain features that jut out into the sea.  Given the distances and terrain involved, we advise not underestimating the difficulty of these hikes.

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Highlands Hikes

We rode a bus up into the mountains for two nights on the Omalos Plateau.  From our accommodation, we hiked into the highlands of the White Mountains.  Gigilos is an imposing mountain also known as “Zeus’ Throne”.  The refuge at Kallergi is a 40 bunk mountain hut that is owned and operated by the Greek Mountaineering Club of Chania.  The attendant told us that volunteers from the club play the major role in running the place.  Sometimes they will have Lafkas White Mountains Ale on the menu but they were out on they day we went there so I settled for an ESA Pilsener with my bowl of tasty squash soup.

Hiking Gorges

Crete features hikes in a number of spectacular gorges that plunge from high up in the mountains down to the sea.  The Samaria gorge is the longest in Europe covering more than 11 miles (18 km) and dropping more than 5000 feet – it is the most famous hiking route on Crete so it is very busy.  The Agia Irini gorge is also spectacular but we ran into few others on the route.  Both gorges had nicely-placed cafes at the bottom with much appreciated cold beer.  Both gorges can be traveled to by public bus.

Agia Irini

Stopovers along the Cretan Way

Hanging out on the beaches at our overnight stops was a terrifically calm and relaxing time.  We spent time in the villages of Paleochora, Sougia, Agia Roumeli, Loutro, and Chora Sfakia.  Each of these places has its unique charms and all feature whitewashed structures set against the deep blue sea.  Every accommodation turned out to be at comfortable places with welcoming, friendly hosts.  Although the villages are small, there are plenty of services and dining options in each to nicely support a couple of days stay.

Foot Therapy

Since the trip, I’ve been told that this kind of spa service is either politically incorrect or hygienically incorrect or both, so I apologize for not knowing this ahead of time.  It felt pretty damn good though at the time, and luckily nothing was catching.


An index of all stories relating to Crete is available here.


What Hiking Actually Does For The Mind, Body And Soul

A human being actively choosing to head out of their home and tread through miles and miles of terrain doesn’t leap out to some people. They’d rather sit in with a beverage and watch the latest, hottest TV show. For those that love a good hike through all kinds of conditions, however, it’s not only a real test but something that can give off so many positives. While walking isn’t the most fashionable pastime for many, it’s something that affects our minds, bodies, and souls a lot. 

[Note from Prime Passages:  This is a contribution from a Prime Passages subscriber.]

Heading out on an adventure through an area you’ve never been before and discovering all that the world has to offer is a beautiful sensation. It can change the way a person thinks and behaves. If you’re not quite into the idea or don’t see yourself as very adventurous, have a little read of the following points. We’ll talk about what it can really do for you on a holistic level.

It Provides You With A Real Workout 

It’s not an easy job. Walking tends to be pretty simple for those who are able, but try doing it for hours across multiple gradients and terrains. It’s a real fitness test and one that you won’t forget in a while once it’s done. If you feel as though you’d like a new kind of physical challenge, then hiking in a beautiful environment isn’t a bad idea. It’s also something you could do if you feel as though you need a little fitness boost in your life. Workouts tend to be tedious and difficult; hiking in an attractive location will take the sting out of such a chore, though.

It Prepares You For What’s Really Out There

Going through difficult times in life is what prepares you for anything. You can’t expect to battle through tough times without any experience in going through similar strife. Hiking isn’t a walk in the park – pardon the pun; it can be very challenging and will test your mental mettle. 

You’re Introduced To A New Hobby

Once you begin, you’ll likely want to continue. As you continue through your hiking journeys, you’ll begin to realize that you’ve found yourself an entirely new hobby. You’ll be planning your life around these days out. You’ll look to link up with others doing the same. You’ll look to hop onto blogs like this one and the likes of Prepared Bee regularly. It’s not just a case of walking somewhere and then heading home – it’s a lifestyle. 

It Gives You A Real Rush Of Endorphins

The mixture between seeing the environment, getting out of the house, and the fitness elements all fuse together to help your brain release good chemicals. Endorphin rushes make a person feel so much better about themselves. It instills confidence and an overall sense of satisfaction. You feel amazing afterward – and the feeling during a hike isn’t too bad either!

Last but not least …

TIt gives you a great reason to enjoy a beer and reflect on what you’ve seen and experienced!


