Thursday, May 31, 2012

Neuschwanstein Castle

We woke up early today and looked out the window to check out the weather.  It wasn't raining and some sunshine so without a doubt, we decided to take the tour to Neuschwanstein Castle!  I did some research online prior to the trip and decided to go with Radius Tour. We walked across to the Munich Hbf and found the Radius Tour office just across from platforms 32-34.  We got there early and bought our tickets.  The tour begins at 9:30 am so we still have time left to have breakfast in the train station.

We came back around 9:20 am and waited.  Our tour got delayed due to railroad constructions; we started at 10 am instead.  Our tour guide was Roland, he was a very friendly and funny guy from England. Before we begin the trip, he explained to us that due to the constructions, we had to re-route our transportation plan.  Normally, the tour back to Munich around 6:30 pm but today will be around 8:30 pm.  Radius will offer a full refund if anyone change their mind due to the changes (very professional)! We had no problem since we were here already and our goal was to see Neuschwanstein Castle.

We got in the train at around 10:15 am and got off at some small town train station. From there, we got in an arranged bus which gets us directly to Neuschwanstein in around an hour. The bus was comfortable and with AC.  On the one hour bus ride, Roland told us some history of the Neuschwanstein area. The bus driver was kind enough to stop and let us take some pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle from far away. We didn't have our zoom lens so instead we took a picture of this church in the middle of "no where":

We arrived at the village of Hohenschwangau and have time for a quick lunch. 

The "symbols" on this pole gave an overview of what this village/town has, for example, castle (on the top left  icon).

Roland showed us the Hohenschwangau Castle where King Ludwig II (who built Neuschwanstein Castle) grew up.

The lake and the mountains were very beautiful:

A whole family of swans!

There is a picture of a beautiful cafe/hotel nearby:

After that, Roland clearly explained the routes we could take to reach the castle but our meeting point is the Mary's Bridge:

1. Hike up with them.
2. Take the bus and stopped at near the Mary's Bridge 
3. Take the horse carriage and stopped at the castle (had to walk up to the Mary's Bridge)

We took the 2nd option; the line for the bus was pretty long but we made it to get on the first bus.  We were up near the Mary's Bridge and found out the bridge was closed!!!  After few minutes, we found out that there was an accident on the bridge and it is closed for rescue mission! We were shocked and didn't know what to do, we waited until the rest of our tour group arrived from hiking up.  Roland said in that case we'll have to visit the castle first.  We walked down to the castle and saw the rescue helicopter!  Everybody was rounded up to see what happened. Someone said that there was this guy who was drunk and climbed on the bridge to sing then somehow he felt down and landed on the water on the bottom of the bridge. Very shocking! The rescue crew got him out and flew away (pray for the best for him!). Roland then came up with a plan that if we could all meet up right after our tour of the castle, we could have some time to go back up the bridge again for some photos!! Thank you Roland!

We toured the interior of the castle, the castle was pretty "new" compared to others because it had running water and flushing toilets! The rooms were dark and gloomy as expected since King Ludwig II was a shy king. After the tour, we meet up and walked up to Mary's Bridge. On the way up, the landscape was beautiful, no wonder Ludwig chose this location to build his fairy tale castle:

Yay, Mary's Bridge was open up again! We were the first two arrived the bridge and OMG here is the fairy tale castle! I was so carried away by the amazing view of the castle that I wasn't afraid to be on the bridge (I am very acrophobic!!) I kept taking photos and videos that I have no time to look down to realize how high it was!  But on the bridge, it was very windy! The view of the castle from Mary's Bridge is the best! I was so glad that we went up to the bridge and took some one-of-a-life-time photos of the castle! Thank you Roland again!

Roland helped us took a fairy tale dream fulfilled!

Roland also walked down to the gorge with us. If he didn't lead us the way, we would never have a chance to see a totally different view.  The hike down to the gorge was manageable even though the roads were narrow.  It was worth the walk since it was very scenic and great opportunity for photos!

The bus was waiting for us to drop us off at Fussen where we catch the train back to the small town station.  Due to construction, we had to wait for an hour for the connecting train.  We got back to Munich by 8:30 pm as promised.  It was a long day but definitely worth it.  I had fulfilled one of my dream: visited the fairy tale castle!!!

So glad that our hotel was next to the train station, we decided to have our dinner in the hotel.  Food was great and the desert was one of the most colorful I have ever seen:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Munich, Germany

I have booked the train ticket from Vienna to Munich online in advanced, I checked both the DB Bahn website and OBB website, somehow the OBB website was cheaper 58 euros for both of us! The train ride was 4 hours long; I wish Westbanh have trains to Munich so we would have wifi during the long ride.  We took the 8:14 am train and arrived at 12:30 pm.  I booked the Le Meridien Munich hotel which was right across from the Munich train station so that was convenient for us; we planned to take a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle.  Our room was spacious as well:

While it was a bit sunny out, we went back out again to explore the city since the weather forecast said thunderstorm 70%! We walked straight to Karlstor, the city gate to enter the city center. It was very crowded, mostly were tourists! 

We passed by many interesting and colorful medieval buildings such as this one:

Then we came across this group of 4 street performers (don't they looked familiar? after looking through our photos, we were sure that those were the exact 4 we saw in Salzburg!!!!!!):

We continued down the street and we reached the famous Marienplatz!

I really like this old styled store sign:

We went in Starbucks and tried out the chocolate coconut was so good!

There was constructions going on so it was loud and dusty at times but it didn't turned us down from exploring Munich! We then went to Residenz Palace. The entrance fee was 7 euros and it wasn't crowded at all! We took our time and going through rooms and the best thing was...we were free to take photos (yes after Vienna, we finally could take photos inside the palace!) 

We almost felt like we have the palace for ourselves!

Very unique antique lamps:

This stairways was part of the church inside the palace and was partially destroyed during WWII:

More royal rooms:

The palace had many similarities as Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace such as the ceiling decorated with wood carving patterns painted with gold:

The details were truly masterpieces! I love the gold with plain white background which made the details very stand out. But one major difference was that Bavarian kings loved porcelain so many rooms were decorated with porcelain vases. Look carefully on the picture above and you'll see the golden carvings were also stand for porcelain vases!

At Versailles my favorite was the Hall of Mirror; at Residenz my favorite was this golden hallway:

We spent almost 2 hours in Residenz, the incredible details were perfect for photos!

Bavarian kings loved porcelain, first time I saw a porcelain lamp:

After we came out of Residenz Palace, the sky was dark, we thought it would rain so we didn't went further down and instead we looked for a restaurant to have our dinner. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and check the weather for the coming days.  Forecast said high probability of thunderstorms! We were thinking to visit Neuschwanstein the next day but now it all depend on the weather! We have two more full days in Munich so hopefully we could visit Neuschwanstein since it was the reason why we were here in Munich!