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    A day trip to Wendelstein Mountain & getting lost in the Bavarian Alps (sorta)

    Visiting a freezing cold Berlin in November (mostly for the Christmas markets) a few years ago we always swore that a return trip to landlocked Germany was something we had to do. When friends told us of the misty Alpine peaks of Bavaria and generous beer gardens of Munich, we mentally notched a visit to München into our travel bucketlist and promised ourselves we would get there one day.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    That promise of ‘one day’ turned into years, until summer this year and we fancied a relaxing week in sunshine. Planning to spend a week in Munich (several friends said 3 days is plenty, but I disagree) gave us more than enough time to factor in several days trips (including swimming in an alpine lake near Neuschwanstein Castle) which unconditionally made our break lovely.

    Putting down my book and scrolling through ‘alpine day trips from Munich on my phone from the comfort of our hotel room, google came up with the peak of Wendelstein as a viable option.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Vague plans made – we google mapped it and figured we could just find a local pub if it all went awry – we hopped onto one of the regional services (the Bayerische Oberlandbahn GmbH or BOB). After skirting around a beautiful lake we panicked a little when the train carriages split in a train station and we lost sight of our destination, dashing to which end we assumed was better (based mostly on following locals rugged up in hiking gear) which luckily delivered us safely.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Bowling off at the Osterhofen station, we stopped for a minute to breathe in the clear air and listen to the contented moos of a local herd.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Watching the sports mad locals unfold their hiking sticks and uncap their beer bottles (seriosuly) as they strode up along rocky paths, at that point we realised that we’d definitely gone off
    map. Luckily spotting a small cut-through path wending under the train
    station and over a trickling stream, we found the cable car that winched us up 2,000 metres literally into the clouds.

     

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The grey morning lifted as we got higher up the mountainside, revealing a breathtaking vista (and distracting me from the heart palpitations of the admittedly smooth cable car ride).

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I may have hummed ‘there is a coffee castle on a cloud’ unashamedly as I brandished my caffeine hit and read my book whilst the boy walked further up to the summit for even better views.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

     {{enlarge this by clicking the photo}}

    It was one of the best things I’ve ever found on the internet – a morning of clear air and peace amongst the clouds and forests.

    Bavarian Alp day trip from Munich Wendelstein Mountain Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Ps. Our visit to Munich and the clear alpine waters around Neuschwenstein Castle with a touch of tourist dodging, both definitely were so much joy!)

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    Where to stay in Munich: Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review

    When we visited Munich, we very much scheduled where to stay around what we were doing. Our first hotel (we wouldn’t usually move hotels, preferring to spend the time in a cafe or pub) was selected specifically for how close it was to the main train station (It was a nice enough hotel despite the Faulty Towers-esque lift that only stopped mid-storey so luggage was lugged up or down half a flight of stairs).

    Being close to the München Hauptbahnhof meant we could delay getting out of bed as late as possible before boarding trains armed with plum pastries and coffee from one of the local bakeries. What we didn’t count on would be discovering a street FULL of Turkish kebab shops (apparently the German version of burger joints) that we would end up in for at least two nights, hungry from the alpine air.

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London KiwiDisclaimer: We were invited guests of the Westin Grand Munich but all of my very many thoughts and excitement over storage spaces are very much my own…

    But, our favourite stay of the holiday our 4-star superior hotel we left for the end. We intentionally planned the last few days for shorter trips, pottering around Munich to places we discovered (like the incredibly cool BMW museum), coffee with the lovely Linda and simply relaxing.

    I often find hotel reviews to be the hardest thing to write on this blog corner of mine, but staying at the Grand Westin was such
    a pleasure. Slightly out of the centre (about 10 minutes on the Metro) it was as much a relaxation destination as a hotel – just what the doctor ordered.

     

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London KiwiGrand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Check-in was smooth as silk, and whilst the enormous foyer reminded me a little of the spacious hotels of the Middle East – all opulent marble and columns – our room was beautifully European. Decorated in a palette of white, turquoise and earth tones (inspired by the form, colors and contours of the Isar River’s alpine course) it was perfect for foliage shoefies. What more can you ask for? 