A Eurotrip for Beer Drinkers

Guest post by Zack Davisson

photo credit: Will Stewart

There are plenty of cultural reasons to visit Europe. But who decided architecture and museums have any more cultural value than beer drinking? We say beer can be just as good of a reason for a vacation, so forget the overcrowded hotspots like the Eiffel Tower and instead file into a pub for a pint of liquid gold. With the help of our buddies and vacation rental gurus at AllTheRooms, we’ve created a list of the best cities in Europe for beer drinkers.


If Europe had a beer capital, Munich would probably be it. There is no region more synonymous with beer than Bavaria, and there isn’t an event more ingrained in beer culture than Oktoberfest. Munich is the capital of one and the host of the other. Oktoberfest isn’t just an opportunity to wear lederhosen and dirndl, the Germans take their beer drinking seriously. Every Oktoberfest (which last 16 days), around 2 million gallons of Oktoberfest Beer is consumed. For some perspective, you could overflow Shamu’s performance tank at SeaWorld with that much — and just a reminder Shamu is a whale. Beer drinking is iconic in Munich; while over cities may have famed landmarks, the top thing to do in Munich is savoring a stein of golden goodness.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Munich and Bavaria


photo credit: Christian Gertenbach

While it may be better known for its notorious “coffee shops”, Amsterdam’s beer scene is top notch. There are certainly plenty of cool bars to stop in for a local microbrew here, but Amsterdam’s beer tourism begins and ends at the Heineken brewery in the center of town. This is the original brewery to make Heineken but as the company has expanded, so has the building. Nowadays, it hosts tours, and guests can learn about the history of one of the world’s top 10 highest selling beers, as well as get a few samples.


This one may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but Iceland’s nightlife scene is one of the most fun in Europe. From high-end lounges to simple pubs, Iceland’s capital has seen a huge surge in bar openings thanks to its newfound bustling tourism market. The team at Einstök brews Iceland’s best beer and their Icelandic White Ale is now even sold across the US. They do have a brewery open to the public in Iceland, although tourists will need to leave Reykjavik and head to Akureyri in Northern Iceland to see it.


Highly regarded worldwide for some of the Pilsner they produce, Prague takes their beer traditions seriously. While many beer-drinkers may think imported Pilsners are tasty, many Czech breweries actually make their local product slightly differently for that which gets shipped overseas. As a result, many people swear the quality of beer in Prague is noticeably higher. Boozy travelers should pay a visit to the Prague Beer Museum; the name may be misleading as it’s not a museum at all, but the bar has one of the best selections of Czech beer anywhere, partially because that’s all they sell!

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Czechia and Prague


So we are willing to give Munich the “Beer City of Europe” award, but we have to hesitate with giving Germany the top country honors. That hesitation is all thanks to Belgium. Belgian-style beer is some of the best in the world and some of their finest has been made for centuries by monks in various monasteries throughout the country. The top place to grab some beers is in the capital, Brussels, around Grand Place. The narrow, cobblestone streets are packed with hundreds of small cafe-bars, and have a great atmosphere.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but the must-see bar here has got to be Delirium Café. In 2004, the café set the Guinness World Record for most beers offered in one place, with an astonishing 2,004 different varieties. We’ll let you tackle that menu by yourself, but Delirium does make award-winning beer of their own, just look for the label with the pink elephant on it.


photo credit: John Carpenter

Hey, did someone say, Guinness?! That’s right, that dark, foamy, possibly intimidating glass of nectar originated in Dublin. And just like the Heineken factory, folks can come to Dublin and head over to the Guinness factory to see where the pitch-black elixir comes from. Guinness’ logo is famously a harp, and a stroll outside of the Guinness headquarters and around Dublin’s many pubs reveals why the symbol is appropriate. On just about every street, live music pours out of cozy pubs to create a cacophony of clinking glasses and a twang of musical chords that is distinctly Irish.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Ireland and Dublin


Some beer travelers may think the only thing to drink in Poland is vodka (including water, not just other alcohols), but the truth is Polish cities like Krakow have a burgeoning craft brew scene. Krakow plays host to lots of eccentric watering holes that stay open through all hours of the night. Wander into any of these, with or without a friend, and expect to be greeted by curious/friendly/opinionated locals ready for a chat. For those who have just enough cash for a plane ticket and not much else, drinking is going to be cheaper here than in any other city on this list.


