From fantasy to reality

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When people ask me what kind of place is Munich, I have to say it’s the perfect place where fantasy meets reality. Munich is definitely more “square” than the other European cities I have visited with a mix of old with new buildings. By “square” I mean there is a deliberate, purposeful grid-like layout of the city. The re-building of Munich after WWII gave the city planners the opportunity to give the city a more modern design in terms of how it was laid out. But thankfully, the buildings were built to resemble what they looked like before they were sadly destroyed during the Allied bombing. I will definitely say that it was comp!etely worth going in December. It WAS the first time I felt that Christmas felt like Christmas in a very long time. Being in Spain and away from home meant that Christmas was not going to feel quite the same. However, Munich in December lets you know immediately where we, in the states, were most influenced in terms of our Christmas traditions.

My first Christmas away from home was already feeling awkward. The different Christmas decorations I would see in Madrid only served to intensify that awkward feeling. The decorations were not in bad taste or really all that peculiar, just different and unfamiliar. I really wasn’t aware of the difference until I went to Germany. The Christmas markets in Germany give you a familiar feeling of Christmas in the states. You can vividly see the German influence that made its way to the states. However, the German Christmas markets take it up several notches and you feel as though you were in the North Pole. It seemed that every major square you passed you saw an elaborate display of the holiday spirit. My favorite market had to have been the medieval market. Everyone was dressed in that time period. Think – Renaissance Festival with a Christmas theme. The best market I saw was in the main square Marienplatz.

The great thing is you can visit a good deal of Munich in just a couple of days and still have time to visit Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. Even more so you can travel on a budget.

This is how you do it.

We arrived late in the evening. Sandman tours always gives an option for free walking tours. First day walking tours are a great option and an excellent way to get to know the main points of interest. The tour guides usually give you extra unique information about the city like tips where to eat and things that are worth seeing. Our guide was very well versed on the history of WW II. Showing reminded of the history that the Bavarian people have left so IG has not been forgotten of what has happened. At the end of the tour they only ask for tips.

Where to stay.

I have to say if you are going to stay in a hostel, the way to go is All 4 You Hostel. For 13€/night, the place couldn’t be beat. The small room had clean showers and customer service is definitely up to par with stateside standards. My travel buddy and I had a bit of a mishap at the hostel and they were quick to resolve the issue by hooking us up with our own room. The best thing about the hostel was location location location. Our hostel was no more than 8 minutes walking distance to the main train station which could take you to the airport and all the other main lines in Munich.

Must see. Click here to see the video.

Neuschwanstein Castle involves an incredible story about the beloved, eccentric, visionary Bavarian king, King Ludwig II. King Ludwig created a fantasy world so he could live a better more fulfilling life. He was a king who was kind and gentle unlike some of his predecessors. But he was a bit frustrated because he was misunderstood. Part of the reason is he was not allowed to express himself. He was a homosexual and part of one the major pressures at the time for a monarch was to marry and produce an heir. His solution for such a predicament? He built a castle in order to lose himself in it. He was obsessed with the famed German composer, Richard Wagner and as such became an aficionado of Wagner’s operas. This obsession is manifested all throughout the castle. The castle was inspired by Wagner’s music and it clearly shows as you walk into a formal dining hall and see a mural with Jesus, the apostles and a rainbow behind it. On the other wall there is another mural of a unicorn peering through. The imagination it must have taken to create a corridor that leads to the bedroom where you feel like you are in a cave is quite mind-boggling. This fantasy world he created It is no wonder why Walt Disney adopted this castle from Ludwig’s fantasy world as its company logo. There really is no other logo to match this spectacular work of art.

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A visit to Munich must include a day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. Most history buffs would recognize this historical site as the first concentration camp. When you first arrive to the site you immediately have an eerie feeling because the site looks like a normal suburban neighborhood frozen in time, much like one you would have seen in older movies. Approaching the gates to the site, you will see the words on top of the gate – Arbeit Macht Frei, which means work brings freedom. There was nothing that could have been further from the truth for all the condemned souls that passed through that gate. All at once, you are hit with the realization of what horrors occurred thereby sick, depraved individuals upon the innocent and then further saddened by the realization that humankind still has not learned its lesson. However if you find yourself in Munich, the Memorial is a must see.