I get to Germany to Stuttgart from where I visited Heidelberg and Neuschwanstein, to continue my journey with “Agnes” across Bavaria in Munich and Regensburg. This is just the first part of my journey in Germany.
I get to Stuttgart the 13th of August as you might read in my previous post.
I decided to come to Stuttgart is it was the first mayor city in the south next to Switzerland and France. In the original plan I even thought to visit Strasbourg before getting to Germany, but at the end I thought that I should start to slowdown the frenetic rhythm I was having in Switzerland of visiting one city per day. I also chose Stuttgart as I met some really good friends in Paris when I was on my Erasmus and I wanted to know how their city was.
Stuttgart Castle Square
Stuttgart is more an industrial city rather than a touristic one. The city has basically two castles, a big cathedral, the Stiftskirche, the Mittlerer Schlossgarten which is a big garden, the castle square and a long big pedestrian street full of shops that links all of them with the train station. One-day walking in Stuttgart was more than enough. A part from this few historical buildings, the main attractions of the city are the Mercedes and Porsche Museums and the Radio tower. All of them out of the city centre and related to the industrial aspect of the city as you may observe.
My first day in the city I wasn’t aware of all this so I went to discover it having a walk along the main pedestrian street and around the city centre visiting such monuments I’ve mention.
I didn’t visit the interior of the castles as it is not something I consider worth it yet. I have already seen several castle interiors. I don’t feel any more like paying for seeing castles decorated with furniture of the time great kings use to live in them. In the other hand, I am always willing to visit a church or cathedral to see the style, admire the art in its altar, walls, paintings and sculptures. Here in Stuttgart the Cathedral happened to have a combination of its historical origin on the walls and the presence of the modern times on the roof. It’s understandable when you consider that it has been rebuilt after collapsing during the war.
Hopefully, at the afternoon people started to get out of their houses to enjoy the sun having a walk along the mayor street, the Mittlerer Schlossgarten or chilling out in the grass at the Castle square.
After dining something I get back to the hostel. There I met my French room mates who suggested me a couple of places out of Stuttgart to visit the following day. I decided that Heidelberg might be the better option.
Not need to wake up early I did it when my body felt like. It was early, though. I took the train as soon as I could and went to Heidelberg.
Heidelberg is located an hour to the north by train. It’s a small city on the river Neckar in the area of the Black Forest. This one really is a touristic city full of them everywhere. I might say that the economy of the city is based on tourism and the University students.
The train station is 1.5 km away from the city centre so I decided to walk to it on the other side of the river. This side has a garden all along where people comes to run and chill out under the sun (at least today). From this other side you have a nice panorama view of the city next to the river and the castle on the top of it.
Panorama of Heidelberg
Once I get to the old bridge – Alte Brucke – I cross to get to the core of the city where all the souvenir shops, coffees and restaurants with “local” food where waiting for me. I lunch something from a close supermarket avoiding all these attractions after walking a bit around the city centre and the main square with the city hall.
View from the city to the castle.
The main attraction of the city is its Castle, to get to it you can go by walking or if you buy the ticket to visit it at the town, it includes the train that takes you to the top.
ATTENTION: If you buy the ticket at the Tourist office you will end up paying 3€ extra for the service. If you buy the ticket at the top of the castle it will include as well the transport to the top even if you haven’t already use it.
I didn’t get in but this time I doubt about doing it. Once I was up at the gate of the Castle they told me that there were to fees, one to visit the garden, and other to visit the castle. I asked if I could visit the garden without the Castle and they told me that this was not possible… What? Why? Then they should offer one “castle+garden” option rather than the “garden” alone?
I get none of them and just walk around the castle. I don’t know if there’s a garden inside the castle, but surrounding it I get to the upper level garden without paying and without doing nothing illegal. Anyway, it was here where I wanted to get as it is from here where you have the amazing views of Heidelberg from the top.
Heidelberg from the Castle Garden
After a long walk and a bit rest on the top watching the city I walked down to the river again and visited the main churches in town in my way back to the train station. Passing by the University, I also took my chance to get into the university building.
Heidelberg and the Castle
Back in Stuttgart I found that the city was much more active when all the stores where open in the main street so I walked up and down enjoying the ambience. There was people playing music, dancing, and doing other acrobatics for some coins all along the street.
That day I felt like having a Kebab so I went for it. I keep thinking that the best Kebabs are in Germany, probably in Berlin, but the ones here were probably as good as the ones from Berlin.
Back in the hostel while profiting of the low speed Wi-Fi at the bar I had the chance to observe the ritual of flirting between travellers. No mysteries.
