Friday, 15 May 2015

The Candy Cane Tour Part Five: One Munique Grande Finale!

Well, here we are folks, the final destination of the Candy Cane Tour - Munich. After a bit of a bump in Berlin, Munich was either going to make or break the trip, and I'm happy to report that it was fantastic!

The train ride to Munich was long - 6.5 hours. But, it was really beautiful and I was put in the 'quiet section' so it was even better! As a result of the long journey, however, I didn't arrive until almost 4:00 pm. I was AirBnB-ing it here too, and once again hadn't heard much from my host, so I was a little nervous about everything, given the last experience. When I arrived, though, I was greeted by a friendly face, and was instantly made to feel at home! Actually...I kind of wish it had been my home!

Anyway, wanting to make the most of what was left in the day, I decided my first stop would be the English Gardens on the recommendation of my brother and his friend, Hannes. When I first arrived my immediate thought was, this is not like any park in England I've ever been too... but it turned out to be quite a visit! I sat for a bit near a pond and watched some baby geese swim along with their mamas, and walked all around. Perhaps the most unique feature of this park is the random surfing area! It was really fun to watch for a bit. I was amazed by how patient and respectful everyone was. Each surfer would do his or her own thing for a few minutes and then move aside so the next person could have a turn. It's small wins like this that give me some hope for the world...

Okay, so these are all actually of the Chinese Gardens...which were also lovely!

The Mujjie?

What?! I've got a thing for mallards...they're awesome!
After my walk in the park, I wandered a bit around the surrounding area before making my way to visit one of my two planned destinations - Olympiapark.

I think this is Hofgarten, but I'm really not sure!

Now, after having a pretty Holocaust-heavy week prior, I made the decision to avoid any additional Holocaust related 'attractions' while in Munich. So, of course, I had to go to this infamous park where the 1972 Olympic Massacre took place. Honestly - I'm starting to think there might be something wrong with me, as this was truly the main draw for my wanting to visit Munich. The park itself is amazing - so many runners and active families making use of the grounds! It's also home to the cheapest tower tour so far, which I really enjoyed! I spent a good chunk of time walking around and attempting to figure out what this interesting neighbourhood was that I'd seen from the top (still no idea). I was slightly disappointed that there didn't appear to be any mention of the massacre, but really, I think it was just as good to simply enjoy the space around me!

Olympiaturm, or Olympic Tower
BMW Welt
Did you know that BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works? Because I sure didn't!
Views from atop Olympic Tower

This is that neat-o little neighbourhood that I have no idea what it is...

Olympic Village
Munich is so advanced, they even have massive sun blockers!!
A hill within Olympiapark which, for some reason, has a bunch of pretend sheep on it...
The rest of the evening I enjoyed a good meal, and then returned to my accommodations where I read, by candlelight, outside on the balcony off of my room. It was 24°C both nights at 10:00 pm when I was out there reading! Not a bad way to end the days - I could get used to that!

Day Two involved an early start and my second reason for wanting to visit Munich - a tour of castles outside of the city, including one for which I have yet to be able to pronounce! I boarded a bus just before 8:00 am, and headed for the first of three stops - Linderhof Royal Castle. For a castle, I thought it was pretty small from the outside, but the interior was immaculate! Of course, as we were walking through all I could think about was how awful it would be to have to dust it all! But, honestly, it was pretty neat! The dinning room even came complete with a table that moved from the kitchen to the dinning room, in elevator style. This, I thought was a handy little invention, except that it was designed this way because the owner, Ludwig II of Bavaria wasn't such a fan of people, and didn't want the interaction. I can slightly understand this, but I'm not sure I'd want that for myself. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures from within the castle, but I'd recommend you doing a search of the mirror room - it was pretty awesome!

The view from where we exited the bus
The grounds of Linderhof Castle

Linderhof Castle

The second stop was to the small village of, Oberammergau. We didn't have much time here, but it was fun to quickly wander around throughout the streets. One of the features of this village that it is best known for are the paintings on the exterior of some of the houses. Several of them included fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and the Hare and the Hedgehog (which I assume is the same as the Tortoise and the Hare). As we were only able to view these from the bus, I was unable to capture photos of them*. Oberammergau is also known for it's Passion Play. Two fun 'Passion Play' facts: 1. You can only be Jesus once in your lifetime (fair...). 2. Men who participate in the play have to grow their hair out for one year prior to the production!

The theatre where the Passion Play takes place
A couple shots of Oberammergau

The final stop, was a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle - the number two reason for my visit to Munich! This castle happens to be the one that Walt Disney used as his inspiration for what we all recognize as the 'Disney Castle.' Now, being as my Disney viewership is limited to a total of four films, this was not my reason for wanting to see it. No - it's just one epic looking place! Here I met another solo traveller from Kiev. We spent much of the time at this stop together, trying to make the most of what we had available to us. We ate a quick meal, and first made our way to the lake. If I didn't know any better, I'd say I was in parts of Alberta. MOUNTAINS!

