Thursday, October 8, 2015

a plan to tour bavaria

Plzen Old Town Square
My parents were coming and that meant that I needed to decide upon a trip. No normal stay around Prague would do, since they had already ventured across the Czech capital and seen those sights. The Castle was stale now, the Old Town no longer full of magic – or maybe these weren’t so true for them, but they were true for me, a sight possible every day isn’t so interesting to most. So I came up with two more routes to take, adventures to jump across parts of Europe that I hadn’t quite trekked in whole that would be easily accessible.

The first plan would be complicated, since I had to juggle my wife’s schedule with my parents. I had to decide on a route and which would be easier to see later for my wife. We decided that on the first trip, we would take the opportunity to see the main sights of Bavaria and Franconia, or much of South Germany. We decided on Fussen, to see the famed Disneyland castle of Neuschwanstein, and the medieval city of Rothenburg, with a short stop in Nuremberg. There was some consideration of Oktoberfest in Munich, but I had already been there and kind of decided that it was an overrated, overcrowded beer festival and not overmuch worth the time. Though I couldn’t read my parents’ desires on that, we opted to leave it be, and anyway it would be easier to make a Rothenburg – Nuremberg – Prague trek without throwing Munich in the mix.
Neuschwanstein Castle
Now was the logistic portion. Since my wife didn’t get off of work until 4 or 5, it meant we couldn’t make it all the way to Fussen by nightfall and we would be stuck in Munich until the morning if we had left. So I decided to show my parents Plzen in Czech Republic during the day, and then meet Teo on the train, getting off at the town with the only available hotel on the route – in Schwandorf. This was done to take advantage of both the Bayern Pass and the cheap tickets to Plzen. From Prague to Plzen, it’s 10 Euros, and from Plzen on through Bavaria, one can purchase the Bayern Pass from ahead of time to make a complete journey through Bavaria without ever losing your seat. There is also an application for the phone that Deutsche Bahn puts on that allows you to purchase the Bayern Pass from the ease of a few taps on your smart phone screen. The Bayern Pass gets you unlimited rides throughout Bavaria for 23 euro a day, and you can add an additional person for 5 euro each, making it by far the cheapest way to travel in Germany. Each region of Germany has their own regional pass and they’re all available on the app, just make sure you're aware of what region you're in ahead of time.

Early morning in Schwandorf
From Schwandorf we would wake up super early and then continue on to Munich and onward to Fussen. On Sunday, my wife would have to leave us and head up to Munich, where she would catch the fernbus back to Prague. This is also one of the cheapest and most comfortable ways to travel inter-country, using either Fernbus or Student Agency. Both are comfortable, with bathrooms, and often offer free coffee, personal television screens and meals and beer for purchase on board.

We would stay in Fussen one more night, then use the Bayern Pass to take a series of trains up to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Franconia, which is now on the northern edge of Bavaria. Rothenburg is a picture perfect, cute fairy tale town that easily reminds one of movies about Scrooge or Pinnochio, as few cities so large are still walled and in pristine, cottage condition. Two nights in Rothenburg, and then we would use the Bavaria Pass again to get to Nuremberg, where we’d tour the grounds of the old imperial castle of the Holy Roman Empire, and then catch an IC Bus direct back to Prague.

A real mouthful for a trip. I won’t tell you about the next cluster of travel until we get there!

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