Neuschwanstein and Augsburg

Schloss Neuschwanstein

My previous post about our long weekend away ended with Jan and I driving along the Romatic Road on our way to Schloss Neuschwanstein…
Castle Neuschwanstein is actually located in the village of Hohenschwangau, or rather above it… but if I’d put that in my title nobody would have known what I was talking about! We arrived at the carpark for the castles (there are actually two at the site) in the rain… but that hadn’t put the tourists off! When we tried to buy tickets for the castle, we discovered that the next possibly entry would be in two hours time… all the tours before that were already fully booked. Not wanting to hang around for two hours, we decided to just have a walk around instead. There were signs pointing to a lake, so that’s where we headed. To get there, we passed the second castle at the sight – which was actually there first! Schloss Hohenschwangau was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.

Neuschwanstein Castle itself was Ludwig’s baby… he paid for it using his own money (rather than funds from the state of Bavaria) and it was built in the architectural style known as castle romanticism (Burgenromantik in German). The foundation stone for the castle was laid in September 1869 and by the end of 1882, it was completed and furnished to the extent that the king was able to move in and observe the remaining construction. The palace was dedicated to the work and life of composer Richard Wagner, but he died in 1883 without ever having set foot in the place. In the end, King Ludwig hiself only spent a total of 172 days in the castle. These days, Neuschwanstein is famous as being the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, among others, and millions of tourists flock to see it every year… even on cold, rainy days in November! I took a lot of photos of the castle, working on the principle that at least one of them would have to turn out reasonable! Here are a few… I like to think the clouds make for a mysterious look, rather than just a dull, grey one ūüėČ

When we left Schwangau, it was still quite early so instead of driving straight home we took a slight detour via Augsburg. As we drove, the rain got less and less and by the time we arrived in Augsburg it was quite sunny. It was even warm, as long as you stayed within the shelter of the buildings… on the open squares, the wind was blowing something fierce! We walked around Augsburg for maybe an hour and a half before grabbing a coffee and Lebkuchen (the first one of the year!) at a cafe called Dichtl. Here are some of the photos I took walking around Augsburg. Note the blue skies… the first we had seen since leaving Austria!

And that was the end of our trip. Once we left Augsburg, we drove straight back to Karlsruhe (where we found our landlady trying to contact the boiler company because we had neither heating nor hot water… but that’s not a story for this post!).
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you with photos in this post. I tried to achieve a happy medium between not showing enough and cramming the post full!

That’s two trips down on #Take12Trips… I wonder where the other ten will take me?

Garmisch-Patenkirchen

The party Jan and I were supposed to go to in Switzerland fell through, so we spontaneously decided to go the other way instead. Jan managed to book a hotel room for the night in Garmisch-Patenkirchen in Bavaria, so after bidding farewell to my friends and their baby, that’s where we headed. We decided to take the slightly longer but more scenic route through Austria, rather than heading straight back to Germany. Here are some photos I took along the way. The first few were taken near St. Anton am Arlberg while the others are the view from the “Zugspitzblick” (Zugspitz view) carpark on the Fernpass in Austria. The flattish looking mountain is the Zugspitz and the lake is called the Blindsee. And as usual, I prove I am incapable of smiling like a normal human being on photos… I have no idea what that expression on my face is!

By the time we arrived in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, it was dark, but after driving for so long we wanted to stretch our legs so, after checking in, we went for a night time walk. The part of town we were staying in was Patenkirchen – it’s separated from the Garmisch area of town by a main road, which the lady at the hotel’s reception later jokingly referred to as “the border”.

The hotel also had a restaurant, so while checking in we had asked for a table to be reserved for us. Neither of us was particularly hungry, so we chose something we though would be small… thought being the operative word her! I chose Hackbraten (a kind of meatloaf) and the slice I got covered half the plate! It was served with asparagus in Hollandaise sauce and some very buttery mashed potatoes. Basically fat, fat and more fat… and a huge chunk of meat! It was tasty though! The restaurant was busy, so later we were joined at our table by a woman and her daughter from Leipzig. We got talking and had a very enjoyable evening, before heading up to our room for a relatively early night. The furnishings in the room were very “traditional”… just check out this bed:

bed

The next day (Sunday), we awoke to rain. The plan was to go up the Zugspitz, so we had breakfast, checked out and drove over to the mountain train station. Unfortunately, all the webcam views from the top of the mountain showed that there was no view whatsoever up there! Deciding going up anyway would be a waste of money (a round trip costs 50 euros per person!!), we went for a walk instead, this time in the Garmisch part of town. We were aiming for the Kurhaus, which had a Michael Ende (German children’s author) exhibition, but on arrival it turned out to be closed. It was due to open at 11 a.m., but that would have meant waiting an hour, so we headed back to the car and moved on. Before leaving town, we stopped off at the Garmisch-Patenkirchen olympic ski jump… it’s so famous that even I had heard of it!

It was still raining and showing no signs of clearing, so we jumped back in the car and just starting driving. Initially, we had no goal in mind, but then we noticed we were on the Romatische Stra√üe (Romantic Road) and I remembered that Schloss Neuschwanstein is on that route, so that’s where we decided to go…
I’m not going to tell you about that in this post, though. For that, you’ll have to wait! (Yes, I know how to drag out a weekend trip… ūüėČ )

Munich

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post for my 30 German Towns before 30 series, and with only 3 months to go until my birthday I really need to get a move on! Today, it’s Munich’s turn.

Marienplatz with the Old Town hall and Mariensäule (Mary's Column)
Marienplatz with the Old Town hall and Mariens√§ule (Mary’s Column)

The very first time I went to Munich was for Oktoberfest during my year abroad. Not knowing whether we would ever come back to Germany, Oktoberfest seemed like a must do. Unfortunately, I have zero photos of that day thanks to my dad’s girlfriend managing to delete ALL the photos from the first half of my year abroad from her computer. I only have those few photos that fit on my (at the time very small) memory card. My dad tried to make it up to me after the fact by buying me a memory card with room for over 1,000 pictures, but by then the damage was done. So no photos of ginormous beers, I’m afraid.

I went to Munich again in 2010 with Jan and a friend of ours, this time for a football match. We had plenty of time to walk around Munich before the football started, and this time there was no loss of photos! All the pictures in this post are from that occasion.

Part of the new town hall
Part of the new town hall

I’m sure most people will have heard of Munich, so I’ll keep my description of it brief. It’s the capital of and largest city in the state of Bavaria. Basically every stereotype people have of Germans (Lederhosen-wearing, huge beer-drinking, sausage eaters ring a bell?) comes from Bavaria. Almost nobody in any other state own Lederhosen (guys) or a Dirndl (girls). The part about the big beers is true for some places outside of Bavaria… but not all. Rheinland-Pfalz, for example, is more of a wine region.

More of the new town hall
More of the new town hall

Munich is a big city (population 1,378,176 in 2011!), which means a lot of traffic and a lot of people! But it is also beautiful – at least the old town is – I once had to go to the Neue Messe (exhibition centre) as part of a seminar and that area is not particularly nice!

Munich is, of course, famous for its beer (hello… it’s the home of Oktoberfest!) and there are any number of breweries and beer gardens to choose from. Here’s a photo of the L√∂wenbr√§u brewery:

Löwenbräukeller
Löwenbräukeller

L√∂wenbr√§u literally means “lion’s brew”.

The Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market and square in the centre of Munich. Apart from the usual market wares (such as fruit, vegetables and flowers) there are stands selling gourmet foods and one with freshly pressed fruit juices. Delicious! The maypole on the Viktualienmarkt features the Bavarian colours – blue and white.

Maypole1Maypole2

The football stadium in Munich is the Allianz Arena, home of the famous Bayern M√ľnchen. On that particular day, the match being played there was an international one – Germany vs. Argentina.

Allianz Arena
Allianz Arena

Apparantly, if FC Bayern M√ľnchen are playing, the arena is lit up in red, while for 1860 M√ľnchen it’s blue. As you can see, we got a sort of yellowish white colour.

I even managed to get a photo of someone from my own team – Jon√°s Guti√©rrez, an Argentine national, plays for Newcastle United in the Premier League. He’s the one with the long hair.

