After Prague we had a 6 hour train trip to Munich. Germany a new country to explore! We took a tram in Prague to the station. Even though Rob is extremely competent at navigating tram, train and bus time tables in any country there is always a moment of fear associated with independent travel. At one stage Rob for the first time on our trip thought we were on the wrong tram as the tram and train stations have different names. The problem is you are unable to talk to the tram driver as they are locked away in their safe cabin in a world of their own. As time ticked on all was good and Rob’s confidence returned. We made it in time to the station for our 6 hour train trip to Germany. Our train travel was broken when there was train works so we all had to pile off the train and be shuttled further down the train line. This was about a 40 minute coach trip before hurdling across the train tracks with luggage in tow and then literally mounting the huge train stairs to board a new train to Munich. If you check out how difficult and steep the train steps were you would understand how easy it is to do your back in trying to lug yourself and your bags up onto these trains. We have made a mental note that on our next overseas train trip it will be one shared bag weighing no more than 9 kilograms. Doable if you only need to pack for one season. Impossible when traveling through every season for a year. Our backs only need to endure one more train ride before we get our lease car. Rob is excited about driving again and it will be a brand new car for him to run in (literally as the lease car is brand new, never driven before).
On this leg of our train journey we got our own cabin which was nice to kick back in. The further we flew down the tracks the warmer the weather got. Spring was finally here and the rivers, lake and ponds were starting to defrost!!!
Our apartment was a 40 minute walk outside the city in a really lovely area. Our apartment was filled with many beautiful antiques. It was in a lovely apartment building in the basement and I do mean basement level. Rob and I were wondering if this level had once been a kitchen as all the other levels had beautiful timber hobbit doors but ours looked more like a freezer door.
With no time to waste we spent our late afternoon walking into Munich. We really enjoyed our walk along the river. There were numerous parks filled with walking and bike trains. Bike riding is really popular here. We watched in awe as a guy was trying to walk his way across a thin rope hanging high over the river. This river in summer would be full of bathers. Small ladders sat on the river’s edge. You could spend days just walking and riding through the beautiful parks. After spend most of our train leg in snow and cities it was nice to be surrounded by large trees and the sound of flowing water.
On our walk we were excited to see the first signs of Spring. The grass was coming alive with fresh bulbs of purple wild flowers. It was hard not to do a dance as the temperature outside had also explored to around 11 degrees with a pitter patter of light Spring rain.
Munich itself was a very clean, modern and interesting city. A highlight for us both was visiting the Hofbräuhaus beer hall where the Octoberfest Beer festival is held each year. It is huge, full of timber tables and beautifully painted ceilings with stunning lighting. Once inside it was packed and I mean crowded beyond belief. The noise was a loud hum of cheerful people excited to be here. Tourists congregated together happy at communal tables anticipating only one thing. Drinking a litre or litres of beer from a official HP Stein mug or should I say HUGE stein mug. This was Rob’s dream but first we had to navigate through the crowd, wipe the sweat from our forehead as it was ridiculously hot inside the hall to the point I thought I might pass out on the ground and then someone would rush over and through a cold beer on me. Oh and we also had to find two spare seats (ah) odds weren’t looking in our favour (beer too good! Nobody leaving in a hurry – maybe because they couldn’t stand up due to downing large quantities of beer due to the heat) Oh I found us a table then you have to work out how to snag the waiter’s attention, not easy as he has a lot of tourists who want his attention. I just started ripping off layers of clothing in the hope this might work. Mmmm those days are done though the heat made me think that they wanted all females in just singlets.
Well Rob’s dream finally came true a huge stein glass full of beer and a big head to go with it. Oh and a huge price tag compared to buying the same beer in the local supermarket. Bring your money with you if you want to drink a few at the beer festival.
After our beer we wandered around the town. We visited Mary Square where we saw the Glockenspiel. We were excited as this was the first town clock that we have seen not under construction. Mary Square was a hive of activity and housed some beautiful old buildings. Though a lot of Munich was bombed in the war what remains is just amazing.
We also checked out Frauenkirche a lovely 15th century church but no photos were allowed to be taken from within the church. It housed an amazing tomb.
We strolled back towards our accommodation just as night fell and found a delicious Indian restaurant just near our place. The restaurant was filled with wonderful Indian art work and ornamental statues and the wine and meal matched. We were on a high as we enjoyed Munich and this was our second date night out together and it ended with a complimentary glass of Indian liquor! Rob skipped and I staggered home from eating too much Indian food.
