[europe grad trip] Munich & day trips

Suddenly having motivation to complete my grad trip posts because I’m starting to plan for my next trips this year heheh. So from Prague, we took a 5h morning bus to Munich, which was the longest city we stayed at (4 nights). But we rented a car and went for a couple of day/half-day trips!

Bad photo but really nice place! We stayed at Wombats City Hostel in a 6-person room, it was very spacious and had good kitchen facilities/shared areas too.

We spent the first afternoon in town, exploring Munich Residenz and Marienplatz. Residenz is an old palace, now turned into a museum, and it’s hugeee. I think we went because it was on a “top things to see in Munich” list but honestly it’s so big and grand that after walking through the first few huge halls and super-grandiosely-decorated rooms, everything looked the same to me. But it was a cool tour of how royal people live, although I can’t imagine having to walk through so many corridors just to get to dinner or to get out of the house.

The glockenspiel at Marienplatz! We paid to go up the tower for a bit, which was nice for escaping the crowd.

Of course, we had to experience a German beer house. The Hofbräuhaus sells beer in 1 litre mugs!!! Nick took on the challenge and finished a whole mug by himself, the rest of us shared hahaha. The atmosphere was cool, with everyone enjoying themselves drinking beer and women in traditional costumes going around selling pretzels and a live band too. It may be touristy but still a great experience!

Picked up our cars the next morning and started on our journey to the real life place that inspired Disneyland’s sleeping beauty castle: Neuschwanstein castle! It’s so popular that when we reached at 2pm, the earliest tickets we could get for the castle tour was like 5+pm :x but all was good cos we took the time in between to have lunch and chill by the lake…

And hike up to Marienbrucke, a suspension bridge that has the best view of the castle.

Fun fact: the “Marien” in the name refers to Queen Mary, the same person that Marienplatz is named after. The bridge is super windy and scary if you’re afraid of heights but I loved it!
Neuschwanstein castle! It’s probably the most photogenic castle in the world or something cos I keep seeing photos of it on my periodically-changing-photography wallpaper ><

The inside of the castle is totally different from the Residenz because the king who built Neuschwanstein was a recluse and used this castle as a place to hide away from other people. So it doesn’t have all the ridiculous grandeur with gold everywhere to try to impress people. But my favourite part was the cave inside the castle like the king literally built himself a man cave LOLOLOL.

Next day was a drive to Hallstatt, Austria, to visit the Dachstein ice caves cos Zan was very keen on visiting Austria. On hindsight it was kind of a waste cos the drive took so long (about 5h each way?) that we had v little time to actually be in Hallstatt :/

The ice caves were cool. Literally.
A photo with people (bottom left) for scale. The cave is huge!! The ice has been there for dunno how many hundreds of years cos it’s colder inside the cave. Although it doesn’t actually feel that cold since there’s hardly any wind inside (luckily, since none of us brought real winter wear).

It started raining when we entered the cave so after we came out the weather was all foggy. But we’d bought combined tickets for the ice cave + five fingers lookout, so we decided to just take the cable car up to the lookout and hope for the best.

This is what it’s supposed to look like (photo source)
This is the view we got…. :'( Although we had a fun time taking this photo in the fog

That’s all we had time for in Hallstatt before going for dinner and driving back to Munich. We didn’t even go see the lakeside because we were confused by the roads which is a pity :(

The two days of driving out were fun though! Joe, Zan and I were in a silver Ford C-Max with Joe/me driving and Zan navigating sometimes. Joshua and Nick got a Mini Cooper!! With Zouyun as passenger. Cute car hahaha and its headlights made it super recognizable on the road (its front headlights are circles and the back ones are UK flags). It was surprisingly fuel-efficient too- our car had to fill up petrol once on the road but the Mini lasted the whole 2 days of driving, and it runs on diesel so their fuel cost was much cheaper. Oh yeah driving on the Autobahn (German highway) was exciting! But despite its “no speed limit” reputation…. we got a speeding fine Dx

The next day we decided to split up because we wanted to see different things. Zou, Josh, Joe and I took a train to Dachau, the site of a WW2 concentration camp. It was sobering to read about the history and stories of people who were imprisoned there, and to walk around on its grounds :( All the original barracks have been torn down so it didn’t feel thatt real though. But I got quite creeped out when we went into the crematorium cos omg that’s where they tricked people to go into the “shower room” which was actually a GAS CHAMBER and then later burned the bodies in another room right in that building.

After returning to Munich we headed to the BMW showroom. I didn’t take many photos but it houses loads of cars from Rolls Royce, BMW and Mini (all the brands owned by BMW). Joshua was talking to the Mini dealer and enquiring about buying a Mini hahahah

Fun fact: bet you didn’t know that BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works!

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