    Up on the 15th floor, our 30m2 room was the perfect size to spread out, unpack our suitcases and watch the sunsets over the Munich city skyline – even on overcast days. With windows the width of our room and wrapping further around, it was a bright, welcoming space.

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    With a bed we desperately wanted to pack in our suitcases, well-appointed bathroom, sweet welcoming gift of cake platter complete with hashtagged icing #legends, a pool I had spent weeks looking forward to and their own exclusive beer hall and garden tucked away it was the perfect way to sleep away a few days.

     

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

     #spotthegigglingblogger

    Our spacious Bavarian room had all of the mod cons we expect in a luxury brand hotel, along with the best storage we’ve seen in a long while <insert London-inhabitant squeal here>, an enormous bed which was ridiculously comfortable, plenty of bedside sockets #bloglife, a widescreen perfect for watching BBC international on and even a mini-kettle for tea and coffee (such a British pleasure) that was so tasty we picked more up for enjoying at home. The bathroom featured a rainforest shower, separate bath, his and hers sinks, comfy robe, curiously angled full length mirror (not pictured) and lovely spa scented toiletries.

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was just so easy to relax.

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And then, we found the pool. The Grand Westin is definitely billed as a conference hotel (one of the largest in South Germany but the pool had me starry eyed from the moment I heard about it. And wanting to convince my boss about the necessity of more conferences. We didn’t properly enjoy the bevy of saunas – a Finnish sauna (90°C), Roman steam bath (40°C) and thermium (60°C) – but spent a while enjoying the wellness-bar overlooking the calm waters.

    There’s also the handy running concierge service where they will escort you on a group run, probably through the nearby English Garden which we didn’t *ahem* avail ourselves of, citing simply not enough time. The best amenity award has to go to the car hire facility in the basement though – all those Bavarian alps and castles perfect for daytripping to…

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Note the husband bonce modelled for an idea of scale.

    A touch brutalist on the outside, it was a lovely mix of opulence and character on the inside. Fairly close to Munich airport (with pilots and airline staff checking in whilst we stayed) and with excellent links to the city centre it was a nice way to round out our holiday (and fit in a few last minute discoveries). Munich Westin, thank you, you certainly were Grand.

    Grand Westin Munich Hotel Review Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    Oh, and Paulaner’s Wirtshaus with beer garden serves the BEST Pork Knuckle and crackling I’ve had the pleasure to try… just a hint to whet the appetite for a future post.

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    Neuschwenstein Castle day trip from Munich & an alpine swim

    There are a few experiences money just can’t buy – watching the sun set behind Mt Fuji on a day when her peak is clear from cloud, finally being able to see priceless works of art in the flesh such as the Sistine Chapel to truly appreciate the skill, picnicking in Southern French garden sunshine with the resident cat miaowing at you or actually visiting all of the Monopoly Board London Streets in a day.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Neuschwanstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And then there are day trips that are tourist essentials where you expect chaos, and find yourself pleasantly floating in crystal clear Alpine waters wishing you never had to go back to the stresses of real life.

    We were pre-warned that Neuschwenstein Castle is a Bavarian tourist trap, and almost never isn’t swarming with creatures that stop mid-stride, talk at the top of their voices and have more souvenir shops per square foot than Charing Cross, but lured in by the history and story of mad Kind Ludwig II, I wanted to go anyway.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    King Ludwig’s story is one of a broken family, inherited mental health problems, architectural genius, an obsession for swans (Neuschwenstein is dotted with swan artwork – one of his rooms has over 150), a vivid imagination, almost pathological shyness and from 1875 on he lived at night and slept during the day, staying as often as possible in the mountains until he was certified as insane and he passed away in suspicious circumstances.

    “I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others.”

    On our visit, leaving behind the crowds in the busy parking lot (there are a couple of family castles that can also be visited) we walked up the hill towards Neuschwenstein. Leaving Mr Kiwi to enjoy the fresh mountain air, I took in the guided tour through the unique rooms created solely for Ludwig’s use – even the servants had separate hallways running alongside. From an ornately carved bedroom to a man made cave and private theatre room, the castle that inspire Walt Disney’s cartoon glory was curious to say the least.

