Tag Archives: Munich

Glimpses of Munich #2: Blood Castle

Blutenburg, directly translated to blood castle, sounds like an awesome name for a medieval castle, doesn’t it? (unfortunately it is now called Schloss Blutenburg, so its name is now “palace blood castle,” which isn’t quite as fun)

This medieval castle was built between 1438 and 1501 for Duke Albrecht III and his son Duke Sigismund. As with most castles in the area, it was neglected at some point, in this case during the 30 years war, and later restored.  Restoration took place in the late 17th century and unfortunately they did not bother to restore its full defenses and therefore some of its castle character.  Still, it retains the castle structure and definitely looks beautiful in its little park.  I would go so far as to say it is the only “real” castle left in the city limits of Munich.  (both the Alter Hof and the Residenz at one point were castles, but they’ve been modified so many times that you can’t see it any longer)

What I love about this castle is its appearance and its slightly hidden location.  Most tourists will never see it, which makes it a little more fun for those that do.

Getting there as a tourist is a BIT more difficult than pretty much anything in your guide books, but these days you just download your MVV app and away you go…

Map

Unfortunately for places like this I don’t have great pictures that I’ve taken myself.  Below is an open source picture, but you can find many more on google.

Glimpses of Munich #1

I love Munich.  I lived there for ten years…my wife is from Munich, my son is from Munich…and well, I spent many hundreds of hours walking its streets in some sort of a weird “Lost in Translation” sort of thing.  Anyway, friends of ours are going to visit Munich this year and one of my first thoughts was that they are odd tourists who might want to see and do things that the average tourist probably would never stumble into.

SO, that being said, I’m going to start posting somewhat random places that I think are interesting in Munich.  Some might be interesting to you, some might not…we’ll see.

Oh, what about the picture at the top?  That has nothing to do with this post as it’s 2 hours South-West of Munich and you know all about it anyway…but it got your attention.

Anyway, below is my first one.  This is a statue that most tourists don’t see because of its location…except maybe during the Oktoberfest.  Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV “The Bavarian” used to get quite a lot of attention on some of my tours, but unfortunately all I could show tourists, as far as statues of the man himself, was a dismal one outside of his former castle, The Alter Hof (map).

It’s probably not worth your while to find it if you’re in town for a few days, but…you know, if you’re wandering around town like me…

Map

Denkmal Kaiser-Ludwig

This guy only gets a look from random Oktoberfest visitors…you can find him at Kaiser-Ludwig-Platz 8

Happy Thanksgiving, I’ll be at KFC if you need me

However, I won’t be at KFC very long.  My wife and I will be hurrying in order to get to a concert of a French band, Uncommonmenfrommars.  Technically, I believe 3 of the 4 members have American passports as well as French…so you could say I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with other Americans…er, so.

Anyways, Thanksgiving has always been a weird time of year to be an expat.  These days all the relatives chime in via Skype, but it’s certainly not the same experience.  I was serious when in the headline I wrote that we’re going to KFC…because, well, that’s as close as I’m going to get to a thanksgiving meal on a Thursday which is also a work day…and unlike Germans and most American expats, I don’t just move holidays.

I also just wanted to mention my friend’s blog, @ http://freshbreadripenedcheeseandabottleofwhine.wordpress.com/ …he’s an American expat as well, but not a tour guide.  He teaches English and American culture…and watches a heck of a lot of American football, which is what I get to avoid by being here instead of with my family in Minnesota. 

Happy Thanksgiving, hope everyone has a wonderful day…

Top 10 Christmas Markets near Munich

In about a week, Germany is going to be completely covered in middle aged tourists seeking the best of the Christmas markets.  I have been to a couple dozen throughout the region many, many times…and here are my top choices for Christmas markets within three hours of Munich:

 

  1. Augsburg  – This is my favorite Christmas market not because of the city itself being the most historically interesting city in Southern Germany, but because it is a beautiful Christmas market, has its own unique “Christmas show” at the Rathaus (daily I believe?), is one of the larger markets, and does not have the crushing crowds of Munich, Salzburg, and Nuremberg.
  2. Nuremberg – The largest and most famous of the bunch, it can be ridiculously busy in the evening.  Then again, to truly see it…you HAVE to be there in the evening…during the day just will not do.  So…good luck.
  3. Landshut – Landshut is a beautiful town closer to Munich’s airport than Munich itself.  The Christmas market there is on the main pedestrian only street which is lined with historic houses and a charming atmosphere that the big cities just cannot attain.
  4. Munich’s main market (at Marienplatz) – It’s busy, it’s not centralized, but it does have everything that all the others have…and the New Town Hall works really wonderfully for Christmas photo backgrounds…
  5. Würzburg – With it’s large market square, this medium sized city has  what makes for a much nicer market than most larger towns in the region.  (the problem with Würzburg is it’s location, see #7)
  6. Innsbruck – Innsbruck has several Christmas markets thoughout its historic old town.  Certainly not the largest nor most beautiful Christmas market; it is quite charming.
  7. Rothenburg – Cutey-small Christmas market in a beautifully well preserved walled city.  What more do you want?  (the problem is that it’s 3+ hours from Munich each way…so I’d recommend an overnight stay, possibly in nearby Würzburg)
  8. Munich’s Tollwood Festival (at the Oktoberfest grounds) – It’s more of a high-end hippie fest than a Christmas market, but it still has its charms…and much of it is in door, which is quite welcome if you’re touring Christmas markets!
  9. Regensburg – A smaller Christmas market in this ancient river town, in my opinion vastly over-rated.  Skip-able…
  10. Salzburg -  If you could delete 75% of the people, this would be a wonderful Christmas market…but be warned:  I refuse to do tours to Salzburg during the Christmas market for a reason.  The crushing crowds, even at noon, are too much for all but the most hardcore of angry people.

Augsburg

Augsburg’s Christmas Market

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Munich’s main Christmas market (taken just a 1 min walk south of Marienplatz)

How to plan that perfect vacation in Europe

Everyone’s idea of the perfect trip is different.  I saw that a popular travel blogger recently told people that they can see the world for far cheaper than they imagined and he’ll tell you how:  stay at hostels in the middle of no where in 3rd world countries…and walk there.  (ok, fine, I added the walk there part)

My point is that travel is expensive and I don’t have a magical way of seeing everything for free.  I myself am ridiculously frugal, though, and if I am advising you on your travel plans you can be assured that I am taking that into account.  At the same time, you want to see everything since you will probably not be back.  I like to see EVERYTHING myself and am quite annoyed that every guidebook is incomplete…

Nearly all of my vacations in Europe are sight seeing at ancient monuments, churches, palaces, castles, and such.  Many of these are in major cities or able to be done as a day trip from a major city.  So what do I recommend?  Guide books? wikipedia? Google?  local tourist boards?

Well, I recommend reading everything.   I know, you don’t have time.  Well, you have found me and I have very likely been to the place you want to go.

So the best way, in my opinion, to plan your vacation to a major city in Europe?  Have an expert, like me, do the planning for you.

When I take a trip I read through a couple guide books on the place in question from cover to cover.  Then, I Google everything while checking out their wikipedia sites as well as their official websites.  In the end I come up with an excel spreadsheet with all of the basic information on the places, expected prices, opening times, days they are closed, if they are covered by some kind of pass, and oftentimes notes on when is the best time to be there.  For the ones I do for myself I don’t have to be as thorough as if I were doing it for someone else since I only need an outline really, not the full speech…if ya know what I’m saying.

Anyways, I plan to post a few old spreadsheets of mine on here at some point to help others out, but if anyone would like me to do one for you…I can be bought.  Especially if you’re planning months in advance, it should be no problem for me to make up a spreadsheet for you along with a few extended notes.  You can pay me via paypal if you want after the spreadsheet is received.  cost?  let me know in a comment or e-mail what you’d want to pay for this service…and I’ll at least consider any offer.

Thoughts anyone?

Maybe I’ll do one for Munich….

IMG_4542

One last thing: anyone know where this picture was taken?  Hint:  not in Munich.

Winter is here…ish.

It has already snowed this year, so I declare it winter.  By that I mean that I’ll be quite miserable until May…ish.

As I’ve said many times before, Munich doesn’t REALLY get winter.  However, it does get miserable…and that’s bad enough for me.  What I mean by miserable is that for the next several months highs will be in the 30’s or 40’s and lows will be in the 20’s or 30’s.  Lots of rain with the occasional snow…and very rarely a hint of sun.  This is not the sunny but freezing cold winter of Minnesota…this is worse.

Now on to happier things:  Munich’s Christmas market is coming soon.  The reason I say this is that the Christmas tree in front of the New Town Hall is already up!  In the states this would be blasphemous before Thanksgiving…but since there is no thanksgiving here, Christmas is thrust upon them even earlier than back home!

The Christmas markets are quite lovely to take a stroll through and they also mean one of my favorite German beverages are available everywhere:  Glühwein.  (mulled wine)  So we can happily get drunk on the streets and pretend that it’s sunny!

It also brings some of my favorite tourists, truth be told, in the type that remind me of my parents.  Backpackers are not my thing…

Anyways, I’ll be (once again) trying to update my blog more often…and who knows, maybe I’ll keep it up for quite some time now that Nileguide isn’t going any more.

More hot adult beverages for everyone, enjoy 🙂

 

Private Tours

I’ve been doing a lot of private tours lately and I really need to change the text of my private tour section here.  Basically what I need to change is to scare away the crazy people.

1.  I can’t drive you around Bavaria as I don’t have a commercial driving license (and YES, that is required).  Some guides will do this, but it is breaking the law and really not worth it if they get caught.  I live in Germany, a very rule-abiding society…and that’s just how I roll.  I do have a German driver’s license, but that is irrelevant.

2. I don’t own a helicopter or a jet, it’s impossible to do all of that in one day.  What’s that?  Google says you can?  Okay, try it yourself and tell me how that went.  I once had a crazy tour leader from Stanford University who would not listen to reason…in the end they rented like 16 BMW’s to drive to Neuschwanstein because they said it’d be faster.  In the end it was a very tight schedule with a lot of illegal driving…they barely made their tour time inside the palace and they missed their dinner reservations in Munich.  All because they believed google over their local guide who has done it hundreds of times (literally).

3.  Mainly for private tours I do Munich city tours, by foot, which can be tailored to whatever length you want or day trips by public transportation.  If not on foot, public transportation REALLY is the way to go.

I dunno…I just ran out of steam, noticed the time, and I gotta go to work.  I’m heading down to Neuschwanstein again today.  should be a high of 66 with a 30% chance of rain…HMMM…

Current price for walking tours of the city: €120 for a standard 3-hour tour.  Free if you are a member of a band I love.  (good luck with that one)