Bavarian Beer Gardens & Bratwurst
20.07.2013 - 24.07.2013 30 °C
Our train from Vienna was straight forward enough and although our Hostel felt like a hike with our backpacks it was only actually about a 10 minute walk from the station. After being so impressed with the sister hostel in Brussels we opted for another Meininger http://www.meininger-hotels.com/en/hotels/munich/.
10 minutes with the backpacks is normally fine but the weather was getting hotter, so by the time we reached our hostel we were a little bit sweaty and in need of a glass of water. We had arrived a little early for checking in so had to store our bags in the Luggage Storage room, where we decided to also do a quick change and use a wet wipe or two. The hostel gave us a map and told us it was a 5 minute metro journey or a 30 minute walk into the centre. Nick was still feeling a little under the weather so we decided this once we catch the metro, 3 stops later and we arrived at Marianplatz (the main square). By this time it was mid afternoon so we decided to head to a park and eat our sandwiches, we soon found ourselves in the Englisher Garten, a huge public park in the centre of Munich (claiming to be bigger than central park). This park is amazing it has 3 Biergartens, lots of massive open grass spaces perfect for, playing sports, picnicking and sunbathing (there is even a nudest section, full of mostly middle-aged men) and a large river running through the middle that has a strong current so is great for, swimming and surfing. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine before making our way back to the hostel to settle into our room.
The room itself was clean and had a ensuite, unfortunately in was on a first floor where the windows opened up on to the roof below. So for health and safety the windows only opened about 4" at the top meaning our room was like a sauna, Joy!
After a shower, a bit of faffing and dinner we decided to head downstairs for a drink in the bar and were slightly shocked by how quiet it was. It had only just opened so we thought this must be why. There were a few people around in the communal area, but there was no atmosphere, just lots of people sat round on their i-phones. It was only 21.00 and too early to go to bed so we took a short stroll and came across a really nice bar that served the locally brewed Augustiner Bier - apparently the best of the Bavarian Beers, so we enjoyed a restrained 0.30cl, before calling it a night.
Next morning Nick was feeling more himself so we decided to go on another SANDEMANs NEW Europe tour http://www.newmunichtours.com and again enjoyed a brilliant 3 hour walking tour with our guide Jon (an English teacher from Bristol) we took in all the major sights and got a great background in Munich's history, most of which was linked to beer some way or another. Once the tour was over we again found ourselves in the Englisher Garten enjoying our sandwiches and this time we had taken beach towels so relaxed in the sun. Eventually we got too hot so decided to investigate the biergarten...
... a few hours later we were enjoying another Bavarian beer and Bratwurst. At 21:00 we decided to head back as we had been out in the sun all day. Whilst walking back we got in enjoy the beautiful sounds of the buskers mostly classical music and nearly all of them with a piano (god only knows how the got them on to the street). By the time we got back to the hostel, we were not surprised to see another night with the bar empty and no atmosphere. We therefore caught up on a few emails before heading to bed as we had an early start in the morning.
So at 07.00 the next morning we were up early and went to the local supermarket to get our dinner for the night as it would be closed when we returned (See Lesson Number 9) before setting off to the station. Today was the day that Nick had been looking forward to since we started planning the Europe leg of our journey; a trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein! For those of you who don't know this is the famous fairytale castle built by "Mad King" Ludwig II and was the setting for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was also apparently Walt Disney's inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle. Two hours on a train, then 10 minutes crammed onto a packed bus (mostly of Japanese tourists!), we finally arrived at Hohenschwangau near Füssen and joined the humungous queue!! About 10 minutes later and having barely moved, a steward was walking down the queue informing people that the tours to visit the inside of the castle were completely sold out until 17.00 which was too late for us to get our train back. Nick was really disappointed at this news, but all was not lost. We were able to walk up to the castle and into the main courtyard. While there we asked if they could recommend any hikes that would give us some good views of the castle, and an hour or so later up a very steep hill it was all worth it when we reached the top!!
Sandemans offer a number of tours of Munich and when we did the free walking one, a tour to the Dacau Memorial Park on the site of the former concentration camp had been introduced and was something we both really wanted to do, so Tuesday morning we met the group. Our guide for the day was Marcin; an English music history professor who was currently living in Munich and who had a passion for this period of history. He explained he had visited most of the former concentration camps in Europe, even cycling from North Germany to Northern Africa in the process! He explained that the focus of the tour was about telling the story of the prisoners not the guards as he wanted to show what their lives must have been like - something that should always be remembered. We had a 5 hour tour of the Dacua site which was the first concentration camp built by the Nazi's and was used as a model for all of the others like Auschwitz. The tour included portions in the museum where he went into incredible details. The tour ended by following the route prisoners would have walked - through a processing room, into the "showers" (gas chamber) and then into the incinerators. It was an incredibly moving day and an experience neither of us will ever forget.
Our final morning was a lazy one. Our train was not until 12.30 so we had a bit of a lie in before setting off to the station lugging our bags to catch our train to Ljubljana not really knowing what we would find when we got there later than evening!