München

When I landed in Munich, I was thoroughly exhausted and almost about to pass out in the airport lobby. I had flown three times in one single day : Bangalore – Mumbai, Mumbai – Paris, and finally Paris – Munich. Phew! I had nearly missed that last connection so my relief on having reached Deutschland was unmatched.

Munich Airport

Flughafen München is the international airport of Munich. I didn’t have to go through immigration because my point of entry into the Schengen Zone was Paris (CDG/Roissy Airport). My passport already stamped and tucked inside my bag, I was ready to embrace Germany – my ultimate love. The terminal I got off at resembled a lowly bus station. The carousels indicators didn’t display flight information and a lot of bags were just lying in a heap on the floor. Thankfully, the WiFi was good. I signed in, while I waited for my bags to arrive, and sent out my “I reached and I am OK” texts to my family. When you get out of the baggage claim area, look out for S-Bahn signs in green. They will take you underground to the train terminus. The Fahrkarten (tickets) can be purchased from the self-help kiosks. Don’t worry if you don’t speak German. They let you choose from 4 or 5 languages and English is one of them 🙂

To reach Meininger Munich, where I was staying, I had to get off at Hackerbrücke Straße. This is also the Busbahnhof and just a stop before the Hauptbahnhof. Don’t worry if you don’t have a map of the train line. All trains have a printed map just above the doors. I recommend keeping a screenshot of Google Maps on your phone / tab before you arrive in the city. Once you have reached your hostel, you can pick up a local map. The U-Bahn in Munich is pretty straightforward. You can also find the map in Google Images.

Hostel Review

I stayed at Meininger Munich which is absolutely fantastic during winter, but definitely not during the summer for the simple reason that it turns into a furnace.
Pros: Linen included, WiFi access, 24 hour reception, Walking Tours and Travel Desk, laundry room, Breakfast (charged separately)
Cons: The windows don’t open. If you are visiting during a heat wave, you will literally melt without air conditioning.

The Meininger chain is pretty famous all over Germany and Austria. I had the most amazing stay at the Meininger near Frankfurt Airport. The City Center hostel has a tiny kitchen and an outdoor terrace. It is centrally located. The bus terminus (for MegaBus, FlixBus, and MeinFernBus) is a short walk away and just next to the U-Bahn line. The München Hauptbahnhof and the city center are further down the road from the hostel. The Augustiner Brauhaus famous for its draft beer is right opposite the hostel. There is also a small bar and restaurant as an extension to the hostel.

I am covering Munich this weekend. Also included are day trips to Dachau and Füssen (Schloss Neuschwanstein). Keep watching this space for more.

Up Next: Munich in a day.

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Benaras: Sunset and Sunrise on the Ghats

When my sister had to convince me to join them on this trip, all she said to me was – Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. I wasn’t sure why she said that cause it remains the worst movie we’ve watched together. “The Ghats, Di!” she squealed in delight. “Don’t you want to see them?” To be honest, I didn’t because of the overly zealous religious rites that happen to be their main attraction. But a few hours later I was holding an electronic ticket to Varanasi.

In my last post, I talked about my first impressions of Benaras. The ghats are a whole different deal. A ‘ghat’ is a set of steps leading to the banks of a river; in the case of Varanasi, it is the holy river Ganga. There are a total of 87 ghats in Benaras – most of them are for bathing and worship, and a few exclusively for cremation rites. While some are privately owned, there are others owned by Marathas, Holkars, Scindias, and the likes. If you take a boat ride, you can see all their names painted on the walls at the top of the steps.

Dashashwamedh Ghat which is next to Meer Ghat (where we stayed) is closest to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Every evening at about 6:30, the pandits offer a prayer to Lord Shiva, the river Ganga, and the Universe. It is a spectacular sight to behold. Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat are the two cremation sites. Many Hindus believe that the soul will obtain salvation if they are cremated here. As many as 80 bodies are cremated here every day. As per Hindu code, sadhus (holy men) are neither buried nor cremated. Their bodies are usually let into the river. This is why you may occasionally see floating corpses in the river Ganga.

Don’t be alarmed by all this information. I was bit overwhelmed too. But once you get there, you’ll see that it is not all bad. It is totally worthwhile to take a boat ride at sunrise or sunset for beautiful photo opportunities. It costs about Rs.150 per person. There were five of us and the hotel arranged an exclusive motorboat for us at Rs. 600. The boatman will give you sparse information about the ghats. It doesn’t take very long to cover them all. An hour should be plenty of time for a round and a half. Be sure to catch the evening Ganga Arati from the boats to avoid the crowd on the ghat. In the morning, the ghats are empty and you can most definitely take a walk (if not a boat ride). The chai (tea) at Dashashwamedh ghat is quite delicious.

