Well unfortunately the weather forecast was correct, it is really raining out. We lay around the room quite a while in the morning trying to figure out what to do for the day indoors.
We finally settled on the Munich Residence as the trip advisor said that it was the best place to spend a rainy day as it was only 100 yard walk from the subway to the entrance so you do not even need to open your umbrella.
The Munich Residence is the former palace of the Bavarian royal family the Wittlesbachs. Construction was begun around 1380 and continued in spurts until the mid 1800’s. When finally completed it has 130 rooms and 10 courtyards. It has a full sized concert hall that is still used today. It was very heavily damaged during WWII and not fully reconstructed until the 1980’s. It has been converted into a museum both to highlight the architecture, but to show period furniture, art, and religious relics.
We spent most of the afternoon winding thru many of the 130 rooms of the residence. It was a nice dry way to spend the afternoon. When we were finished with the residence we decided we needed to visit the actual Augustiner Beer Hall. A short tram ride later we arrived at a giant beer hall with a huge outside sitting area. It was pouring but we were able to get a good seat in the beer hall.
We both enjoyed our meals the night before so we decided to order the exact same dishes tonight. They cost a little less, and we both thought the meals last night were a little better, still we did not leave any food on the table. The Augustiner Beer is much better in our opinion than the Hofbrau House.
Just as we were thinking of leaving a Bavarian Band started up, so we had one more round and enjoyed the band. When we finished up it was raining quite hard, and it looks like the forecast of up to an inch of rain was accurate. Just hope the forecast of 1 to 2 more inches of rain overnight is not accurate.
Last night we discussed our next step. The weather once again is intervening in our plans. The weather over the next three days is forecasted to rain 2 to 3 inches, with periods of high wind and high temperatures in the 50’s. Munich was one of my bucket list items so after a lot of discussion about how to best do it we decided to use some of our hotel points to get a hotel in Munich for two nights. We arranged to park François on the Army base here so he is well secured. Our new friend Scott even offered us a lift into Munich in his rental car.
We arrived in Munich about noon and headed over to our hotel to check in. We had arranged to meet Scott for dinner at Augustiner Brewery later in the day. After we had checked in we began to get our feet wet with the Munich mass transit system. During the trip we ended up using Trains, Subways, Busses, and Trams. We made multiple trips without any major incidents, and whenever we looked particularly confused locals often offered us help to understand what direction or platform to get on.
Our first stop was the Marienplatz which is the center of Munich. It is a long and wide pedestrian zone full of restaurants, churches, shopping and museums. The rain that was supposed to already be starting was delayed so the afternoon was sunny and warm. We were enjoying our stroll up Marienplatz when we got a text from Scott asking which Augustiner Brewery as the front desk at his hotel said there were many. We picked one based on our location, and asked him where we should meet. It turns out we were only about 50 yards apart while we were texting each other, and when I looked up I saw him. Having worked out the logistics of meeting each other we decided that since we were also right in front of the Hofbrau House we should have a beer there.
The Hofbrau House is probably the most famous beer hall in Munich. Nearly every American who passes thru Munich has to have a beer there including us.
After the Hofbrau house we headed over to one of the Augustiner Breweries. The Augustiner Breweries were founded in 1328, and there really are a bunch of them. The weather was still really good so we found a seat outside.
Ton wanted to try the white asparagus (spargle in German)that Northern France and Germany are famous for, it is regular asparagus but the farmers cover it with dirt so it does not undergo photosynthesis to turn green. This asparagus is a real delicacy in Germany. It has a very short season being available only from late April to early June. It has no fat and 0 calories (before you coat it with Hollandaise sauce), and lots of vitamins.
My choice was a much less healthy schweinshaxe (pork shoulder). It is roasted so that the skin is crispy almost like a pork rind, with the meat under it tender and juicy. Both of our meals were really good.
As we were eating and drinking Ton asked me something and I answered her in Thai, the table next to us had three Asian people and as soon as I spoke Thai they perked up and said hello in Thai. It turns out that Ken, Pup, and Ploy were from a solar panel company in Northeast Thailand. They were in Munich for a trade show, but being good Thai they gave us an in depth rundown of the restaurant scene in Munich. After our meal was done they asked us if we wanted to join them for another round of beers, so Scott, Ton and I were off to another restaurant for some more Schweinshaxn, (according to Pup the second best in Munich) and beer.
It turned into a really nice day where we made a new American and three new Thai friends. By the time we finished with the last restaurant the clear skies were gone and it was raining buckets so we dashed for the subway and back to the hotel.
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the must see landmarks in Germany. Ton had already been twice, but since this is my first time in Germany she suggested we should see it. We signed up for the tour from the Army.
The first stop on the tour was Weiskirche which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains a religious relic called the Scourged Jesus. In the 1700’s an old wood carved Jesus statue was found in the hayloft of a barn where it had been stored for a couple of generations. The farmers wife built a small chapel to house it, and the morning after they placed it in the chapel she noticed tears on the face.
The area of the farm is on an old Roman Road which was the main pilgrimage route from Bavaria to Rome, so the pilgrims began visiting the chapel and miracles occurred. Over time enough miracles occurred that the Scourged Jesus was declared a religious relic and received funding for a proper church around 1745.
