In the Land of Kings

Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
Trip End Feb 24, 2008

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Flag of Germany  ,
Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yes, yes, I know that the title of this entry is lame and corny. Everywhere in Europe is a "land of kings" but if you read on you'll see that this theme is particularly relevant to our time in Munich.

Leaving Linz was a considerably more relaxed experience than arriving. Apart from the tram trip from the station, when we fare-evaded due to not having enough change, everything went exactly to plan. Breakfast was grabbed at the Hbf before we headed up to the platform and then found our seats on the tilting ICE set when it arrived. The train travelled through Salzburg and then directly onto Munich, where it terminated.

My first impression of Munich's Hauptbahnhof was that it was large but well coordinated, even though the different U-bahn lines have different entrances. Of course we had to go into the entry for the wrong lines but we bought our group day ticket anyway and then proceeded through to the correct lines by transfering along the platform of the others.

U1 took us promptly to our new local station of Wettersteinplatz, from where it was a 2 minutes walk to the front of our Etap hotel. As it was still the morning they had to find a room that was clean and available before we could check in and leave our bags.

To capitalise on our railpass day we had decided to take the train to visit the famous Neuschwanstein castle so we made a quick turn-around and headed back to the Hbf on the U-bahn. We were aiming for the 11:51 connection to Füssen, via Buchloe, but were cutting it fine. Some coordinated exiting of the U-bahn allowed us to purchase lunch and drinks before rushing up to the main part of the station and figuring out where the train was leaving from. We made it to the back of the train on time and had to walk through the carriages to the free seats near the front.

The diesel-hauled train took us half of the way to Buchloe (it was headed to Memmingen, home of Memminger beer?), where our diesel railcar connection was waiting to take us the rest of the way. What a blast from the past! The railcar sets looked normal from the outside but the interior was straight from the 70's. The wall partitions were orange, the seats were orange and brown and the carpet was disgusting. Never in Germany have I seen such an old train interior in regular DB use! Aside from the interior the experience was fine, until all the kids from the schools halfway along the track hopped aboard.

After about 2 hours of travelling from Munich we were crawling slowly into Füssen; the latter part of our journey is over an old and windy alignment with low track speeds. This town is the end of the line and is right next to the border with Austria. It is framed by the mountains that form the border and appears to be a delightful place to stay if you wanted to explore the surrounding region.

From the station we boarded a bus for the 8 minute, 3km trip to Hohenschwangau - the gateway to just some of the old Bavarian King Ludwig's castles. Belinda had read about Neuschwanstein Castle in her school German textbook and was keen to ride in the horse carriage to the top, just as she had read. The horses travel at barely faster than walking pace and I have to admit that despite my reluctance the 30 minute trip was a little fun, despite the €5 price. Once up from the valley at the castle one has to walk further up and around to look over into the adjacent valley and also get up into the main courtyard.

We went a little camera crazy, as you can see in the blog photo gallery, but it was cool to actually be there at one of the most well-known castles in the world. Visitign was also at the same time a little surreal because we've visited other castles inspired by its design many times at Disney parks but this was the real deal.

We walked down the road back into town but had about 40 minutes to kill until the bus to take us back to the charming, walled town of Füssen. What other choice did we have to kill the time other than to pop into one of the local restaurants for some nice ice cream coupes? A 'Banana Split' and a 'Nutcracker' later it was about time for the bus so we walked across the road and got ready for our departure.

On our way back to Munich was over the same funky old train route but this time on a loco-hauled train, taking us all the way through without a change. It was well and truly dark by the time we arrived so we grabbed some over-priced dinner at the station and headed home on the U-bahn once again.

Sadly we only had 1 full day with which to enjoy the city of Munich itself and thus it was always pretty clear that we would have to come back to enjoy all that we were inevitably going to miss. The lack of time problem was made even worse by the fact that we could not do our washing in Linz so we began the day with another fun-filled trip to the laundromat. It is easy to locate laundromats in Germany because of the website, all of the facilities listed here are good value and of a high quality and also feature Miele machines.