The next day the alarm went off at 5am. We were off to Neuschwanstein Castle. This involves taking a tube back to the main station of Munich, Munich HB. Then a 2 hour train ride to Füssen. Then a bus. Then a horse. Then a walk. But before this could happen we had to work out how to open the basement door which someone decided to lock after we got home. No pushing or pulling or spare key on our key ring would work. After about 10 minutes Rob and I were both sweating and feeling a little claustrophobic, hearts racing, thoughts of being trapped down here in a fire! Finally the heavy iron door sprung free from its captors! We were able to escape above ground to a glorious early morning sunrise in Munich! One degree outside and rising to as high as 18 degrees. Feels good to see blue skies. Feels like freedom.
We were blessed with great weather, a train that had large viewing windows and stunning German country side.
Thin flowing creeks wound back and forth like spider veins through large open fields, deep dark forests thick with winter trees huddled close together for warmth and as we got closer to our destination a backdrop of fluorescent white snowy alps.
We realised when our train stopped we had to be quick to board a bus to make our way to the ticket office as we had not been able to book tickets online as they were sold out! Yes even this time of year you need to be well ahead of the crowds and organised. After a short bus trip, a fast power walk to get ahead of others tourists like us who couldn’t book online we finally got tickets after a short 15 minutes wait.
I had been waiting for the right magic moment to take a horse and carriage ride and this was it. I jumped aboard our carriage up front only there was no room for poor Rob next to me as the coach driver needed a space so poor Rob was stuck in second class behind me facing backwards whilst my dreams came true sitting up front next to the coach driver. Our coach was lead by two magnificently beautiful horses. I was in love with their enormous hips, hind legs and butts. The coach driver was very gentle with the horses as we wound our way up the deep forest trail to the bottom of the castle. The smile never once left my face and deep down I hoped that these beautiful horse are treated with respect as they worked hard to pull a carriage of 8 people up the mountain path.
In the back of my head I was thinking that this is what they do 5 days a week as I think they get 2 rest days in the fields. Sounds just like what most of us do!! I hope these horses enjoy their job as they are just beautiful with their huge feet.
Rob and I had made a pact not just to see all or just any castle, it had to be the special one! This was the one dreams are made of. Neuschwanstein Castle is a fairy tale castle that sits majestically on the mountain edge surrounded by forest trails, water falls, frozen lakes and snowy mountains escarpments and alps was the one!
The back drop that Neuschwanstein Castle surrounds is a wilderness of pure heaven. Ski fields on one side, magnificent forest and picturesque lakes lay on the other side. The castle towers far above a picturesque village.
It was built in the 19th century by mad famous King Ludwig 11. This was to be his kingdom but he didn’t live past 40, so he never got to fully finish building his dream castle. It was his place to retreat and hide from world when he was forced to accept defeat. He created his own alternative world, in which he could reign. His childhood dreams! He had had a great childhood and he was an avid reader. This is where all his ideas and passion for his castle had come from.
The outside of the castle stands out with its limestone facade and its romantic blue torrents bellowing high into the sky. The inside of the castle is elegantly decorated with murals on the walls and ceilings. We were not allowed to take photos so it is hard to describe how magnificent the finishes and furnishings of each room were. All the rooms had spectacular views of the mountains.A puzzle we purchased highlights how equally beautiful the inside of the castle is.
The sad thing was that Ludwig had never wanted the castle opened to the public but after his death that is exactly what happened and you can see why this breathtaking natural setting was so special to him. Neuschwanstein Castle is so inspiring it was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle and it also starred in the children’s classic movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Our only regret was that we didn’t booked 2 night in the town of Füssen so that we would have had a chance to explore the walking trails and the town. We were able to glimpse and take photos of the Marienbrucke suspended bridge from the castle. To our disappointment the trail that leads to the bridge and spectacular waterfall and gorge was closed due to it dangerous tracks. On a positive note we were delighted to get some really beautiful panoramic views of the bridge from inside the castle cafe at the end of the tour.
Our fairytale experience was complete when we rode back down through the forest both sitting up front on the horse drawn carriage and I was still smiling all the way.
It will take us a while to get over this heavenly castle, natural landscape and it beautiful horses. A must do on anyone’s bucket list!! This is where memories are made and dreams come true.