The first step of our completely bonkers European Honeymoon was Munich, Germany. I was a bit concerned about weather, as we were traveling in early February, and Europe had been seeing some heavy rains and flooding. However, dropping into Germany, we found a few snow-topped roofs and gray skies, but otherwise, no problems. It was chilly, but no more than it had been back in D.C.
From the airport, we had no trouble taking the train to our hotel, in spite of neither of us speaking or reading a bit of German. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and hopped a train down to Marienplatz, the historic town center. There we met a friend who was living in the city for a time, and had a nice meal at the Ratskeller. That’s where I found out there is a beer I like, a freshly pulled radler. The place is apparently somewhat touristy, but then, so is all of the Marienplatz. The food was good and the prices weren’t ridiculous, so whatever.
On the following day, we hopped on a tour bus and headed into the countryside to visit some castles. The Gray Line SIGHTseeing bus took us to see Linderhof and Neuschwanstein Castles, and visited the quaint (and touristy) town of Oberammergau. Linderhof was inspired (copied) from Versailles. Neuschwanstein serves as the inspiration for the Disney Castle, and was itself something of a fairy tale construction, inspired by myths and legends. Oberammergau is cute, with painted buildings and a huge Passion celebration every few years. The real star of the day for me was the Alps. I can talk until I’m blue in the face. I can post pictures. But I can not express to you what standing in front of the Alps was like. I understood on that day how legends had been born and stories crafted. Awe, genuine awe is what I felt. The closest thing I’ve ever come to it before was when I was a young man and began to truly contemplate and meditate on the vastness of the universe and our small place in it.
On the following day, we took a day-trip to Salzburg, Austria. I’ll have a separate post coming about Salzburg, but I want to mention that it was exceptionally easy to grab a train and take the about two hour trip into Austria. Returning that evening, we met up with our friend again and he took us to Atzinger, a beerhall closer to the university, with a much more laid back, less touristy vibe. The food was great. It served as a reminder that Germans love dogs as much as I do, and they don’t have a lot of rules about not bringing them places.
On our fourth and final day, we spent time traveling about Munich. We started with some breakfast at Cafe Luitpold, which was quite hoity-toity, but also quite good. It was right before Lent, so they were packed with treats. From there we visited the Munich Residenz, the childhood home of Ludwig. Then we went by the Neue Pinakothek museum, a modern art museum. And finally, we stopped in at the Hofbrauhaus, one of the most famous and oldest beer halls. I did, indeed, get a gigantic pretzel. Walking out onto the Marienplatz, we stumbled across one of the most magical things ever. Fasching, aka German Mardi Gras. There is nothing quite like Germans when they party. Very, very, very politely party. By the way, beers may seem expensive, but if you return the bottle, you get most of it back. Heading back to our hotel, we grabbed a final dinner at Zum Brunnstein, a very pleasant, neighborhood restaurant with traditional German food.
After that, we headed to the station for the night train to Venice. That’s a whole story of its own. Germany was a blast, and I’m definitely going to have to go back.