Thursday, April 7, 2011

Munich & Bavaria (Oct. 18-23)

My friends have got me confused about Munich. One person tells me to skip it, it's nothing special and it's all about Nazi history while another says "Munich is a great city, and I'd spend as much time there as possible." Someone else tells me that I absolutely MUST go during Oktoberfest if I have the chance, while another tells me "Avoid Munich during Oktoberfest! I was there once. Never again!" And I was told that I have to do at least part of the Romantic Road. So let's see what there is to see. Arrive in Munich from Salzburg on Day 32, Oct. 18th.

Unless I drastically re-route my plans, I will not be here during Oktoberfest, which is Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 this year (that covers my days in London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen). I'd have to go from Paris to Munich to Amsterdam to catch Oktoberfest here.

My train arrives in Munich from Salzburg at 10:30am. The suggested 3-day itinerary includes:
  • Day 1: You can begin at the central square of Old Town, Marienplatz, taking in the carillon (Glockenspiel) and walk nearby to Munich's oldest church, the Peterskirche, then to the open-air market Viktualienmarkt, and Maximilianstrasse, the most fashionable shopping boulevard in Munich. After lunch, there will be time left for a visit to both the Alte Pinakothek (taking between 1.5 to 4 hours) and the Deutsches Museum (the German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology), the two most important museums in Munich, followed by a late afternoon visit to the Englischer Garten, climaxed by a beer debauch at the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. Mmmmm, beer.
  • Day 2: your second full-day tour takes in a different part of Munich. One of Bavaria’s greatest attractions, Schloss Nymphenburg, lies right on the outskirts and is easy to reach by public transportation. Because it’s riddled with things to see and do, you’ll need to devote an entire morning to it, at least 2 to 3 hours, before lunchtime. In the afternoon, if your time is budgeted properly, you can take in two more of the city’s major attractions, both of which are museums—the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian Museum), followed by the Pinakothek der Moderne.
  • Day 3: Having sampled the charms of Munich in just 2 days, make your third and final day a little different by skipping out of town and heading south into Bavaria to see Mad Ludwig’s two imposing castles. It doesn’t take long to visit either Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwangau, but you’ll need to allow plenty of time for reaching the castles of “The Fairy-Tale King”. Neuschwanstein is the single most visited and popular attraction in all of Germany. Plan on a luncheon stopover in the little town of Hohenschwangau.
Also outside of Munich in greater Bavaria: The Eagle's Nest, Hitler’s Scenic Retreat at Berchtesgaden; a 2-hour boat ride on the Königssee; the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, just 10 miles outside of Munich; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany’s top Alpine resort, and a trip by cog-wheel train up to the top of Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany and right on the border with Austria; and the Royal Castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.

Inside of Munich, other things to see include: the Residenz, the official residence of the rulers of Bavaria from 1385 to 1918; the Olympic Grounds; a stroll through the Altstadt (Old Town/historic center). I can see a nice relaxing day in the Viktualienmarkt just chilling and people watching.

This looks like a minimum of 3 days in Munich itself, then 1 day each at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Hohenschwangau/Neuschwanstein. My one off-day per week also falls in here. That's 6 days total, Days 32-37. After that, I head off to Switzerland on day 39 (perhaps passing through Liechtenstein, if there's anything to see there).

Plenty of trains leaving Munich for Garmisch, so let's say the 8:12am to 9:39 train on 10/22. Per this Fodor's comment there aren't trains from Garmisch to Hohenschwangau, it's much easier to take the bus (the closest city is Fussen, and it's a 5 hour train ride that goes up through Munich) on 10/23.

Going to Lucerne, if I take the bus back to Garmisch, I can take the 8:04am Garmisch to Lucerne train, connecting in Innsbruck and Zurich and getting in at 2:25pm, or take the quick bus to Fussen and catch the 5:51am (ugh!) Fussen train to Lucerne via Buchloe and Zurich, getting in at 12:49pm. All the other trains from either Fussen or Garmisch arrive in Lucerne too late.

1 comment:

  1. So, your day 3, I wouldn't do it as a day trip from Munich, you should go to Fussen and actually stay there and visit Neushwanstein and enjoy being in the Bavarian foothills. You can hike into Austria if you want to live out any Sound of Music fantasies, from there.

    As for Munich, you should spend a day wandering around city, go to the beer gardens, seeing the center square, etc, much of which is covered under day 1. That should be enough. I would consider also going to the Deutches Museum (especially if you are there during Octoberfest and need a break from the crowds). Not sure if you've ever visited a concentration camp, but Dachau was a pretty sobering trip, but a good half day excursion from Munich.

    There's not much to see in Liechtenstein, but its fun to have them stamp your passport. They have a cute downtown and a castle.