I last left off when we were about to head up to the Eagles Nest for the day. We did our trip up to the Eagles Nest via a tour but I think we were ripped off – so my suggestion would be to do it by yourself. Might be a little more difficult but you’ll save some money (every euro counts!). Anyway, it was pretty spectacular getting up to the Eagles Nest. For those who don’t know (I didn’t!), the Eagles Nest was given to Hitler for his 50th birthday, and sits at an altitude of 1834 metres above sea level (awkward because Hitler was afraid of heights) with a breathtaking view of the surrounding Bavarian Alps. I say breathtaking because it was so cold when Lauren an I were up there, the wind quite literally took our breath away. I again recommend scarves, jumpers, beanies and gloves! A few friends of ours went up in shorts and thongs! Crazy.
To get up to the house, you need to catch a specially built bus to make the journey up the Kehlstein road, which takes you 700m up in altitude. You then board the original brass elevator that Hitler and co would have used, which takes you up another 124m in altitude in about 10 seconds. They jam pack about 50 people in this elevator, but apparently Hitler only allowed 6 people at a time in the elevator due to his claustrophobia, and the fact that if they got stuck, the service elevator that would get them out could only carry 6 people. Hitler: Claustrophobic, afraid of heights AND a vegetarian. Who knew? Anyway, once at the top, the views are amazing. You can see (cloud cover dependent) 360 degree views all the way to the Königssee – a lake nestled in between two mountains. Whilst it takes a little while to get to, you probably only need max an hour up the top, so this can be a half day trip if you’re pushed for time. Be sure when you’re at the top of the mountain waiting for the lift, to tell the tickets desk what time you want to come back down – they can only fit so many people on the shuttle buses so you need to register your intended return time. If you need to fill in some time, don’t worry as there is a restaurant in the house.
Our last morning was spent making our way out to the Red Bull Hangar 7, which is a collection of planes, formula one cars, helicopters and other various things that Red Bull has sponsored. Between getting off at the wrong bus stop and Lauren realising that she had left her passport in the room we had just checked out of, it wasn’t the best journey out there. On top of that, our friend Ingrid had said she had an amazing breakfast at the restaurant there, so we followed their lead and got brekky out there. Bad call. Never have I paid so much money for the smallest amount of food ever. It was a breakfast for ants – it needed to be at least 3 times the size! While it was still good, it was over priced. Apparently the waffles are the way to go if you’re keen to head out there. The hangar itself was cool but nothing to write home about. If you’re pressed for time in Salzburg, I wouldn’t bother.
We hopped on the bus that afternoon and arrived in Munich at about 4pm. A bunch of our friends were already in Munich so we were thinking of having dinner, but instead we signed up for the free beer garden pub crawl offered by our hostel. Visits 3 beer gardens, and we received a free beer and shot at the hostel. Excellent value for money (haha….). Anyway what was initially just going to be dinner and drinks turned into a huge night. At the Augustiner Keller beer garden Lauren and I experienced our first pork knuckle. It was huge, and it was delicious!!! I have no idea how I managed to finish it, especially considering the size of the beer glasses (1 L, I mean seriously!), but we will definitely go back for more! Fun night, involving beer, pork knuckle, and the ripped pants of a friend of ours (enjoy your mention Dexter).
After a slow morning the next day, Lauren and I walked around the central area of Munich for a while. We walked through the Englischer Gartens – which is larger than Central Park in New York. The gardens are beautiful, and after being warned multiple times that German people (mainly men) enjoying stripping their kit off in the parks, we finally saw some naked people just relaxing in the park. We’ll, I say people, but it was just one man. A very old man. But hey, good on him. In these gardens is also the man-made wave upon which locals take turns surfing on. It’s a bit strange at first, but you do get drawn into it and end up cheering along those who manage to pull off some tricks and not take themselves out on the brick walls on either side of them. Within the gardens is yet another beer garden worth checking out – the Chinesischer Turm.
Something we have noticed lately is that the people of Munich (and probably the rest of the Bavarian region) actually wear lederhosen and dirndl (female equivalent) on a day to day basis. Initially it was a bit funny, but it is quite nice seeing the locals in traditional dress. What is less nice is the fact that the people of Munich (well we’ve seen this all over Europe really) is the fashion faux pas of DOUBLE DENIM!!!!! And jeans and joggers is no longer just a party theme over here. Neither of which I am ok with, for the record.
Our Monday evening was spent with a group of friends: Kate, Cam and Will, at the Hofbräuhaus in the city centre. It’s a huge beer hall and if you’re going to only visit one beer hall whilst in Munich (you’re silly if you only visit one!), then this one should be on your short list. It has a great atmosphere, excellent food, fun live music, and of course – the beer is delicious! The Hofbräu original was especially yummy. It is a bit more touristy than some of the other places, making prices for beer are a bit more expensive, but only slightly. It’s a huge hall and finding a table is a bit of a challenge, especially if you have a bigger group, but just stalk people until you get one and you’ll be fine! Getting the attention of the waitresses can be a bit difficult too, but just don’t be afraid to go up to them and tell them you’re ready to order, or else you may never get the chance!
We spent Tuesday on a tour that took us out to the Bavarian country side to the Neuschwanstein Castle – which was built by (for) King Ludwig II. The history surrounding the castle and the family is very interesting – but would make for a very long post, so if you’re interested – good old Wikipedia will lend you a helping hand! We went through Mikes Bike Tours and it was a great day. We left at about 9am and didn’t get back until close to 9pm. The trip includes a very easy and leisurely bike ride to Swan Lake, lunch at a restaurant near the castle (not included), extras such as a slide on the tobbogan ride (aka Alpine Slide), or even paragliding off the nearby Bavarian Alps (at the cost of 145€ or else I would have definitely done it!), all before going up to the Castle and going inside. For those who don’t know, rumour has it that this is the castle that Walt Disney based the Disney castle off – you can definitely see similarities. Anyway, it was a bit of a childhood dream come true today as we (essentially) visited the Disney Castle, went to Swan Lake (the similarities are piling up), and one of the wall painting/artworks inside was very bambi-esque. In my mind, this more than solidifies that this is in fact THE Disney Castle. Case closed.
Just to make our day more awesome/magical – our tour guide, Brad, actually (no joke) attended the German Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry for two years. This is also known as the German Academy of Magic, and yes it is a real place. He blew our minds with amazing card tricks (probably so good because he is a Wizard). So in short our day involved entering the magical world of Disney with a wizard for a tour guide. Excellent day. In all seriousness it is a great tour – a little on the pricey side but much easier than trying to get out there by yourself. I also heard only good things about the city bike tour around Munich with the same company – for those interested.
We only have one day left in Munich, and it’s yours truly’s birthday! Our plan of action involves a sleep in and then checking out one of Europes largest indoor water parks – there is a slide there that is over 350 metres long! AND one where you can reach speeds of up to 70kmph….exciting! We head off to Wildschonau Valley on Wednesday so next update will be from there.