A tradition has been to go on day trips, venturing out from Munich to visit sites of historical interest, normally beer affiliated. Below is a list of sites we have visited and a look at potential future visits.
The heralded beer garden is a key meeting point for our team. Each Friday of the trip, as we arrive from different points of the globe, our team straggles into the Hofbrauhaus. The looks on our faces are one of anticipation for that first Maß of beer. On nice afternoons we can sit in the garden, enjoying some fresh air. It doesn't take long before we shake off the social constraints of the US, and let our hair down.
Kloster Andechs *****
No trip would be complete without a pilgrimage to visit the kind brothers at Kloster Andechs. Set on a hill, and a short bus ride from the train station, the Abbey features great beer (over 800 years), good food (like haxen), and a beautiful view. The church also features a gilded alter that has to be seen. Make sure you show up with an appetite, and wear your walking shoes, the hike up the mountain is spiritually lifting!
Our most recent attempt to visit, in 2005, was met with, well, say, strangeness. First, our intrepid group split up. Some went to the camp (a sobering experience), the others in search of bier. Then, for some unknown reason, the Zieglerkeller Beer Garden we we looking for turned out to be closed! No reason given. I felt I was in Mexico. Second, we took over the lobby bar of a small hotel. It was raining. Food was pretty yummy. Beer was cold. Wine was good. Lastly, we went to Dachau's only Irish Pub. Bizarre doesn't even begin to describe the experience. And then things got real strange. We (actually Ron) were accused of stealing silverware, or some such thing, and we were summarily run out of Dachau on a rail. Go Figure.
Kloster Weltenburg ****
Our last trip here almost didn't happen. A few weeks before the trip, Europe experienced huge rains. The river flooded, and Kloster Weltenburg was deluged by up to 12 feet of water. Yikes. Fortunately, the good brothers were industrious and protected the bier. Yippee. The only easy way to get there is to take a train to a small town down the river and then hop on a boat (we chose to rent a bus and drive). We also toured the town of Kelheim. This WAS going to be the capitial of Bavaria, but it lost out to Munich. The tour was a little wet, the tour guide a little tedious, and I almost puked on the boat ride. But the Kloster was very cool, they were heroes in saving the beer for us.. Near the Kloster is small ferry across the river that only works with an oar. It can take one car across at a time.
Bamberg is a beautiful medieval town that is unique in Germany. Flying in the face of logic, the forefathers in Bamberg decided that they needed to flavor their beer. Despite an early setback with schnitzel flavoring, they settled on smoke. That's right, in Bamberg, they flavor their beer with smoke. Termed Rauschbier, this savory brew is exciting to drink, and fun to watch people take their first sip. Words cannot describe the first taste, when that smoky flavor hits your lips. Yikes!
This trip only gets 3 1/2 stars due to the special combination of the length of the trip, the uniqueness of the beer, and the rain we had the last time we went. However, they do offer a year round beer tasting. Hmmmmmm.
Set in the Bavarian Alps, this is THE castle to see in Germany, if not the world. Build by "Mad" King Ludwig II, it was the original inspiration for Cinderella's Castle at Disneyland. Ludwig only lived there a short time, before unexpectedly drowning in the lake below. Since he passed in the 1880's, it has been a tourist attraction, only 40% of the rooms are complete. A nice train tour into the Alps, then a bus. There is a great breakfast place down the hill, which serves Pancakes, embedded with bacon, and of course, beer. A must see for the ladies, perhaps a day for drinking beer in Englischer Garten for the boys.....
Kloster Ettal ***
This is a great trip for the gang. If not for the memory of unfortunate Barf Olympics at the Bahnhof in 2001, this would be a 4 star trip. The good abbey is the provider of great beer and Benedictine liqueur. While steeped with history (including forced labor in WWII), there is not a whole lot to do. Perhaps it was the events of 2001 that cause me to pause, but I give it 3 stars.
Schloß Nymphenburg ****
YAC (Yet Another Castle). This was the seat of the royal family of Bavaria. Set in a beautiful park (and near numerous Beer Gardens) I don't believe we have ever been able to actually go inside. It get high marks for the historical importance, beauty of the Baroque style, and proximity to beer. Another opportunity for the ladies to enjoy the splendor of history, and the guys to drink beer.
Rothenburg is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Built in the Middle Ages, and damaged in WWII, Rothenburg is a magnificently restored walled city. One of the old "City States" in Germany, this is a trip not to be missed. It is quite a hike from Munich, pretty much taking the whole day, but everyone has to go at least once. It is touristy, but even that cannot diminish the feeling you get while you are there. Even the McDonalds has a gilded, ornate sign (and McBier). On the Romantic Road, Rothenburg has been the Honeymoon destination of choice for such stars as Sting, Madonna, Elvis, and John and Candy Lynch.
This is an unforgettable trip. There are 2 main sights to see. The first is a trip up to Hitler's "Eagles Nest", set high in the Mountains, this was the Fuhrer's retreat and scene of many films of the leadership of the Third Reich. Pretty much destroyed by the 3rd Army, it still has many relics of the past. When we visited, there was not a huge focus on the Hitler connection. I have now hear that a developer is going to create a resort there. Unbelievable views and the road to the top is single file in some spots.
The second adventure takes you deep inside the mountain. At the Salt Mine, each person dons a leather jumpsuit and boards a small train (like at the zoo) and rides thousands of feet into the mountain. Inside, you see the history of the salt mine, slide down wooden slides built for the miners, and sail across an underground lake. The memorials and figures carved of salt get a little tedious, but well worth the trip. Except for an unfortunate comment by Vozel in 93, this has always been a fun adventure.
Other Potential Spots to Visit
Augsburg, A short trip from Munich, this ancient town has many sights, and of course, beer. Site of the NCR's old Augsburg facility. A great micro brewery here.. with great food and interesting restrooms.
Würzburg, Another beautiful town, but with a twist. The center of Franken wine making, this could be a necessary diversion from the nectar of the Barley. To quote a random web site: "Cozy wine cellars, or Weinstuben, are sprinkled throughout the city. With fine menus and long wine lists, Weinstuben offer guests a selection of the regional specialties. With wine glass in hand, contemplate Würzburg's rich past and unhurried present." Good for Guys and Dolls alike!