A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: AlastairPorritt

Day 27 - Leaving Munich

sunny 18 °C
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All packed and checked out of the hotel, I still had a couple of hours left before going to the airport. I left the bags at the hotel, and found a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour of Munich. This was really my first opportunity to see more of Munich. Typically, the weather decided to come right just on the last day.

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With the bus tour over, I headed out to Munich Airport for my flight back to Heathrow. When we landed at Heathrow, the plane must have caught a gust of wind or the pilot miscalculated, the nose of the plane went right up about 30 degrees as the wheels hit the tarmac. I wonder how close the tail was from scraping the runway.

This was the start of a very long series of transfers and flights.
2 hours in Munich, then 2 hours flight to London, 4 hours wait at Heathrow, 7 hours to Dubai, 13 hours to Sydney, then a 6 1/2 hour wait at Sydney, then finally a 3 hour fight to NZ.
All up I think around 38 hours of flights and transfers
My sleep pattern is all messed up. Crashed at the hotel, then woke up at 3 am and could not go back to sleep
Currently typing this now at 4am and experiencing a strange motion, like when you get off a boat and you can feel the motion of the boat on dry land.

The flight from London to Sydney was almost a disaster. The plane for the first leg to Dubai was half empty. I had a isle seat in the centre section (Its an A380, 3 + 4 + 3 seat configuration).

A few minutes later a flustered young woman from Sri Lanka came and sat down in the same middle row. Clutching her stuff, her study notes fell all over the place. She was super apologetic and polite.
Her luggage was 12 kg overweight, and did not have the means to pay the excessive overweight charges, so she chucked out half her stuff and repacked on the spot. So flustered was an understatement.

Just when I thought they were closing the door and getting ready to take off, a last minute family arrived, with two small children probably 2 and 4 years old. They sat in the 4 seats behind myself and the SLG (Sri Lankan Girl)

Now this family were the Family From HELL. The 4 year old boy had, I mean HAD to play with the food tray like it was a Tonka toy. The other kid lay on her back and kicked the seat in front repeatedly. The father made a piss poor initial effort to stop the boy slamming the tray around, but the boy had a tantrum. Just getting the kids to sit still and put on the seat belts for take off was a nightmare of screaming and kicking tantrums. As soon as the seat belt light went off, the seat kicking started all over again. Now I gave the parents leeway before take off, but I waited for the parents to act. Nope, they just let the kids run riot.

The SLG in my row looked at me as her seat was being kicked from behind like a jack hammer and mouthed - OMG.
Luckily, the plane was half empty, so we just moved.

During the flight I started to wonder about the Dubai to Sydney leg. I asked one of the stewards if the FFH (Family From HELL) were travelling on to Sydney - they were, and the flight would be pretty full after picking up extras at Dubai. He said I would have to wait until we landed and see the people at the gate. Thinking about the SLG, and probably too polite to say anything on her own, I told her what the steward had said.

When the plane landed, we went straight to the gate and asked for new seats. Probably thinking we were traveling together, they gave us seats together. VERY relieved, we go back on the plane. I had the window seat, she was in the middle and another woman had the isle seat. Now the flight was near full, but there was a few spare seats, and funnily enough the entire 4 seat row in front of the FFH was empty.
The flight crew must have flagged it, and not assigned the seats.
Just before take off the isle seat women jumped up and sat in the empty row in front of the FFH. The SLG moved over to the isle, so we had 3 seats between the two of us.
I said to the SLG "Don't get too comfortable, I think the other girl will come back once she experiences the FFH". ISG (Isle Seat Girl) did move, but somewhere else. So we got lucky.
The SLG was an excellent travel companion for this leg. Friendly and talkative, the hours passed quickly. We were just so thankful we were able to move to new seats. They turned out the lights for 8 or so hours, so we slept most of it. The SLG was so small she was able to lie down across the isle and middle seat which suited me as I rested my pillow in the window hollow and was able to stretch my legs almost out to the isle.
After we disembarked we both had connecting flights, so we had a coffee together then went our separate ways.
All in all it worked out, but it could have been a total nightmare.

SLG
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Posted by AlastairPorritt 12:10 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 26 - Salzburg, Austria

overcast 10 °C
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This is the last full day of my trip in UK/Europe, tomorrow I head off for New Zealand.

I signed up for another day trip with Radius Tours, this time a trip to Salzburg in Austria.
The town is divided into two by the river. We arrived by train after a 2 hour ride on the "New" side of Salzburg. The old side is much smaller, and can't get any larger as the old side is situated between the river and a solid rock hill.

We crossed over the river, and I noticed the locks again on this bridge. They are called "Love Locks". People in love write their names or have them engraved on the lock, then throw the key in the river. Later on in I saw a shop which sold a whole rack of Love Locks.

Our tour guide Anuschka took our group around to see the major sights, including some which were used to film The Sound Of Music.
Then she took us to the oldest restaurant in the world, built in 803. That's more than 1200 years old! The food was great, and the warmth welcome, as the day was unusually cold at 10 deg Celsius.

At this point, we had some free time to go and explore. As much I would have liked to go up the elevator to the top of the hill and explore the fortress, being a little too cold and a little under dressed, I opted to wander the streets and look in the gift shops. While many of the shops were gift shops, they were not gaudy like regular gift shops, they were well presented and blended in with all the other shops.

Because of lack of space, the solid rock of the mountain had been hollowed out in places where buildings where built against the hill. Also there was a multi storey car park in the hollowed out mountain.

The old church was open for the public to view, but was still an active church. This would have to be the most awesome church I have ever seen. Huge paintings on the walls and roof, gold panted ornate fittings. It was truly magnificent.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, before he moved to Vienna. So the people of Salzburg claim that their town in the home of Mozart, whereas Vienna claims the same because he settled there.

Also a surprise to see was a local walking her dog - well the dog just looked like a stuffed kids toy.
Well worth the trip. Yet another place which warrants more time to explore than 4-5 hours. Though I would recommend going on a warm day, or later in the year.

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Posted by AlastairPorritt 21:33 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Day 25 - Castle Neuschwanstein

sunny 18 °C
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Signed up for another tour with Radius Tours - Castle Neuschwanstein

Approximately 2.5 hour train ride we arrived at the town of Füssen. Near the foothills of the Alps, this is a lovely place. We then took a bus to the nearby village of Hohenschwangau.

It was built in the 19th century by the famed "mad" King Ludwig II, a man obsessed with myth and who himself became a legend.
It is the inspiration behind Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, and is famous the world over as the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Castle’

First stop was a bridge called Marianbrucke (Marians Bridge). From here is a great view of the castle from a gorge. There must be a tradition whereby people place padlocks on the framework of the bridge with their names written on the lock. Some people even go to the trouble of engraving their names on custom locks.

Next we headed down to the castle, to wait until our turn for the castle run tour. They have had 10,000 people go through one day, but most days around 4-5000. No photos of the inside of the castle were allowed. So if you want to see, you will have to go and see for yourself!

On the way out of the castle, we passed 2 gift shops (Just in case you did not see the first one)

After that we headed back down the hill to the village on foot this time, passing gift shop after gift shop. There are lots of beer gardens and hotels in the village.
A day trip really does not do this justice. There are lots of walking tracks around the area, the Alps just a short walk, and lake Alpsee.
Füssen is full of great sights to see as well.
Next time I would like to spend 2-3 nights here.

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This is another castle nearby called Hoenschwangau
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Posted by AlastairPorritt 11:21 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 24 - Munich

overcast 14 °C
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I woke up this morning in terrible pain in my hips. I really must have overdone the walking yesterday. Coupled with the fact I was also quite hung over, I thought a quiet day would be in order.
After a bit of extra kip, I hobbled over the road to the main railway station to get some food. The quantity and selection of food there is fantastic.
Funnily enough I ran into 3 of the 4 people I partied with last night.
The two American girls were catching a train to Vienna. A few minutes later I ran into one of the blokes. He told me that after I spilt off from the group (As my hotel was on the other side of the railway station from all the others), they looked around for another bar. They went back to one of their hotels which had a bar open and proceeded to get thoroughly drunk. I was real glad I parted ways when I did.

The weather is better today, but still overcast. Hopefully is better tomorrow, as I plan to take a day trip to Salzburg, Austria.

Posted by AlastairPorritt 07:12 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 23 - Munich

Dachau Concentration Camp, Walking Tour - Rise of the Third Reich, Beer and Food Tour

rain 10 °C
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In the last few days, I have spent some quality time with some relatives. Now, its time for the European leg of my Journey.

Yesterday, I drove to Heathrow and took a flight to Munich, Germany.
The hotel is across the road from the main railway station in Munich, and the tour office.
After breakfast, I wandered over the road and signed up for some tours.

Tour 1 - Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

One of the few surviving concentration camps from WW2, and still has many of the original buildings.

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At Dachau Railway Station, I was surprised at the number of bikes.
Most of the bikes are "Town Bikes", where the rider is more upright. (As apposed to mountain bikes or racing bikes, which is what you see in Australia). The riders just wear their normal clothes and no cycle helmet. In Australia, it is really only the fitness freaks and die hard's that
ride. (And decked out in all the bike gear)
There are bike lanes everywhere, nominated by a strip of tar seal on the pavement. There are no actual markings to say it is a cycle path.
I saw a lady riding while holding an umbrella in one hand, she still was able to ring her bell as our group just totally did not see her as we crossed the road.
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The tour ended back at the main railway station, with just an hour until the next tour, I had some lunch and picked up a travel adaptor from the department store near the railway station.

Tour 2 - Walking Tour, Rise of the Third Reich
Back to Radius Tours by 3pm for the next tour. Steve, our English tour guide, lead our group on a 2.5 hour walking tour of Munich, where he showed the group some of the key Nazi sites.
His take of the rise of the Nazi's was well informed and also contained some less well known facts.
The tour ended at 5.45pm in Marienplatz. I took the underground back to Hauptbahnhof, just in time for the next tour.

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Tour 3 - Beer And Food Tour Of Munich
Our guide for this tour was a half crazy German who spoke very good English. They passed around half litre handles of beer, where he gave our group a brief history of the beer making industry in Munich. Once he made sure that we understood quite clearly that Munich was the only place in the world that actually made real beer (With the exclusion of some micro breweries), we headed off (Thankfully on the underground, as by this stage I was beginning to feel pretty tired).
He took our group to the Octoberfest museum, where we sampled 3 different types of beer, and a pretzel. Now I usually don't like Pretzel's as in Australia they tend to have the consistency of small twigs or branches from a tree.
After the beer sampling, we went upstairs where the tour guide proceeded to cement my opinion that he was a little more than half crazy.
We took a tram to a beer hall, were we were served beer in 1 litre mugs. The glass was so heavy I though it would benefit from another handle.
The food arrived, where we sampled some white sausages, other sausages and various goodies.
After perhaps an hour, we headed off to the most famous beer hall in the world Hofbrauhaus.
The tour ended there, with most of the people going their separate ways. A small group of us decided to get a table and have a few more beers.
I only managed another 1 litre of beer and that was enough for me.
The five of us all had hotels near the main railway station, so we headed off for a 20 minute walk back. I was all done in by this time and the hotel was a welcome sight.

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Posted by AlastairPorritt 06:51 Archived in Germany Tagged munich Comments (0)

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