    Perching the building on a cliff side, when King Ludwig did emerge into the light of day (only when duty or Mozart called) the vista over the Fussen village and valley is breathtaking. And worth every minute of the steep walk (it’s also bus-able) up the hillside. 

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Emerging from the castle and expecting to see my husband waiting for me, at this point I not only realised I had lost my Mr Kiwi, but accidentally woke my cousin in New Zealand (it was 3am their time on a Tuesday) attempting to call him via the wifi connection. Apologising profusely and vowing to send her flowers when we got back to our hotel, after 20 minutes of him not picking up and deciding it was a lost cause, our tour guide and I began to make our way back down towards

    Grilling our tour guide as we made our way downwards – he met his beautiful German bride in Thailand who lured him across from Chicago – we turned one of the many corners to discover my love quite happily enmeshed in a stein of the finest Bavarian lager. We laughed to realise that he didn’t know about the cafe I thought we had agreed to meet at, so hadn’t moved from his chair…

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Glad to have not actually have lost him, we wove through the tourist crowds (donning our London commuting demeanour to dodge the selfie sticks) towards cool relief.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We hadn’t quite counted on our trip to Neuschwenstein Castle being the
    hottest day of our trip to Munich, the needle hovering around 31°C (88°F)
    or the equivalent walk up 62 flights of stairs (the 40 minute walk up to
    the castle) but it made taking a dip in the cool, crystal clear,
    glorious lake waters afterwards of one of my favourite moments of our
    entire trip.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Yep, this was our pool for the afternoon. Inhabited only by swans, dragonflies, a few mall fishes darting about and one polka-dot clad Kiwi blogger (note the fashion stylin’), everyone along the shoreline was stripping off and diving in (even down to undies for those less organised – I had put it into our spreadsheet…)

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Spot the little fish? This is half an eye-sight test, half concentration span test.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh, and their letterboxes are pretty epic to boot.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Just one more moment to revel in the peace of a mountain-fed lake.

    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Tips:
    – Pack swimwear
    – You don’t need to go on an organised trip, just pre-book the castle tour online, and buy a Bayern train day pass on the day you travel. At the time of writing it’s €27 + €5 go each for up to 5 adults. Rock off the train and onto the busses that wait outside the station.
    – Don’t pick the 10 am train from Munich or returning at 5pm to Munich. It’s PACKED.
    – Enjoy. I’d love to revisit in winter too, to see the peaks shrouded in snow.


    Neuschwenstein Castle Fussen Bavarian Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    The Bavarian state in Germany has been on our wanderlust list for an age – and Munich was right at the top as a base for a city break. Bordering Liechtenstein, Austria and the Czech Republic, and complete with Alpine mountains, infamous beer halls, fairytale castles, an outrageously fun national costume and an accent other Germans find difficult to understand, we knew that a trip needed to be booked in to this quirky city.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    Reassured that 3 days would be plenty to get a taste of Munich life especially when the Christmas markets are on, we conversely decided to book a week long stay at the height of summer, avoiding the crowds that turn up to Oktoberfest (last year they think 7.5 million revelers turned up to the city – no thanks…) for something a little different. I think as a blogger I’m obliged to use the label #slowtravel but in all honestly we just didn’t want to be rushed.

    We weren’t disappointed. Escaping the proposed 30°C (86°F) temperature they often have, we had a combination of sunshine and rain showers, all at a perfect 25°C (77°F) level. Perfect for exploring.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    Largely destroyed by Allied bombers in WW2, the German authorities have tried to recreate the city as it was. Some buildings are recreated, and a few rely on creative painting to make them look much older than they really are.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    We met a few hilarious characters along the way, a bit of history on the walking tours, and the brilliant fact that locals consider themselves to be Bavarian first, German second and often tend to be the butt of jokes in a nation not really known for their sense of humour.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    Our itinerary was simple;

    Day 1: Relaxing (we sunk into terrace chairs and read books as the sun charted across the sky)

