Tuesday, March 24, 2015

München und ein berühmtes Schloss // Munich and a Famous Castle

March 9-10, 2015

Between the weekends spent in Fulda my family made several short trips to other areas of Germany. I joined them for their two days in Bavaria - one day in Munich and one day at Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany's most famous castle.

We left Fulda on Monday morning and drove the four hours to Munich. Between traffic, getting temporarily lost, and checking into our hostel, we didn't get to the city until mid-afternoon. My parents rented a car for their travels but decided that taking public transport into the city was a better idea. But my family does not use public transport very often, which made for an entertaining trip getting into central Munich.

I assured my parents that they didn't actually need to pay for U-bahn tickets as they're almost never checked and it's easy to be a Schwarzfahrer (German slang for someone who uses public transport without paying) in Germany. They were not convinced and bought tickets anyway, which were indeed never checked. We successfully got on the right tram going the right way and got off at the right stop, but not before my family questioned me every 5 minutes about where to go and when to get off. Ten minutes on the U-bahn took us to Marienplatz, the main city square, and we were on our way to explore.

We looked around at the nearby buildings and then climbed all 308 stairs to the top of St. Peter's Cathedral. We were met with a gorgeous view of the city -- all the red roofs on one side and all the cosmopolitan looking buildings on the other. Though the view was gorgeous, the platform at the top was quite narrow and we were relieved to finally reach the ground at the end. We didn't have a clear plan for the rest of the afternoon as everything "big" in Munich would take too long to go through. When I'm traveling with friends and this happens, we usually wander around the streets, finding the picturesque buildings in our area, and stopping in cafes for coffee. With my family, there wasn't much wandering around, only shopping. I didn't mind this though, as Munich has superb shopping (and more importantly, one of the only two Forever 21s in Germany). 

For dinner we went to the world-famous Hofbräuhaus, which was much smaller on the inside than I had anticipated. My sister and I ordered Weißbiers which we both liked. A band was playing live music in the center of the hall, and a very drunk woman came by and danced a few times before deciding to put a coin inside one of the unused instruments onstage, which earned her a round of laughter from everyone who saw it.

The next morning we set off on the two hour drive to Schloss Neuschwanstein, located in the Alps. The weather was warm but the area had been hit with profuse amounts of snow the week before and everything was covered in a undisturbed sheet of pure white. The roads were full of sharp twists and I forced myself to sleep because I was so worried we would drive off the road and die. After we somehow safely arrived, we took a short tour of Hohenschwangau, a small neighbouring castle that was the childhood home of King Ludwig II (the man who built Neuschwanstein). The castle was a bit of a letdown -- the room decorations were quite ugly (to be honest) and our tour guide was a creepy older guy who looked like he could be a movie villain.

Our tour of Neuschwanstein, though also short, was much more interesting. Though only a third of the rooms were ever finished, the ones that are completed are intricately painted and beautifully decorated. Our tour guide was also much better. He looked like a German Ray Romano and throughout his talk he had a barely concealed contempt for Ludwig II, which revealed itself through his sharp, sarcastic tone. 

After our little two day trip to Bavaria, my family drove me back to Mannheim so I could attend my classes. While I slaved away at pretending I understand political theories, they went on a few day trips outside of Mannheim and we met up again for dinner each night. I ended my time with them back in Fulda, which I wrote a bit more about here. Even though I didn't explore Munich the way I normally would have, I don't feel like I missed much of the city. We hit the highlights, and the more important thing for me was getting to spend more time with my family. I know I missed a few things though, and when I return to Germany in the future I wouldn't mind spending a few more days in Munich.

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