We arrived in Munich quite early in the morning after devouring our complementary breakfast on (hopefully) our last sleeper train. We locked our bags away like the pro travelers we are before hopping another train to visit a castle. It was on this train ride that our trip encountered the largest obstruction to happiness so far. The language barrier between us and our hapless German conductor lady led her to believe we had scammed our way into using one train day on our Eurail pass for two days. We failed to communicate how the protocol for overnight trains had led to this confusion. We were forced to write in another "February 8" next to the original "February 8" on our tickets, effectively costing us a great deal of time and money in wasted train days.
After swallowing the bitter pill of Eurail confusion, we reached our destination. We exercised our rights as Americans to free bathroom visits by outwitting a turnstile. We ran into some friendly traveling Americans on our walk up to the castle. Maria understood just how small the world was when she and one of the girls realized they had numerous mutual acquaintances.
Snow was gently falling around us as we strode up the hill. Maria disturbed the peaceful stillness by clawing her way straight up a wall in the face of a slowly oncoming snowplow. Micah and Giana crossed the street. The snowplow driver was clearly amused.
Unlike the American travelers at the bottom of the hill, who displayed their newness to travel by stopping for breakfast in the small town, we carried our food to the top of the mountain and awkwardly assembled sandwiches and ate like professional travelers just outside the castle.
We arrived punctually for our tour, anticipating the German nature of our tour guide. The castle, built by King Ludwig II, featured swans everywhere, medieval mythical artwork, and a stunning opera hall. The king dedicated the castle to Wagner operas. The modern nature of the castle surprised us, with a working telephone, colorful electric lights, and automatic toilets. Maria admired the king's bravery.
On our journey back down the mountain we talked about how pretty the snow was and realized we might enjoy one week of winter per year. We hopped back on the train and returned to Munich.
As it was Sunday, we visited Frauenkirche for evening mass. The acoustics of the enormous church caused a bit of difficulty for the churchgoers as the organ and their voices reverberated off the towering ceiling. We still were very happy to get to attend. After church we picked up our bags and enjoyed an early bedtime.
Once again, we happily forked over money to Sandeman's tours the next day. We saw the glockenspiel, the church the devil built, Hofbrau house, the thrice destroyed opera house, and the former imperial residence. The tour featured discussions of beer at most stops. We learned about Ludwig the First, the king who started Oktoberfest and his grandson Ludwig the Second, the mad fairy tale king. We saw a few of Munich's subtle memorials to the suffering under the rise of the National Socialist party. We finished our tour with the original church of Munich and the expanded marketplace.
We experimented with Bavarian cuisine at the Hofbrau house, supplementing our meal with different German beers. Wanting more exposure to the culture of Munich, we visited one of the oldest breweries still in existence, opened in the 1300's. We played a three man variant of Euchre called Cutthroat. Maria and Micah played the heroes by finishing Giana's beer.
Our last stop of the day allowed Maria to engage in some nostalgia for her Rome semester. She led us by an unerring sense of direction triggered only by the thought of delicious pastries. This sense of direction has been otherwise absent from our trip. We sampled her favorite chocolate muffins and headed home.
Today's travels see us heading towards Stuttgard. We are looking forward to warmer weather soon.
"Part of the ship, part of the crew"