The 7 Wonders of the World and Travel Checklists

The few wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them”

– Charles de Lint

When groups of travellers get together comparisons of adventures are often made and countries visited and other numerous checklists are ‘ticked’ off. Sit in any backpacker bar around the world, or hostel common room and there is always one conversation between travellers trying to out do each other. On the seventh of December this year, a new list to compare will be announced.  The ‘New 7 Wonders Cities’ list, the top seven cities from around the world as voted by us, the citizens of the world!

Travel lists are nothing new, in fact ever since ancient times there have been travel ‘bucket lists’. The seven wonders of the ancient world, (not ancient to them), was probably the first must see travel checklist. In 2007 a new ‘7 Wonders’ was released, again voted for, by the world’s population. While when we travel we are definitely not ‘list tickers’, our overland adventure from London to Melbourne included a visit to several of the 7 Wonders, and for me, it meant a chance to have visited them all.

So in preparation for the release of the world’s top seven cities, this week we are looking back at our visits to the New 7 Wonders of the World, (in no particular order!).

1. The Colosseum: Rome Italy

The home of Rome's mighty gladiator battles and one of the symbols of the ancient city

The home of Rome’s mighty gladiator battles and one of the symbols of the ancient city

When you think of Ancient Rome, you instinctively think of the Colosseum. I first visited the Colosseum in 2004 and still vividly remember it. Exiting a relatively modern (by Rome standards) Metro/Underground station and there straight in front of you is this enormous imposing ancient structure. The Colosseum has been ravaged by earth quakes and pillaged for its marble throughout the centuries but nothing screams out, ‘I am in Rome’ more than a visit here. Word of advice, steer clear of the guys dressed as Roman soldiers offering to have your photo taken with them. They will use your camera and then charge you for the privilege!

Nothing says Rome quite like the Colosseum

Nothing says Rome quite like the Colosseum

2. Machu Picchu: Peru

The must have photo of Machu Picchu with the mountain of Wayna Picchu in the background

The must have photo of Machu Picchu with the mountain of Huayna Picchu in the background

I had built up Machu Picchu so much in my mind I didn’t expect it to meet my expectations, but in honesty it far exceeded them! My trip to South America was all a little last-minute so I was unable to get my hands on a permit to hike the Inca Trail. Instead I caught the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes and spent a full afternoon and most of the following day exploring this incredible site, and I am so glad I did. I was one of the first into the site before dawn and sat and watched the spindly fingers of fog draw away and finally unveil the ruins in all their glory. It felt like I had the entire area to myself.  After dawn broke I was able to climb to the top of Huayna Picchu which only allows a limited number of people to ascend every day, for a different perspective of the ‘Lost City of the Incas’. The dramatic surroundings and incredible history made for one of my travel highlights from around the world.

Looking down of the 'Lost City' from the peak of Waynu Picchu

Looking down of the ‘Lost City’ from the peak of Huayna Picchu

3. Petra: Jordan

Approaching the Treasury  of Petra from the 1.2km long Siq

Approaching the Treasury of Petra from the 1.2km long Siq

Ever since seeing ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ I had wanted to visit Petra. I knew very little about the Rose City until I visited, thinking that Petra was only the Treasury (the most famous building) but quickly discovered it was a huge sprawling settlement that was not discovered until 1812! The highlight was definitely the walk through the narrow and winding 1.2km gorge called the Siq, a natural phenomena that not even Steven Spielberg and George Lucas could have imagined.

There is more to Petra than just the Treasury

There is more to Petra than just the Treasury

4. Christ the Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer towering over the city of Rio

Christ the Redeemer towering over the city of Rio

Like a beacon of hope, the statue of Christ the Redeemer towers over the city of Rio, arms outstretched embracing the City of God. A major drawcard for visitors and locals alike, Christ has been looking down on Rio since 1931. Stunning views of the of the city, beaches and surrounding hills including the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Looking out towards Rio below

Looking out towards Rio below

5. Pyramid at Chichén Itzá: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

This Mayan Masterpiece is astronomically perfectly aligned

This Mayan Masterpiece is astronomically perfectly aligned

Chichén Itzá showcases just how advanced the Mayans were when it came to astronomy. All the structures in the complex perfectly aligned with the stars, the moon or the sun, none more so than Pyramid of Kulkulkan. During the spring and autumn equinoxes the fading sun lights up what appears to be a serpent descending from the top of the pyramid (there are some great YouTube videos showing this). There are also a number of other very impressive structures all linking up to the Mayan fascination with the universe.