London is one of the most expensive places to live, there’s no way around that. However, while many social scenes are overrun with the martini and champagne crowds, it’s impossible to kill London’s pub culture. Step into any traditional pub like Shakespeare’s Head on Carnaby Street and get ready to meet a mixed crowd of intellectuals and hooligans, foreigners and longtime Londoners. The company is diverse, the beer is good, the beer gardens are a treat (in summer), and the English food isn’t always for the faint of heart, but the experience is always one of the best in Europe.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in England

Zack is a recovering technical recruiter who traded in his suit and tie in Silicon Valley for salsa music and a passion for writing in Medellin, Colombia. When not writing for AllTheRooms you can find Zack with his nose in a book, puttering around nature, or getting ultra-competitive while watching Jeopardy.


Like The Locals: Making The Most Of Inner-City Travel As A Tourist

moving train
image by Erik via Pexels – CC0 Licence

Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and truly immerse yourself in the culture. When you go exploring somewhere you always see these articles about traveling “like a local.” One of the best ways to do this is to get down on the ground and move with the people that live in a specific place, day in day out. Public transport is, for the general public, a way of life. Whether you are traveling via the New York Metro or the London Tube it can be a great way to immerse yourself, but it can also be very stressful. With this in mind, how can you make the most of inner-city travel without it getting on top of you?

[Note from Prime Passages:  This is a contribution from a Prime Passages subscriber.]

Get An Uber 

Rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft are a great way to beat the stress of traveling on any subway. But when you go for this option, it’s crucial to know the best ways to get around in this way. Just because getting an Uber or a Lyft can be cheaper, doesn’t mean that it is always safe. It can prove to be difficult on occasion, especially in another country, but this is why you’ve got to truly get an understanding of the transport system. If you end up in some sort of accident and have to get a rideshare attorney this can add a lot of unnecessary anxiety to your experience. Inner-city travel is about understanding your desired transport system but also the routes depending on the time of day.

Study Your Map And Plan Your Day Around That

The most important thing to consider when you’re trying to get around any city is knowing what you’d like to do. You can plan the transport accordingly so you can avoid the peak times of travel during the day, as it can be quite stressful traveling during rush hour. The great thing about being a tourist is that you can minimize this. But it’s a good idea to plan your day without too much itinerary cramming. Study your map and look at where you’d like to go, check out the transportation routes, and see what tickles your fancy. If you want to hit the tourist hotspots, there are always open-top bus journeys to try.

Mix Up Your Experiences

Many big cities have an option to purchase a ticket that allows you to travel by all forms of transport. When you do it this way, you are able to find the best methods based on what you would like to do that specific day. That way, you can decide to traverse the bars and use the underground trains to get back to the hotel, or if you are looking to take a long journey far away from your destination for the day, you can plan a long-haul overground train journey. And the most important thing to remember when you are getting around a big city using public transport is that you can spend a lot of money on each individual service. By purchasing one ticket that covers all areas, you can do what you want when you want!


First Time Camping?

Camping can be one of the most enjoyable activities that we humans can indulge in. There’s nothing quite like surrounding yourself with nature and disconnecting from the networked world that we live in. It’s a fantastic opportunity to relax in a peaceful and tranquil environment, and it’s an experience that you can share with any number of people.

[Note from Prime Passages:  This is a contribution from a Prime Passages subscriber.]

However, it’s also something that will require a bit of experience and knowledge. Trying to camp on your own the first time will usually always lead to mistakes. That’s why it’s vital that you get a bit of experience, read up on some tips and also speak to more experienced campers for help. To make things easier for you, we’ve gathered a couple of professional tips that will help you settle into your first time camping.

Source: (CC0)

“Never ever put your tent under a tree”

Putting your tent under a tree is a one-way ticket to disaster. Not only do you risk random branches and animals falling on your tent, but it can also lead to sticky droplets of sap clinging to your tent. This makes it infuriating to pack away and clean up everything. Always try to put your tent out in an open area!

“If you’re camping for the first time, try to bring a friend or two.”

Camping is a learning experience, but it’s a lot easier if you bring a friend or two along for the ride. It’s even better if you can bring someone with a lot more experience than you!

“Make a list of all the things you need before you go so you don’t forget anything.”

Put together a list of things that you should be taking on your camping trip. Here is a comprehensive camping checklist that you should be following as a rough guideline. If you forget something crucial then it could ruin your entire trip, so put together this list a week or two before you go and constantly change it depending on your needs.

“If you can carry it, always bring some spares.”

Spare socks, clothing, tools and even sheets are always a good idea if it’s your first time camping. We’re going to assume that you’re driving to the campsite, so you can always leave this stuff in the car instead of lugging it around in your pack. However, if you aren’t bringing a car, then only bring a few spares for essentials.

