Category Archives: Germany

Germany, Austria & Czech Republic. Pt 1.

Germany, Day 1 – Munich.

Quick Links to : Halal food  Pure Bavaria Tours Lufthansa Airport Bus  Euro Youth Hotel  Neuschwanstein castle  Castle Photo Spot

Our 2014 holiday encompasses Germany, Austria & Czech Republic starting the 2nd week of October. Our A330 Lufthansa flight departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport as scheduled at 12:05 a.m. With a 2 hours transit and change of plane in Frankfurt, we arrived Munich at 9:10 a.m. the same day. Total traveling time – 14+ hours.

From Munich airport, we took the Lufthansa airport bus just out-side the arrival hall to downtown Munich Hbf. Convenient mode of transportation if you have big or heavy luggage.

Cost €10.50 per person one way. Traveling time about 40 minutes and bus frequency is every 20 minutes. Service is operated by AutobusOberbayern.

You can obtain more information and book your tickets on-line here.

 Lufthansa Airport Bus
Lufthansa airport bus pick-up point in-front of the arrival hall exit.

Lufthansa Airport BusThe clean & comfortable bus.

You will drop-off at Munich Hbf opposite Karstadt department store. Karstadt is the meeting point for most local Munich bus tours or tours originating from Munich. If you intend to take a bus tour or will be leaving Munich by train, finding a hotel within this vicinity is a good idea.

A short walk from Munich Hbf is Euro Youth Hotel where we stayed for 2 nights. You can book your hotel stay here or from hotel aggregators.

Euro Youth Hotel

 

Euro Youth HotelEuro Youth Hotel on a quiet street very near to Munich Hbf.


Euro Youth HotelDouble room with private bathroom.

Euro Youth Hotel is Muslim traveler location friendly. A few halal eateries are around the vicinity with an Arabic shop in-front of the hotel where you can buy water and tid-bits. Read my review of this hotel at tripadvisor. Tourist attractions are within 15 minutes walking distance.

As we arrived before check-in time, we left our luggage at the hotel’s luggage room and wondered around Munich’s attractions. A 15 minutes walk will take you pass the fountain at Karlsplatz, the Karl’s Gate and to the New Town Hall at Marienplatz. Then onwards to Hard Rock cafe & Viktualienmarkt.

 Munich attractions
Our walking trail.

Karl's Gate, Munich
Karl’s Gate.

Munich Marienplatz.
Marienplatz.

Hard Rock, Munich
Hard Rock.

Viktualienmarkt
Lunch time crowd at Viktualienmarkt.

Of-course at Viktualienmarkt, you’ll find people selling vegetables, flowers & other agriculture produce.

ViktualienmarktViktualienmarkt

For the benefit of Muslim travelers, halal eateries are located as below. (Nordsee is a sea food outlet also available at Viktualienmarkt). There are a couple more halal eateries if you care to google.

Halal shops

Halal kebab
Halal kebab shop (on your right walking towards Karlsplatz).

Germany, Day 2 – Neuschwanstein castle.

The whole of the 2nd day was spent touring Neuschwanstein (noi-shoe-one-stein) castle about 120 kms from Munich. We took a package tour organised by Pure Bavaria Tours. They only cater for small group of 4-8 participants and the advantage is obvious. So, you do need to make prior arrangements if your are alone or just a couple. Chances are good that you will be grouped with others to make up the number. Pure Bavaria Tours web site is here and do read reviews about them at tripadvisor.

Pick up from our hotel was on time in a clean and comfortable Ford mini van driven by Mario. Along the way to the castle, Mario took us to see 2 quaint churches one at Rottenbuch and the other at Wieskirch.

Church at Rottenbuch
Church at Rottenbuch

Church at Wieskirch
Church under partial renovation at Wieskirch

DSC01053
Mario giving our group some information.

On arrival at Neuschwanstein castle, Mario bought castle tickets (€12) for us and stood in-line in the light drizzle to purchase bus tickets up the castle. Mario did not join us as the castle tour is conducted by castle officials. Buy your castle tickets on-line or at the ticket office at the foothill as there will be non at the castle itself. Your castle ticket will allocate you a tour sequent number as well as a specific time the interior castle tour will start. Should you miss this time slot, you need to buy a new ticket … down at the foothill !!

Neuschwanstein castle ticket

You have a choice to walk up to the castle, take a horse carriage or a bus. A walk up would take 30-45 minutes but we chose the bus that only takes 4-5 minutes at a cost of €1.80 uphill, €1.00 downhill or €2.60 round trip. The queue for the bus may be long but with 2 buses that can accommodate 60+ passengers each, it wouldn’t take you too long. It will be wise to bring umbrellas (Mario has sufficient) as you’ll be waiting for the bus in the open.

