As I sit here awaiting my imminent demise from my exams, I figured I should take some time to update with the other half of spring break. Priorities.
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, feel free to just look at the pictures since I picked out my favorites from the whole trip.
Picking up from where I left off last time, I met up with my friends in Munich for a second round. To my surprise, I was able to see many different things than from the first time! (Mostly because my girl friends weren’t too interested in seeing the BMW world.) We arrived early morning to quite a surprise: snow. It was a whopping 40 degrees and snowing in mid-April. How wonderful for a “spring break” trip. This unfortunate weather just seemed to follow us all over Europe. We didn’t let this stop us though, because we had a lot to see in a short amount of time. We, again, did a free walking tour which took up most of the day, and our energy. The second day we did much more sight-seeing, including just strolling around and coming across some beautiful parks. We also had seen on the map a little surfing man. We thought this was wrong, as it was still 40 and rainy. How could people be surfing in weather like that. We found the automated wave maker and sure enough, there were plenty of crazy guys surfing in nearly freezing weather. It was really fun to watch though, something so unrelated to Munich in such an odd place. After spending a good 15 minutes mesmerized by their dedication, we moved on to a beer garden in the English gardens. Here, we saw people sipping on liters of beer before noon. Delicious. Due to the freezing weather, we skipped the beer and went right for the giant pretzels which were bigger than my head. It was a really fun atmosphere that I wish I was able to enjoy more had it been warmer. We decided to head back and chose to have dinner at a beer hall. I think this was one of the best decisions we made the whole trip because I had a blast. Even though there was a Munich soccer match going on which led to hundreds of crazed drunk fans flooding the city, the Hofbrauhaus was rich in Munich culture as we downed our liters and ate sausages and potatoes. I don’t think we could have acted any more touristy, but I still had fun.
We chose the last day in Munich to do a little day trip outside the city. I will say this before I even start: this day trip was quite possibly my favorite adventure of the year so far. Even though the train ride was incredibly crowded and we had to stand for 2 hours, once we finally arrived in the town of Fussen where we then had to pick up a crowded bus to get to Hohenschwangau, it was more than worth it. Who knew this place was so popular. There were hundreds of people all going through this tiny town to an attraction so out of the way. We went to see Neuschwanstein Castle. I’ll give a little snapshot on why it’s so popular:
No? Let me try again.
Many of Disney’s castles were based off of Neuschwanstein which was one of the main reasons we decided to go there. Aside from that however, it was a beautiful area that shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Munich. After doing research later, I found out that poor King Ludwig only really got to live like 200 days in this magnificent castle he built due to the combination of it taking so long and him dying shortly after it was completed. Quite unfortunate. Now, the castle is enjoyed by millions each year. This is quite a statistic, which is also partly terrifying once you cross the Marienbruke to get the best view of the castle. Marienbruke is essentially a tiny 3 foot wide steel bridge that is overlooking a creek and rocks some hundred feet below. Imagine trying to get in and out of this thing with thousands of tourists each day. It’s horrifying. But, we did it. This was definitely not for those who were afraid of heights, because I was even feeling quite frightened. The view from the bridge however made it worth every second of battling the crowds. In order to get up to Marienbruke however, you have essentially three options: bus, horse drawn carriage, and walking. We took the obvious route, to walk. We hiked up about an hour which wasn’t nearly as bad as it first looked. The views on our way up were also incredibly stunning. I couldn’t get enough of this place. I could really go on for days how gorgeous it was. But, long story short, we found another castle, Hohenschwangau castle which was set next to a beautiful lake overlooking the mountains. The Bavarian Alps definitely made their presence all day, and I may have went overboard on the pictures of them.
We somehow managed to knock out Salzburg in less than a day, which was incredibly stressful but also quite an adventure. Our main mission was The Sound of Music and Mozart because we didn’t really know what else there was to see. So, we narrowed our sights down to the Pavilion, Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, and the Mozart Bridge. Unfortunately our time was cut even shorter due to an impending storm that was headed our way. Again, the poor weather just wouldn’t quit. We did get to pack a lot into the day, including lunch right outside the Abbey while we played the Sound of Music soundtrack with confused tourists looking at us. With little time, we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go into Mozart’s birthplace, but we did get to see it from the outside. We also wanted to take a trip to “the hills” but the easiest way to get there was to take public transport back into Germany because, to our surprise, “the hills” are not actually in Austria. They were in Germany on a man’s private property. Unfortunately we had to nix that in order to make our train to Vienna later that night.
Next stop was Vienna: the land of huge ornate buildings. This city unfortunately didn’t have a free walking tour, so we took a map and decided to do one ourselves. We knocked out a ton of sights within the first day, including the Opera House, churches, Sigmund Freud’s house, the Danube River, and many more! We really sharpened our map skills because we were solely navigating with a map and a compass we had on our phone. I really enjoyed it however because we were able to see a large portion of the city in just one day. One of the cathedrals we saw was infamous for its two towers. We were a little confused at first because we had only seen one. Apparently, the cathedral was never actually finished, and now because of its fame, it will be left that way. Later in the day, we set out to stand in line for standing room only tickets for the opera! We paid 4 euros to stand for like 3 hours, which we didn’t realize how tough it would be. We were able to see Ariadne of Naxos which was all in German, but there were little screens that had English subtitles thankfully, because otherwise we would have had no idea what was going on (as opposed to the very little we picked up with the subtitles). The next day we set out to see the Bellvedere palace. We later found out that it had belonged to royalty, but later was sold because the owners didn’t want it. I don’t know who wouldn’t want a place like this. It was stunning. The gardens were perfectly trimmed and so well-kept. The place seemed oddly empty at first, but then we remembered that it was Easter Sunday. Surprisingly, there was a decent amount open where we were still able to enjoy the city. I did also get a chance to try the famous chocolate cake called Sachertorte. It definitely was good, but I still don’t understand why it is so hyped up. It’s chocolate cake with an orange sort of jelly. That’s it. But, I did succumb to the tourist trap, so I guess it was my own fault. We had heard about Easter markets that were going on that day, since there really wasn’t much else to do. We were pleasantly surprised at the crowds and how ornate these markets were. There were thousands of hollowed out eggs that were hand painted so beautifully. I wanted so badly to bring some home, but they wouldn’t have made it in one piece. Easter night I attended a classical music concert at Schloss Schonbrunn, which we had bought tickets from street sellers dressed as Mozart. I’m really glad the tickets were legitimate because they were quite pricey for a small concert. It was a great end to the trip because this concert was a combination of classical musicians, opera singers, and ballet dancers. It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen in quite a while.