“Always use proper camping grounds before venturing out into the wild.”

Look around your local area for camping grounds and visit them a couple of times before you go out into the wild. These will provide a bit of extra safety and some useful amenities such as flushing toilets, showers and perhaps even a café for food.

“Forget about fully disconnecting; bring some tech stuff to make things easier.”

We know that camping is a great way to disconnect, but it’s foolish not to bring something like a phone and a spare battery for it. It’s an essential tool to help you stay connected with the rest of the world should you end up in an accident, and it also provides a bit of entertainment if you’re worried that you or your group members will be bored.

“Camping food isn’t so bad but you don’t always have to eat out of a tin or packet.”

People get used to camping food eventually but they typically only bring tins and packets if they don’t have much space. If you do have space, feel free to bring proper ingredients and cooking utensils. It helps if you can cook your meals in a single pot since you can throw everything in and wait for it to simmer.

“It helps if you plan your meals in advance.”

If you are short on space but want to cook properly, then try and plan your meals in advance so that you don’t waste any space.

“Practice setting up your tent if you have space in your garden or home.”

Setting up a tent for the first time at the campground can be a nightmare. Practice at home in your garden or even living room if possible. Make sure you have a general idea of what to do and bring any spare tools that you think you might need.

“Get a bigger tent than you think you need.”

When in doubt, always go for the larger tent–you’ll thank yourself later for having more space to move around in.


Deja Vu All Over Again

While most people simply admire old photos, Irina Werning is more interested in how people would look and feel if they were to reenact them today. Several years ago, she started to ask people to go back to their past and recreate a moment in time – even down to the exact body positions and facial expressions.  Click on the image to left or on the source link below to see her complete series of images …

Source: Back to the Future


Unique Exhibit features the Old Spanish Trail

spherical photoSome time ago I featured a project by photojournalist Janire Najera in an article on this blog (read it here).  Janire was documenting the Old Spanish Trail which runs from Santa Fe, NM to Los Angeles in her project called “Moving Forward, Looking Back”.

Moving forward, looking back is being exhibited as part of Diffusion, Cardiff International Festival of Photography (Wales, UK). The exhibition can be visited at the second floor of the Stadium Plaza during October, (Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm) — Can’t make it to Wales?  You can also experience a variation of the exhibit in virtual form through your browser — the virtual tour was created from an exhibition earlier this yearnat the former residence of the ambassadors of Spain in Washington, D.C.

Be patient as the virtual tour is a large file and can take a bit of time to load depending on your connection speed.  Use the arrows to navigate through the different rooms and enjoy exploring the space and the artwork.  You can click on all the images to see the photographs larger and by navigating into the conference room you can access and listen to interviews with descendants of pioneers of the Old Spanish Trail and others.   The photograph above is of a unique spherical format photo (imagine printing a 3-D image onto a huge balloon) that was part of the exhibit.


Craft Beer Hiking

BeerHikeNNM - afall_colors.pngWhat do I like better?  A great hike in the forests and canyons of Northern New Mexico? …. or trying out interesting beers to quench my thirst after a great workout? …. or sharing either of those experiences with kindred souls? That is a hard one …. so I decided to combine all of these into one activity …. a “craft beer hike”.

My love of this kind of activity comes from years of living in Bavaria where there is a high concentration of small breweries that are fun to create hiking routes between. (read about beer hiking in Bavaria here) The growth of the craft beer movement in the

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US and in NM got me to thinking about where there are opportunities to do a similar kind of hiking experience here.

A few Saturdays back, I led a small group of eleven on a craft beer hike in Los Alamos, culminating in a visit and orientation at Bathtub Row Brewery, one of New Mexico’s newest breweries. The other stops along the way were at tap rooms that feature a variety of craft beers. Between the beer stops were segments of gorgeous hiking through forest and canyon.

Sound like your kind of activity? Guided craft beer hikes are offered in Los Alamos on Saturdays. Pricing includes beer, snacks, and the services of a local guide. The next available dates are October 17 and 24 … should be prime time for fall colors. Details and booking are available at

The scenery along the way is spectacular. We were ready for another beer by the end of each of the hike segments.
BeerHikeNNM - dhighres_439188847.jpegWe sampled the equivalent of a pint selected from a variety of craft brew choices at each of three different stops along the hike.

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Bathtub Row Brewery treated us to a brewery orientation before we tasted their latest offerings.BeerHikeNNM - fhighres_439155423.jpeg

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