The bus drop-off point at the hilltop is close to the Marienbrucke (Mary’s bridge). This is a photo spot not to be missed. It’s a short 5 minutes slight uphill trek through the beautiful woods to the bridge where you can take magnificent (weather permitting) photos of the castle.

  Woods to Marienbrucke
Woods to Marienbrucke.

Neuschwanstein castle
The magnificent Neuschwanstein castle from Marienbrucke.

A 15 minutes slight downhill walk from the bus drop off point will take you to the castle. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed during the interior castle tour.

Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein castle.

Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein castle.

Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein castle.

Marienbrucke
View of Marienbrucke from the castle.

Along your walk from the bus drop off point to the castle, you’ll get this great view of the foothill with Hohen Schwangau castle in the background.

Neuschwanstein castle
The foothill, lake and Hohen Schwangau castle.

By 2:30 p.m. we descended to the foothill again taking the bus and started our return leg to Munich. Mario stopped by the road side for a few final shots of the castle before we proceeded for a late lunch at a cheese farm.

Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein castle as seen from the road side. The castle at the top, the barn below.

As we brought packed lunch, we had a little time to wonder around the farm for some photos. If not due to the mist in the background, these photos would have a warmer tranquil mood.

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Cheese farm

What’s the cow doing? Rubbing it’s itchy body against the automatic rotating mechanical brush.

Mechanical brush

After lunch, it was straight back to Munich arriving safely before 6:00 p.m. If you want hassle free, small group, personal service with hotel pickup & drop off tour of Neuschwanstein castle, go with Pure Bavaria Tours. With 13 years experience in the airline industry, Mario will take good care of you.

Neuschwanstein route
The driving route.

Frankfurt That Wasn’t In Our Itinerary

Our flight from Prague would connect at Frankfurt for our flight home to Kuala Lumpur. It has been raining all morning in Prague and continued so while we waited for our plane to arrive at Vaclav Havel airport. The gloomy weather apparently covered a large part of eastern Europe and has disrupted flights all around. Our Lufthansa plane finally arrived on what was supposedly been the departure time. By the time we departed, it was already a little more than an hour late. The 2 hours transit time we would have in Frankfurt for a change of plane, would now turn to be an amazing race as we would effectively have less than an hour to do so.

Gloomy evening at Prague Vaclav Havel airport.

While the weather has sort of calmed down when we departed Prague, it wasn’t so for flights across Austria and Germany. Our plane had to circle Frankfurt for a good 2 hours for a break of clear weather or probably had to wait long for it’s turn to land. By the time we got to the departure gate for our connecting flight, the gate has been closed and our plane departed on time. Presumably, it would have taken a different route to avoid the bad weather or the weather had improved.

Our flight LH1399 arriving on what supposedly to be the departure time.

OMG, we are now stuck in Frankfurt! We were instructed to go to Lufthansa counters to make arrangement for the next flight out. The line to these counters were long as Lufthansa had to make arrangement for hundreds or possibly thousands of stranded passengers. Two thoughts played in my mind. It wasn’t the airline’s fault … so, do we have to purchase new tickets AND where are we going to put up for the night? Airport chairs aren’t actually comfy.

Lining up at Lufthansa Frankfurt airport counters to get the next flight connection.

While lining up to be attended, trolleys of mineral water, fruit juice, energy bars and breads were made available and promptly replenished. Such were German efficiency. When I got up to the counter, I was told that Lufthansa will be making alternative flight arrangement for the next day at NO additional cost and we will be put up at Maritim Hotel at Lufthansa expense. To top it up, taxi and hotel meal vouchers were also handed out. This is SUPERB service.

FREE overnight stay at Maritim Hotel courtesy of Lufthansa.

Arriving at Maritim Hotel, a long line of passengers were already waiting to be attended. This stretched from the reception till outside the entrance door. The registration was smooth and by the time we got into our room, its past mid night. More passengers affected by the delays were still coming in.

Lining up again at the hotel reception for room assignment.

The room assigned to us was decently large. The amenities in the room was good, the room was quiet and the drapes kept the lights out. Naturally we had no extra clothes with us, but the bathrobes was good enough for the night. By the time I finished texting my office about the delay, had my bath, it was almost 1am. This hotel with 542 rooms also caters for a number of airline crews.

King size bed. The room is decently large.

Writing table with water boiler for tea/coffee making. CTV was in another corner.

Bathroom amenities. Bathroom comes with bathtub.

