Way back in December, my work planned a big meeting in London in May. I (along with many of my co-workers) quickly started scheming for a way to extend the trip for some fun. Through quite a bit of planning, I worked it out for Mike to meet me in London on the last day of my work trip and head to Munich together for four days. We did some serious coordination with both sets of parents: we had Mike’s parents flying in to watch the girls for a few days, followed by my parents taking the reins for the next three days. We are so grateful that our girls have such amazing grandparents that could fill in for us while we were gone!
My trip to London was a whirlwind, full of big meetings and lots of post-work team bonding.
Steps walked: 15,288 / 8.73 miles
I had Indian food for the first time at a delightful place called Dishoom:
Steps walked: 7,750 / 4.49 miles
We had a pub crawl the night before I left for Germany, which started out as great fun and devolved into a little too much imbibing and not enough eating food. However, it was fantastic bonding time and I got to put a bunch of faces to names of my coworkers across the globe. Literally – Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, London, and of course Dallas were all represented!
Thursday: London –> Munich
Steps walked: 6,617 / 3.58 miles
The next day I dragged myself out of bed and finished up work meetings, then headed to the airport. I met Mike there and we headed to our hotel in Munich, The Platzl hotel.
We got in around 8pm, dropped off our stuff, and headed to dinner. We jumped right in to Bavarian food with schweinshaxe, or roasted pork knuckle, and beer!
We were pretty beat after that, so we went back to our hotel room and went to bed.
Steps walked: 14,489 / 8.31 miles
Friday was one of our free days, so we spent it sleeping in and walking around the main areas of Munich, taking selfies. Places like: Marienplatz!
We stumbled across the Chinesischer Turm beer garden while we were in the park…so naturally, we stopped for beer and brats.
After lunch, we decided to head back towards our hotel and grab a beer at the legendary Hofbräuhaus before taking a break and getting ready for dinner.
We ended up planning things perfectly, as it started raining/hailing not two minutes after we returned to our hotel room, and it stopped about 20 minutes before we headed out for dinner. Our dinner was at Schwarzreiter – I wanted a nice dinner to celebrate Mike’s birthday and this place definitely fit the bill!
The food was delicious, but to be honest we were a little tipsy from the afternoon beers and so everything was wonderful! You could choose a meal with anywhere from four to seven courses. We ended up choosing five courses each, from different menus, so we could sample each other’s food. They were very relaxed with the delivery of the courses and our dinner ended up being nearly four hours long! Luckily we had no other plans that evening and left full and happy.
Saturday: Linderhof castle, Plansee lake, Füssen, Neuschwanstein castle
Steps walked: 19,190 / 10.81 miles
We awoke Saturday morning ready for a full day of driving around. We set up a semi-private tour with Pure Bavaria Tours to drive us to Linderhof and Neuschwanstein castles. Our tour guide, Andy, was great, and customized the trip to what we wanted.
Our first stop out of the gate was Linderhof castle. It took us a little over an hour to drive there, and once we arrived we hiked up to the castle and took a tour of the inside (no pictures were allowed). King Ludwig II of Bavaria had it built in the style of mid-18th century Rococo – aka Versailles. (Yes I had to look that up on Wikipedia because I already have forgotten the details). As you could imagine, it was very ornate, with gold leaf walls and lots of small porcelain vases. Ludwig was also a fan of peacocks and swans, so there was a lot of that going on as well – including an ENORMOUS swan fanning around outside. The outside of the castle was equally as beautiful, even more so as it was framed by the Alps.
There may have been some frolicking.
Ok…maybe just me.
After a quick snack, we got back in the van for our next stop. Originally we were going to look at some churches, but Andy suggested driving across the border to Austria to see Plansee lake. We opted for that – although it was super cold, the lake was beautiful! We were also a little delighted at how easy it was to hop on over to another country for an hour or so.
