travel

[TRAVEL] Munich & Füssen, Germany

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First day in Munich

The train journey from Prague took us 5 hours. When we arrived at Munich Hbf, it was nearly dark. There were cars everywhere – and our surroundings were exuberant with the chatters of passersby, impatient car honks and German songs sang by street performers. Our apartment was right around the corner of the train station, so we decided to just walk, pushing our luggage through the busy crowd.

Walking towards our apartment made us realize that the whole street was actually occupied with Halal restaurants (much to our delight, I remember everyone was famished then). Finding our apartment was tricky at first because we couldn’t connect to our pocket wifi, which was the reason why my Google Maps did not load. The apartment that we stayed at was again booked from Airbnb.

When we arrived at the front door, we were greeted by Helen’s (the owner) daughter, Lea. She was very friendly and helpful, and we talked as though we have been friends for years. Lea brought us for a tour around the apartment, and provided us with an A to Z guide book that has information about everything basically, including the maps of the subway and trains. The apartment was okay; clean, comfortable and fully equipped. They even have a balcony (which would have been put to good use if it was during the Summer) but what I truly am satisfied with was the location. It’s walking distance to everything (train station, subway, halal restaurants, halal grocery store) which made our stay extremely convenient.

Second day in Munich/Füssen

Initially we thought of just visiting the tourist spots around Munich. But after listening to stories and seeing photos of the Schloss Neuschwanstein (dubbed as Sleeping Beauty Castle) shared by my family via WhatsApp (they went there earlier), I felt intrigued. Castle??? Sleeping Beauty??? My inner princess persona was screaming with joy and I coaxed Nazeef into going there (coincidentally Aurora was my favourite Disney Princess too) The result: Successful!

We ended up renting a car to drive one hour south from Munich to the town of Füssen. The sky was hidden by a mass of low-hanging clouds. But the grim atmosphere did not deter us from appreciating the picturesque landscape consisting of open fields, moss green mountains and flowing creeks.

Upon reaching, we could already catch a glimpse of Schloss Neuschwanstein on top of a hill, almost camouflaged into the fog. Even from a distance we could see the intricate work done to assemble such an astounding monument. There are actually two castles, Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau, but I suggest to visit the latter first, to avoid disappointment.

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We reached Hohenschwangau village, and walked to the information center located right at the foot of the hill. We wanted to take the bus, but couldn’t because they weren’t operating on that particular day – much to our dismay. So we only had two options: to hike up the hill or to take the horse carriage. We decided to take the horse carriage because the hill looked steep and it would be difficult for myself to be carrying Aidan and also for my in-laws (and also to be honest I wanted to travel back time to get the feel of how people used to travel those days).

So we waited in line for about half an hour, counting every horse carriage that strutted up and down the hill, thinking to ourselves if it would be our turn soon. The return tickets costed 9 € each, and you pay as you ride. It turned out to be a good decision to ride on the horse carriage as it was indeed a long way to the top. What we didn’t know was that the horse carriage could not stop us directly at the castle’s entrance… thus we still had to hike up by foot for about 10 minutes before reaching Schloss Neuschwanstein.

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We stare with admiration at the magnificent castle erected above us. I cannot imagine the amount of time and effort people had put into completing such a masterpiece; it was magical yet so real, all within my touch. The steadfast walls and uneven grounds that were once smooth are pitted and scarred, with failed attempts to conceal its true age. Yet every bits and pieces of the ancient rocks and stones stood bold, unapologetic, to show that they only grow richer and glorious with every passing generation.

Just a heads up, if you are planning to go for the castle tour, you would need to buy the tickets in advance and also manage your time properly as the tickets will have its own entrance time. It will not be an open ticket where you can enter at any time you want due to its popularity with tourists. Check out this website to buy the tickets. You are only allowed to walk on a small area of the castle’s premises which would be packed with people so try to do the tour if you can.