Channelling the powers from above, El Castillo as it is know to the locals

Channelling the powers from above, El Castillo as it is known to the locals

6. The Great Wall of China: China

The Great Wall, the largest of the 7 Wonders

The Great Wall, the largest of the 7 Wonders

For as long as I can remember I wanted to set foot on the Great Wall. Maybe it had to do with the history or perhaps just the pure scale of the project but the wall has always amazed me. Easily accessible from Beijing and packed with both foreign and local tourists alike there are numerous sections to explore and hike this mammoth structure. Or perhaps just find a quiet (if you can) section and look out as the Wall snakes over the surrounding mountains.

There are literally miles of Wall to discover, but trying to get a quiet section is not easy!

There are literally miles of Wall to discover, but trying to get a quiet section is not easy!

7: The Taj Mahal: Agra, India

It is almost impossible to take a bad photo of the Taj Mahal

It is almost impossible to take a bad photo of the Taj Mahal

Perhaps we saved the best to last but words cannot describe what it is like to lay eyes on the Taj Mahal. It is such a contrast to the hustle, bustle and humanity of surrounding Agra, but as soon as you enter the compound and gardens it is like some serene peace descends on you, despite the mass throng of tourists. Considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time is definitely one of those wow moments that don’t come along that often!

One of the most beautiful buildings in the world

One of the most beautiful buildings in the world

Do you have a travel bucket list to check off or do you think that there are other sites around the World that should be part of the 7 Wonders? Let us know what you think.

– Dean

Time to start planning our next travel bucket list!

Time to start planning our next travel bucket list!

SPECIAL NOTE: Before you all ask, the Pyramids of Giza were given honorary status as they are the only still surviving of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World. This was very controversial in 2007!

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Museum Showdown: Ferrari vs Lamborghini

I build sports cars, you build tractors. You should stick to building tractors!” 

– Enzo Ferrari to Ferruccio Lamborghini

 

They are two of the most desired car brands in the world. Both brands have armies of loyal fans, make jaws drop as they drive by and have a rivalry dating back to the 1960’s when Ferruccio Lamborghini suggested to Enzo Ferrari that his cars were good, but could be better!

For those of us who are not multi millionaire’s (and we assume that is most people who read our blog) the closest we will ever get to owning one of these monsters of engineering is visiting the museums. So, like on the track which company’s museum out performs the other? Well in recent times we have been lucky enough to visit both, and one brand is certainly the first past the finishing line!

The Ferrari Museum is everything you would imagine from a super car manufacturer. Big, bold and brash the pristine white interior of the museum is tempered by the racing red of the various makes and models throughout Ferrari’s history. Immaculately manicured staff in red jumpsuits parade through the gift shops and around the museum almost putting the cars to shame.

A chance to get up close and personal

A chance to get up close and personal

The museum also showcases the rich Formula 1 history with the Hall of Champions, a room dedicated to the world champion winning cars and a wall of trophies amassed by Ferrari over the years. A gift shop almost as large as the museum sells just about anything you could slap a Ferraro logo on, shirts, caps, even LEGO sets and recreated parts of a car all waiting for the fans to snap up.

Outside is your chance to drive one of these beasts. A ten minute drive will cost you around 70€ all the way up to 700€ for two hours! With a range of cars to choose from you can put into practice what you learnt in the museum. Ferrari also now offer tours of their test track and around the production facilities (you don’t get to go inside any buildings and photos are forbidden).

Fancy a spin?

Fancy a spin?

Without a doubt, Ferrari knows how to put on a show and cater to what their fans want.The museum is excellent, exhibitions well thought out and the Formula 1 area is a definite must for fans.

Natalie in the Hall of Champions

Natalie in the Hall of Champions

So how does their arch rival Lamborghini match up?

