Dachau and the Munchen Zoo
The next morning came really early. I think we all could have slept another two hours, but alas, we had more exploring to do! So after a hearty breakfast, my sister and I were off to Dachau.
The guys were planning to take the kids to the Deutsches museum, but went off on their own and decided to check out the zoo instead. What a great decision that ended up being! The kids had a blast. That may have been their highlight of the entire trip.
It took us about an hour to get to Dachau via a combination of the subway and a short bus ride. It was absolutely worth the effort. What a somber reminder of the atrocities that occurred at the hands of the Nazis.
While there, we each got the audio package to listen to along the way which was great. It was 3.50 Euros well spent. We did go and see the 22 minute movie in the museum which we would skip next time. But just being there and seeing the rebuilt barracks and original crematorium made the events even that more difficult to comprehend.
In all, we were in Dachau for about two hours. We may have lingered longer, but it became quite clear that our husbands desperately wanted to visit too, so we wanted to get to the zoo to relieve them so they could visit before closing.
We arrived at the zoo about an hour later and did the swap. Luckily we were able to just use the ticket that they had already bought so we were off getting a tour of the zoo before we knew it. It was quite comical to hear what they did earlier in the day. My five year old explained that they saw the giraffes, monkeys, and the “red-butts” (baboons). We had a good laugh over that one.
The kids loved playing on the wonderful playgrounds there. They were huge and it was great to see them having such a great time. Soon thereafter, we made our way to the mini-race car track where they took a few spins. This was also a highlight.
But soon we had to make our way to Hofbrauhaus to meet the guys for dinner. We were lucky to find a table for eight when we arrived, but we did. The beer and pretzls were flowing and the atmosphere was great. We ordered a light dinner and spent about an hour just soaking it in.
It was a long day so we then headed back to the hotel for bed. It stays light out until about 10pm so we had no problem making our way back in daylight.
The next morning again came early and this day we were off to Neuschwanstein Castle which Walt Disney used as the model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the movie.
It was quite a journey to get there, but after a couple of trains and buses, we were there and boy was it stunning. We picked up our tour tickets, had some lunch, then made it up the mountain for a closer look. The views from that high are amazing.
Only about 1/3 of the castle was completed because King Ludwig, for whom the castle was being built, died prematurely and it was never finished. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and the inside that we saw was quite impressive. Ainsley was convinced that a princess would appear at any moment.
Our tour was soon over and we hiked back down to town, hopped onto the bus and then grabbed the train back to Munich. We were starving up our return so we had dinner next to our hotel at L’Angolo. If you’re staying at the Residence Inn or Courtyard nearby, you must eat here. It was great!
Berchtesgaden and Salzburg
The next morning was our last in Munich and after picking up our rental car, we were off to Berchtesgaden. We ended up with a low mileage Ford Focus with features that would put many high end vehicles to shame. We were impressed.
Our journey to the mountains was uneventful until the last twenty minutes when we got stopped at a traffic check point when we got off the highway. Apparently Austria does not believe in toll booths and require you to stop at a gas station to pay your toll. We were oblivious to this requirement and the car rental agency did not mention it so we were stuck with a 120 Euro fine for what would have been an 8 Euro toll.
Needless to say, we were annoyed. There were no signs anywhere indicating this requirement. We have traveled all over the world and never run into anything like this. We’ll do a better job in the future researching toll requirements but be warned if you plan on driving on Austrian highways!
Soon thereafter we arrived at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden which was awe inspiring. The view, the elevation, and the grounds are amazing. We promptly checked into our room and took a quick tour of the hotel before heading into Salzburg to meet the rest of our group.
Despite the rain, we took a walking tour of the city and saw many of the highlights including Mirabell gardens, Mozart’s childhood home, and his birthplace. We also did some shopping. Ainsley was in heaven when we popped into a tourist shop and found a Hello Kitty Salzburg shirt. The second she saw it, she tried to take her shirt off to put it on. It was very cute.
We finished our walk with a stop at Stieglkeller for a quick beer then made our way back to the car. After a thirty minute drive back to Berchtesgaden, we were in bed quickly. We were exhausted but ready for our adventure to Hallstatt tomorrow!