30.05.2009 22 °C
This trip to Munich was really special as it was full of so many firsts and fun times for me. This European journey has opened my eyes in so many ways and broaden my perspective on life and I think Munich was a big part of my learning.
That morning, I left the hbf really early on the first train out of the city as I had a tour that I had to make that same morning in Munich. The trip was really quick, at two hrs and comfortable. Upon my arrival in Munich I noticed some marked differences (compared to Stuttgart) almost as soon as I stepped onto the tarmack. One of the most obvious was that this city is very multicultural! Stuttgart has its splattering of minorities here and there but it is nothing like Toronto for example. Neither was Munich but I noticed all sorts of people walking around, locals that is and tourists alike. Second was the food. In Stuttgart's surrounding areas, it is sometimes hard to find things like chicken wings or greek food or chinese food and such. But in Munich's main station, almost all of these foods were on display and ready for consumption. At 8am! I was jolted for a second as since I have been in Germany, I haven't craved any of these foods. The only thing I love and wanted badly was sushi but almost everyone I know here abhores sushi and there is only one place in Stuttgart platz that sells it, so I never go. Getting back to the point, I usually enjoy a chicken wing or two at home and I occasionally eat some chinese food but I have completely forgotten about such meals since landing.
Another thing that I noticed about Munich was its feel. Stuttgart is a big city but Munich makes it feel like an infant in terms of the vibrant and metropolitan feeling. For this mainly, I like Stuttgart better but that does not mean that I did not like Munich!
After getting out of the main station, I had to make a three minute walk to my hostel (according to the map instructions). Of course I got lost! I suck at maps. Well, not really lost but it took me about 10 minutes to find the hostel instead of the aforementioned three. After dumping my bag, I made my way back to the station where I checked in for my tour to.....Schloss Neuschwanstein. I was very excited to see this castle and it's gorgeous surroundings. Of course I was early, so I wandered around and had breakfast.
When it was time for the tour to start, we met our director, who was really nice, informative and helpful. I can't remember her name but she was born and raised in München. I had immediately noticed another single girl on the trip but before I could start talking to her, she had drifted off and was chatting with other people. At this point, I decided to just listen to the instuctor on what we were to do instead of trying to make friends....at least for now.
Scenes on the way
The trip to Füssen, where the schloss is located, was supposed to comprise of one train ride (two hours) and then one bus trip (10 minutes) to the grounds but this trip had multiple steps. The day before, there was some sort of protest (Germans LOVE to protest causes) or attempted suicide on the tracks so we had to take two trains and two buses to the castle grounds.
On the way
I gotta tell you, it was all very comfortable and extremely hassle free considering all this. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the train rides. The most stress I had all day was speed walking to the first bus so I could get a good seat. In the end, all seats were good. I highly, highly recommend people to take this tour and pay the little extra for a guided tour. Your stress levels will be nil.
At the grounds, the castle sits on a mountain, near Hohenschwangau, we were given half hour to get something to eat. I walked around a bit but was not really interested in food. I wanted to see the castle, which is translated to New Swan Stone palace by the way. No Germans I know understand the rationale behind this. In any case, I made my way to a small kiosk because I saw many of the members from my group hanging outside eating sausages and such. When I got in, I noticed that this place sold......HOT DOGS. I looked around anxiously as I have yet to see a normal looking hot dog in the south and I was skeptical of the Bavarian version. Sure enough, it was a real, North American frank. I ordered one quickly and looked around for a place to sit. That is when I noticed the single girl from this morning. I sat at her table where we immediately started chatting.
Hohenschwangau Castle, King Ludwig II childhood home
The girl in questions name is Andreas, a student from New York who was born in Peru. Cool! She is super bright and speaks fluent english, spanish, german and chinese. I was like, who are you? We got along great from start to finish and you will hear about Andreas in another blog post to come.
Some of the grounds
At this point we stuck to each other like glue and had a fantastic time at the castle. We had a choice of hiking/walking up the mountain side to the schloss or taking a horse and carriage. Now, neither one of us had ever been on a horse and carriage so we decided we must do it here. The fee was minimal, at euro 6,00 per person, and was so worth it. While we were waiting in line we met two girls from Vancouver, Canada who we hung out with for the remainder of the time. I can't remember their names but they were also very nice to chill with.