No where near as flashy as Ferrari

No where near as flashy as Ferrari

From the moment you arrive at the Sant’agata Bolognese factory it is a totally different feel. The building is dark and dank, no flashy flags, bright signs or over the top advertising like in Maranello. The museum is also incredibly small. Split over several floors the museum can easily be covered in about 45 minutes, even for die-hard fans. The museum showcases all Lamborghini’s major motoring achievements including a Lamborghini Police Diablo, allegedly once owned by a Mafia boss and turned into a Police car to show that the Police were not scared of them, (the Police crashed the second one they confiscated).

The Lamborghini Patrol Car, the Police crashed the other one!

The Lamborghini Patrol Car, the Police crashed the other one!

The museum feels more like someones private collection is on show rather than the flag-ship of one of the world’s premier super car manufacturers. Lamborghini does trump Ferrari in one major area though, their incredible factory tour.

This 45 minute tour takes you onto the production floor as you watch man and machine hand craft each individual car. From ladies stitching the leather seats and steering wheels to the computers perfectly aligning each of the 15,000€ ceramic disc brakes (each worth s much as a Toyota Yaris our guide told us) the factory tour is incredible. The highlight is without doubt at the end when you watch a technician start up each car for the first time. The grumble then roar of the engine not only sends shivers down the necks of the visitors, but every engineer working in the factory looks up, a knowing smile crossing their lips as they hear their newest baby roar to life! The lack-luster museum and expensive entrance costs are worth it just for this moment.

Lamborghini has most makes and models on show in their much smaller museum

Lamborghini has most makes and models on show in their much smaller museum

While the Lamborghini Museum lacks the flair of Ferrari there is still something appealing about it. You almost feel that the museum is an after thought, the real purpose of everyone being there is that moment that car is switched on for the very first time. That being said, in the museum showdown between two of Italy’s premier brands there can be only one winner.

It would be fair to say for the everyday traveller, the Prancing Horse has more to offer than the Raging Bull, but the factory tours make for a closer contest than expected. In today’s challenge, the Ferrari Museum takes the podium with Lamborghini second!

– Dean

First past the post...

First past the post…

Hometown Tourist: The London Pass Review

 

“Nothing is certain in London but expense”

– William Shenstone

When it comes to sightseeing around London, William was right.  A quick search of “what to do in London” is invariably followed by the gasp of shock and horror at some of the entrance prices.  For visitors, a full day or two of sightseeing around the UK’s capital can easily set you back a pretty penny.

London is set to be the world’s most visited city in 2014.  So we decided to try a cost saving alternative and look for a way for the cash strapped tourist to cover the best London has to offer.

Introducing the London Pass.

The London Pass comes in various formats, from a one day pass (£49) to mammoth six day option (£166) or for an extra cost, a pass that includes a daily travel card on London public transportation. There is a “cap” on how much you can see depending upon the length of your pass and everything is explained in a very thorough and well put together little handbook. For those of you who are a little more tech savvy there is also a great App for your smartphone which we used as we traversed London.  Here you can check out opening times and even favourite certain landmarks as you plan your day.

Skip the lines and save money with the London Pass

Skip the lines and save money with the London Pass

The London Pass gives you access to over 60 different London attractions.  They include everything from the big-ticket sights such as Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London and Kensington Palace to further flung, but equally as impressive, sights such as Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle. For sporting enthusiasts the pass also grants you access to Wimbledon, Stamford Bridge (the home of Chelsea football club) and the Emirates (home of Arsenal). Most of the attractions are free with the pass and others offer a discount rate for pass holders.

So armed with our handbook and our App we decided to see just how much we could see of London in a day and the London Pass certainly proved to be excellent value for money. We researched some of the things that should be on every visitors must see list and a couple of off the beaten path sites that appealed to us as Londoners. First on the list, Westminster Abbey.

It is embarrassing to say it, but in 12 years of using London as a base and now calling it home I had never been to Westminster Abbey. We arrived early, or so we thought and joined the queue to enter. One of the bonuses of the London Pass is not having to line up to buy tickets, only for the necessary security check. After having my bag less than thoroughly searched we just handed over our Pass and in seconds it was scanned and we were in!

Lined up at Westminster ready to start exploring.

Lined up at Westminster ready to start exploring.

To say Westminster Abbey was amazing is an understatement. The audio guide poured over the history and after leaving the church we wandered through the cloisters including seeing Britain’s oldest door! After just over an hour we had exhausted the audio guide, wandered the cloisters and it was time to move on. (Attraction value so far for N&D £18, London Pass £49).