Guy likes girl.
Guy ask a stupid question about the city to the girl.
Question followed by another question and you have a long night conversation.
Neuschweinstein Castle was built by the king Ludwig II of Bavaria to show his magnificence. Building it he spent all the money of the kingdom almost bankrupting. The castle was built in 1881.
I left the hostel early in the morning to get to Füssen, the village next to Neuschweinstein Castle. The castle is located in the south of Germany next to the border with Ostrich in a hill. From the village that is in a flat valley you can see the high mountains of the Alps as happened in Torino.
Once you get to the train station of Füssen, the public transport to the castle is perfectly calculated. There’s a shuttle bus for 2.80€ that takes you up to the ticket store of the castle. The bus leaves the train station 3 minutes after the train arrives. Time enough if you already know which is the bus. If you invest a little time asking or reading the schedules of the bus you risk to see it leave the station as you try to reach it. Yes, it happened to me but hopefully, also happened to 3 Korean guys as well. The problem is that there is no other shuttle until the next train arrives one hour later.
The only way to get there not wanting one hour was by walking the 4.5 km between both places or getting a taxi. I ask for a taxi and they had a fix price of 11€ to get to the castle. The solution was to tell the Korean that we can split the ride and pay 3€ each. It would be 20 cents more expensive but we won’t need to wait. They accepted and we pay the driver 12€.
As I was approaching the ticket case for the castles I read that today everything was sold out for Neuschweinstein Caslte. Dam it! I was not willing to visit the rooms of the castle but the inner courtyard. Looking at the castle and the mountain behind I thought that if I was not about to visit the Castle I had time to hike the mountain behind it.
I store my backpack at the nearest hotel for 5€ and start walking to the castle. What a surprise, when I found that I could get into the courtyard of the castle without paying.
Neuschweinstein Castle Courtyard
As preview, from there I went to hike the nearest mountain to admire the classic view of the castle we see in all the postcards but in life. What you don’t get in the postcards is the amazing feeling of the nature all around you, the feeling of have hiked an easy but steep mountain.
I had my picture from the top, now was time to get the picture from beneath the bridge. This is not so typical, but more challenging and the sound of the river and the waterfall made it more unique.
When I get back to the ticket store from the castle I still had time to the next train so I went to walk to the lake between the two Castles. As I wasn’t tired enough and still had time, in the way back to the train station I walked the 4.5 km to Füssen with my backpack. It reminded me of when I walked the Way of Saint-Jacques (El Camino de Santiago) last Easter.
From Füssen I went to Munich where I was about to encounter my first visit from Spain. As she asked me for some privacy and not to reveal her real name for personal reasons I will name her as “Agnes”.
I met Agnes at the train station little after getting there. She did book a room for us in a hostel not far away from the train station neither from the city centre. So kind from her as it takes me a lot of time to fond host and I need of Wi-Fi which I don’t get as often as I wish.
After installing in the hostel we went for a night walk in town looking for something to eat. As beginners, we end up eating a shitty expensive slice of pizza.
City Hall by night
Breakfast was included in the hostel and I must admit it was a full tasty breakfast. We get full eating in order to save one lunch along the day.
As it was the first day for both of us in the city we went out of the hostel ready to walk up and down all the old city of Munich
Munich was a city founded by Benedictine Monks. Now a day is a financial city. The third biggest of Germany and the Capital of the Bavarian Region.
We left the hostel to go to the city hall and find out which was the old one and the new one. The new one looks like old as well and the old one is now the Toy’s Museum. Behind this Museum there’s a statue of Julieta with one breast shinier than the other. Do you figure out why? Probably if you touch it you will be lucky in sex, or probably people just like to touch her tit.
Just in front of Julieta there is a Market full of life in the mornings. We thought that we might come later to eat here but we were about to find out that in the evening there’s no more activity here.
From the centre we walked towards the English Garden. In the way we passed the Theatinerkirche and the Hofgarten in front of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei.
At the English garden we saw the surfers on the stream of the river and we went to have a Wurst and a Beer below the Chinese Pagoda. We kept walking along the garden to the lake.
English Garten Pagoda
We had planned, that here we would take a public transport to get to the Olympic area. However, being at that point, we decided that walk across the city won’t kill us and will allow us to see the non-touristic Munich. We crossed Luitpodpark and get to the BMW Museum. Here we both gave our contact details to get a ride in an old BMW
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Crossing the street, we get to the area where the Olympic Games took place in 1972. Probably you will remember this Olympic Games because of the terrorist attack. The area of the games was full of activities. Probably because it was summer time, but there was people all around. It was like a Festival. Games and attractions for kids, food and drink trucks and sport activities. We couldn’t avoid talking of how the area of the Expo-92 or certain areas of the Olympic Games of Barcelona 92 were now in comparison.
