We left Belgium and began our train ride through the German countryside to make our way to Munich. We stopped off on Cologne to check out the insanely large Cologne Cathedral.
Religion and I don’t get along, but I have no problem appreciating the architecture and getting a glimpse of the stranglehold that religion had on society back then (not that it doesn’t now). Had the same awe in some of the Irish cathedrals.
And finally, after seven hours on a train, we arrived at what turned out to be the favorite destination of the trip for us all: Munich. We made it to town on quite a special day: The Champions League finals. We grabbed dinner at an amazing traditional German restaurant I regret not remembering the name of and watched the game. Not a big football fan, I was more interested in watching the fans. It looked like we were going to see a victory riot as FC Bayern had a strong lead in free kicks, but Chelsea came back and won. Naturally, the few Chelsea fans in the bar went nuts.
The next day we started exploring the center of Munich. One of our first missions was to find a tower that serves as an awesome vantage point for photos. Check. We spent most of the day venturing in the city center. There was an incredible four-piece band belting out classical music with a modern twists. Guys were really talented. We happened to run across them a second time on the trip and decided to stop and listen yet again. We also discovered an awesome hunting and fishing museum with a couple floors of stuffed game to gander at. But the real attraction for me was upstairs. The museum had about a hundred swords, crossbows and guns used for hunting. The intricate details in the carvings on the handles had me freaking out.
We capped off the day of exploring with a visit to the legendary Hofbrauhaus beer hall. I watched in wonder as male and female bartenders carried around full liter beer mugs six or seven at a time. We all fell in love. The giant pretzels, beer by the liter, and oompah band were so nice, we ended up drinking there twice. I’m sure it’s one of the most noted places to visit in Munich, and it’s well worth the stop. Try the dunkel radler. Half dark beer, have lemonade/Sprite combination. Insanely good.
With a day left to blow on our EU Rail passes (highly recommended), we took a trip to Fusen and Castle Neuschwanstein. They’re situated right next to the Swiss border, with the Alps all up in your face. Our guide told us at the top of a couple of the mountains are border crossings. The extra stamp on the passport might have been nice, but we weren’t equipped for scaling a mountain. The castle we visited was that of Ludwig II. It’s incomplete because he was declared insane not long after taking the throne of his father and was killed shortly thereafter. Being incomplete, only a few rooms in the castle were open, but a bridge constructed above the Pollat Gorge offers quite an awesome vantage point. As we were checking out the alps I think we were all mulling our plans to split a country home in Bavaria.
Our last day in town we took a peek at some more of the architecture and enjoyed our last few beers (I did my best not to cry into them). We packed up and flew to Dublin for a way-too-short final night before boarding our last plane back home. But at least we even got a scenic view on the plane.
As with all the other legs of the trip, you can check out more photos on my Picasa album. Or not. Whatever. But while you’re here go ahead and enjoy your bonus photos.