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The German Alps!

GERMANY | Tuesday, 2 May 2017 | Views [641]

We made our way, through the clouds and rain, back into Germany along the southern border. It was a nice 2 hour drive over to the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles as we were driving through the valleys between the mountains. We made it over to the castles by noon and had a 3 hour wait before we could catch an english tour to Hohenschwangau, so we went and found lunch in Fussen and checked into our hotel. We drove back to the castles in the rain, parked, and made the 15 minute walk up the hill to the first castle, Hohenschwangau. The tour only lasted about 25 minutes and we saw a few of the rooms. It was a pretty small castle, as castles go...must have built on a budget. I was not all that impressed. We then walked back down the hill (still in the rain) and up the other hill to the Neuschwanstein castle. This castle is the one that the Disney castle is loosely based off of. The walk up to this castle was much more of a hike. It was a good 40 minute walk, yes still in the rain (turning to snow as we went up in elevation), up hill the entire way...no flat areas until you hit the top. It was very manageable for us younger beings, the parents did not like it as much...oh well, we made it. We went through this tour with only a handheld audio tourguide, but this castle was much more impressive. Huge entry way, huge spiral staircases...the kind that you imagine when you think of big old fancy castles. “Be Our Guest” could have busted out with singing cups and candlesticks and I would not have been surprised. This tour again was not all that long, only about 30 minutes, but it was much more impressive and interesting. The parents started to make their way down the mountain and Bryan and I decided to hike further up the hill to a bridge that overlooks the castle. It was a quick 15 minute jaunt that was well worth it. We had a great view of the valley below, with the castle in the foreground below us. Yes it was raining and sleeting, not ideal, but oh well. We made it back down the mountain, soaked as could be and made our way back to the hotel to change and go grab some dinner at a local german bar. The restaurant was was having dance lessons that night for the locals in the adjoining room. We could hear the music playing and it was everything from YMCA to slow dance music. Not exactly sure what was going on in there, nor did I go look.

The next morning we made the hour drive over to Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. It sits right on the border between Germany and Austria. Our drive took us back through part of Austria, then back into Germany. We originally wanted to take the cable car up from either the Austrian or German side, but neither were running. Our only option up the mountain was the cog wheel train on the German side of the mountain. The first 20 minutes of the steep train ride was exposed on the mountain side and the final 25 minutes of the ride was inside a tunnel running through the mountain. The train does not take you all the way to the highest summit of the mountain, it drops you off at a ski lodge and restaurant area. We walked outside and I was amazed! We were not even at the top, but you could see all of the ski runs and there were mountains and snow everywhere. People were throwing snowballs and sledding down a portion of the hill. We then took a short 3 minute cable car ride up to the summit of the mountain. This was probably the best part of the trip so far. The views from on top of Zugspitze were nothing like I had ever seen. Mountains surround you 360 degrees. The side of the valley where we parked, looked over a beautiful lake, absolutely stunning. The temperature was only about 33 degrees, but the views were well worth fighting the cold. There was some impressive construction going on, as they are building a new cable car station at the summit of the mountain. The man running that crane had to be making some serious cash, as he was some 100 feet up above the summit. It had just snowed the day before and the very tip top was snowed in. In the summer, there is a small ladder/staircase with a single hand rail that allows you to get to the very, very top of the mountain. It would've been very cool (and terrifying) to be able to do that, but it was closed with all the snow. We had lunch up at the cafe at the higher summit and stayed around for another hour. We took the cable car and cog train back down to our car and made our 1.5 hour drive up to Munich.

We arrived in Munich, stopped in at our hotel and dropped off the rental car. We then went and tried out Germany’s take on mexican food. It was interesting that they had “taco tuesdays”, as in German that does not quite flow off the tongue as well. Bryan and I had some big drinks as it was happy hour and we enjoyed our food. Most was similar to the mexican food you would find in the USA. No chips on the table tho, they wouldn't last in America. After dinner we went over to Munich’s “Central Park”. I forget the real name of it. There is a very cool, yet odd phenomena that happens in the park. There is a river that runs through the park and has a standing wave from a hydraulic jump. Basically it is a wave that stays in the same place in the river and is large enough for people to actually surf on...so that is exactly what people do. While we were walking to the park, there was a guy skateboarding while holding a surfboard. We knew exactly where he was headed. When we got to the park/river, the sun was starting to drop quickly, so one of the guys put out some lights on the bridge above. There were about 7 guys taking turns throwing their boards out in front of them as they jumped on and surfed the river (in wet suits). Some of the guys would wipe out from time to time and shoot down the river. They would swim to the edge then walk back up to the surf zone. More experienced riders would be able to ride for a long time and they would jump off their boards intentionally to give the others a chance. It was a very unique way to end the evening, watching surfers in the middle of downtown Munich.

Lets see what else Munich has to offer...

 

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