Following our Austrian excursion, we headed back to Germany. We took a quick stop in the town of Füssen before heading to Schwangau to see Neuschwanstein. Füssen was cute but pretty much there for tourists, so we grabbed a couple of snacks, took a couple of pics, and were on our way.
And we were off to Neuschwanstein! Fun fact: “schwan” in German means swan. This Ludwig II character was seriously into birds.
We started by hiking up to Hohenschwangau castle, which is basically across the street from Neuschwanstein and much, much older. I think it was built in the 14th century, versus Neuschwanstein was built in the 19th century (thanks again, Wikipedia). We didn’t go inside Hohenschwangau but the views from it were amazing.
Once again, our tour guide pulled through. Andy asked us if we wanted to hike off-trail to get a view of both castles, and we of course said yes. We hiked for probably 30 minutes or so to the ruins of an old castle, and through the trees you could see both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. It was pretty cool.
This is the plaque commemorating the castle’s ruins.
We hiked back down and caught the bus up to Neuschwanstein. First we walked across the (rickety!!) bridge to get THE picture with the castle.
Then we took a tour of the inside which was quick but very interesting. Ludwig II was inspired by different styles and incorporated many of them into various rooms at the castle.
On our way down we could see Hohenschwangau, so we took some pics. It was really picturesque…you could see why all of the kings wanted to live here!
We were pretty beat after twelve hours of sightseeing, so when we got back to Munich we had a quick dinner of schnitzel (and beer, of course) at the Hofbräuhaus before crashing in bed.
Sunday: Dachau, Munich
Steps walked: 12,256 / 6.87 miles
We woke up on Sunday morning ready for another day of walking around. We set up a guided tour of Dachau concentration camp with Radius Tours. We met them at the train station (hauptbahnhof) and took the ~15 minute train ride to Dachau. Our tour guide, Jeff, gave us a quick history of the origination of Dachau as we rode the train. When we got off, we took a bus to the camp and started the tour.
I’ve been to Dachau before but haven’t had a guided tour, so it was nice to have someone guide us around and provide context beyond what we could read on the placards. The part that affected me the most the first time around was the crematorium, and Mike felt the same way as we walked through. After about three hours, we were ready to leave.
After getting back from Dachau, we had lunch at an old beer hall called Zum Dürnbräu, which was recommended by our tour guide from the day before.
We had signed up for a walking tour of the Third Reich in Munich following Dachau, but we were so exhausted that we decided instead to take a nap before heading out for dinner. We decided on Haxnbauer since it seemed to always be busy and it was less than one block away. Good choice – it was Mike’s favorite meal and I enjoyed it as well! I thought we took pics but I cannot find them.
As usual, we ended our night at Hofbräuhaus.
Steps walked: 8,978 / 4.94 miles
Our last full day in Germany was another free day, so we started by going to the Viktualienmarkt for breakfast and caffeine.
We mulled over what to do next and decided on Münchner Residenz, the former home of Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach. Much of the palace was destroyed during WWII, but two rooms remained that were pretty awe-inspiring: the The Hall of Antiquities (Antiquarium), built between 1568-1571, and the Ancestral Gallery.
The Antiquarium was a surprise to us. We turned the corner and both visibly gasped. The room itself is enormous and completely adorned with frescoes, sculptures, and paintings. It was impressive what has remained intact over centuries!
The Ancestral Gallery was also interesting because of the sheer effort the Wittelsbach family put into legitimizing their line. So many paintings of the family members, and a family tree that starts with the gods.And of course, gold leaf.
After the Residence, we did a little bit more sightseeing before heading back to the Viktualienmarkt for lunch – more sausages and french fries. And beers!
After that, we ended up going to bed a bit early to prepare for our long day of travel back to Dallas the next day.
Munich was awesome and we were so lucky to be able to spend a few days there together. It was hard to pick our favorite part of the trip because each piece was unique and interesting in its own way. I also greatly enjoyed putting my memories of Bavaria in context and revisiting a place after 15+ years.
Goodbye Germany!! We hope to see you again soon!