    Day 2: Training through winding valleys to an alpine peak

    Day 3: A day at Neuschwenstein Castle + a swim in the alpine lake

    Day 4: Exploring Munchen city by foot

    Day 5: Another day trip, this time out to Nuremburg

    Day 6: Our most emotional day – visiting the memorial gardens at Dachau

    Day 7: Coffee with the lovely Linda (a Munich instagram buddy who lives in Korea) + packing for home

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    1. Get the Touristy stuff out of the way
    We took in a walking tour, got lost, drank a lot of coffee, wrestled with rain on camera lenses, gave up on taking photos, learned more history and a few fantastic stories (most involving beer, which is often cheaper than water and was much healthier in medieval times), watched the cheesy but still awesome Rathaus-Glockenspiel in Marienplatz, admired the buildings, trudged up the worlds smallest hill, nibbled in the Viktualienmarkt, marveled at how similar to English German can be, and yet so far and got lost again.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    2. Find a Beer Garden and watch the sunset
    We were pointed towards Augustiner-Keller, a local’s beer garden. Full on a sunny Monday evening, there were parties celebrating a pregnancy (both men and women, though Mum was drinking lemonade), couples on dates, dogs on leads pleading for tidbits, a band in the background, a playground for kids surrounded by content parents, English menus if you caught the waitresses eye and the general hubbub of happy people.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    3. Drink a beer as big as your face and nibble a pretzel chaser
    Closely related to number 2, in fact almost indistinguishable, we tried a few of the local brews all served in 1 liter steins. After two I was wobbling and drunk messaging friends back in England whilst being laughed at. True story.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break 

    4. Get in a few day trips
    Munich was a fun city with a great vibe, but the magic was on our day trips on the Bavarian regional trains. Glorious mountain ranges, castles, alpine lakes and living history (auto spellcheck changed that to thirst – go home you are drunk spellcheck). Munich (or Munchen) was the perfect base.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    5. Cuddle a few of Munich’s feline residents at the cat cafe
    Yes, I know you’re rolling your eyes and I don’t care. Within 15 minutes of sitting dejectedly in a central coffee shop watching the rain roll down the window panes, we were cooing over the inhabitants of Munich’s vegan cat cafe.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    6. Eat sausages and sauerkraut, ideally in a beerhall next to blokes in lederhosen
    YES! We were told to visit the Hofbrauhaus, a state owned drinking hall and it was awesome. Crazy busy, but absolutely awesome.

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    7. Brunch
    We even managed to pick up a few local recommendations and brunch to my blogger hearts content (when not eating plum pastries for breakkie on regional trains that is…)

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    8. Acknowlege the historical rise and fall of the great city
    With a historically dark past that is acknowledged in many myriad ways, we learned so much about what has happened and the steps they are taking to prevent anything happening in the future.

    9. Visit the BMW Museum
    IT WAS COOL! And full of bearded dudes wearing check shirts…

    10 things you have to do on a Munich summer break

    10. Explore the city Palaces
    This is the only thing we were disappointed to miss, but holiday naps took precendent unfortunately.

    Our top tip: Book ahead and carry cash. The amount of times we had to wander back to a cash machine were frequent and rather annoying despite having a myriad of cards on us…

    Things to do in Munich Bavaria Germany Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Right, that’s the business end of the trip shared – now to the real magic…

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    A guide to the Germany vs Argentina Football 2014 World Cup game

    This isn’t your normal Football fan’s rundown of the game last night, just be warned…

    Football, known as ‘the beautiful game’ is a bastion on UK society. If you want to be able to converse with British blokes, just pick a team, watch a few games in the pub and form an opinion. What amuses me is that it’s quite liberal in so far as you don’t need to support the same team as who your speaking to, just exhibit a passion and a passing knowledge.

    I’m a rugby girl it has to be said, but having fallen in love with a football hooligan from Grimsby (he also supports Liverpool when Grimsby aren’t playing) I have discovered an enjoyment of the game, abeit preferring live games. Known as The Mariners (it’s a fishing port) their singing and inflatable fish waving at games, even though they know won’t be won through sheer passion, has won me over.


