It’s been a long run, but we are finally at the last part of my Europe travel diaries. I’ve already shared about my time in Munich, as well as the cruise I had been on down the Danube River. We had just about one more week of exploring to do before heading home.
Once we officially finished the end of our river cruise, we still had a lot of traveling still ahead. The final leg of our journey would be a road trip through Bavaria, visiting different towns and sites along the way before finally finishing up in Munich to head back to The States. We loaded our suitcases into rental cars and were on our way. Now this post will probably be the longest, since we did a lot of stuff in a short amount of time that I want to tell you about. So sit back, relax, and get ready…
Our first stop on our road trip was a quick pitstop at Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus). The Eagle’s Nest was a home given to Hitler during WWII that sits at the top of a mountain in the Bavarian Alps. He was known to meet there with high ranking Communist officials and the Allies thought this may be where he would be hiding at the end of the war. Needless to say, they bombed it (with no Hitler body to be found) and all that remains is a tunnel that acts as the entrance to Eagle’s Nest and a tea house that is now converted into a restaurant.
To get to where the house was, you have to wait in line, and go through a long tunnel to finally get in an elevator that takes you to the top of the mountain. The view at the top is breathtaking. We were there on a pretty clear day and you could see for miles. I will say, I do wish that Eagle’s Nest would’ve offered more history and insight on what had happened here. While the view was amazing, there wasn’t really much else aside from the restaurant. My family and I had mixed feelings on whether the two hour detour to Eagle’s Nest was worth it or not.
The rest of the evening was spent driving to the next town, eating dinner, and prepping for an early morning. We woke up bright and early to take a tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was built for King Ludwig II in 1869, who was known for having mental issues and was Bavaria’s own Mad King (GOT fans anyone?). It was actually never finished because King Ludwig died and the construction of the castle put Bavaria into debt because it was so elaborate.
The castle is located on top of a mountain where you have to either walk, take a shuttle, or ride a horse-drawn carriage up to the top. The tour of the castle itself was amazing. We were taken through the finished part of the castle including the King’s throne room, bedroom, servant’s quarters, and kitchen. We weren’t allowed to take photos during the tour, but each room was covered in hand painted murals; even the throne room’s tile was hand painted with intricate artwork. The castle was absolutely beautiful, so much so that even Walt Disney got his inspo for the Disneyland Castle at Neuschwanstein.
The rest of the mid-morning was spent driving to Garmisch, a little ski town located at the bottom of the Alps. Why I didn’t take photos of this town, I don’t know. Just imagine a picturesque European town with colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and just a few restaurants and pubs. Once we were settled into our hotel rooms we wandered the streets, ate pizza (don’t judge we were a bit tired of schnitzel and sausages), and finished up the night with card games.
(photo from google)(photo from google)
The next morning we were off to catch a train that would take us up into the Alps. The train’s final stop was at Zugspitze, which is the tallest peak in Germany. Once we got off the train, we had to take a gondola the rest of the way up. Now I wish we would’ve been a bit more prepared because once we got there, we found out there was a spot where you could climb to the highest point. My boyfriend Colton, dad, and I had to do it of course, so off we went.
Now I’m not kidding when I say climb.There was a point when I was on my hands and knees praying I wouldn’t slip and tumble down into the great unknown. There were also times where we had to go around people without holding on to any ropes and I just had to hope the soles of my Converse wouldn’t give out. I have to say, it was the ultimate satisfaction making it all the way to the top (see photo of us three with terrified smiles for reference). Then I realized I had to climb down, which was probably twice as scary as going up. There was one point where I had to step onto a ladder and my legs were too short to reach. I had nothing to hold on to and I had to hope that my feet would magically land on the step. Well.. it’s safe to say that I survived. We congratulated ourselves with brats and beers before we headed back down the mountain.
The train we took to the Alps made a few stops along the way. Colton and I decided to explore a bit more and left my family to see Lake Eibsee. Lake Eibsee is located at the base of the mountains and is full of the most clear water I have ever seen. We rented a paddle boat to explore the lake and you could see directly down to the bottom throughout the entire thing. It was a great way to relax and enjoy the incredible weather. Luckily I thought ahead and brought shorts to change into. The water was cold, but if I had a swimsuit I probably would’ve jumped in just to say I did.
By the time we were done paddle boating we were both pretty exhausted. We headed back to the train station and we were both a bit nervous we’d hop on the wrong train and end up in Switzerland or something (even though that would’ve been pretty cool). We got on a local train which looked WAY different than the trains we had taken thus far, but fortunately we arrived back in Garmisch in one piece.
The following morning we headed to our next and final destination of our trip. We were off to spend the next couple days in Rothenburg, which is known as Germany’s Christmas town. It’s crazy because even though we were there in July, there are tons of shops filled with ornaments, nutcrackers, and everything Christmas-themed you could imagine.
We spent the majority of the two days wandering through the streets. The town was a fairly good size and full of shops and restaurants. What was really cool about Rothenburg to me was that it wasn’t touched during World War II. It was never invaded or bombed, so everything is in its original state. Our time spent in Rothenburg was much more mellow than the majority of the trip. We spent a lot of the time playing cards (specifically Hand & Foot), exploring, and I was finally able to drink beer out of a boot, which I NEEDED to do before I left Germany. (Don’t worry I didn’t drink it all by myself). It was a great way to close out our trip before the drive to Munich and flight back to Los Angeles.
Closing out our trip with a week driving through Germany is something everyone should do. Going through tiny villages, passing lakes, and weaving through mountains that people don’t normally see was so incredible. The last week on my trip made me want to do road trips through every country I visit in the future. I don’t know if that will happen but I can dream, right?
Did you miss out on the previous parts of the series? Read them here: