Munich: Castles & Concentration Camps

It’s crazy how quickly a 7 hour train journey can go (quick stop and change of trains in Duisburg, Germany) when you’re just watching the landscape speed past and have some good company.

After leaving Amsterdam around 1pm, we had finally arrived in Munich at 10pm. It was pretty dark considering it was night time, which did not help in the slightest trying to find our hostel (Meininger Munich City Center Hostel) which was supposedly a 15 minute walk away. Half way through our walk the heavens opened up and the most torrential rain I feel like I’ve ever experienced in my entire life came falling out. Lost, cold and in the middle of a nightmare. The streets were empty, and we had no idea where we were or if we were even going in the right direction. After having a pit stop under some shelter to compose ourselves, converting our suitcases into the rucksacks they can be to avoid the puddles and finding all our waterproofs we managed to bombard a German man who thankfully spoke fluent English who pointed us in the right direction. Before long we arrived at our hostel, now being 11pm or so and a miracle was granted. We were welcomed by the news that for some unexplained reason we had been upgraded to a private triple room instead of the 12 bed mixed dorm we were meant to have. The most amazing news we could have ever experienced in these circumstances as really, who wants to arrive into their dorm room in the middle of the night, soaking wet, unable to speak at a normal volume and unable to see a thing in the dark whilst their 9 other roommates slept away peacefully? Not me. 3 nights all to ourselves as well with our own private bathroom!! Talk about bliss.

Photo 08-06-2016, 22 03 10
Munich: Lost, cold and in the middle of a nightmare but still able to stop for a picture!

 

So our trip to Munich was to really use it as a base camp for things in the surrounding area. Day 1 called for a serious history lesson, a trip to Dachau Concentration Camp was vital. Only a 40 minute train and bus ride away from Munich, it was the easiest journey ever. I feel it’s so important to see the history of a country, and to see things in real life that you’ve only ever been shown through pictures and studies at school (which doesn’t really do it justice). Dachau Concentration Camp was the first ever opened in Nazi Germany and became the “model” for other Concentration Camps during the time. Being there was such a surreal experience, it was so emotional yet for some reason I couldn’t quite connect it to what actually happened. It was just a horrendous situation, it’s so awful and scary that humanity could actually stoop so slow and treat someone with such little, or in their case no respect what so ever. After going to Dachau I learnt that it was only ever intended for 6,000 prisoners however they kept 32,000 people there. Over its time 200,000+ people were prisoned with over 40,000 deaths reported. It’s such a sick joke that people actually thought this was acceptable, that people actually believed it was ok to treat people like that, like they were nothing. It’s so twisted. It’s impossible to comprehend the minds of the people involved, I just can’t understand how they ever thought that was ok. The treatment of them was so horrific, for example they disguised the Gas Chambers as showers so the prisoners would willingly go in there, to which they’d be locked in for 15-20 minutes until they were killed. How sick is that? It makes me so angry. But I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to go and see one, it opened my eyes and really put everything I learnt over the years about Nazi Germany into perspective.

After a truly dismal, emotional and educational day we made our way back to Munich and decided to have a walk around the town. I went into my first ever Lidl which was a true German experience! And we also managed to find St. Peter’s Church which was just stunning. The gothic architecture was so pretty.

 

After a day of seriousness I decided to treat my friends to something a little more light-hearted. A trip to Neuschwanstein Castle was on the cards otherwise known as the Fairytale Castle (which Walt Disney took inspiration to create the Magic Kingdom). Located in Hohenschwangau, near a small town called Füssen it was only about an hour and half train  and bus ride away from Munich. Very easy to do, and the train ride was just breath-taking. Mountain, mountains, mountains, whizzing by the window.

It was so beautiful, but it all got so more beautiful when we arrived. Probably the most stunning and serene sight I’ve ever seen. Sitting on the top of a hill, secluded with mountains, lakes, and a forrest surrounding it, there was Neuschwanstein Castle. Literally the more picturesque sight I’ve ever been blessed to see. Looking back at my pictures, even I wonder if they’re real! Talk about a postcard image. Once we arrived we went and queued up to buy our tickets. We probably arrived around 11am on a weekday, and no kidding the queues were crazy. An hour and half we waited to get our tickets, I’d highly recommend getting them in advance if you can (note: you have have to buy them at least 48 hours in advance online. Also, the ticket is only if you want a tour around the castle, you don’t need a ticket if you just want to walk up the hill and view it from the outside). The walk up the hill is apparently a long one, so my friends and I opted for a horse-drawn carriage up the majority of it (big regret, and I seriously do not recommend. It was a hot day. I’ve never seen a horse sweat before. But that hill was big, and two horses were lugging up a carriage holding at least 8 people in. I couldn’t do that. They barely could. I think it was verging on animal cruelty. Seriously opt for the bus if you don’t want to walk, it’s cheaper and you won’t have that guilty conscience like me). The rest of the 15 minute walk up the hill was steep but bearable. And the sights from the top of the hill were even more grand. I can’t imagine what it would even have been like living in a place surrounded by beauty. Once we arrived at the top, we went for our guided tour around the castle, which showed us a few rooms and spoke about the history of the place. I mean, this castle is amazing, and it was never even completed (not that you’d know by the outside) as King Ludwig II died before he had the chance. The inside lived up to standards of it’s surrounding (unfortunately they don’t let you take pictures of inside the castle so I can’t show you) but trust me, it was spectacular. Afterwards, we wondered around the grounds and into a nearby forest part finding a small waterfall which was pretty. On our walk down this hill, we stopped off at this restaurant called Schlossrestaurant. It was fab. I treated myself so much. Their apple strudel was simply amazing! Literally today was the perfect day. The perfect weather, saw the perfect sights, had the perfect food, it was all such a dream.

Time in Munich flew by, I suppose 2 days isn’t really that long. But new countries are calling, I’ve got places to explore. In the morning, it’s goodbye to Germany for now.

2 cities down, 9 more to go.

Previous stop: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Next stop: Salzburg, Austria

Top tips for Munich:

  • Travel further afield and see Dachau Concentration Camp & Neuschwanstein Castle
  • Eat some sauerkraut and apple strudel
  • Be prepared to eat a lot of bread
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