Neuschwanstein Castle Day Trip
Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and it’s own origin came from draft drawing by stage designer Christian Jank who’s work piqued the interest of Ludwig II, who commissioned him to create concepts for his architectural projects inspired by Wagner. Building started in 1869 and of the 200+ planned rooms, only 14 were finished (and much of the castle remains incomplete to this day – the second-floor rooms are inaccessible to the public because they’re just bare brick. Partially because of the vast debts incurred, just weeks after King Ludwig’s death in 1886, his family opened the castle to tourists. Building-work to complete the remainder of the exterior continued as these first tourists flocked in, and, since that time, Neuschwanstein has grown on the world stage as a major tourist attraction.
We signed up with Mikes Bike Tours for a guided tour and bike ride departing Munich. We were treated to interesting stories about King Ludwig II and in addition to the castle we enjoying a relaxing bike ride around an alpine lake. The lake was home to several swans which also is a strong theme of the castle as heraldic animal in Neuschwanstein swan knight Lohengrin. As an unexpected bonus over lunch our guide Brad Davnes (a part time magician) treated us to some magic tricks.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau Nazi concentration camp was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany 1933, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned world war 1 munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau.
It is now a chilling reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler ordered the construction of the camp in 1933 and over the following 12 years it became home to over 200,000 prisoners from 34 nations.
As you enter the camp you’ll be struck by the same gate prisoners walked through marked with the German phrase Arbeit Macht Frei, meaning Work Will Set You Free. The old administration building has been turned into a museum highlighting photos and stories of everyday life in the Camp as well as details on the horrors it involved. After spending time exploring the museum you move on to the cramped labor bunkers, gas chambers (which weren’t known to be used), and the crematorium.
Traveling from Munich Munich’s Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) take the S2 train in the direction of Dachau/Petershausen until you reach the Dachau station. The train ride takes approximately 25 minutes. Once you have arrived at the Dachau train station, take bus 726 towards “Saubachsiedlung” to the entrance of the memorial site (“KZ-Gedenkstätte”).
Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden
The so-called “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus) was built as a teahouse for Adolf Hitler on Kehlstein Mountain at an elevation of 1,834 m. Its unusual position made it a unique engineering feat. What few realize is that Hitler’s home (the Berghof) and southern headquarters – his second seat of power – were located on Obersalzberg, at the foot of the Eagle’s Nest mountain.
Due to its high elevation, the Eagle’s Nest generally can’t open until mid May. For about three weeks prior to opening the high mountain road leading up to the building (the road is perched on the cliff face) a team not only clears away snow, but checks the mountainside for loose stones and any other possible dangers. The road and building cannot be opened until the “all clear” is given. The exact opening date is not usually known until about 2 weeks prior to the expected opening and is subject to weather conditions. The Eagle’s Nest officially closes at the end of October but early snowfall sometimes forces an earlier closure.