Monthly Archives: August 2009

A typical day down at Neuschwanstein Palace (you can call it castle all you want) Part 1

Since a lot of my readers only have a vague idea of what I do for a living, I thought I’d walk you through a typical day for me.  More than half of my tours are down to Schloss Neuschwanstein.  If you don’t know the name, you might know it as “the sleeping beauty castle” or “the fairytale castle” or maybe “The chitty chitty bang bang castle”.
Either way, it is a 19th century palace located 2 hours south-west of Munich.  Here’s a picture from the front:

Neuschwanstein from the front

So what I typically do is gather my group at the train station, usually a group can be anywhere from 5 to 35 people.  I lead them to a train, where we sit for one hour and then switch to a second train.  During the train ride I have a chance to talk with everyone in the group, get to know their expectations, special needs, alcohol level, and anything else that might be useful to know during the day.  At the same time I can answer any questions they might have and so it’s usually a fast two hours down to Fuessen, where we get off the 2nd train.  From Fuessen we take a 10 minute bus to the small village of Hohenschwangau. ( I have a special trick to avoid the massive hordes at the bus, but I’m not giving away secrets.)

Alright, so I get everyone on the bus, nearly always everyone seated, which is impressive, and we arrive in Hohenschwangau.  I explain a few things about the town’s name and its history long before Neuschwanstein was built, and then we take a short break for food, beer, and rest rooms.

During the time that the group eats, I run up to the ticket office and get tickets.  Quite often the ticket office has a line out the door and down the street.  Certainly during the peak season if you don’t have your tickets by noon, you’re probably not getting into the castle at all.  Unless, of course, you’re me.  I walk into a side door that is only for tour guides.  I walk up, they say “hi, how are you today?  I believe you have xx people today?”…and I say yes or no …they print the tickets and I sign for them and I’m back outside in under 2 minutes.
That’s the way it’s done.

After getting the tickets, I head back over to where I told the group we would meet…and I typically have less than 10 minutes for lunch for myself.

I may or may not continue this later…in part 2 of A typical day down at Neuschwanstein Palace, which will include Mary’s bridge, the gorge, the tour inside, and of course going home to Munich.

In fact, at the moment I’m thinking I probably won’t continue this as from that point on it really is hard to say how the tour progresses.  There are so many variables involved that I just can’t say what is typical.  I try to fit in as much as possible and make everyone happy.  Time is always a problem…some days more than others.   The bridge is closed all winter.  The gorge is closed randomly throughout the year depending on weather conditions.  Trains break down.  Buses break down.  18 year old girls collapse because they think they can walk up hills they would NEVER attempt at home. Someone starts throwing up half way up the hill and continues off and on all the way back to Munich (this has happened several times).  You really have to expect a few curve balls on every tour.

…and some days, all of the above happens at once.  Welcome to the life of a tour guide.

The gorge

Back at the bus stop

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I tried not to like Venice, I really did. However, although it is flawed like everywhere in Italy that I’ve seen, it is still one of a kind and absolutely beautiful.

Prices…yes they are high, but nothing dramatic. One thing that did annoy me was that many of the churches charge an admission fee. At the same time, those churches give you a laminated information card to read while you’re looking around the church so you at least get a slightly better experience for your money. I still feel it’s wrong for a church to charge an admission fee. A big sign saying donations strongly encouraged would be cool, though.

Petra and I got to see everything we wanted to, at least for this trip.  We didn’t see EVERYTHING, but we certainly saw everything major.

My highlights, I think in this order, were:

The Doge’s palace
St. Mark’s basilica
San Zanipolo (The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo)

Our hotel was interesting…we never did figure out what she was saying.

Anyways, I don’t know why, but I haven’t been in the mood to write lately, I’ll blame the heat.  Here’s a few pics:

Petra and I on the cheapest gondola ride in town

It speaks for itself 

Petra in Venice

The Rialto bridge, Venice

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Back from Venice, we had a great time

So, now that we’re back from Venice I’m damn tired and don’t want to write.  Huh.

Okay, so I’ll try to come up with something a little better tomorrow night after my tour, but for now, if you’d just like to look at pics, I already uploaded most of them to both Photobucket and Facebook.

If you don’t have me on facebook, click here:  photobucket 

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Heading down to Venice

It’s my birthday on Sunday.  So as I’ve been telling people for a few weeks now, I’m finally going to see Venice.  Most tourists I have are absolutely shocked that I haven’t seen ALL of Europe.  Just because you live in Munich, doesn’t make European travel any cheaper.  Also, unlike your average tourist, I’m actually interested in history and want to see everything in every guidebook…and more. 

This will be sort of a whirl-wind trip for us, but we’ll do our best.  I’ve got my Rick Steves and my Fodor’s…and made a spreadsheet with all the sights.

Until next Tuesday, have a good one everybody, I’ll be enjoying Venice.

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Middle of the summer

It still does not feel like summer’s fully hit, but technically I’m over the hump already.  The idea of July is miserable for a tour guide.  This last month, though, went by relatively painlessly.  There’s been all kinds of complications as far as trains/buses/beers, but in the end everyone got to see what they wanted, got home safely, and were happy…and that’s all that matters.

It’s been mainly just back and forth between Neuschwanstein and Salzburg.  I’m looking into creating a new tour, starting as early as possible really.  Right now I’m thinking of having a short test-run during the Christmas markets.  Most people go to Nuremberg and Salzburg for the chirstmas markets, neither of which I would recommend because of how commercial they are and also how HORRIBLE the crowds can be.  I’m thinking of offering an alternative.

This weekend is my birthday, so I’ll be heading down south, to Venice, for a few days.  I’ve made a list of the things we “need” to see…but today I should probably look into the costs of the things.  Every trip we take we end up with a complete cost break-down…and it’s interesting, in my opinion, to have a look at.

Anyways, it’s my day off…I think I’m going to try to relax for at least a couple hours.

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