Our last four days in München were just as packed as the first four. We spent lots of time with Carmen’s family, did some more wandering around München and even got out of town a few times. In fact, now that I think about it, these days were probably even MORE busy than the first bunch.
A special picture for my sister Christi. I’m not sure she’ll even remember it, but it stems from our family trip to Europe about 16 years ago. As last entry, this is where I stick the picture I (understandably in this case) couldn’t find any other spot for.
Neuchwanstein. Perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Germany, Ludwig II’s most ornate palace (It’s closer to being a castle than Nymphenburg, but still a palace) is about 100km south of München. We first considered taking a bus tour out there, but soon reconsidered. One of the unusual aspects of public transport in Bavaria is that multiple trips for a large group cost little more than a single trip for one individual (e.g. One trip on München public transport will run you 2.20 Euros, while for 9 Euros you can get a ticket that will allow unlimited trips for up to five people (or one adult and eight children) all day.) Anyhow, this made a train trip to Neuchwanstein seem like a better option.
The train also proved to be a good choice because the weather was nice enough to make the 45 minute walk from the station to Hohenschwangau a pleasant one. First seeing Neuchwanstein and nearby Hohenschwangau castle on foot was also good, as it allowed us to debate whether Neuchwanstein really WAS Neuchwanstein as we approached (while it is a beautiful palace, it’s location high above the valley floor and its unbalanced architectural arrangement actually make it a bit underwhelming on first approach.)
Neuchwanstein Herself. The place is so photographed there’s harldly any point in taking more pictures of it, or, indeed of posting them in my ‘blog. But then I DID put pictures of the Taj Mahal in when I visited there, so I suppose I really ought to.
Anyhow, Neuchwanstein WAS, as I say, very pretty and well worth the journey. Even before we got inside. Though not all of it was finished before Ludwig was removed from the throne, the interior rooms were every bit a match for the exterior. Spectacularly ornate wood carving, two ton chandeliers, beautiful murals, panoramic views from the windows, a secret door to the king’s toilet, even an artificial cave with doors finished to match the adjoining walls when closed, Neuchwanstein’s interior was nothing short of spectacular. And tasteful too! (Except for maybe one or two of the chandeliers and the fake cave.) Unfortunately you’ll have to take my word on this, as photography wasn’t permitted inside.
A bit of the exterior of Neuchwanstein. This might give you the VAGUEST idea about what it was like inside. (I don’t think I got around to mentioning in the main text that the place was “dedicated to” the operas of Richard Wagner, and there’s one room containing over 100 depictions of swans.)
Because of the asymetricity I mentioned earlier the best views of Neuchwanstein come from the back. Sarah and I lad a lovely walk around to Mareinsbroecke, a bridge that crosses a deep ravine behind the castle, and then further on up a nearby mountain. As we climbed down we chatted about what a lovely place it would be to take one’s family for a weekend hike.
The view down from Neuchwanstein (or possibly the hillside just above it… I have to admit that I’ve already forgotten.)
The lovely Altstadt (old town) of Füssen, the nearest train stop to Neuchwanstein. By ducking into its medieval streets, we got hopelessly lost on our way back to the station and ended up walking 2km down the wrong street and missing our train.
Beer. Beer in Bavaria is just a big deal as it is in the Czech Republic, and it comes in considerably more variety too. The biggies are: Helles (a golden lager,) Weissbiere (cloudy yummy “white” lager with lots of yeast, and Dunkel (a dark lager.) While in München we were also lucky enough to have several Starkbiers, strong dark beers originally made to sustain Bavarian monks during their lenten fasts. Starkbiers seem to pretty much always have names that end in “-ator,” thus Salvator, Animator and our favoruite (both in name, and in that we drank the most of it) Maximator. Pretty much all of these types save Weissbier are often enjoyed in 1.0 litre “Mas” glasses. Despite the sizes of individual portions, we didn’t drink as much beer as in Praha, but I’m still pretty sure I noted many fewer after effects from Bavarian brews than the ones back home.
Sarah in a beer shop in München. Wow. Uh. Wow.
