A European Roadtrip: The Munich End Edition.

We got back to Munich early that afternoon after almost a 2 hour drive. We stopped at the Hotel first, & checked in. We were staying at the Le Meridian, which was directly across the street from the ALoft that we stayed at when we first arrived. (As a Christmas present, my mom has booked this one with her Starwood account points. She got us a beautiful suite, that really was too big, but was truly relaxing for our final night.) We were there early so we left  our bags at the front desk, and headed to Budget to drop off the car which was quick, and easy, much more so than picking it up. …I have no idea, at what point we went back to get settled into our room… Sometime between check in and dinner. haha.

We wanted to grab some food for the time being. We planned on using the rest of our Euro coins, and hopped over the sandwich shop in the train station. We couldn’t afford much with our coins, so we opted for a sandwich and a pastry. Enough to hold us over until an early dinner.

iphone latest 434.JPGWe spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out around town. There wasn’t much to do because the majority of stores are closed on Sundays. The hot spot that day was the Christmas Market. There were so many people there that it was almost too difficult too maneuver down the aisles of vendors. In light of this all the global events that have been occurring with ISIS, it was making me quite nervous. I tried my best to remind myself that to continually think of them possibly attacking is allowing them to win. FACT: “To live in fear is to deprive ourselves of the opportunity of adventure.”-Natalie Rathman. I settled my nerves with a delicious Nutella crepe. Of all the crepes I had on this trip, and I had way too many, the Munich crepes were still the best!

When we were momentarily burnt out the market we head back to The Hofbrauhaus for our very early dinner. The place was packed and so noisy. We were lucky that we even got a table. We ordered different things than last time, but didn’t enjoy it much. (I think we were just getting burnt out on the cultural food.) We ate as much as we could, which included a German pretzel (of course), and finally got the check. It was time to move on again, like it always is for us. (I think we have short attention spans.)

insta-9We wandered all over the city. We weaved in an out of all the Christmas markets and down small quiet streets. Eventually, we did end up back at the big market in Marienplatz. I still hadn’t found my perfect German souvenir… I had loved the concept of the German smokers, but was hesitant because I  was afraid they would be too German in style. I also debated between some of the more crafty holiday items, or even a nutcracker…  I wanted something that suited our home and/or suited us. Finally, after hours and days of searching I found it. There, at one of the large booths, was it. My German  smoker. A plump German man in a sitting position smoking his pipe with a dog on his lap, a rifle over his shoulder, and a fox on his back. He was perfect. He had a feather in his hat, and big bushy mustache. We were short on cash, so thankfully, the man there was willing to bargain with us and Brad saved us close to 20 Euros which was awesome!

Eventually, we decided we should eat once more before we headed to bed. We had early flights the next morning, but still had lots to do to prepare. After dropping off anything that wasn’t mandatory to carry, we headed back out for Indian food. We scouted a few options. One option was underground, and kind of sketched us out, so we moved on to the next option. It was quaint, but looked welcoming, so we headed in for this trip’s second round of Chicken Korma. It was delicious, and we were satisfied. With sad hearts, and full stomachs we headed back to the hotel.

Within a couple hours, I had everything packed up. I’m a slow, but very strategic packer. We had to be up early, as we both had morning flights, but we also wanted to try to find a market to try to get Pecans for Brad’s colleagues because they wanted the chef at their “camp” to make a Pecan pie. Early the next morning, we did just that. With tea & coffee in hand, we scouted the closest grocery store, and searched high and low for pecans. 4 small bags, and about $20 Euro later, we had the “contraband”, and Brad’s work-friends eventually had their delicious, homemade-in-the-Congo Pecan Pie.

Before, there was another Goodbye in the Munich airport… I cried as usual even though I didn’t want to. However, I knew that within a matter of weeks, Brad would be home, and we would be off on our next mini adventure!

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LESSONS LEARNED: 

1) I now appreciate that US stores are open on Sundays

2) It never hurts to ask… You won’t know until you do!