Gutiérrez
Gutiérrez

With only a day to spare (and part of that being taken up with football) I didn’t get to spend as much time in Munich as I would have liked. And, of course, on Oktoberfest day I spent all my time in a tent drinking rather large beers, but what I’ve seen of Munich I liked. I definitely want to go back some day and check out all the things I missed… For example, the Englischer Garten is one of the world’s largest urban public parks and is supposed to be fantastic.

For some much better photos of Munich, check out Alex’s of Ifs, Ands and Butts post on touring Munich by bike.

Walking around W√ľrzburg in the rain

W√ľrzburg

Jan and I decided to take the opportunity that the long weekend offered us and go somewhere for the day on Saturday (four days off in a row meant we could fill the entire day and still have two days of relaxing at home – bliss). Since there was rain and cold forecast* for everywhere that was within day trip range, we figured it didn’t really matter where we went and spontaneously decided on W√ľrzburg. My verdict: not one of my favourite German towns. Unfortunately, about 80% of W√ľrzburg was destroyed during World War 2, and when they rebuilt it there wasn’t exactly a tonne of money lying around, so all the new buildings are basically ugly (but were cheap to build). There is the odd nice building here and there, either because they managed to escaped the bombs or have since been restored, but in general the town isn’t the prettiest I’ve seen. Of course, it has T√ľbingen and Heidelberg to compete with, and the horrid weather didn’t help much either.

We didn’t arrive until around 1 p.m. (W√ľrzburg is roughly 2 hours drive from here and Jan didn’t get up til 9 a.m.), so after a quick walk down to the river (The Main) for a look at the old bridge and take some photos of the fortress up on its hill, our first stop was lunch. I had Wiener Schnitzel, which was very tasty, and tried the local beer, W√ľrzburger Hofbr√§u.

Beer! And a candle in a cool looking holder

After lunch (which took a while because we started with soup to warm us up and hung around long enough to have a coffee after our main course), we headed over the the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) to see the R√∂ntgen-Ged√§chtnisst√§tte (R√∂ntgen Memorial Hall). Wilhelm R√∂ntgen is famous for discovering the X-Ray – they’re named after him in German: R√∂ntgenstrahlen. I guess that was just too complicated for English speakers to be able to pronounce. And, random piece of useless information, he received the first ever Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery. See, my blog is educational! ūüėČ

Our next stop was the Juliusspital Weingut (Wine Estate is the translation on their website…). The Juliusspital (hospital) was set up to provide treatment for poor people (especially old poor people) who couldn’t afford to go to an ordinary hospital. It still continues that tradition today, and raises part of the money it needs by producing wine, and by giving gided tours of the winery. This included a look at the bottling facility, followed by a tour of the wine cellars including three different wines to taste. The tour guide wanted to take our money at the entrance to the cellars, at which point we discovered that Jan didn’t actually have enough money left to pay for his entry (I had enough for myself, but not enough for him). A lovely couple from near Cologne helped us out, completely disproving the stereotypes about rude, unhelpful Germans! We then bought them a bottle of wine in the shop at the end, where you could pay by card.
This is the fountain where we met to start the tour. You can just see a hint of blue sky trying to make its way through at the top. Unfortunately, that didn’t last for long.

Fountain in the garden of the Juliusspital

Apparantly it represents the four rivers of Franconia (W√ľrzburg is in an area of Bavaria called “Franken”) but I’ve no idea what those are, other than the Main.
By the time we’d finished the tour, just about everything else of interest was closed due to it being Saturday, and the Easter weekend at that, which was a shame. I would have quite liked to go in the Residenz, but instead I just took a photo of the outside.

W√ľrzburg Residence

The Cathedral (St. Kilian’s) was closed as well, for renovation. It wasn’t our day for going into things!
I also took lots of photos of lanterns, just because I like them. One day I’m going to have a huge collection of lantern pictures. I’ve even got Jan pointing them out to me now!
Doesn’t the sky above this one look threatening:

That’s pretty much how the sky looked all day, apart from a brief interval while we were waiting for our tour of the winery to start. And it was cold too! So much for spring.
All in all, it was a nice day with my boyfriend, and gave me a chance to see another part of Germany that was new to me, but I don’t think I need to go back there again. Sorry W√ľrzburg, you’re just not my type of town!

*A mere two weeks ago we had gorgeous sunshine, and now winter seems to have returned. Not impressed, weather gods!