It’s been a year since I arrived in Germany and the first proper vacation is finally on the books! Although it was more of an exploration, really. Five days of awesome sightseeing in Bavaria.
The goals: assorted WW2 memorials; the Alps; and Neuschwanstein castle. Bonus: hanging out with a fellow diplomat and friend posted in Munich.
Our first stop was Neurenberg. My dad-in-law is a WW2 buff, so we made sure to check out the former nazi rallying grounds—a Colosseum so enormous it puts Rome’s version to shame—and the court that held the trials for the most notorious nazis and is still in use today.
Neurenberg’s historic center (half preserved, half rebuilt as though nothing happened) is beautiful. I was also pleasantly surprised that the famous local “kartoffelsalat” is not a vegetable salad with mayonnaise but a plain yet very tasty potato dish. The sauerkraut that came with the bratwursts was also delicious.
We traveled on to Garmisch, from where we took the cable lift to the highest peak of Europe—and promptly got altitude sickness. The first ten minutes we just stood around, devoid of energy, slightly nauseous, and very disoriented. Thankfully there was a big pile of snow on the large lookout deck so the kids could hurl snowballs at us while we stared at the mountains in a daze.
The next morning I turned my son loose at the breakfast buffet for the first time. He ate so many cakes and chocolate cereal that he needed a 2-hour hike to wear off the sugar rush. Together we snuck passed the cows with their cowbells, discovered a magic waterfall and conquered some of the hills leading up to Wank. Because Garmisch is so beautiful this day was my favorite of the whole trip.
Then it was time to drive to fairytale castle Neuschwanstein, built by the deranged king Ludwig of Bavaria. Reportedly it’s what the Disney castle is modeled after. This castle’s interior is inspired by Wagner’s operas and was so opulently decorated that the king was dethroned for being such a big spender and later (probably) murdered. So the castle isn’t actually finished and the king spent only 172 days there.
While driving to the castle we were surprised to find ourselves suddenly in Austria. This type of thing isn’t unusual in Europe but it caused a lot of excitement with the in-laws so we made sure to have a “real Austrian lunch” while there. Coming to think of it, this also happened to us once in Paraguay, when we came from Iguacu Falls and were suddenly driving in Brazil (without the necessary visa).
Our last stop was Munich where we went to Dachau concentration camp. An impressive and sobering experience. After that the weather turned and it rained non-stop. The kids played at the hotel swimming pool while I caught up with my friend at Marienplatz. We watched the church bells perform their famous Glockenspiel with twirling figurines and decided it was.. not living up tot the hype.