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Antony Boomer is a retail manager for House of Travel Dunedin. Antony has travelled throughout the world and can offer a wealth of experience when planning your next adventure.
Antony Boomer from Dunedin recently returned from a European river cruise. Increasingly an option of choice for travelers from Otago in Europe, the tour commenced in Munich before cruising along the Danube finishing in Vienna.
Arrival at Munich Airport is a stress free affair with a 30 minute drive to the city centre. After an orientation of the hotel a visit to the Augustiner Biergarten seemed appropriate. The Biergarten featured a green, wooded area. Patrons were predominantly locals many decked out in lederhosen and dirndl. Much like a supermarket you grab a litre of beer, a large pretzel or some pork, pay at checkout and enjoy. The atmosphere was friendly, overly so in some cases! As afternoon turned to evening, the dappled green effect created by the sun filtering through the trees darkened. We headed back to the hotel well satisfied.
With a free day to explore Munich we headed off towards the old part of Munich. The route along Kaufingerstrabe to the central Marienplatz was lined with beautiful structures enhanced by spring colours with tulips in bloom. From Marienplatz we walked to the tranquil 17th century Hof Garten. Before entering the Englischer Garten we came across the sight of youngsters surfing where the force of water cascading through a calvert creates a wave where boarders can perform a variety of moves. Next stop was the Park Cafe Biergarten for lunch. All the beer establishments have a Radler (shandy), Dunkel (dark) and normal lager. Some have a Weiss (wheat) bier, an acquired taste.
That evening we headed to the Augustiner Keller. The interior is as you would imagine a Munich beer hall, vaulted ceiling, slightly worse for wear, wall art depicting various beer iconography, bushy sideburns, bulky fräuleins with an enormous capacity to carry beer. The service was again outstanding, our waiter was friendly, funny and very down to earth.
The first day of our tour involved a tour around Munich and an excursion to Dachau Concentration Camp. The first part by coach took in the Oktoberfest grounds and the enormous Nymphenberg Palace. We took a walking tour of the central city culminating in viewing the glockenspiel on the Neue Rathaus. The real highlight for me was the detail our guide added around the history of the city itself particularly the aftermath of the Second World War. For lunch I made a culinary faux pas ordering a slice of Leberkas. If you have seen the pie scene from Titus Andronicus you will get the idea of what appeared on the plate, a slice of pink, heavily processed meat. A German couple sitting next to us highlighted my mistake suggesting bread and mustard were required to make it palatable.
Dachau Concentration Camp followed after lunch. I had visited before but was keen to go with a guide for more of an insight. The guide added the detail I needed with several personal stories of some of the camp’s inhabitants beyond the general historical narrative. No visit here could be described as fun but for me it did fulfill a need to know more.
No visit is complete without visiting the iconic Hofbräuhaus. The band was playing, the beer was flowing, a pigs knuckle (knoedel) was delivered ... my visit to Munich was complete!
The image of Neuschwanstein Castle was pivotal in setting me on a lifelong course in travel. The image filled me with a sense of wonder and excitement and a determination to visit places like this from a very young age. Visiting Neuschwanstein involves a relatively easy half hour walk to the castle. Entry is strictly controlled. All was in place on arrival making the process for our group easy in contrast to waiting in a queue to acquire a ticket. It was a blow to my younger self to discover that the castle itself wasn't a middle age construction but rather a culmination of the dreams of the ill fated King Ludwig in the 19th century. However while gazing down from the bridge, Marienbrucke, overlooking the castle I reflected back on those early discoveries and images that kindled my earliest desire to travel the planet. Thanks Ludwig!