Monday, March 18, 2002

Neuschwanstein Castle

Munich, Germany
Woke up at 06:00, realized that this would be the last bed for a while. Got out of bed an hour later, repacked my bag, headed downstairs to meet Suzy and Amanda. As I went to buy breakfast, I discovered that I had no money left. The tour, drinks, and McD’s burnt it all up. My bank card was refused by the ATM. Met up with the girls and went to the station. Denied at another ATM, opted for cash advance on my credit card. (which, by the way, you should never do. It cost me far too much in fees and interest to ever do it again.) I dropped my bag in a locker (as I was checked out of the hotel already) and picked up a liter of juice to re-hydrate. The train was about 2 hours, and armed with info, we beat the crowds to the ticket booths and had a leisurely walk up the mountain. Breakfast was at 11am, wiess bockwurst in a bun. Good. We were on the 12:25 tour of the castle, with a guide who looks like Gavin Rossdale from Bush and has an accent to match. The tour was pretty short, and we walked though the unfinished parts of the castle. To save money all the jewels are colored glass and metal is brass. Lots of paintings about Wagner operas. There’s a grotto, man-made, in the middle of the castle.

After the castle, we ate lunch (potato pancakes and apfel strudel), then went up to the Mariansbrucke which overlooked the castle and a deep gorge. We then followed a sign for the Rodelbahn (mountain slide), but that just took us to the town center. Popped into the info booth, found that the last bus for the Rodelbahn leaves in 5 minutes. Good timing, but had it been any day other than Sunday, there’d have been more. We arrived at the park with no problem, then figured out where to buy tickets. The Rodelbahn mountain slide is like a metal waterslide without the water, and you ride a sled down. There is a brake handle that you can use to slow down, but there’s little reason to. At the end are plasticized cloth streamers that are there to make you slow down because they can sting if you hit them at speed. Trust me. The second time though, I ducked under them. We each rode down twice, it was really fun. A few times I couldn’t shift my weight fast enough and I thought that I was going to roll over and wipe out. The park also had a cable ride/swing thing. Having grown tired of being kids again, we went over to see what time the bus leaves. In a few minutes, very nice. Having filled out a few more postcards, I dashed to a post box, dropped them off, then got a citrus Popsicle.

We took the bus back to the Fussen station, where 10 minutes later we boarded a train back to München. The girls really wanted to get something called Spaghetti Ice Cream, so we asked at the hotel—where I noticed they have internet—and we headed out to a place called Scalatti or something like that. Dinner was Wiener schnitzel mit pommes, which I ordered whil the girls made some calls. I ate it while waiting for the U-Bahn. Again, delicious. The guy behind the counter at the gelateria spoke little English, but I saw something on a placard called ‘Spagett eis’, so we got that. I had spezi, which is a half coke, half lemonade drink. Quite refreshing. We took the U-bahn back to the hotel and parted ways. Oh yeah, spagetti ice cream is vanilla ice cream made to look like noodles, with a strawberry sauce on top.

Back at the hotel, where they have internet, I checked out the info on where to find the Tate Modern in London, as I have a 6+ hour layover. Went to the München Hauptbahnhof around 10pm, spent 15 minutes trying to find the locker I put my bag in, then walked around trying to find a store with souvenirs that was still open. No luck. The train arrived, I found my couchette, went to sleep around 11:30pm.

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