September 29, 2008

Munich, Mike's Bike Tour Neuschwanstein

More often than not, the city you call home is the city you know the least. Whenever I ask D about Manila landmarks and their history he seems clueless. I feel the same way about Munich and surroundings. I know the basics of course, but most times I take the beautiful architecture and the history that lies behind it for granted. Last Tuesday, we decided to join Mike’s Bike day tour to Neuschwanstein. We could have just taken the train and join the castle tour on our own, but I figured a guided tour would be more informative. I heard about Mike’s Bike Tours in Munich, as they’re known for their entertaining and interesting city tour. The Neuschwanstein tour started at 8am at the Munich main train station where we met with the group that we would be with the whole day. We were put into the train by a guy from Mike’s Tours and were instructed to ride all the way to Fussen, where Brad, our guide for the day, would wait for us. After a two-hour ride we arrived in the little Bavarian town, which was home to the Mad King Ludwig II. At the bottom of the mountain on which stood the castle we had time to get a quick bite before we’d walk up the Marienbridge on which we’d have a view on the castle, the Swan lake and its surroundings. While we munched our currywurst (sausage with curry sauce and French fries!), Brad gave us some trivia about Ludwig II., his life, his grand visions, his controversial sexual orientation and his mysterious death. Rumor has it, Ludwig and Richard Wagner were more than just friends and that the castle was dedicated to latter. Also, they are several theories on how the Mad King died. He was found dead in a lake next to his psychiatrist.

After such juicy background facts it was time to Lucky me, the regular hike path was closed down due to landslides and we had to hike up what turned out to be an extremely strenuous way up the mountain. Close to a heart attack, I finally got to the bridge to enjoy the beautiful view completely out of breath (mental note: Get in better shape when back in Manila). D, who of course wasn’t the least bit tired from the climb, kept away from the hanging bridge because of acute fear of heights. A short walk away was the castle, where we joined the official tour of Neuschwanstein. The official guide was not quite as entertaining as Brad and the tour was quickly over, as most of the castle hadn’t even been completed by the time Ludwig died. So I’m not sure if I would recommend it. I found it more impressive to look at from the outside. Anyway, our tour wasn’t done yet. We went on with a 45-minute hike back down. It was a sunny day, not too hot, not too cool and perfect to walk around mountains and fields. We got to an Alpine slide, some sort of summer bobsleigh and got to ride it. Not quite sure how, but D managed to throw himself out of the sleigh and injure himself. We then got unto bikes for a ride to the Swan lake.

It was just wonderful. Sun, green fields, castle in the background – what more can you ask for on a day trip. At 6pm Brad said goodbye and left us in the train back to Munich. All in all, I was a bit skeptical since the tour was quite pricey (30€ each, plus 8€ for the castle tour). But it turned out to be a great day and we had so much fun. I would recommend it to anyone who’s in Munich and plans on visiting Neuschwanstein, as you get to experience more than just the boring tourist tour.

Mike's Bike Tour

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