More beer. And boardgames! Perhaps my favourite of many days München was spent with Carmen’s parents at Andechs, a brewing monastary near München. We started the morning at home with a traditional Bavarian breakfast of Weissewurst (white veal sausages which are apparently hard to preserve and were thus traditionally made in the morning and eaten by noon) and weissebier. After that we continued our brunching with a delicious lunch with Carmen’s family (mom and dad Rosie and Hans, brothers Henry and Robert.) Leaving Carmen’s teenaged brothers to do their own thing for the afternoon, the rest of us drove down to Ameersee (a large and pretty lake 50km or so south of München.) After a bit of a wander by the lakeside we took the very pretty walk up through the town and then the woods to the Kloster (monastary) itself. They have a beautiful church and equally lovely biergartens with views out over the Bavarian countryside and south to the alps as well.
Hans, Rosie, Carmen, Michael and Sarah in the biergarten at Andechs. I’m there in spirit, represented by my Mas of Doppelbock (the dark beer near the middle of the picture.)
While we enjoyed our Mases (is that the plural of Mas?) we played Alhambra, a boardgame that was new to me. I’ve often been be/amused by the way themes are simply thrown on top abstract game systems in “German games” (as ones of this type are often callled in North America) I have to admit that I really enjoyed Alhambra. And, of course the entire day, food, walking, sightseeing, beer, company and all.
A little bit of Old Nürnberg
Nürnberg. We took the train up there with Michael and Carmen. Despite the fact that almost all of it was destroyed by allied bombing during the Second World War (a feature it share’s with München) what remains of Nürnberg’s old town was very pretty. Highlights of our visit included: Visiting the Carolingian era castle, eating Nürnbergers (little yummy [they tasted like they had a fair bit of fennel in them] sausages) on a bun, escaping from the rain to drink Gluwein in a cafe, wandering around the easter market in the main square, and listening to the Glockenkonzert (bell concert) from one of the churches that was audible throughout the old town.
A sculpture in Nürnberg. Nürnberg was the home of renowned printmaker Albrecht Dürer. Not sure if this is anything to do with him, but it certainly has all his hallmarks…
Sarah’s hair after a brief rainstorm in Nürnberg. Once again, just one of those pictures that I like.
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the sun just after the rainstorm mentioned above
Our last night in München. Sarah and I arrived home from a shopping/bierhalleing expedition around 17:30 and set about preparing dinner. As all of Carmen’s family were coming to join us, it was probably the biggest meal I’ve prepared on the road, though thankfully Sarah did at least her share (maybe more!) In any case, it was the least we could do given how wonderfully they’d received us in München.
Dinner consisted of a Mexican lasagna (for a brief shining moment a few months back I thought this was an original creation of mine,) fresh baked bread, salsa fresca and apple crumble for dessert. The vaguely Mexican theme was in honour of Carmen’s upcoming CISV camp in Mexico, in hopes that it might allow her “delicate” German palate to hit the ground running.
Anyhow, everyone seemed to have a good time. They were all (or at least claimed to be) impressed at my pouring of a weissebier in proper Bavarian fashion, there was lots of happy chatter, and Robert (who Carmen and Michael had warned us was a bit of a picky eater) even consumed everything put in front of him and thought about seconds. A bit of medicine (east German herb liqueur “imported” to Bavaria by Carmen’s family) capped off a delightful evening.
The Land of Gummi. This was typified by the morning we left. Sarah and I had consumed a few packages of gummi not-bears over the course of our stay in München. The almost bewildering array of types and flavours available led us to comment on how we were visiting ”The Land of Gummi.” We’d so enjoyed them that the night before leaving we went and bought a couple bags to take with us. The next morning at breakfast Carmen presented us with four more bags (because “we’d missed a few kinds”) and a Baumkuchen (a traditional Bavarian cake made by adding thin layers of batter to a spinning stick) shaped like an adorable little lady bug.
Sarah In the Land of Gummi
Anyhow, beyond wanting to use the phrase “Land of Gummi” in this entry, this story is also a way of pointing out how Michael and Carmen (and Carmen’s family) were absolutely fabulous hosts in München. They all spared no effort to make us feel at home, and to help us enjoy all the best parts of their home (at least those that could be managed given the season of our visit.)
The Baumkuchen (or Cug as Sarah and I referred to him. Until we ate him.)
The Last Breakfast. In addition to the fact that this the only photo of Michael, Carmen, Sarah and I together, I had to include it because Carmen looks so lovely in it, and I kinda owe her one after using the photo from Andechs in which she definitely isn’t at her most photogenic.
Huge big thanks and hugs to Michael and Carmen. It might be tricky with all your CISV plans, but it’d be wonderful to see you down in NZ sometime soon.
Tags: Beer, Germany, Llew Bardecki, München, Munich, Travel