 

A European Roadtrip: The Neuschwanstein Edition.

iphone-latest-370We arrived at our tiny hotel, Landgasthof Zur Post, in Schwangau early that afternoon. We quickly checked in got our bags dropped off. Sadly, our hotel did not have any wi-fi for guests. We were trying to map out our route to the Neuschwanstein castle using the computer in the lobby, but it was too difficult, sadly. It was extremely outdated. We ended up just asking the front desk staff, and hoped that we would remember.

We got back in the car & managed to find our way, thankfully it wasn’t too difficult. We parked our car in the lot below and began our stroll up the hill. We got to the ticket counter, and purchased our tour tickets. TIP: The tickets were rather expensive (Iiphone-latest-344 they were a little over $60USD a piece), so if you are on a tight budget, keep this post in mind, and do the hiking around the area instead. When you buy your ticket, you are assigned a tour time because of that we had ample time to make our way up. We had the option to take a carriage or walk. We decided to walk because we had so much time & we both enjoy the exercise. FACT: One of the best parts of the walk up is the view. You can see out over the entire valley. You can see the other castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau, that was built for Ludwig’s mother, which is on the road to the main castle. You can see the nearby mountains and lakes.. It’s just all together stunning!

iphone-latest-345On our way up the hill we checked several of the restaurants because we were trying to find the one I had eaten at as a child. I was on the hunt for what I recalled to be the best chicken schnitzel of my life. We didn’t find it until we were almost to the top. …but that was okay. It was worth the hunt. I was hungry, and it was delicious! The touch of lemon & the tenderness of the chicken makes it soooooo yummy!

Our time for our tour was approaching, so we gathered our things & worked toward finishing our walk up the hill. Eventually we reached the front, and hung out until our time came. We lined up at the gates, insert our ticket into the turn-style and continued on the path behind the guide.  We were so excited! I remembered parts of it from when I was a child, and  couldn’t wait to see the grandeur once again. …and it was just that Grandeur. The ornamental design is almost overwhelming as you see all the intricate detail everywhere. FACT: You are unable to take photos through the main tour. So in order to see the inside of the castle, click here. iphone-latest-351The disappointing part of the tour is this: Despite the magnitude of the castle, you only get to see a fraction, because apparently the majority of it was never finished. So at a heavy price tag, you only get to see a small part of what could be amazing. It’s great to see the views that King Ludwig II had when he looked out his castle windows, but I will say that if you have seen it once, there is no need to go again, not for the cost. The part we did get to take pictures of because it was separate from the rest of the tour: the kitchen!!! They had so many copper pots!!!

nikon-2-031-2We eventually made it out of the crowded royal structure, and continued to explore.. We took the pathway up towards the bridge was closed temporarily for renovations… So, much like some other daring tourists we ignore the signs telling us to stay on the path, we wander off onto a fresh trail where we could see the castle in the sunset light with no one to block our view. It did feel ballsy to stand with our back to a cliff, and I got very nervous about others too. There were some people who were acting silly near it, and at times, I felt like I needed to leave before someone slipped and plummeted into a  gory mess below. But as far as I know… everyone has survived thus far! (Insert applause here).

iphone-latest-390We began our descent down the darkening hill after getting some photos of the front of the castle. As we came down we noticed the lights near the lake. We head toward them and realized it was the tiniest of all Christmas Markets. They offered hand-crafted art, Sausage meals, and Hot Wine. Brad & I wandered through for a little bit, but it was so small that really, there wasn’t much to do. It seemed like a big social gathering of locals & maybe small touring groups.

