European Vacation – Part 3
Leaving Amsterdam was tough, but the exciting journey ahead was enough to convince me to stay on course with this trip. We left Centraal Station Saturday night on an overnight train and arrived in Munich early Easter Sunday. The train was fantastic mostly because we had two adjacent sleeping cabins. The cabins are designed to open into one large cabin so we immediately set it up to enjoy a nice travelling dinner with wine as we left Holland. The trip was quiet and comfortable and we arrived exactly on time to a sleepy Munich.
I visited Munich in 1981 for a few days spent mostly studying churches, museums and baroque architecture. Ok, maybe there was one night at the Hofbrau House, but that’s a story for another time. Other than the central old town, Munich has the feel of an American city. The destruction of a majority of the buildings during WWII combined with the following American occupation and expansion of the city has led to modern buildings and a city designed for the automobile surrounding the history of old town. The old town is primarily a pedestrian shopping and entertainment district now, somewhat touristy, but still an enjoyable place to observe significant architecture and people and enjoy one of the many outdoor cafes / beer gardens. Most cafes serve their own beer and all of it is just amazing. Our typical day here was taking a walking tour of city sights such as the Oktoberfest grounds, Hofgarten or urban Alpine surfers in the morning and using the afternoon to wander the old town with hourly stops for a break at one of the outdoor cafes – yes, an afternoon beer crawl. Unfortunately, I knew I was an American lightweight when on Easter Sunday I observed a twelve year old German girl down a pint about four times faster than I did. On the central square Marienplatz you can observe the active Glockenspiel in the gothic tower of the New Rauthaus (city hall) and listen to the echo of numerous church bells mark each hour.
Neuschwanstein Castle – Fussen
Of all the interesting things we did in Munich, the most fun we had was leaving the city on a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle near Fussen in the Bavarian Alps. The 19th Century Romanesque Revival palace is built on the top of a rugged mountain and is most famously known for its inspiration of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys from the castle are spectacular as are the stories of King Ludwig II life and mysterious demise and the construction of the castle. We were very lucky to have a fabulous tour guide for the entire day, Roland. Roland who is originally from England has been teaching English in Munich and leading tours of various architectural sites as a hobby for ten years. Roland’s knowledge of the castle and Bavarian history and his dramatic humorous delivery certainly created a day that was so much better than if we had done this tour on our own. The train ride to and from Fussen, the hike up the mountain, the tour of the castle and the cold refreshments at the end of the tour left us all with great memories of a day well spent.
Please take this tour if you are in Munich and ask for Roland. While in Munich, you must also visit BMW Welt and Museum as I will tell you all about soon!