Departing Lisbon / Munich Day One

We had a 6am flight out of Lisbon. By the time we woke up at 3am, we’d each only had a couple hours of restless sleep, but managed to get to the airport and on our flight to Munich without any problems. 

Lisbon was a great launching pad for our trip, but by this point we were ready to see something new. Joe and I were both interested in seeing Germany. It was one of the main places I felt I missed out on seeing when I studied abroad in Italy. Best of all, we were meeting up with Savannah (my sister) in Munich. This was a short flight from her master’s program in Edinburgh. 

Hardly awake on our way to the airport

We connected with Savannah at the airport and made our way to our Airbnb in the southwestern part of the city. We were all exhausted but decided to go out and explore, knowing going to sleep might put us out for the majority of the day.

We walked around for a few hours before grabbing a much-needed meal at a restaurant off the main strip.

We’d stopped in the tourist office along the way and they’d recommended we check out the English Garden, the “Central Park” equivalent of Munich. I think we all expected it would be relatively quiet park given it was a Wednesday evening.

Instead of being a quite park, there were people everywhere, drinking beer and swimming in the river that runs through the park. There were even people surfing in the river. 

The low evening light, amazing weather, and general festival feeling isn’t what we were expecting, but it couldn’t have worked out better. We sat on the river bank soaking in the evening before heading north to the beer garden in the park (could this park get any better?). 

We enjoyed some of the local lager along with a few thousand of our closest friends. In the “Great Pagoda” in the center, a band played traditional Bavarian songs. 

All in all, quite an incredible first day in Munich. 

Munich Day Two – Buses, Bratwurst, and Beer

After our great experience with the hop-on, hop-off bus in Lisbon, we decided to to the same thing in Munich to get the lay of the land. It was a warm day out, and we were ready to explore. 

The squad

We were planning on staying on the bus for a little while, but we were so impressed by the grounds of Schloss Nymphenburg that we had to get out. We spent almost two hours exploring the extensive grounds of the palace. It was clear after 24 hours in Munich that they know how to build good parks over here. 

Give me a selfie stick and I’ll put it to use

From the palace we jumped back on the bus and made our way to the BMW museums and showroom, and then back to city center, where we transferred to a different hop-on bus, one that gave more context on the sights within Munich’s city center. The legacy of the war, especially from an architectural perspective, is evident throughout the city.

We feasted on a cheap and delicious traditional Bavarian meal when we finished the tour. The beer is omnipresent in Munich, and as good as we’d been told. 

Craving even more beer, we headed to the Hofbrauhaus beer hall to end the evening. 

Munich Day Three – Castle of the Fairy Tale King

We set aside day three in Munich to explore some of the surrounding area. We’d set aside time to explore, but come Friday morning we didn’t actually know what we were going to do (this has been and likely will be a theme of the trip, but it’s worked out so far).

It came down to Salzburg or Neuschwanstein Castle. Salzburg was the easy option–the trains there were frequent and we knew it would be moderately interesting. Still, being in Munich and then going to Vienna aftwards, we knew it wouldn’t really be all that different than cities we were already seeing. On the other hand, Neuschwanstein was the more interesting option, but more complicated logistically. You had to take two-hour train to the city of Fussen, then take a bus up to another town, then get tickets for the castle, and then hike up to the castle. This was all complicated by the fact that same-day tickets weren’t guaranteed, so we could get there an then not get to see the castle at all! We decided, though, it was a risk we were willing to take. 

If you’re not familiar with the castle, it’s pretty spectacular. 

It was the inspiration for the Disney castle, built by King Ludwig II. Unfortunately, though, he died before a lot of the castle was completed (this is a recurring theme with ambitious castles we’ve come to find). The people also disliked him for the extravagant building projects (along with the “Fairy Tale King” he was also called the “Mad King”). He died a mysterious death, drowning in the lake near the castle. A lot of intrigue and mystery surrounds the castle and the king who had it built. 

We left an hour to get to the train station, but by the time we got there we were tight for time, and made the train to Fussen with only a few minutes to spare. After an unexpected transfer to a bus because of train problems, we made it to Fussen, and then waited another 45 minutes to catch the bus up to the town. Thankfully, we made it up to the town and they still had tickets available! It was drizzling for most of the day, which likely kept some of the other tourists away.

The scenery in the town below Neuschwanstein was beautiful.

We weren’t allowed to take photos in the castle itself, but the decoration was really remarkable–the result of 17 years of work without money as an object. Still, the tour was much shorter than any of us expected. When they say only a few rooms were completed they mean that. And those rooms were amazing, but we were still left wondering what the remaining portions of the castle contained. 

The view from one of the castle balconies

It started to pour on our way down from the castle, but we were able to make it back to Munich without too many problems. 

We finished off the night with beer and pork at a cozy restaurant near our place.