Considering the only true food option was sausage, and I’m not a big sausage fan we eventually headed out. We wanted to try and find something else in the nearby “village”. We began our walk back toward the car and stopped by a couple of the fires for warmth. (Their fires were made from a large split log, it was so cool.) We were in the car for quite a while and were disappointed to find that nothing in the nearby village was even open. We were screwed, and I was forced into hunger! All we could do was turn back. We headed to our hotel. I think we were able to snack on some things back at the hotel, but we were never satisfied. All we could was head to sleep and wait for our breakfast the next morning… We ate the same old stuff, but we were hungry… That’s all that mattered. We loaded up the bags, and hopped into the car.

iphone-latest-418-1We were heading back to Munich that day, but we still wanted to see a little bit more of Neuschwanstein before we left. So we headed back up the road toward the castle. I hopped out to grab a few photos of the swans in the lake. Once I hopped back in the car we saw a small road that led off into the forest. We weren’t sure where it led, but we followed it all the way to end. It was the best experience we had while there. It was beautiful to see the leafless trees below the cloudy sky, the mossy rocks and tree stumps lying among a field of brown leaves. …and the views overlooking the lake and mountain tops…. We don’t know if we were suppose to be there, but we don’t regret it!

We slowly made the descent back down by the lake, and pulled out onto the street in a inconspicuous fashion, and headed back for the main highway.

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LESSONS LEARNED: 

1) You don’t need to spend the night, a day trip would be fine.

2) Not a lot to do in the area. 

3) Breaking the rules isn’t always a bad thing, and can expose some wonderful surprises!

A European Roadtrip: The Munich Edition.

insta-2Brad had never been to Germany, and really wanted to go. We thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of this during his first break from work, which happened to be right before Christmas. I thought it would also be an ideal time for us to enjoy the Christmas markets and wintery weather.

Once we had an idea of where we wanted to go, I began scouting the options for once we arrived. Do we drive or do we fly?

After our first Europe trip, that entailed lots of “travel details” pertaining to flight times, baggage checking, airline terminals… I decided it might be easier and more convenient for us to rent a car and just go when we felt like it. Once we decided that was the best option, it was time to pick our locations. That was the hard part. There are so many amazing cities in the area to visit, and so many nearby countries…. It’s just like, “how do I choose!?!?!”.  Here’s how. Google Maps.  You put in all the places you want to go, and work your way down to the most plausible route for us.

Our route started in Munich, then on to Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, to Neuschwanstein, and back around to Munich.  It was perfect! A magical and beautiful drive. Little did we know that this would become one of our favorite trips thus far.

iphone latest 058.JPGWe arrived in Munich the morning of December 9th. We found our way to the train station that took us into the center of the city, and directly across from our hotel, the Aloft Munich. Our hotel was in an ideal location. It was literally across the street from the main train station, the Munchen Hauptbahnhof. It was also near the mall and several other shops and restaurants..  And maybe a 10 minute walk to the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz.

We decided to only spend a day and a half in Munich, and I’m glad we did because you really don’t need much more in my opinion. Munich is much more modernized with historical touches through out. There was a lot of action at the Marienplatz (the main square) because that is where the main Christmas market was.  It was fun to walk through and see all the souvenirs and gifts, as well as snacks!   We did continue wandering through Marienplatz to the east, and found a fun day market that had a lot of handicrafts, flowers, and again some food. It was fun! There are several Biergartens throughout the area as well where you can get a tasty hot meal, and nice cold brew.

Shall we get on with the story?

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A tired Brad enjoying a nice cold brew.

Once we arrived at Aloft, we checked in, dropped off our bags & then decided to go grab some lunch. We were both exhausted and knew that laying down would be disastrous. Thankfully, I truly enjoy my travel buddy, so that makes it a lot easier to want to stay up and enjoy whatever comes our way.

 

We mapped our way to the Marienplatz & found a yummy and hopping restaurant to stop for our first real German meal. Because it was briskly cold (without snow), I got a tasty soup.  It was fun to be among the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and tourists. But I hated having to take my big coat on and off. I was afraid of accidentally smacking an innocent passerby. (As an Arizonan, heavy coats aren’t a part of our usual winter wardrobe and it was tricky to adapt to.)

