Munich, Bavaria, Castles & Legoland
Having covered the provinces of Hesse, Rhineland,Platinate and Baden Wuerttemberg, we went into one of the most exciting regions of Germany – the region of Bavaria. Grüβ Gott –is how they greet in Bavaria and its bustling capital, Munich.
We boarded our train at Freiburg and after changing at Mannheim, the second largest city after Stuttgart in the region of Baden-Wuerttemberg, we were in Munich in less than 5 hours. The good thing about travelling within Germany are the excellent train connections which are always on clockwork precision.
We were lucky as May is an ideal time for travel to Germany. The peak holiday season is July and August, thus we had an exclusive compartment to ourselves. Munich is the southern most of the 10 Magic Cities of Germany. You can get to see the centre of Europe by staying in Munich and exploring the nearby regions including the Bavarian Alps of Zugsptize, the amusement park of Legoland and do a tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle along with the Linderhof Palace.
One can easily stay a week in Munich and also visit nearby Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria.
Football enthusiasts can go to Allianz Arena and watch the Bavarian Team or enjoy beer and true Bavarian hospitality in one of the Biergartens. It is not surprising that Bavaria is the most visited German State and you can combine visits to Bavaria along with France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic.
The city of Munich has plenty to offer. You need at least 3 days to explore the city and the best way to get started is by doing a city tour on the hop-on hop-off bus which gives you an overall glimpse.
On our day of arrival as we came into Munich, we walked to the heart of the city – Marienplatz and Glockenspiel which is bustling with activity and is barely a 15 minute walk from the train station.
Munich is a great place for a wide choice of cuisine as you will find over 80 Indian restaurants and several vegetarian specialty restaurants too besides traditional Bavarian food which you will find everywhere. Thereafter, we took a short stroll to the FC Bayern Fan House. Football fanatics will be overawed while visiting the Allianz Arena.
Munich is located on the Isar River, north of the Bavarian Alps, and is the third largest city of Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, hosting many events all year round, the major one being the Oktoberfest. Another major event is the Passion Play, held in Oberammergau once in 10 years.
A visit to the city is incomplete without a visit to the Hofbräuhaus – a brewery in Munich owned by the State Government. The brewery owns Hofbräukeller, the second largest tent and they brew and serve their own beer, but naturally!! Here you are served beer in litre-sized beer steins by women clad in Bavarian dress and the brewery is a fun place worth a visit, where you can enjoy your beer with a salty pretzel or a German specialty from the menu, whether it is liver dumplings or the Bratwurst – the delicious sausages.The Beer Hall can easily sit 1300 guests and is indeed one of the famous icons of the city of Munich
At the Marienplatz you also have the famous Glockenspiel which was built in the 19th Century and it chimes 4 times every day and delights the visitor. The centre of the square has a statue of the Virgin Mary after which Marienplatz (or Mary Square) got its name. The other famous icons around the square are the cathedral, the Frauenkirche – Church of Our Lady, the Town Hall and you can easily spend half a day here either shopping, eating or visiting the interesting sights around the square.
The next day we took an escorted tour to see the castles built by King Ludwig II – Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace – and Oberammergau, famous also for its woodcarving.
Our first stop on the full day tour was at SchlossLinderhof or Linderhof Palace, about an hour away from Munich in southwest Bavaria, located near Ettal Abbey. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II, in French Rococo style and the only one he lived to see the completion of. After spending a couple of hours in and around the castle, we headed towards Oberammergau for a shopping stop as it is world famous for its wood carving centre. The famous Play ‘Passion’ originated here in 1634 and was first presented by the inhabitants in gratitude for the end of the bubonic plague. The play is performed every 10 years and involves 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians all from the area.
Our next stop was one of Germany’s most famous icons – the Neuschwanstein Castle which is approximately 95 kilometres from Munich and can be reached by road or by train uptoFüssen and thereafter it is 5 kilometres from Füssen, very close to the Austrian border.
This 19th century Bavarian palace has been the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The castle is on a hill near Hohenschwangau and was commissioned as a retreat by King Ludwig II as homage to Richard Wagner. It was open to the public after King Ludwig died in 1886 and is one of the most photographed buildings besides being one of the top destinations of Germany.
After a long day we headed back to Munich and the next day we were looking forward to the second of our theme park visits – Legoland, located 75 minutes north-west of Munich in Guenzburg, home to over 50 attractions in eight different themed areas, an ideal way to fill an action packed day.
Awarded as the most child-friendly park of Germany in 2006/2007, Legoland opened in 2002 in this Bavarian town which is located halfway between Stuttgart and Munich. As Legoland belongs to the Merlin Entertainment Group, you can have lots of benefits of purchasing the Merlin Premium Annual Pass. In Germany alone, the Merlin Group owns 14 renowned attractions and you can visit all the 14 German MERLIN attractions for one full year including popular leisure parks like Heide-Park Soltau, LegolandDeustchland, Sea Life Aquaria, Hamburg Dungeon, Legoland Discovery Centre in Berlin and Duisburg as well as the Madam Tussauds in Berlin.
Through www.namastegermany.com you will be able to get further details of the Annual Passes which offer add-on benefits like discounts on shopping and eating as well as birthday offers for children upto 11 years of age.
The highlight no doubt is the MINILAND which appeals to both young and old and is the centerpiece of all the Legoland parks where you can see eight different worlds of wonder including European cities and landscapes through Gulliver’s eyes. From Reichtstag of Berlin to Doge’s Palace in Venice to the Frankfurt skyline as well as the Munich airport, you can walk round miniature Europe which is recreated by Legoland model designers. The Allianz Arena is incidentally, the world’s largest LEGO building.
After one of the most amazing days of our entire trip that we spent at Legoland, we were back in Munich and the following day we were all set to go to the TOP OF GERMANY.