Munich Olympic Garden
Far away from the city centre we walked all the way back to our hostel. In the way we visited the area of the museums. Like in Berlin here the main museums are grouped in one area of the city next to Königsplatz.
To chill out a little bit we decided that being in Germany we should visit one of the Beer bars, so we went to Hofbräuhaus to have a beer. In Germany this kind of bars are filled with long wood tables and long benches. The perfect place to make friends. You just need to take a place and wait. We meet our full table. Three girls from Asturias, one German and one Paraguayan. Yes, we end up speaking Spanish. And I must say that the German had a really good Paraguayan accent.
After the beer it was time to finish the day in the perfect German style having one Kebab in the nearest Durum Kebab.
As we planed the previous day while walking we went to Dachau after our full breakfast. We took the train at the main station to the centre of the village of Dachau and there a bus to the Concentration Camp Memorial – What a name, isn’t it?
In the way to Dachau Agnus told me that the years after the war, the people of Dachau felt really shame of being so close to such terror that they even erased or hided the name of Dachau from the plaques of their cars. No one wanted to show that they were citizens of this town.
The entrance to the Memorial is free. It would have been funny if someone were getting benefit of the Holocaust. However, the Audioguide was 3€. We took it to get well informed about everything. I expected to spend the full morning there. But our visit took us the full day and at the end we need to hurry up to get to see it all.
The Concentration Camp Memorial of Dachau is not big compare to other Concentration Camps. At least not what you can visit now a day. Big part of it has been transform into factories and the two barracks that still in place are a reconstruction of the former ones. The entrance, the main building and the crematory are however originals. And it was in the main building, full of information about the Holocaust, the concentration camps network and the second world war where we spent most of our visit.
Dachau was one of the first Prisoner Camps of the Nazis. The first prisoners here were the enemies of the Nazis, mainly Politics and activists against the ideologies of Hitler. The camp was a former Munition factory converted by Theodore Eicke in the model of all the concentration camps.
The day was clouded what made the visit a little more spectacular. However, as Agnus said, it’s difficult to real feel what a concentration camp was when the plants are green the weather is warm, everything is clean and there are pretty ladies all around.
As it seemed that a storm was coming we visited first the field and open areas of the camp before the rain. We were next to the religious memorials and the crematory when it started raining. And how ironic that we ended finding refuge from the rain in the crematory as the memorials were all closed.
In a moment that the rain stopped we walked across the field again back to the main building. It was when we were walking in the middle of the esplanade when it started raining again. Everyone started running looking for a place to hide and in a while I remained in the middle of a deserted concentration camp under the rain. It was an experience! Images of what would have been a cold winter there with such a hostile ambience came to my mind.
We spent the rest of the visit and the day reading all the exhibition in the main building. Not to get to long explaining to you all what we learn there I will suggest you to go visit it. What impress Agnus the must was how big and perfect was the network of concentration camps. The Nazis get to create a perfect deadly system.
In the other hand, I get lost in the anecdotic facts of the life inside the camp: the hospital where doctors experimented with prisoners; Sex in the camp to keep the prisoners active; The few that get to escape; The liberation that took months; women’s life in the camps; and many more.
After such a dose of terror in the way back to Munich to contrast we encounter several groups of Germans dressed with the typical Bavarian costume. It looked like a fest was taking place in one of the nearest villages.
Back in Munich we went for a little walk and dinner something next to the hostel we were staying.
In the morning after our great breakfast I separate from Agnus to go to Regensburg and then to Nuremberg. Agnus stayed to meet some friends in Munich and later she will meet me again in Nuremberg.
Regensburg is a medieval city situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers.
Considering that the city centre is an UNESCO World Heritage Site I simply let myself get lost in the city centre and visited the main historic buildings.
Cathedral or Dome of St. Peter.
The medieval stone bridge which was under restauration. As a local told me it has been like that for 2 years and it will take 2 more years until they finish the works.
The abbey of St. Emmerams might be the site that I liked the most together with the murals and paintings in the façades.
Abbey of St. Emmerams
After spending the day walking I took a train to Nuremberg. This time I had the chance to talk with a German who was waiting next to me at the platform and we spoke all the way till Nuremberg. After introducing each other, our lives, interest and my journey, he also told me some facts about the Regensburg and Nuremberg.