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An evening view of the Glockenspiel

Once we were through with a our quick meal, we were back on our feet, and found ourselves among the Marienplatz crowds. They were shopping, eating, and waiting in hopes that the Glockenspiel would give them a small show. Considering our sleep deprivation, we found the crowds to be a little overwhelming & the decided to keep cutting through. This is how we stumbled upon the day market. They had some truly fun decorations. Little woodland creatures made of naturally materials, hanging decor for walls or door knobs, exquisite wreaths… A girl could go nuts, and it was difficult to practice self-control among the company of my “thrifty” husband. I did try to remain practical in terms of what would match the decor of our home (that we currently don’t possess).

 

We also, found the Starbucks.. We are always looking for Starbucks for a little familiarity and a pickup! Once you are on the east end entry/exit of Marienplatz & the across from the park/day market, go right.   We spent the early evening enjoying the Marienplatz night life. We enjoyed some amazing Nutella crepes from the crepe stand in the center of the square.

We really did not last long.  We were exhausted. We headed back to the hotel & passed out. The next day we ended up sleeping until two in the afternoon. Thankfully we didn’t panic. We got dressed in our toasty coats and headed for the door. We knew exactly where we were going. The Hofbrauhaus!

It was there hat we had our His & Her beer (I made that up because mine was small and his was big).  I ordered a scrummy noodle dish. Brad ordered a pork schnitzel type of meal, and we shared a pretzel… because it would be wrong not too.  (There is a gift shop, where you can purchase some souvenir HB mugs to take home with you… I opted for coasters & a couple of the cute menus, free & not as heavy to tote around.)

Once we paid for our meal, we headed back to the streets of Munich and wandered without aim. We just wanted to see what we could find, and we found a small treasure. A wonderfully scented Christmas tree lot on a beautiful cobble stone street outside a historical building. It appeared to be a Pantheon, but I’m not 100% sure. I have no idea were we were.

insta-3Evenings start very early there. It’s dark by 17:30, which is something that I struggled with. I had the tendency to lay down & not want to get back up. It made Brad crazy. It was just so dark and so cold. I don’t like the cold. haha. That evening we did the usual, we wandered the city, and we discovered various other markets which was exciting. One of which was more of a rennasaince style market. They offered slow cooked meats, mulled wines (Brad tried it & regretted it), and fun toys for the kids. …or my case, my husband to jab me with.

We eventually headed back to the familiar iphone-latest-060territory of the Marienpltaz browsed through some of the shops as, I was looking for a great German souvenir to take home. You can find some really interesting things, and some not-so-surprising things. Beersteins are there in masses, same with incense smokers (which is what I ended up purchasing on our last day). We ate more Nutella crepes, wandered through the holiday pop-up shops of the Christmas-Market and discovered a Jewish memorial just north of the Marienplatz.

We were not out late, as we were leaving the next morning to head to Salzburg. Once we were ready we headed back to the hotel, started watching The Sound of Music &  and fell asleep. iphone-latest-064

Once we were all packed up the next morning, we headed back to the Marienplatz because we saw there was a bank on one of the corners. We wanted to get Euros for the rest our travels. It was great to be in the area before the crowds. The crisp morning air was very refreshing & a great start to our day. On our way there we stopped by the windows of the Galeria Mall because they had these festive window displays for the holiday season. Each little animatronic animal performed a task (see pic below) before your very eyes. it was very magical.   We also were able to get a great view of the Glockenspiel.

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Animated critters at the Galeria mall outside of the Marienplatz.

Once we had our cash-money, we went back to our area. We stopped by the train station for a quick breakfast at one of the small cafes. We grabbed a couple sandwiches, and, yes, a pretzel.  We walked back across the street, to the hotel & went up to the room to eat & grab our bags. Before we knew it, we were checked out & at the Budget location nearby to grab our rental car. The fun part, though, was finding our way out of the city with nothing but our Apple maps on our iPhones.  & just like that we were Salzburg bound.

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LESSONS LEARNED: 

1) I am not cut out for cold weather

2) Brad’s presence encourages less shopping

3) 2 days in Munich is plenty