The church was built in the Rococo style and is known as a pilgrimage church as it is out in the middle of a field not near a town. We have spent quite a lot of time in Gothic churches and cathedrals so the Rococo style was interesting for us to observe. It is much more light and airy than gothic. The art work is focused more on the ceiling of the church, and they try to achieve a 3D effect by blending statues into the art. The art work was quite beautiful, and either well preserved or recently restored.
After the visit to the church we were encouraged to try some Bavarian Donuts. Every culture seems to have a variation of fried sweet dough, and so far they are all delicious. We sat down with a soldier to eat our donut and he was on his way home after having spent the last 8 months working with the State Department, and US Aid assisting with Syrian Refugees. He said it was the most complicated assignment he had faced in his 34 years in the army. It was fascinating to here his experience trying to deal with the Turks and the Kurds both of whom are allied with the US, but hate each other pathologically.
The next stop was Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the model for the Disney Castle (they reportedly pay a royalty to the Bavarian Government annually for the likeness). The castle is quite new having built by King Ludwig II in the 1860’s.
Ludwig was quite an eccentric and spent a great deal of the treasury and his families money building this castle and two others. He was spending money at such a fast rate that eventually the Bavarian Government had him declared insane, and appointed his Uncle king. Shortly after he was deposed he was found “accidentally” drowned along with one of his Doctors in three feet of water, even though he was 6’5” tall.
The castle is quite an impressive structure, and the workmanship of the rooms was superb. The tours are conducted with Germanic precision and no pictures are allowed of the interior. I can now cross Neuschwanstein off my bucket list.
Yesterday when we went into the Army facility near us the guards told us we should have our identification cards registered with US Forces Europe as it would make it easier to get on other bases. So we started the day by walking over to the Military Police Office, the process was quick and efficient. The lady was very nice and told us we could use the facilities. This base is a recreation and conference center so they actually sponsor a lot of tours. After looking at their options we opted to sign up for a couple of tours, so we will be spending several days in the area.
The first tour we signed up for was of the Greisbrau Brewery. It was located about 40 minutes away, and the brewery is from the 1970’s, though the building is a few hundred years old, but was previously a cattle barn. Wolfgang our host walked us thru the brewing process.
We learned about the German Beer Purity laws which limit Beer to only three ingredients, Water, Hops, and Malt. The talk was interesting and we were all paying extra attention as we had to take a test at the end to earn our Beer Drinkers Certificate. Ton and I passed and we are now an official Bavarian Beer Connoisseur.
We ended the tour with a nice Bavarian meal. It was a late night out so todays post is a little short.
The day began with indecision. Thomas’ offer to attend his brewery event on Saturday was very tempting, so we began the day by looking at options to do around Reichnau until Saturday. The other issue is the weather. Today and tomorrow are the only two good days forecast in the next 12 days. After today and tomorrow the Weather Channel App shows 10 consecutive days of miserable weather for Southern Germany, actually for most of Germany. Ton even researched weather in other parts of Europe to escape the cold and rain. Right now Oslo has the best weather, but it is a bit far away. The interesting thing is that the temperatures are going to be warmer in the North of Germany than in the South, also the forecast showed slightly less rain in the North.
We still really wanted to take Thomas up on his offer so we talked about options including Switzerland (really expensive), just settling in Reichenau but we needed supplies mostly LP gas. With the cold weather every night we are using a tank of LP every 4 or 5 days ( for comparison we used two tanks in 6 weeks on our trip to Spain). After looking at options around the region we finally decided we needed to get going North towards the less lousy weather, so today we are in the Alps near the Austrian border.
When we punched Garmisch into Greta Garmin she told us it was about 3 hours to drive the 250km’s, we add 30 minutes to all of her estimates as we are usually under the speed limit. It still sounded like a pretty reasonable day. The first problem is around Freidrichshaven we ran into really heavy traffic, so the first 100 kilometers of the trip took 2 hours, after we broke out of Freidrichshaven traffic thinned out, and then we found ourselves on the autobahn so all looked good. With about 80km’s to go I noticed a sign that said we had just entered Austria, did not know that was going to happen, after a few minutes I remembered that Austria requires a vignette to drive on their roads. A vignette is a sticker you buy in place of paying tolls, many countries require these ( one of the reasons we did not go to Switzerland is that they require an annual one that costs 40 Swiss francs). So now we were outlaws as not expecting to enter Austria I did not research how to get a vignette or how much it would cost. I decided to press on as our final destination is in Germany so I figured we must just be cutting thru a corner of Austria.
All was looking good as we had spent the last hour in Austria driving thru magnificent mountains and gorgeous valleys carpeted with flowers. We passed back into Germany without getting fined, when we were 8km’s from the campsite for the night we came to a barrier across the road. This was in a narrow mountain pass, so there was no local by pass. Much cursing because when we turned down this road about 30 minutes earlier there was no indication that it was closed.
So I told Greta to find us another route to Garmisch, her alternative was 80 km’s! Lots of cursing now, as we are literally 10 minutes from our destination, and the detour is going to take nearly 2 hours. So back up the road illegally into Austria again. The next detour routed us thru a national park with narrow steep roads with views of glaciers and glacier fed lakes, not a fast route but really gorgeous and nearly worth the trouble.
After 6 hours of hard mountain driving we arrived in Garmisch, and just before the turn into our campground we saw signs for a US Military compound. After settling in we took a walk down there to see what they had. It turns out it is a recreation center complete with hotel, 3 restaurants, and big American washing machines. We had a beer and nachos while watching American sports. We are planning to return tomorrow with a load of washing. A nice end to a hectic day.