Travel Notes: Munich, Neuschwanstein, and Dachau

In May and June of 2011, I spent 5 weeks traveling around Europe. This post is one of a series chronicling the different places I visited on that trip.

After Colmar, my sister and I headed to Munich. To be completely honest, before this trip, Germany was probably the destination on our itinerary that I was least excited about. But, I ended up completely loving it – especially the delicious food (and beer, of course) and the friendly people.

After checking in at our hotel (Hotel Munchner Kindl, which we really liked), we headed to the English Garden, which is basically Munich’s version of Central Park. We were looking for the beer garden at the Chinese Tower – and it took us awhile; the park is huge! Once we finally found it, we grabbed our “lunch” – two gigantic Radlers (half beer, half lemonade, all deliciousness) and two gigantic pretzels. When I say gigantic, I am not exaggerating – the beers and pretzels were basically the size of our heads (or bigger).

I have never been a beer drinker, but I absolutely love Radler. When we later told our dad that’s what we’d been drinking in Germany, he made fun of us for not drinking pure beer. But I say, who cares? Radler is awesome.

From the beer garden, we headed to the Residenz, the former royal palace. We got there about an hour before closing, so we had to hustle through 90-some rooms pretty quickly. But, we actually ended up seeing a ton of stuff. Oddly enough, my favorite thing about these old European royal palaces (like Versailles, Schonbrunn, and the Residenz) is usually the wallpaper – it’s always velvety and brightly colored with beautiful patterns.

After the Residenz, we headed to Marienplatz, the busy main square in Munich. We took an elevator to the top of New Town Hall for some fabulous views of the city. I thought Munich was so beautiful from up above – all the red roofs and colorful buildings:

On our second day in Munich, we left the city and headed to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was about a 2 hour train ride away. Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle, and you definitely feel a fairytale vibe there. It’s up on a high hill, and is absolutely stunning against the gorgeous landscape.

After visiting the castle, we headed down into the nearby town and had lunch. It was both very good and very bad. The very good parts: weissbeer, pretzel, and white cheese strudel. The very bad part: veal sausage, which comes with some sort of scary white skin encasing that you have to remove. That was just too much for me.

That afternoon, we returned to Munich (enduring the train ride from hell – it started pouring, so all the windows in the train were closed and it got incredibly muggy and humid. So gross). But, we managed to rally and headed to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner.

I’m sure that there are more authentic, less touristy beer halls in Munich, but the Hofbrauhaus was quite the experience – I’d recommend it to anyone. It is a HUGE building, very loud, and very rowdy, but so much fun! We each had gigantic Radlers and shared cheese spaetzle (which is basically a delicious version of macaroni and cheese with onions on top).

On our final day in Munich, we rode the S-Bahn out to Dachau to visit the concentration camp. It was very somber and thought-provoking. It is not your typical, upbeat tourist destination – but it is so worthwhile.

After heading back to downtown Munich, we grabbed lunch at a little restaurant right on Marienplatz. For my last meal in Munich…I had an exact replica of my dinner the previous night – Radler and spaetzle. So good.

That afternoon, we grabbed a train and headed to our next destination – Salzburg. I was a little sad that we didn’t have even more time in Munich. It was such a cool city, and I definitely plan on returning!

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