Schloss Neuschwanstein

Another fantastic day trip from München are the two castles of Neuschwanstein (noy-shwan-stein) and Hohenschwangau (ho-hun-schwan-gaau). First things first, reserve your tickets here. If you don’t do that two days before your visit (and before 3 pm), forget about seeing the inside of the castle. For some reason, the website didn’t let me reserve my place – tourist season, I think – and I had to stand in a long line only to find out that the only available tour was after my evening train back to Munich. So, reserve your tour in advance!

Getting There

Purchase a Bayern ticket from the U-Bahn or S-Bahn closest to you. This ticket will cover the U-Bahn ride to the Hbf. The ticket costs €23,00 for 1 passenger with the addition of €5,00 for every extra passenger in a group of up to 4. You can do the math here. Instead of buying two separate tickets as a couple, add the €5,00 and bring down your individual cost from €23,00 to just €14,00! As you can see, the cost reduction is much higher as you add more people.

A kind DB employee printed out a train schedule for me. München – Bochelau – Füssen. Now, your train for Bochelau will leave from one of the platforms on the other side of the Hbf. All the trains to Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Paris, etc. leave from the main hall. Walk to the end, go left and you’ll find another hall on the other side. The trains here are smaller. It’s more like an intercity coach. When you get off at Bochelau – a tiny station – take a look at the printed schedules in the glass displays. Take a picture with your smartphone. It will be divided into Füssen – Bochelau and Bochelau – München, vice versa. Go through the timings and figure out what time you need to leave from Füssen to make it back in time to your hostel in Munich.

Run to Bus #78 as soon as you get off. All passengers from the train will be running with you! The bus will drop you off at the base of the hill. There’s a public loo if you’d like to freshen up. Keep those € coins handy. There’s a separate line for collecting tickets. You’ll be immediately glad for not being in the other line. There’s a kiosk next door if you fancy a Käsepretzel and a chilled beer. Walk uphill to catch the bus that takes you to Marienbrücke. Believe me, it is worth the €2,60 return ticket. The view from Marienbrücke is stunning. I’d definitely like to go back in the winter to see the snow covered castle. After the 30 minute tour, walk back to Marienbrücke for the bus back to the ticket center. If you do not wish to take the bus on the way back, buy a single ticket and walk down the path indicated.


I couldn’t help myself! I had to bring this little guy home ♥ There’s a kiosk on the way down with all kinds of gifting material. It was love at first sight. Named after the boy who sat next to me on the bus from Nürnberg to Dresden, Anton went on to become loved by co-passengers, hostel roommates, immigration officials, and airport security personnel.

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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.

Schloss Neuschwanstein.

I didn’t get much sleep last night. It is 35 degrees during the day and cools down to 29 degrees at night. There are 6 of us in a room with two windows that openly only about 15 degrees. You can’t imagine the rest.

I woke up at 6 and decided to get the laundry done while having breakfast. I knew there wasn’t enough time if I had to take the 9:52 train to Fuessen. But the clothes had to be done. I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since that glass of white wine on the plane. Sadly, it had not done its job of making me comfortable and helping me sleep. I fell in love with beer when I tasted Koelsch last February. You have to try it if you ever visit Cologne. Go to the Frueh Brauhaus next to the Dom and drink a lot! But yes, I cannot exit Bavaria without a drink or two. So I have decided to attend to this detail today. So I got the laundry out of the way to make some time for a cultural drinking experience. Dark beer it is.

I finished laundry at 10:15 and walked to the Hauptbahnhof. The Bayern ticket for one day costs €23,00 and covers the U-Bahnhof / S-Bahn ride to the Hbf. I could have picked up the tickets at Hackerbruecke but I don’t like that station much. I reached at 10:30 to find out that the next train was leaving at 10:41 from Gleis 30. There was no display so the DB attendant printed a Reiseplan for me. Looks like it was the last train to Fuessen for the day. I had to change the train at Bochelau and board another one. Here’s the fantastic thing about Europe travel. They have some fantastic discounts and offers.  Get a Bayern information brochure before you book the tickets. There are multiple options to choose from. Also check the information boards on platforms whenever you travel. These are mostly regular trains and all timings are printed and put up with the stops. So you know you have multiple return timings to choose from.

I reached Fuessen a little past one. It’s a small station and on the right are the buses waiting to take you to the ticket Center. You don’t need to buy bus tickets if you have Bayern fahrkarte. There are restrooms and information Center where the bus drops you off. The ticket Center is a little up ahead on your right. If you have reserved tickets, it will be quicker for you. The reservation didn’t work for me and the only tours available were for 7pm and onwards. The last train to Munich left at 6 so I decided to see just the courtyard. It was too hot to be bearable. I finally gave in and ate a kaesebruzel with a chilled bottle of Desperados. The bus to the top is on the left as you move up. Single trip costs €1,80 while the return is €2,60. After waiting in the line for 45 minutes, I decided to walk down. The bus leaves you at Marienbrucke or Mary’s bridge. It’s temporarily closed for repairs. From there it is a short hike down to the castle. I see why they call it Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Here, have a look:

Schloss Neuschwanstein

It started raining after that picture was taken. The rain was a blessing from the heavens and made my day slightly better. The return bus to Fuessen station leaves from right where it drops you off. It’s a short few km drive but we were stuck in a slow moving lane and nearly missed the 5:05 PM train. ThankfulLy, the train was late as well!

It was already 7:30 pm when we pulled into Munich. I am moving to Nuremberg in the morning so I wanted to rest up. But my Bavarian beer experience was pending. So, I dropped in at the old Augustiner. This is an Augustiner Hell vom Fass. I chugged half a litre easily but then again the minimum standard here is 1.5 litres.

Augustiner

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.