Beer. Beer. Beer. Castle. Beer. Castle. Castle. Beer. Welcome to Germany! Obviously there is more to Germany than beer and castles, but in the week we were in Germany not a day went by where we didn’t drink a beer and see a castle. Our first stop was Munich and after a long travel day from Hallstatt (boat to train to bus to train to train) we decided to indulge in a liter of beer each at the famous Haufbrauhaus. With our beer we ate a plate of sausage and an extremely overpriced giant pretzel. The atmosphere was fun and crazy, with traditional music playing loudly and conversations happening even more loudly. Since we arrived at night, we did no sightseeing our first day, only beer drinking.
We took a free walking tour the next morning with John, a Brit living Munich with his German girlfriend (which he says is extremely common). John was the best guide we have had so far and shared tons of information about Munich, Nazi Germany, Hitler, and beer. We saw Marienplazt, Odeonsplatz, various beer halls, Church of St. Peter, the Royal Residence (which used to have a garden and an indoor lake on the top floor! And the prince almost got away with putting an elephant up there too!). John knew so much about history and I learned more about the origins of the Nazi party, which was headquartered in Munich, in this three-hour tour than I did my whole college career, which is tragic as I majored in history.
The tour ended at the Viktualienmarkt, where we grabbed a beer and currywurst for a late lunch. After sucking down some Augustiner beer and gobbling our (kind of gross) currywurst we spent some time wandering the market, passing stalls of cheese and wine and fruits and veggies. At the market we bought two fresh artichokes, which were literally as big as my head! Later that night we devoured our massive artichokes with a side of butter and a piece of steak whose size was put to shame by the artichokes.
The next morning we hopped on a train to Hohenschwangau, where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle is located. The castle acted as the inspiration for the Disney castle and is surrounded by beautiful Bavarian countryside. Right next door to the Neuschwanstein castle is the smaller, less opulent Hohenschwangau castle. We used the Bayren ticket (or Bavaria ticket) to get to and from the castle from Munich. The ride was about two hours, plus a short bus ride up to the castles themselves.
We decided to pay to go to both castles and while we did enjoy both tours, we probably could have skipped Hohenschwangau and saved some money. The inside of the castle was pretty cool, I mean it is a castle, but the tour was only about 20 minutes and it did not feel worth the cost. The rooms are very palace-like (gold and beautifully painted and multi-roomed, with separate rooms to read and write and dress and sleep). The road up to the castle overlooks a beautiful alpine lake, where we would have loved to sit and read, but the castle tickets are timed, so instead we climbed up the hill on the other side of the valley, up to St. Mary’s bridge to get a stunning view of Neuschwanstein. From the bridge we went on to the castle itself for our tour.
Neuschwanstein is beautiful and unique and the brainchild of crazy King Ludwig. There are no pictures allowed in either palaces, but if there had been I would have taken pictures of every nook and cranny of the palace. The throne room is possibly the most elaborate room I have ever seen, with intricate paintings, a stone encrusted chandelier, mosaicked floors (over 1 million tiles in this one), and golden moldings. His bedroom is similarly ornamented, with an amazing wooden canopy bed that is modeled after the castle itself. Next to his bedroom is an indoor cave, with a waterfall, built by Ludwig from essentially paper mache to keep himself closer to nature. The final room of the tour is the theater, which is painted and gem-encrusted and extravagant. The King built it special for his playwright friends to put on performances for his special guests. King Ludwig lived less than a year in his castle, before he was declared insane and removed from office. He then died less than a year later and since then the castle has been open to the public.
After a long day of castle touring, we headed back to Munich for, what else, beer! For our last beer garden experience in Munich we went to the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) in the English Garden. The beer garden was PACKED with people and after we got our beers, pork knuckle and giant pretzel we squeezed onto a bench to enjoy our final hours in Munich.
We really liked Munich. We felt so comfortable there. People read on the subway (like us), they love beer (like Logan), and there is such a confident energy. It is somewhere we could see moving if Logan’s career takes us abroad someday. So, until next time Munich!