BAVARIAN ALPS or How Travel Dreams Are Made

Bavarian Alps 2I’m not a mountains person, but as soon as I saw the idyllic, bucolic landscape of the Bavarian Alps from the window of my tour bus, it was love at first sight. All I could think was “I can’t believe God has made something so beautiful.” Give me a minute, I think I might have something in my eye…

Of course I’ve seen photos of the Alps before, but somehow they didn’t come close to filling me with the kind of overwhelming awe that I felt as I watched green valleys turn into blue mountains before my own eyes. Maybe the photos were too perfect, in a ‘no way this is a real place’ kind of way? Well, it’s real alright. Real and incredible at the same time.

And totally unexpected. The Alps are the hidden bonus of the Bavarian Castles tours one might take from Munich. You go for the castles, but the landscape surrounding them totally steals the show. The mountains, the forests, the lakes, OMG THE HORSES peacefully grazing in the meadows blooming over the gently rolling hills that are made to be galloped across! At first horse sighting I was already planning my return to the Alps.

Bavarian Alps 3 Bavarian Alps 4 Bavarian Alps 5 Bavarian Alps 6 Bavarian Alps 7 Bavarian Alps 8 Bavarian Alps 9 Bavarian Alps 10 Bavarian Alps 11 Bavarian Alps 12 Bavarian Alps 13* ABOUT THE TOUR *

I like group tours — when you travel there’s always so much to organize and keep track of and worry about, that sometimes it’s great to have someone else do it for you. On Allane’s recommendation I booked this Royal Castles tour, which included visits to King Ludwig II’s two dream castles: Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, plus a stop in the Alpine village of Oberammergau. Price: €51 for the tour, and another €23 for entry to Neuschwanstein.  The verdict: totally worth it.

This tour isn’t totally easy-peasy though, because everything is very rushed. To start, get to the bus at least half an hour before they tell you to be there. My tour departed 300 meters from my hotel so I didn’t worry about getting stuck or lost on the way there. And yet, when I got to the bus about 20 minutes before departure time, it was already packed. If you want a good seat by the window, come early!

The first stop is Linderhof (Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Oberammergau will all get their own posts because they’re just too special) and you have about 45 minutes to power-walk from the parking lot to the palace, do a 15 minute guided tour, take a couple of photos of the grounds and power-walk back. The second stop is Oberammergau — a great place for shopping and a quick bite, but you are only given enough time for one or the other. PRO TIP: bring at least a snack or maybe even a full lunch with you, so that food stops don’t cut into your sightseeing/photo-taking time.

Then you get to Neuschwanstein, where you’re expected to have a proper lunch before taking the tour of the castle — which is still about an uphill mile away. After the tour you have a very strict departure time — and if you have the kind of tour guide that I did, a humorless frau that chills blood in your veins with a single glance, you won’t even dream of being late. Oh yeah, we did leave a person behind, because the poor soul didn’t make it back within the allotted 20-minute window.

In summary, I did wish I had at least 50% more time at each stop, just because I want to take it all in, buy some souvenirs, eat, have a drink AND take a million pictures. But the tour IS doable and and efficient way to see three gems of the Bavarian Alps — plus the stunning countryside! — in under 10 hours, from Munich.

Next time though, I’ll be taking it slow. I am thinking a week at a farm stay with the horses, and a car to take me to forest hikes and mountain lakes.

Bavarian Alps ARE Eden, and I want a little bit of heaven.

Bavarian Alps 14 Bavarian Alps 17 Bavarian Alps 18 Bavarian Alps 19 Bavarian Alps 20 Bavarian Alps 21 Bavarian Alps 22 Bavarian Alps 23

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16 thoughts on “BAVARIAN ALPS or How Travel Dreams Are Made

  1. Looks really beautiful! But while I’m all for seeing a lot in a short time, I don’t think I’d enjoy this rushed tour. I’d rather go for seeing only one castle and have more time to enjoy the views. Can’t wait to read about the castles! 😀

    • I hear you. My note to this is: if you go in the summer, there are so many people that you really wouldn’t have a change to just ‘hang’ there. Plus the interior tours are all groups, all w/ guides anyway. However – if you have a car you can do all of those in one day by heading out at like 6 am, and getting back at 10-ish or something (thus adding about 5 hrs of “there” time), and that would give you time for a nice stroll thru Linderhof gardens, visit to the other castle near Neusch, hanging by the lake, a leisurly lunch and shopping in Ober, etc. So my advice is – get a friend with a car to take you! :)))))

  2. hmmmph. now to remember! i keep scrolling up and down looking at all of the layers upon layers upon layers! everything is so gorgeous! and just how i remember the germans…’here’s the schedule. there is no variation to the schedule. let’s go!’ 😉

    • I KNOW! We all walked in a single file, totally petrified of this lady. We were pretty sure caning would be on the menu if we disbehaved…
      But the landscape is SO worth it, no? :))))

  3. I’m waiting for your Sound of Music impression: THE HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLS ARE A LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!!!

    …on second thought, don’t worry about it 🙂 But they are gorgeous – I’d love to go skiing in the winter. I’ve heard it’s insane. And the hiking must be amazing – I have to put this on my list of places to visit before I die.

    • It is SO worth it, tourists and all! My post on it will go up in the next couple of weeks and I am sure I will get choked up again while sorting through the photos.

  4. I enjoy seeing reactions like yours to the Alps. “Oh why have I never wanted to come here ever before? Is this heaven?” kinda feeling. The Alps are the hidden gem of Europe and don’t see why people make this their first choice when going to Europe instead of the cities. Pictures can’t even do the beauty justice.

    • Well, cities are miles easier. Easy to get to, easy to get around. No need to rent a car or lug a huge backpack on a bus. I lived pretty much my whole life in big cities so even tho I have a license, driving (which honestly is the best way to explore any countryside) is a very stressful activity for me, esp in a foreign country.

      I don’t know why the Alps, aside from the castles, were never on my radar. Maybe bc I associate them with Switzerland, and I havent met anyone who was like OMG SWITZERLAND except for people who 1)ski 2)hike with full camping equipment, and I am neither. But now I want to go back to the German or Austrian Alps, with a car, and ride horses and drink wine 🙂

  5. Pingback: Travel Dreams Come True: NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE | Home & Away

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