After the horse and carriage (where the horses farted a lot!), we did a small hike to the castle grounds and joined the rest of the group for the tour.
Neuschwanstein is HUGE but unfortunately incomplete. There is a huge mystery around the original owner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, life or lifestyle, and his very early death. I personally think he hated being king (this was not a secret to the Bavarians) and was homosexual. And, he was obviously murdered but by who.....no one seems to know. If you have the time, read up on his story. It is extremely interesting and engrossing.
We got to look around at the rooms that were completed but unfortunately pictures were not allowed. I did manage to take a few but still....I didn't want to be too bad. This time.
Of course before you can get out of the castle, you have to pass through the gift shop. All of us girls decided to make our way up to Marienbrücke, a bridge close to the schloss, for some panoramic views. At this point, Andreas and I had approx 40 minutes to get back down the hill to the bus so we booked it quick! The hike usually takes about 15 minutes but we made it six.
This bridge is not the most sturdiest looking thing and swings slightly back and forth. Yeah, and it is high!!! At first, I was scared to walk on it but I sucked it up and stepped on it and after about two minutes I forgot that I was on a swinging bridge that was over jagged rocks and rushing water and enjoyed taking pictures.
We spent a good 15 minutes on the bridge, taking pictures together and of each other. When the two other girls from Vancouver caught up, we spent some bridge time with them also.
After all the fun and games Andreas and I realized we had less than 20 minutes to trek all the way down the moutain and make it to the bus on time. We flew down that hillside, chatting, laughing and taking pictures all the way. Speed walking all the way of course.
On the train back to Munich
After we arrived back in the city, we agreed to spend the rest of the evening together (the trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein is apprx 8 hours in total). Since Andreas was in the city a few days before me, she had taken a tour and knew a bit of the hot spots. We made our way to Marienplatz, Munich's city square, for the night. We took a detoured route and chatted some more.
Finally, we made it to our intended destination, the HofBräuhaus.
I have never in my entire life been in such a cool environment like what I was part of in this haus. Picture tavern like setting, relaxed locals, chilled out tourists, food and lots and lots of beer served in steins! It was almost magical, it was that surreal.
Andreas and I sat at a table at first (oh, you just sit wherever you can get a seat with whoever is at the table) with three guys but they were already drunk and asking stupid sexual questions, so we booked it and found another bench. Good thing too as we met some super cool people and had a great night. At this table we met a very pretty couple from Deutschland. Hamburg and Munich, I think. We started chatting with them immediately and started off the night right.
During conversation, we ordered food. I ordered typical Bavarian food which consisted of a thin slice of beef, and boiled potatoes in a veggy broth.
Andreas ordered Bavarian Weißwurst which is served (almost exclusively) with a warm, chewy pretzel and sweet mustard. My food was good but I wish I had the wurst instead.
In any case, there was enough beer to quench all appetites and throats.
Just a little note on the love of beer in Munich. Our tour director told us that beer is not consumed as a social thing in Bavaria. Bier and biergärtens (beer gardens) are a way of life for Bavarians which they take very seriously. I thought that was a powerful statement.
During the night, a couple from Australia sat at our table and we did many rounds of Prost (cheers in German but only for beer)!! After they left for a night time tour, a couple from Austria, who came up for the day, sat at the table.
Once again, we were prosting up, down and sideways. After the handsome Deutsch couple left, some guys from Lithuania and L.A. sat with us. Also, some guys from Chicago were right next to us who joined in the fun. More PROST, PROST, PROST! All night long.
some crazy guys at a table across from us who were also having a very FUN night
I love this pic
My throat was sore but who cares, Prost! We said Prost for everything and NOTHING! It was all about stein smashing and beir drinking. What a night.
We eventually left, who remembers what time, where I retired to my hostel and Andreas to her friends place. We exchanged details and promised to meet up in another city in weeks to come. I have to say again, this was a wonderul experience and Munich will always be remembered for King Ludwigs cool schloss, amazing people and PROST!