    00:00 KICK OFF! I’ve downed tools, discarded my ‘to do’ list and have settled down to watch the most exciting game of the Football World Cup.

    00:03 A slow start, we’re not quite sure what to expect after the David and Goliath game of Germany Vs. Brazil the other day, but I’m rather hoping for some argy-bargy. And lots of Twitter puns.

    00:04 Lots of blokes running up & down the field cleverly flicking the ball to each other, some dressed in white, some blue and two in yellow.

    00:07 I’ve worked out that Germany are in white, and Argentina are in blue. I’ve decided a game of ‘Where’s Messi’ will keep me entertained. No spottings yet.

    00:10 Germany seem very controlled and quietly confident.


    00:15 Mr Kiwi has turned to me in surprise, shocked that I’m still watching the game 15mins in – I usually disappear by this point, happy to follow the game via the medium of Twitter and volume of shouting from him.

    00:16 First injury of the game – 3 German players have collided with an Argentinian player. Discussion of why video refs are needed ensues in our lounge.

    00:20 Twitter is very quiet. There mustn’t be many pun-tastic opportunities yet.

    00:26 The cat has wandered in, late as ever. I’m reliably informed she is supporting Argentina as they usually play in stripes.

    00:27 Mr Kiwi tries to explain the offside rule, amazed that I’m still watching.

    00:30 Argentina’s first goal attempt is disallowed due to the offside rule. The cat turns tail in disgust and leaves the room. I discover that a half is actually 45 minutes.

    00:35 Another Argentinian goal missed. A corner is awarded (another facet of the game I’m not super sure about) and one of their players is dazed from a knock to the head.

    00:36 Germany attempt their first goal, I attempt to spot Messi. No luck on either front.

    00:39 I spot Messi!

    00:43 In an office somewhere in the UK, a National Grid worker is glued to the game, awaiting that moment that half time is called & a huge surge of electricity is required due to UK households turning the kettle on. True story.

    00:44 Germany attempts another goal, but is deflected by a beautiful goalie save.

    00:45 With my wine glass empty, I realise my writing is descending into scribble and I begin to hope it’s decipherable later.

    00:47 +2mins injury time. Nothing really exciting happens.

    HALF TIME: Score 0:0.

    Even more exciting is the Doctor Who new season pre-view woohoo!!


    00:48 And we’re back.


    00:57 Actually now I’m back – I missed the first 10minutes due to an urgent wine emergency. Mr Kiwi has updated me on play, no one has scored.

    00:58 Listening to all of the German players names, a craving for a Pumpernickel sandwich and Muller yoghurt has arisen. That’s normal, right?

    01:01 Twitter seems to be veering off topic…


    01:07 “Mini-fights are cropping up all over the field” Frustration seems to be setting in and injuries occurring.

    01:08 Messi spot!

    01:11 I think I should watch every soccer football game like this. It’s a very evenly matched game, will the eventual score come down to mistakes?

    01:17 Ewww, one of the Argentinian players has a rats tail! It should be a red card right there ref!

    01:24 I’m definitely getting hungry, there goes Muller again.

    01:28 Another misdirected goal attempt.
    01:29 Extra time is looking definite.

    EXTRA TIME: Score 0:0.


    01:33 Snack obtained. The tension in Rio’s stadium is rising; fans are looking worried, managed looking stressed (one nipping out for a tension wee) and players are looking dazed from all of the concussions.

    01:39 Instead of going to penalties which England is always terrible at…


    01:46 Twitter is imploding over the rats tail, but my deciding panel suggestion is going down rather well.

    01:48 The play is back & forth, back & forth, neither team sparing the other in the most important match of the tournament.

    01:52 Germany score!!! Mr Kiwi jumps off the couch & the cat stalks off in disgust. What a game!!!

    01:53 Agentina answer too late with another close attempt.

    01:54 Nailbiting.

    01:55 Agentina then attempt another goal so terrible that even I could do that.

    FULLTIME: Score 1:0 to Germany.

    I feel I have much still to learn about stonewall tactics (a choice phrase I’ve picked up over the years).

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