Romantic Roads in Bavaria

 Ahh, the return of bus tours.

Mom and I have been in Munich for 3 days, and this is our final evening to explore the town before we move on to Salzburg. In this time, I think we’ve gotten a pretty good feel of the city.
We got off the plane and quickly learned how easy the transit system is here. All you do is type in your destination into the ticketing machine, and you pay the amount it takes to get you there. Mom and I are staying right in the city Center across the street from the Hauptbahnhof (HBF) and from the airport it was only 10 euro and a 40 minute ride. It appears that they have a bunch of different lines that come from different directions, but meet up on the central line through the main parts of the city.
Question… Since when does it RAIN so much? Isn’t Europe supposed to be sunny? Our first night, we took the short train ride to Marienplatz, two stops away from the HBF, and only lasted 2 minutes before Mom made us wear the rain ponchos she secretly brought. It was coming down so hard that I could barely even use my camera. We went back tonight to visit, because it is the main center of Munich, with restaurants, beer gardens and the large church. very cool little shopping district as well.

Beyond that, we haven’t found much to do within the city, relatively speaking. Instead, we’ve been taking day trips out, to different areas within the Bavarian region. Germany, I learned, has 16 states, and Bavaria is only one of them.
On the first day, we went to Ludwig’s castles. Ludwig was the king of Bavaria from 1864-1868, and was a super interesting character. He built 3 castles during his reign, though Linderhof, our first stop, was the only one completed while he was alive. This castle was a smaller duplicate of Versailles castle in Paris, which I’ve visited twice before, and I could certainly see how well he duplicated it. All the gold fixtures, painted ceilings, the bedroom layout, right down the the Hall of Mirrors (albeit far smaller!). Ludwig had only 14 servants and he brought them everywhere with him. Apparently he was quite shy, never married. At the end of his life, he was arrested by a team of doctors who declared him mentally unwell and took him away to the summer residence, and only 2 days later he was found dead in a lake with his doctor. The state has locked the records, but since the doctors never actually examined him, only judged his lifestyle and his want to create a fourth castle even though he had no money/ wasn’t done the first three, there’s lots of speculation around the death. But at Linderhof, we learned that he used to have his servants set his dinner table for four, so that he could pretend to dine with the past (200 years dead) residents of Versailles Castle. I’m not sure… But that sounds a little crazy to me.

Next, we went to Neuschwanstein, the most photographed castle in the world. It’s easy to see why, although for our visit it was raining so hard that the photos we ended up with are less than ideal. We drove up through the southern region for about an hour from Linderhof, and the bus dropped us off below Neuschwanstein Castle. Then, we took a 5 minute shuttle up the mountain, where normally we could stand on a bridge and get the best photos of the castle, but yesterday was closed due to the rain. from the drop off point was a 15 minute walk downhill to the castle. that castle honestly puts a stair master to shame. According to my Fitbit it was about 25 flights of stairs but it felt like more. This castle was unfinished, and totally secluded from the world, which apparently tickled Ludwig’s fancy. It actually inspired one of Walt Disney’s most famous castles. Our guide yesterday said Cinderella’s castle but I was always sure it was Sleeping Beauty. I’ll have to do a fact check on that later. Either way, very cool.

Then, we walked the 20 minutes back down the mountain, after it had finally stopped raining. We were dripping wet at that point even with our ponchos, so the break was nice.
Today, we visited three districts within Bavaria, Oberbayern, Schwaben and Franken (I definitely had our guide type that out for me…). These districts, and our stops today, are all along the Romantic Road, Germany’s most popular vacation route. It was “founded” back when America had control of this region during WW2, and would later bring their families here to vacation after finding these beautiful little towns. It begins at Neuschwanstein and ends in Wurzburg, a town I was actually in the last time I was in Europe! One day I’d like to drive it and stop in each town in between. Today, we stopped in two: Harburg and Rothenburg.
Harburg castle certainly felt medieval, even though it’s newer than that. It’s extremely well preserved, and we walked along the wall around the exterior which protected the inhabitants from all potential attacks on the castle. Some areas of the wall were 3 METERS deep with stone. Good luck getting through that.

Then, we drove to Rothenburg, Europe’s most well preserved town. Mom said that this town was what she imagined all of Europe looked like: small shops, cobblestones streets, a little church and lederhosen-clad ladies.

 We spent the afternoon checking out the year round Christmas stores (where I took photos even though they told me not to), looking at Cuckoo Clocks and wooden carved ornaments. We also tried Snowballs, a delicacy of the town, which were essentially just little dry flaky pastry balls (mmm, so appetizing…).

Other options in Munich would include the soccer stadium, visiting Dachau Concentration Camp and learning about the third reich, but overall we’ve gotten a really good feel for the city, we think. Is there anything you did in Munich that you think we shouldn’t miss before we leave? Let me know in the comments below!

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