Neuschwanstein Castle from the bus stop
This is another Castle that is in the same area as Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau Castle 
Lake Alpsee

Next, we began the hike up to the Castle. This little trek takes an average of 40 minutes, uphill. Luckily there are several photo-op spots to stop at along the way. The only other option is to take a horse and carriage, but who has one of those readily on hand?!** I felt we were making good time, because even though we stopped a few times to take pictures or just take in the views, we kept up with the carriage that was just behind us!

When we got to the top we took a few shots from a platform just to the left of the castle. The viewing platform is pretty much see-through, and reminds you of that saying to 'not look down'...but of course I did, and it was pretty beautiful! There was a nice "stream" of water rushing down from the surrounding mountains. I can totally understand why Disney chose this as their inspiration!

Neuschwanstein Castle
If you look closely, you can see the water rushing down from the mountains!
Views of the surrounding town, Hohenschwangau

Next we made our way in search of Marienbrüke (the best viewing bridge of the castle). On the way there was an amazing look-off, which allows you to really get a good view of the lakes and mountains. The bridge itself offered one spectacular view of Neuschwanstein, but was also the most sketchy four wooden plank surface I've ever stood on! Needless to say, I didn't venture too far! It's hard to believe that without the technologies we have available to us in present day, that structures of this magnitude could be built!

Views from the look-off, with Hohenschwangau Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrücke

Those two specks in the sky are hang-gliders!
We were all slotted for a tour of the castle just after 3:00pm. The tour lasted about a half an hour in total, and it took us through the 13 rooms that were actually finished (Ludwig II died before it could be completed). Like, Linderhof, the rooms were pretty crazy! My favourite room, however, was the random cave he put in... I would have loved to have known what shenanigans led to that decision! Again, there were no pictures allowed, but there was a balcony at the end of the tour that offered some great shots! An interesting Neuschwanstein Castle fact: it was opened to the public just a few weeks after Ludwig II's death. This was partly the result of needing to repay the debt incurred to build it!

View from the balcony

I really enjoyed this day trip. I got to meet some interesting people along the way. We had a full double-decker bus load, which included people from 17 different countries. I spent a bit of time with an awesome couple from some part of California (I want to say LA, but can't remember - I didn't write it down...), who were retracing a trip they'd done in their 20s, and another couple from San Francisco, who were hitting up all the spots they'd always wanted to see but hadn't. What I found most interesting about this trip, was the unusual (to me) amount of gay, male couples (the two from San Francisco are included in this observation).  I thought about how incredible this was, in a sad-that-it's-so-incredible sort of way. I had a few chats about Ireland's upcoming referendum, and just genuinely enjoyed all of the conversations I'd had throughout the day (VOTE YES PEOPLE - it's foolish that we can't afford everyone these opportunities!!). Other than us boring, 'ol adults, there was one amazingly well behaved two-year-old little girl. She was hands down the most entertaining child I've ever witnessed, as she was really excited to be in a castle! I'm pretty sure she was more excited to be there than had she gone to Disney!

When we returned to Munich, it had been quite a long day (it was just after 7:00pm). But, I still felt that I had a bit of energy left, so I wandered a bit and found some neat buildings, and eventually a bite to eat. I spent the rest of the evening as I noted already, reading outdoors by candlelight!

Sorry folks, I really have no idea where or what these buildings are

One thing's for sure, Munich was not a boar... Dad joke for the win!

My final morning, I slept in a bit (okay, so it was just after 7:00am). Once I'd packed up, I said good-bye to my host and made my way in search of St. Peter's Church. I found a few interesting places along the way, and realized that the evening before I was pretty much in the same place! I also had a creepy older man approach me, who informed me I was a nice girl and that he'd like to make me a women, but I exited that conversation fairly quickly...

Some lovely flowers
St. Mahhäus Church
Not really sure what this is...
Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall, found in Marienplatz
Mariensäule, also in Marienplatz
Anyway, my final hurrah of the Candy Cane Tour before heading to the airport was climbing the 306 stairs to the top of St. Peter's. Again - amazing views, but perhaps the coolest part of this stop, was that I was there for the ringing of the 10:00 am bell!

St. Peter's Church

Views from the top of St. Peter's

New Town Hall from atop St. Peter's
That tower in the distance is Olympic Tower
Soon after I was in the air enroute to my stopover of Amsterdam Copenhagen. I honestly thought my stopover was in Amsterdam, and I was so excited to return! Oh well, I had the best smoothie of my entire life, that cost me a whopping €7! But, it was 35 seconds of pure happiness, so I felt it was well worth it!

I'm now back in Manchester, and about to get started on my dissertation (my first deadline is this afternoon...oops!). The Candy Cane Tour has come to an end, but the Kennedy Sibling Reunion Tour begins in just a few days - PUMPED! In the meantime, I'll be reflecting on my time in Terezín, and hope to post about it in the days to come.

Thanks for following along,

-the Orange Canadian

*Note: By "unable," I mean, I just didn't attempt to take pictures of them, because some things you should just enjoy, rather than capture!
**This is a service offered, you do not actually need to have a horse and carriage of your own. Wait times are quite long, however, so it's well worth the exercise to just head up on your own! 

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