Summer vacation is finally here! The last day of school for Gabriel was a week ago Friday. We promptly left town and drove to Munich Germany to visit friends and see their city. We drove through Austria and the tiny country of Liechtenstein and did a lot of shopping and sightseeing in Munich. Prepare for massive photo dump.
Here is a shot of the Palace from the outside- It wouldn’t all fit but originally there was a grand canal the dropped off visitors almost right in front of the steps. They arrived in gondola style boats- It must have been very impressive.
This is one of the original entrances leading into the walled city. Today of course the city has spilled well beyond the original gates but these are massive remnants of its past. Can’t you just imagine horses and guards and peasants everywhere?
You can’t go anywhere in Europe with out tucking into a few churches and enjoying the cool, quite, peaceful awe inspiring art work that suddenly surrounds you.
The cityhall building is impressive- covered in sculpture.
In the cityhall building there are a few inscriptions marking important historical dates. I found this one to be particularly beautiful. I memorializes the liberation of Munich from the Natzi’s on April 30 1945 by the US Military.
I suppose the sculpture, particularly at lower levels is caged to protect it*. The details on the buildings gave me a sore neck from looking up all day- amazing! * My girlfriend the authentic Bavarian HAUSFRAU let me know that the caging is to protect the sculpture from the birds that try and roost and nest on them (and their droppings).
We shopped for Dirndls, these beauties are very traditional examples that are hand sewn in Munich. A 3 piece outfit at this store was about 800 Euro!
This square was made famous by the natzi regime. They required anyone who entered or passed the square to salute. It was a favorite stage for Hitler to make speaches from. On the day we visited the city was setting up chairs and equiptment for an outdoor classical music concert.
We hung out at Beergartens in the evening and afternoons, ate authentic food like brezles and weisswurst for breakfast and the kids played together with-out arguments for days!
We had authentic Bavarian strawberry shortcake for Coco’s birthday cake, made by an authentic Bavarian Hausfrau.
It was wonderful!
PART II~ Neuschwanstein
We planned a “long-way” home to stop and see the castle of Neuschwanstein (disney castle) as part of Coco’s birthday celebration. She says she wants to be a princess (“the real kind with a castle”) when she grows up. The castle is exactly what every young American girl imagines.
ok yes, this is a photograph I took of the post card we bought- haha. The day we went was a little overcast and I didn’t feel like hiring a helicopter to take me up for this money shot.
It’s situated perfectly on the side of a mountain with amazing views of the valley below. We purchased tickets in advance on-line and were sooooo glad we did because when we got to the ticket-reservation center there were LONG lines (kinda like Disney World but with out the hospitality and efficiency).We arrived in the small town that exist primarily to support the castle tours in the area (yes there is more than one amazing castle to visit but we only did Neuschwanstein) and could see that this was a popular tourist destination, not only for Americans but also for Asians as well. There were tour buses and large groups everywhere. At first it is a little unclear what line to stand in when you have reservations in advance but it does not require many minutes of inpatients to start looking around and realizing where the short que is. Once you have your tickets and assigned time it will take almost an hour to get to the castle. Because two of us were feeling really bad from a cold virus we opten to take the public bus. Once again we were frustrated with the LONG line and the seeming inefficiency of the system. Round trip bus fairs were about 3 Euros (purchase at machine while in line), and if we were not feeling really under the weather I would determinately have taken the nice shady walk up to the castle. We waited forever, so I find it hard to believe that it is any faster to take the bus. After we got off the bus there are other hiking paths that take you over a beautiful bridge and provide more amazing views of the castle – I recommend doing that after your tour because the assigned times are rather strictly enforced.We still had a nice brisk 10 minute walk to the entrance after the bus stop and I saw a few signs warning ” “guest with disabilities would have a difficult time”. I do not know what accommodations they make but I know that our tour took us up many steps – at least 100. There are lots of photos and information on-line about the castle but I really just wanted to chime in that of all the castles and palaces we have visited over the years, this was my favorite.
Everyone who enters the castle is on a guided tour, I think this is extremely helpful in understanding context and pointing out details that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or been not understood. While only a tiny bit of the castle was finished and is allowed open to public it was still impressive and enjoyable. The kids behaved well and every one had a good time. The tour is worth it but the exterior of the castle is really the magnificent sight, so if you do not want to wait in lines and spend the money on tickets I recommend taking one of the nice hikes around the castle and taking lots of pictures from many angles.
I would have enjoyed more time here but was feeling so sick we simply ate and were on our way home. Our princess had a happy 4th birthday and one I hope she will remember.