While our clothes were washing we walked across the nearby intersection to grab breakfast from a local supermarket with a bakery. The laundromat had a table and chairs where we could eat and drink while the washing cycles finished. Our washing and drying was over by 11am so it was getting quite late by the time we got back to the Etap.

When we tried to to enter the at this time unstaffed Etap the front door would not accept our room access code. After several attempts we used the emergency call intercom at the door to speak to a staff member who explained that our code had changed and he was unsure why, considering that we had paid for our full stay at the time of check-in.

By the time we were heading out we were hungry and wanted to see a bit of the centre of Munich so we hopped on the U-bahn to Marienplatz, the centre of Munich. Here we did a little bit of an explore before going for lunch at Donisl. This was a place that conformed to the typical Bavarian beer hall stereotype, minus a live oom pa-pa band. This was a deliberate choice because I was in the mood for a beer, Belinda a radler (berr and lemonade) and we both wanted some variation of bangers and mash. Our meals had 3 different, delicious sausages each, accompanied by mashed butter with potato (very buttery mashed potato), good sweetish sauerkraut and salad (a single piece of parsley) - just what the doctor ordered.

With our time in Munich running out quickly, as soon as we managed to get the waiter to give us our rechnung we were back onto the S-bahn, travelling to the Hauptbahnhof. We were originally planning to head straight to the Deutsche Museum Transport Section but after drinking 500ml of Radler Belinda was busting. From the McClean toilet at the Hbf we went to the ReiseZenturm to make seat reservation for our ICE trip to Leipzig the next day.

Eventually we made our way to the museum and, surprise, surprise, we had to head straight to the toilet once we got there too! The museum is larger than I expected it to be and its the first transport museum that I've visited to display a very large collection of push bikes, skates and roller blades. There was of course the standard collections of trains, cars, trams and trucks, but no planes because they have their own site somewhere else. I like how it was arranged by the way one travels, not just by vehicle. My personal highlight would have to be the modern DB electric-equiped bicycle and the ICE-V power unit.

Once we had exhausted the museum we headed outside to notice that it had started to rain and it was starting to become dark. As we had spent so little time in the centre of town our priority was to explore this area on foot, leaving any other attractions for a future visit to the city. We started at one end and proceeded on foot through the pedestrian arcades, dodging the rain under shop roofs along the way. Belinda of course wanted to check the German department stores (Kaufhof and Karstadt) for Bodo Hennig doll house products, of which we found a limited collection in the Karstadt.

I am impressed by the city's architecture and buildings throughout the aldstadt. It is a great place just to walk through, even in the dark as we did, to see all these interesting buildings around the place. During our walk around we had time to better view the rathaus glockenspiel, which was quite more elaborate than the dancing, beer drinking figures we had seen at Graz's more modest installation. I definitely need to return for an extended period to better appreciate this city and its form.

The long lunch experience still fresh in our mind we headed for something quick for dinner at what must be one of the coolest Maccas around. It's 3 stories high and you can eat in sofas (like a wanky coffee cafe) or enjoy the view from a small bench with a few stools at each of the stairwell landings.

We almost caught a tram home but our local line does not go through the centre of town so we ended up taking the U-bahn all the way back to Wettersteinplatz. I would be lying it I said we didn't buy a few goodies at Karstadt that evening so before bed we indulged in a bit of marzipan and chocolate. It is becoming increasingly difficult to wait until we go to Hamburg and Lübeck to stock up on marzipan direct from Niederegger. How am I going to fit it all in my bag?
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albert3801 on

Tom and Belinda are human after all
It seemed like Tom and Belinda were some kind of aliens and throughout their trip never busting to use the toilet. Now we know that Tom and Belinda are human too

Alexandre on

Thank you for the pictures of the Neuschwanstein. Had a hard time finding pictures from those unusual angles.

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