*Note: although the title of this post is about Munich, I also will include the day trips to Salzburg, Austria and the Neuschwanstein Castle here, as they were part of the itinerary while based in Munich.*
After a wonderful (albeit wild) stay in Amsterdam, I was ready to move on to other destinations in Europe during April vacation. I took the shuttle to the airport in the morning, where I flew over to Munich to meet my parents, who were coming all the way from the United States to visit me.
Landed in Munich around 17h00, and took a shuttle bus to the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station where the hotel that my parents and I would be staying at was located. My parents greeted me there, rejoicing and catching up with the past seven months of not seeing each other. Although I find them overbearing at times, it was nice to see them. We went out to dinner to the Augustiner-Keller, which is one of the oldest beer-gardens in the city. Now, I’m not really a beer drinker, but thought that I would give the restaurant’s beer a try- after all, I was in Germany! Ordered pork knuckle (a huge thing in German cuisine) which came with a big, fat potato dumpling and sauerkraut. The skin of the pork was way too thick, but it was quite tasty. It was a shit-ton of food, and I am not lying when I write that I had a noticeable pot-belly afterwards! After dinner, we went back to the hotel where I showered and turned in, tired from the day of traveling.
My parents and I dedicated the entire next day to sightseeing in Munich. Surprisingly, the city center is not that large, as many of the main attractions were all concentrated within one area, and was within walking distance from our hotel. We headed over first to Marienplatz, the main square where a glockenspiel is located inside of the Neues Ratshaus (“New Town Hall”) that plays once a day. When it plays, a little puppet show appears and re-enacts the 16th-century history of Bavaria. It’s a tourist attraction, and we were there at 11h00 (when the show started) to see the performance. Very cute!
We had also checked out a few cathedrals around town, including the Frauenkirche, the Peterskirche, and Asamkirche. What blew me away was just how stunning their interiors were. After having seen so many sub par-looking naves in other European countries, those of Munich greatly impressed me! The Asamkirche’s was just sublime, and the Peterskirche as well- but the latter also had incredible views of the city from the top of the tower, as I paid a euro to climb the exhausting, but winding stairs up. Definitely worth it!
We headed over to the Residenz, which is a former palace of Bavarian kings. With over one hundred rooms and extravagant halls, the now-museum just oozes grandeur and opulence. My parents and I spent 90 minutes to two hours funneling our way through the rooms, admiring the gold-patterned walls, the rich porcelain and silverware, and the Treasury where crowns, scepters, and all things royal were on display.
By the time we finished, it was already 13h00 and we hadn’t had lunch yet. Stopped by a pastry shop for a late lunch/snack before taking the tram to Nymphenburg Palace, which was located outside of the city center. A former summer palace for the Bavarian kings, Nymphenburg was smaller than I had expected, but still quite lovely. My parents and I took plenty of photos of the exterior and wandered the *rather large* gardens.
We took the tram back to the city center, and got an early dinner at another German-cuisine restaurant that my mom had looked up in advance. Ordered a schnitzel (fried thinned meat), as it was an obligation for me to try it while in Germany- I’m being serious. It was delicious, as it was crispy and tender at the same time. Good stuff! 😛
We returned to our hotel afterwards, where we ended our busy day visiting Munich. Goodnight…
The following morning was our day trip to Salzburg, Austria. We woke up early to catch the 7h15 train, as it’s about a two-hour ride. Interestingly enough, we had to get out of the train at one of the stops to “transfer” to another car within the same train, as the workers were literally splitting the train into two: one was continuing to Bologna and the other to Budapest (we had to take the latter). In all of my European travel experiences, I had never experienced such a system before!
We arrived around 9h00 in Salzburg. Started off at the Mirabell Palace, a 17th-century palace that is famous for being the shooting location of The Sound of Music film. Salzburg is not a very big city, and we were able to get around to all of the other attractions on foot. We passed by Mozart’s Residence, in which the famous genius composer had grown up. We crossed the bridge and visited Mozart’s Birthplace, in which he was born. I decided to pay for the visit. The place is small, but has a good amount of information on the composer’s life, as well as has many of his original manuscripts, house furniture, and tokens on display. Quite pricey for no more than an hour’s visit, but nevertheless it satisfied my pianist’s cravings. 😉
Checked out a couple of churches afterwards, before getting lunch close to Mozart’s Birthplace. The meal itself was a-okay, but the dessert, the local “Salzburger nockerl,” was light, airy, and quite interesting! It is a soufflé topped with powdered sugar and served with raspberry sauce; funny enough, I felt no substance enter my stomach- it was like magic! Not sure if it’s my type of dessert, but I’m glad to have tried it.
We hiked up to the Hofhensalzburg Fortress in the afternoon. Definitely a workout, as the entrance to the site was built on a very steep incline- I was out of breath afterwards! We explored the grounds, and there was a vantage point where you can see the Austrian countryside and the Alps in the background- utterly gorgeous!
Around 14h00 or 15h00, we descended the hill, leaving the fortress. Took a quick look into another church in the town center before deciding to take the train back to Munich. Arrived back around 18h30, got quick sandwiches for dinner, and crashed in the hotel for the rest of the evening.
The next day was another day trip from Munich, to the Linderhof Palace and the Neuschwanstein Castle. Both are situated southwest of Munich, about an hour to two hour’s drive away. We took a bus tour, beginning at 9h00 and ending around 18h30. During the excursion, we learned a lot about the history of Bavaria during the 19th century, especially with the “fairy king” Ludwig II (kind of a crazy man, but immortalized through myths and tourism after his death. Why not; it sells!). Both of the landmarks were of Ludwig II’s possessions, as he had lived in them during his life.
First stop was at the Linderhof Palace. We had a quick tour of the inside, and that was about it. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the house, which is a shame, because it was so beautiful! Like, mind-blowing: imagine ornate gold leaf covering the walls from top to bottom, million-ton chandeliers hanging in each room, and mirrors that seem to give an illusion of endlessness, aka the “Hall of Mirrors” (not to be confused with the one at Versailles).
We left the palace and made a brief stop in Oberammergau, a small town that is known for its Passion Play Theatre, which presents the eponymous Passion play performance every ten years. It depicts the last few days of Jesus Christ (hence “passion play,” of course). The town also has several houses with paintings that depict classic fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.
Afterwards, we headed to Neuschwanstein Castle, which not only was the residence of Ludwig II, but also is reputed to have been the inspiration for Disney’s iconic castle logo. Perched on top of a hill in the mountains, the castle definitely has that air of mystery to it.
We got lunch at the base of the hill beforehand; I ordered spätzle, which is a type of egg noodle common in German cuisine, and is served with onions and lots of melted cheese. Think the German (and better) version of the mac n’ cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food, which went well with the mulled wine that I had with it.
Headed up to the castle after, and did a tour of the inside. Personally, I didn’t find it as impressive as Linderhof’s, but the outside looked majestic and I got some photo opportunities in while there.
By 16h45, we were done with our tour, and took the long drive back to Munich. Again, we got some small sandwiches for dinner, and rested up in our hotel, since we were leaving the following day from Munich after a three-night stay.
…that’s about it for Munich! Lots of traveling within the city, including day trips outside. Glad to have gotten more of a taste of Germany, as the only other German city that I had visited before was Berlin. More adventures of my April vacation to come! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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