We wanted to get a full photo of the castle, so we were told that we would have to get on Marienbrücke to do that. Unfortunately, the bridge was closed due to the weather. We can actually see the bridge from the castle and to our astonishment, there were people on the bridge! Because Nazeef and I were adamant to get on the bridge, we decided to do what others did… to trespass the “No Entrance” grill fence.

Warning: Please do not attempt to do the same or do it at your own risk as we do not guarantee your safety. We did it out of our own will and will not be held responsible for your own actions.

Nazeef and I left Aidan with my in-laws and climbed passed the fence with strong determination. It was a reckless decision, we know, but our hearts yearned to capture the essence of the castle from a different perspective. We are obstinate, the both of us, but we somehow knew it was going to be worth it.

It was a 15 minutes hike up, which put my stamina to the test. As we go higher, the air gets thinner and I sometimes come to a halt to catch my breath. The forest was eerily silent, except for timid whispers of the wind that escaped carelessly through extended branches. We passed by few tourists who were descending, each of whom grinned guiltily upon making eye contact.

It was a medium-sized bridge connecting two rugged hills, right above a small, mesmerizing waterfall with jewelled waters. And on our left, stood the castle, proud and glorious albeit the thick fog engulfing it. That was when Nazeef’s and my eyes locked and we shared a smile of ultimate satisfaction. Our fingers intertwined as we leaned against the cool steel bridge, calming our pounding hearts. Even a view such as this can calm violent storms.

We left Schloss Neuschwanstein with a heavy heart (at least I did). We then drove to Lechfall, one of the lifelines of Füssen. Again, we were captivated by the view that is beyond explanation. I will let the pictures speak for itself.

After the short stop, we headed back to Munich. Next in our itinerary, was to go to BMW Museum and BMW Welt. The entry price is normally 10 € but because it was nearing closing hours, we were charged 7 € per person. BMW Welt on the other hand was FOC. The Welt and Museum are built opposite each other, and there’s a bridge that connects both building.

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My FIL is a car lover, and it’s really uplifting to see him so happy looking at all the different models of cars, reminiscing a few during his student days. It was indeed interesting to learn about the history and I loved how the interior of the museum was tastefully built.

We then headed back to our apartment, and ate Indian food for dinner.

Third day in Munich

We got up early to get a cab to drive us to FC Bayern Munich’s stadium, Allianz Arena. There is an over ground train that goes there, but we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the location first to manage time.

Allianz Arena is a giant stadium which reminded me of the Michelin Man, skilfully sculptured into an oval-shaped structure. In fact, the stadium is known for the exterior, which is made out of ETFE plastic panels. Nazeef was super ecstatic to be there – like a kid entering a candy store. We didn’t go for the tour but went to the Megastore instead to buy souvenirs.

We took the over ground train back to the city (we bought the group Airport-City-Day-Ticket as we will be leaving for the airport in the afternoon. More information on the ticket, check this website). We walked around the Christmas Market at the central square, Marienplatz and roamed around the city.

We then headed back to the apartment to pack our bags and luggage before leaving to catch the S-bahn train for the airport. They have lifts that lead to the underground station placed around the city, which I thought was brilliant, because it’s very helpful for tourists like us who are constantly on the move with our luggage.

Catching the train to the airport was fairly easy, there were signs everywhere that directed us to the right platform, and there’s a designated train that specifically goes to the airport. We hopped on the train, dozed off for a bit, and reached after 45 minutes. It was time to part with my in-laws as they will be heading straight back to Malaysia, while Nazeef, Aidan and myself will be catching a plane to Manchester, United Kingdom.

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Munich is a vibrant and busy city, which somehow reminded me of Vienna. We didn’t stay here long enough, nor did we get to spend time getting to know the city so I couldn’t say much about it. It did not leave much of an impact to me as how Füssen did. But I believe each cities have their own charms and unique attributes that gets perceived differently by individuals. I hope to return again one day, maybe when the weather is more pleasant, and take my time learning about the city. If Allah permits, insyaAllah.

Füssen and Munich, checked! Up next on the blog: Manchester, Liverpool and London!

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