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Nuremberg.

hello! I moved to Nuremberg this morning. I had a nice paced out start to my day because the Munich ZOB is just 400m from Meininger City Hostel. It is right next to Hackerbruecke train station. You have to enter the mall from the bridge and take the loft down to the bus station. I travelled with MegaBus after nearly 4 months and I was super excited because this is the first time I got to travel during the day. It feels like a total Yun Hi Chala Chal Rahi set up from Swades. In case you need help, there’s an information point at the end. Don’t worry about all the FlixBus banners. The information point caters to all bus companies.

I arrived in Nuremberg a little past noon. After a quick stop for Pommes and Cola, I decided to look for the hostel. So, you go right from the ZOB on the Bahnhofstrasse and reach a Nieemberg Tourist info point. Fro, there on, take the Koenigstrasse for the main city highlights. I had to take a left to Frauentormauer. It’s maybe 500m from the ZOB. Fabulous hostel! I am in love with the facility.

The people here are super nice. I have 4 Chinese roommates who are super giggly and very smiley. I like them. I set out at 2 to walk around the town. It is not big. Twenty minutes from the beginning of Koenigstrasse will get you to the fort. I covered the St. Lawrence church, the Holocaust memorial,Hauptmarket, the Rathaus and the Toy Museum. I couldn’t find the Documentation centre. I will try again tomorrow morning. I found a fabulous Comic store btw. They have awesome stuff.

Doremifasolati-do! so! do!

I am well rested and super excited !! Becauseeeee I am off to Salzburg for the day ! There is one and only one motive here – The Sound of Music. Keep reading to find out about my DIY tour of the classic.

Munich and Dachau

I slept like the dead last night. It took a while to get used to the heat but my fatigue soon overshadowed my discomfort. I woke up at 6am in surprise not having realised I’d been fast asleep.

An hour later, I was showered and ready to walk around in Munich. The girl at the reception gave me multiple maps and I set out to plan my own itinerary. I was certain that I had to be in Marienplatz at 11am to watch the Glockenspiel. The platz from Meininger is a straight walk past the Hauptbahnhof. I saw a cute Irani cafe-ish place on the way and decided to stop for some breakfast. I haven’t had anything more delicious than Butterwerze. It’s a funny shaped bread with lots of salted butter. I could eat this every day with tea!

By the time I reached the corner of Galeria Kaufhof, the sun was over my head and adding to my discomfort. I craved for an ice cream but it was only 9:30am! I spotted Pimkie on the way but resisted the urge to go in. But instead on the left I saw a super cool shop that made cuckoo clocks and nutcracker dolls. Ok, I bought an Edelweiss musical box. Oh come on!

The Rathaus is the biggest thing you’ll see there. This is the new one. Also the place where you gather to watch the 11am Glockenspiel. Opposite to this building in a narrow lane is Old St. Peter. Service was on when I stepped in. I offered a short prayer and came out. I had gotten used to attending mass in French and Latin. German felt a bit alien despite the familiarity. My stomach was rumbling again. Deli & Joy was pure serendipity. And it was vegan friendly! I grabbed a smoothie and a bottle of water. Made it just in time for the performance of the cuckoo clock. I picked up a copy of Der Kleine Prinz later. If I can read it in French, I can read it in German.

I walked back to the Hbf to catch a train to Dachau. The S2 gets you there and you can purchase the tickets at the machines. A day ticket (Munich XXL) costs €8,30 and covers the bus connection to the sites. The train map is easy to read – I believe every transport map is easy if you have dealt with the Paris metro map. Direction Petershausen / Altomuenster – both work for Dachau and it takes about 25 minutes to get there from Munich Hbf. bus 719 takes you to the Palace and 726 to the Concentration Camp site.

No amount of literature will prepare you for the actual experience of visiting Dachau CC. The atrocities are beyond imagination. To think that human beings could inflict so much pain on other people ; the concept escapes me. I think it was beyond 32 degrees today. 30000 starving, diseased, broken people enduring the sick treatment meted out to them in such weather – I can’t imagine it. The pictures are disturbing. Heaps of corpses lying outside the crematorium, people waiting to be gassed, prisoners being punished for no reason. This one is not for the weak hearted. I offered a prayer before I left.