Eurotrip 2018: Neuschwanstein Castle, Munich & Oktoberfest
Our 3 days in and around Munich were packed full of things to do. We arrived in Munich at about 12:45 PM and immediately boarded a train for Füssen so we could visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. After a transfer, we arrived at Füssen at about 3:00 PM. We took a bus to the ticket center to pick up our entrance ticket which needed to be picked up at least 90 minutes prior to our reserved entry time. Since we had some time to kill, we decided to go to a local restaurant and grab lunch. I decided to go with a cheese plate and goulash soup. The cheese plate was larger than I thought it would be and the goulash was really good.
After lunch, we took a bus up the mountain to the castle. The bus dropped us off about a 2 minute walk from a bridge where you can take a picture of Neuschwanstein Castle from the same angle as the famous pictures and paintings. If we took the horse and buggy up, it would have been at least a 20 minute walk uphill to the same spot. The castle was picturesque – it’s easy to see why Walt Disney modeled the castle of Sleeping Beauty after this castle.
We then headed down to the actual Neuschwanstein Castle for our tour. Since our scheduled time was not for another half hour, we waited on a bench in a seating area until it was time to queue up. Once we were able to gain entry, we climbed up a story to get our audio guide and were shuffled into a hallway where our live tour began. The person distributing the audio guide noticed I used crutches so he gave me a pair of headphones so I could walk around while listening to the tour guide whereas everyone else had to hold the device next to their ear for the duration of the 30 minute tour.
We started out in the servants quarters before climbing a spiral staircase to the King’s Throne Room. Unfortunately, the king that built the castle, King Wilhelm II, passed away a few weeks after it was completed so he was never able to hold court in the castle. We then passed through his man cave (literally a man-made room which looked like the actual interior of the cave). We then passed through the King’s bedroom and living room before heading up one more flight of stairs to see the performance hall which was the end of the tour. All in all, it was the most beautiful castle interior I’ve seen. It was very well preserved and the detail was extremely intricate.
Before leaving the castle, we stopped and took a picture of the view from one of the castle’s balconies.
We wound up having to walk about 20 minutes down the hill from the castle because, for some reason, the ground transportation to the bottom of the hill stopped before the castle was closed. From there, we caught a bus back to the train station. We grabbed a few snacks from the only open store in the station and waited for the train back to Munich – eventually making it in at around 11:00 PM.
Our hostel was pretty nice given that it was dealing with the crowds from Oktoberfest. We were given two beds in a dorm for 10 people on the main level of the hostel, but the bathrooms were in the basement which made showering quite fun!
The following morning, we met up with a tour group at about 10:00 AM to take a quick tour of the Oktoberfest grounds and get an overview of the history of the festival. We learned that the first Oktoberfest was for a royal wedding where the King got married. After that, it was such a success that he decided to have it every year for the people of the city. This got prohibitively expensive, though, so the various breweries of Bavaria got together to through the party. From there it grew to what it is today – generating over €1 Billion in sales! We were able to visit a few of the more well known tents before settling down into our reserved seats at the Löwenbrau tent. The tents are more like buildings and are all very well done. Some of them have moving statues above their entrances and they were all pretty impressive on the inside.
The tour came with 2 one liter steins of beer and a half of a chicken. Dressed in our $25 lederhosen we ordered off Amazon before we left, we fit right in with the rest of the tourists, and some more well dressed locals.
I’m not a beer person, so I had one stein while we took the atmosphere in. Drinking songs were sung and people would stand on benches while they chugged their entire stein while being encouraged by the crowd.
The chicken we ordered was fantastic – they are made rotisserie style & I was fortunate enough to get one from the bottom, so it was some of the juiciest chicken I’ve ever had.
At about 4:30 PM, our table reservation expired so our group went our separate ways. Eric and I decided to head to the Hofbräuhaus tent which is known as the “Aussie tent” among the locals because it tends to be packed with Australians. Every year, so many Australians lose their passports and wallets at Oktoberfest that the Australian Embassy opens up a temporary embassy at Oktoberfest to help their citizens!
We eventually squeezed in at the end of a table in the main hall of the HB tent and ordered a stein. As we were drinking, someone from my grade in High School walked right by. We caught up for a while before going our separate ways, but it truly is a small world.
After we finished our beer, Eric and I walked around the carnival portion of the festival. There were typical carnival rides like merry-go-rounds, swings, temporary roller coasters, etc. in addition to carnival games. We were going to go on one of the rides but at €8 per person, we decided to pass.
We headed back to our hostel and decided to grab a bite to eat in the hostel bar. We wound up staying at the bar until about midnight because we met a few people and chatted until we realized how tired we were. The following morning, we went to the BMW Museum on the outskirts of the city. While I’m not a car person, I was able to appreciate some of the cars in the showroom which were gorgeous. While Eric headed into the actual museum, I decided to just stay in the cafe and grab a bit of breakfast.
After the BMW Museum, we headed back downtown for a walking tour of Munich. To be honest, it was very disappointing. I felt that the tour guide tried to cater too much to the “Oktoberfest crowd” that she didn’t tell us much about the city. She kept telling us stories about beer and how it impacted various events in the city’s history. I think I need to come back during a time other than Oktoberfest to get a proper tour of the city.
After the tour, we headed back to the main square of the town to watch a show that a bunch of mechanical figures put on at various times of the day. It was pretty interesting and even showed a jousting contest where someone was pushed off their horse.
We then grabbed dinner at the Hofbräuhaus which is the largest beer hall in the world. I had a Weiner schnitzel and an apple strudel which were both fantastic.
After dinner we grabbed our bags from the hostel and headed to the airport for a flight to Amsterdam!