Yep, true story. At this time tomorrow, we'll be packing up the car and heading to the airport for an exciting adventure in the Bavarian Alps, driving the Romantic Road and German Alpine Road.
We've had this planned for a while - booked flights back in February, roughed out an itinerary & hotels in March... Yet somehow, I haven't had the chance to sit down and really do the final planning until this week. And really, most of it was today.
So what's the plan? Well, we leave tomorrow for Munich, landing around 10 on Tuesday. We'll check in to our hotel and spend the next day and a half in Munich, checking out The Residenz Munchen (home of Bavarian Monarchs), Nymphenburg Palace (summer home), Alte Pinakothek (one of the oldest art galleries in the world), and Marienplatz (the main square where the Rathaus-Glockenspiel is). There's also a dessert place I'm pretty interested in finding.
From Munich, we're heading to Dachau to visit the concentration camp. It was one of the first concentration camps to open in Germany, originally intended for political prisoners but ultimately housed over 200,000 prisoners from all over Europe, of whom, 41,500 were murdered.
After Dachau, we're heading onto the Romantic Road up to Rothenburg ob der Tauber - a village rumoured to look exactly like the village in Shrek (though, I presume it's not animated.) The Romantic Road isn't really as delightful as it sounds - it was dreamt up by some travel agents in the 1950's but does take you through a number of quaint towns. We're not doing the whole thing but we will get to Rothenburg where I'm looking forward to trying as many of the varieties of snowballs I can get my hands on and we're going to take an evening tour of the village. We're also driving up to Würzburg, which is the northern most city on the route where we'll take in their Residence, which was commissioned by some prince-bishops, and the city's fortress.
After Würzburg, it's over to Harburg to visit their castle, which is one of the most impressive medieval castles in Germany. It is one of the oldest castles that wasn't damaged in the war and has the claim to fame that Michael Jackson once tried to buy it. I'm not making that up.
Harburg will lead us to Hohenschwangau where there are two castles that were fairly important to Ludwig II. One is Hohenschwangau Castle, which was his childhood home and the other is Neuschwanstein, which Ludwig had built as a retreat and a homage to Wagner. But, more interesting, it's the castle that Walt Disney used as the inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty. I, obviously, am referring to it only as Sleeping Beauty's castle. There are also some hiking trails in the area that we're trying to figure out how to get on to, since the famous Marienbrücke bridge is closed for repairs and the gorge isn't accessible due to rock slides.
That's the end of the Romantic Road so we're then picking up the German Alpine Road, which winds through the Alps. Again, we're not doing everything, just a small piece of it. We'll visit the Ettal Abbey which was founded on my birthday, except in 1330 instead of the 1980s. Another Ludwig had it built and is pretty famous for it's beauty. There's also a distillery and brewery on site, so I think this Ludwig and I would have been friends. We're also visiting Schloss Linderhof, which is another palace that Ludwig II built. It sounds like it is the most beautiful of the three Ludwig II castles we're visiting so I'm really looking forward to it. We're also going to visit the little village of Oberammergau, which is known for the Passion Play that it puts on every ten years. Our visit does not coincide with the next production. But they are well-known for their woodcarving and frescoes on the buildings. So that should be fun to see.
After that, we're going to spend a day hiking in the Partnach Gorge and then another day heading over the Austrian border to see the Eisreisenwelt ice cave. Then, it's back to Munich to catch a flight home.
Oh, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be eating as much Black Forest Cake and German Chocolate Cake (though, I assume it's just called chocolate cake there) as I can get my hands on. It should be an excellent trip. Now I just need to finish packing.