At 07:30 the next morning, Frankfurt was still raining that doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. We had a late breakfast at 09:00 and then went up to our room to prepare for check-out at 12:00. Our flight home will be at 21:35 and upon check-out, we left our backpacks at the hotel and took advantage of the remaining time to explore Frankfurt. We had no idea where to go as we had not visited Frankfurt nor made any research of the attractions it has. Staff at the hotel reception suggested taking the underground metro nearby for a visit to Romerberg.

At 07:30 the next morning, the gloomy weather continues.

It later drizzled till late morning. That’s Marriott Hotel to the left.

Breakfast at 09:00 in the hotel.

We weren’t the only one having late breakfast.

As if the weather knew of our intentions, the rain turned into drizzle and later stopped. From the hotel, we walked a little bit to the Festhalle/Messe underground metro (U-banh). Along the way, we came across a 21-metre-tall contraption of a ‘Hammering Man‘, a reflection of the new Frankfurt reborn after WWII. The motor driven right arm hammers rhythmically on an imaginary anvil.

This contraption of a ‘Hammering Man’ was close to our hotel.

Public rental bicycles.

First experience of Frankfurt while walking to the Festhalle/Messe metro station.

Messe Frankfurt (Frankfurt Trade Fair) is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser. This building is just behind the metro entrance.

Escalator down to the metro platform.

A rather simplistic Festhalle/Messe metro station.

Useful Frankfurt underground metro (U-Bahn) map.

After a couple of stops on the metro, we reached Romerberg, a public square. It is located in front of the Romer building complex, the seat of the Frankfurt city hall since 1405 to this day. The Romer are medieval buildings in the old town of Frankfurt am Main and one of the city’s important landmarks. Historic timber-framed buildings also fronts this square.

Fountain within the square at Romerberg.

Statue of the ‘Lady Of Justice’ in the fountain facing the the Romer buildings.

Historic timber-framed buildings. Towards the right, is the structure of Nokolai church.

Visitors enjoying lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Past noon, light drizzle continued on-&-off.

From Romerberg, we walked along the boulevard that leads to Galeria, a department store. This walking route will pass Haagen-Dazs and besides it, is a small square with a tall obelisk like reddish stone Liebfrauenberg fountain. Most people would just walk past it not knowing the structure dates back to 1770. There is no info board on the significance of this fountain, although there is a small bronze plaque in German.

The boulevard from Romerberg to Galeria.

Haagen-Daz is about 5 minutes walk from Romerberg.

Liebfrauenberg fountain in a square besides Haagen-Daz.

Galeria is a huge department store a further 5 minutes walk from Haagen-Dasz. Outside the building, you’ll find a contemporary sculpture of David And Goliath which is a little difficult to comprehend. Having limited time, we did not venture inside the department store.

Galeria department store is 5 minutes from Haagen-Daz.

Contemporary sculpture of David And Goliath. Which is David & which is Goliath ?

At one end of the Galeria towards our right, in the distance we noticed a structure that looks like a castle tower right in the middle of an intersection. This is Eschenheimer Turm (tower) with a height of 47m located in-front of Fleming’s Hotel. It used to serve as a city gate during the late medieval fortifications of Frankfurt am Main. The tower was erected at the beginning of the 15th century and was completed around 1428. Currently a restaurant and a bar operates there. Yet another landmark of the city with a metro stop near the base of the tower.

Eschenheimer Turm (Tower) was a city gate in the late-medieval times.

From the Galeria, walking the opposite direction (left) will take you to St Catherine church. It is the largest Protestant church in Frankfurt am Main, It was completed in 1681, damaged in 1944 during WWII and rebuilt in the 50s.

St Catherine Church, a minute’s walk from Galeria.

Across St Catherine church you’ll find Cafe Hauptbache built in 1729 originally as a guard house and prison. In late 1860s, the building became a police station and in 1904 became a cafe. Located in a busy plaza, this is the place to watch people go by and to ponder about the criminal history that took place right under your feet. It is one of Frankfurt’s most beautiful buildings albeit dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.

Cafe Hauptbache is just across St Katharine church. Formally a guard house, now a cafe.

Walking route from Romerberg to Galeria.

Our next destination before returning to our hotel is to head to Munchener Str for lunch. This street is near Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof and is where one should go to look for Halal food. A number of Halal Food outlet can be found here ranging from Turkish to Indian food. Prices are about standard across Europe ranging from €7 – €10 for a decent meal.

Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof. Central train station.

After lunch we returned to Miritim Hotel to collect our backpacks and after a short rest, headed to the airport. We weren’t able to get a direct flight as it was fully booked, thus we will transit at Changi, Singapore before heading home to Kuala Lumpur. From Changi, we will be flying Singapore Airlines. All this has been pre arranged by Lufthansa. Kudos to Lufthansa for their brilliant service.

One of the lobby inside Frankfurt departure level.

The A380 that will be flying us to Changi.