After returning from the never ending spring break, I took a weekend off of traveling. For the last weekend of April I stayed in LLN and caught up with friends here, “studied”, watched an excessive amount of tv online, streamed She’s the Man and ate pizza with Jenna and Tay, slept…. and thats about it. So it was safe to say that by the following weekend I was ready to get out of town and start my next adventure.
On the first Friday in May, Paul and I got on our flight to Munich for the weekend. This was definitely a long anticipated trip, we had planned it back in February and I had plans to meet up with Julie and Carli as well. We got into the city in the afternoon and made it to our hostel which was conveniently right near the main train station. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great so we got in touch with Julie and her friend from Croatia, Marie, and decided to meet up and go to the premier event of the weekend: Spring Fest! Spring Fest, aka Munchener Fruhlingsfest, is essentially a mini Oktoberfest in the spring time. It is held over a few weekends in April/May and is like a giant carnival with beer tents! We made our way to the fair grounds (where Oktoberfest is also held) and ventured into the carnival. There were rides, games, food vendors, etc.. and best of all the tents. We only saw two in the grounds and decided to camp out in the famed Augustiner tent. Inside, we were greeted by a massive area filled with picnic benches and tables, traditional German food, giant wooden kegs, men and women dressed in the traditional dirndl and lederhosen, a live band, and lots of party-goers. It was around 5:00pm, so there was still some of the family crowd around before the transition into the bigger party at night. We struggled to find a table in the crowded tent, and eventually found a spot. Once settled in and a beer in hand, we realized that we were likely sitting in the “high school” section of the tent, and needed to move seats pronto. Kind of weird being surrounded by 17 year olds chugging liters of beer and getting rowdy at 5pm. Funny though to say the least. We ended up finding different seats a little later in the night and met some friendly Germans! A little later, Carli and her friend Jeremy met up with us in the tent as well. Since it was raining outside, we committed to staying there for the night (not a bad choice though :)) We spent the night enjoying the German beer, music, and people. Julie and Marie had bought dirndls and so naturally Carli and I decided to get our own for the next day. We had a great night catching up and enjoying each other’s company. There were plenty of selfies and videos to go around, we are typical North Americans. We rode the ferris wheel and had pizza and crepes to end the night… solid and classic decisions by myself and my two best friends.
On Saturday morning, Paul decided to go on a walking tour while Carli and I met up to go dirndl shopping (pretty sure Julie and Marie were still asleep all morning… haha). We found out that the outfits are usually pretty expensive so we asked around and found a shop that had relatively affordable dresses for sale. We spent a solid hour trying on these bad boys until we made our final decisions. It’s safe to say that I have a Halloween costume for life! (Plus the liter mug that I managed to sneak out of the tent the night before) We went back to my hostel and got changed for the day. I felt so festive! And touristy! But it was so fun to get dressed up. A few days earlier I learned on Facebook that my old friend from Freshman year, Christian, was also in town for the weekend. So we made plans to meet up as well and Carli and I met Christian, Paul, Jeremy, Julie and Marie back in the tent for round two. We spent a solid part of the afternoon at Augustiner and met some more Germans. Worth noting: we sat next to possibly the best looking German man I have ever seen in my life. Safe to say we were all flustered by Felix LOL. Later in the afternoon, we decided to make moves to get some dinner. Paul knew of a more traditional and local place downtown so we all met up there for good Bavarian food. We ended up walking into this decently classy restaurant.. us a few liters deep, dressed up in dirndls, wet from the rain, naturally loud.. you get the point. It was a funny bit of time in there; we had our food and got out asap. Good choice though, Paul! We headed back to the tents after dinner for the evening (again in the rain) and had to wait a bit in line to get back in. I can only imagine the crowds at Oktoberfest! Not sure if I could actually handle it. Once again, we had a great night; met a few new people, sang along to the live band, ate and drank… It was perfect! An awesome way to reunite with my great friends for a little while when we are all staying in different parts of Europe. When it was time to head home, we said goodbye to Julie and Marie who were leaving the next morning. Carli and I walked back to her airbnb to get her bags in order to go to my hostel (sleepover!!!) so that we would be able to get up and at it Sunday morning. Carli, gotta love our adventure home in the cold rain and in our dresses 🙂 We managed to sleep the two of us in my tiny twin hostel bed. True friendship.
Sunday morning we got up early to catch a train to Schwangau, Germany where the famous Neuchwanstein Castle is located. It is a really famous landmark, and is apparently the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Carli, Paul, Christian and I arrived in Schwangau after a train ride out of Munich and were greeted by a quintessential small German village. So cute!! We waited in line to get our tickets into the Castle tour before hiking up the hill towards it. The weather was a little bit spotty again, so we agreed that a tour would be a nice way to get inside for a bit. We walked about a mile uphill towards the castle through the greenest countryside I’ve seen so far filled with small streams and cobblestone paths. We had some time to kill before our tour time when we got to the top, so we decided to follow some of the trails down to the river and such. We had a nice hike! This small part of Germany seemed to be really untouched by civilization, so it was nice to see some fresh nature in the spring time! We enjoyed the small waterfalls, hills, trees, and flowers in the area. It was very beautiful. We went back to the castle for our tour later in the afternoon and spent 40 minutes being guided though the inside. It’s a really interesting structure, as it was actually never fully finished. The king who was meant to live there had an untimely death way back when, and the castle was almost immediately opened as a museum afterwards. However, we were able to see the dining area, the room with the king’s throne, his sleeping quarters, the kitchens, the fake cave built into a room (quite unique), among other rooms typically found in a royal castle. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture, and no wonder that it is bombarded by so many tourists over the course of a year. Built into the side of the mountain, it is surrounded by snowy Alpes and forests, a really stunning sight. After we got our fill of the countryside, we got back on the train to return to Munich. It had been a great day! By the time we got back into the city, we were dying of starvation. A nice Italian meal was in order before seeing Carli off and exploring the city a bit at night with Paul and Christian. Always the history buff, Christian is a great guy to have around because he is always full of fun facts and history about different things. The city is beautiful at night, but unfortunately we were too tired to spend much time out for the evening.
Monday was my last day in the city, and coincidentally the first time that I really got to see the downtown in the day time. Luckily, it was a beautiful day! Paul went off to do the BMW tour and Christian and I met up to walk around the city center a bit. I was able to see all of the famous landmarks and watch the Glockenspiel (giant coo coo clock) go off at 11am. I thoroughly enjoyed the city! It is perfect for pedestrians, with plenty of shops, food vendors, restaurants and cafes, and landmarks all around. We walked past the old palace, theater, various cathedrals, etc. and then met up with Paul to do a panorama view of the city on top of Saint Peter’s Church. I was so happy to finally have a nice, clear day. We were able to see the mountains in the distance and the view of the city itself was beautiful. Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch from a really good cafe and took our food to the English gardens to sit for a while and eat. The gardens are a landmark themselves; it is a giant area filled with paths, flowers, fountains, and beer gardens. We sat near a fountain, ate, soaked up some sun, and enjoyed the moment while it lasted! Time passed too quickly, and soon enough Paul and I were headed back to grab our bags and catch our flight back to Brussels. It was a great weekend! Definitely a little bit different and relaxed than my other weekends exploring every inch of the city, but I was happy to have time to visit with friends from back home and get a small taste of German culture. Germany is a stunning country with awesome cities and countryside, and I would definitely enjoy going back to see some of the other great things it has to offer 🙂