Just around the corner from Westminster we decided to visit another attraction that was free on the London Pass and was more up my alley than Natalie’s. The Churchill or Cabinet War Rooms (£17.50) were the underground headquarters of the UK Government during WWII. Left in their original condition the museum shows the former living quarters, conference rooms and map rooms where the D-Day landings were planned and where the British planned the downfall of Nazi Germany. To be totally honest we probably could have spent a little longer there but we had a plan for the day and had to keep moving. This was just a bonus visit – something that you can easily do when you have a ‘pass’ to get you into places!  (Attraction value so far for N&D £35.50, London Pass £49).

Time to go underground

Time to go underground

Now from the Westminster area we had two options, we could have taken a Thames River Cruise, free with the London Pass (normally £18) or Tube down to our third destination, the Tower of London. For the sake of speed and a few other things we wanted to see we chose the Tube. According to tourism statistics, 2 million people visit the Tower every year, or approximately 6,000 a day! No lining up for tickets for us it was straight to security and in we went.

The Tower was packed, school groups galore and every nationality you could imagine (and lots of Australians!). Despite the crowds, there is plenty of space to explore and the only thing we had to line up for was the Crown Jewels. With plenty to see the Tower easily ate up the majority of our time, but luckily enough our next site was only a stone’s throw away. (Attraction value so far for N&D £55.50, London Pass £49).

Selfie with one of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London

Selfie with one of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London

Natalie has always raved about the Tower Bridge Experience, so we thought why not take this opportunity to visit the top of one of the most iconic bridges in the World. Sadly only part of the bridge is open to the public until the end of the month as the other half (with the best views of London’s skyline) undergoes a facelift and new glass-bottomed floor (you heard it here first). That being said it was a great little visit and certainly complements the Tower.  Best of all even when the second walkway is reopened it does not take a long time to visit, so a great inclusion on your pass. (Attraction value so far for N&D £62.50, London Pass £49).

Time to conquer the Tower Bridge

So from the banks of the Thames we decided to finish our day up at the Olympic Park, bur first we made a brief stop at the Monument to the Great Fire of London. After a lung busting 311 steps to the top we were greeted with an amazing vista of…. Cranes! Nestled in the heart of the City of London the view from the Monument dating back to 1677 showed us just how much construction was taking place across the capital. (Attraction value so far for N&D £66.50, London Pass £49).  A short walk to Bank and it was a chance to get off our feet as we Tubed away from the city centre.

The Monument and a crane, something you will see a lot of from the top.

The Monument and a crane, something you will see a lot of from the top.

The Orbit is the UK’s largest sculpture and during the 2012 Olympics it was virtually impossible to get tickets to the top. Natalie had said during the Games, we would have to come back and do it one day. Today was the day. The park was like a ghost town, bereft of the pulsating energy that London 2012 was so famous for. However a few locals strolled amoung the now well established trees and gardens.  We made our way to the entrance and The Orbit itself.  When we reached the top we looked down upon the skeletal remains of the Olympic stadium as it is transformed into a future football stadium. The scene is like something from the run-up to the games, and it seemed hard to believe we sat in the stadium and cheered on our athletes.  Further round we were treated to views across London and inactive displays to help point out what your are seeing.  The experience was great fun, and would be amazing to visit when the stadium was in full swing. (Attraction value so far for N&D £81.50, London Pass £49).

Reliving the good times at  the London 2012 Olympic Park

Reliving the good times at the London 2012 Olympic Park

As we strolled down the circular ramp of the Orbit our day exploring London was drawing to an end. Without a doubt the London Pass worked out to be great value for money. In fact our day full of sightseeing ensured we saved £33.50! Now in all fairness we did have to push a little and your average tourist would have taken a lot more photos in between destinations, but still if you had a plan the one day pass was certainly a great option.

If we were asked by friends visiting the capital, we would recommend perhaps the two or three day pass. You could easily see everything we saw and with the extra time you could add a Hampton Court Palace tour, a Thames Cruise and throw in a Kensington Palace tour as well. For those of you short on time, budget conscious and desperate to see as much as possible then the London Pass is for you. Most importantly, if you are organised, have a plan of what you want to see then, like us, you can prove poor old William Shenstone wrong!

-Dean

The London Pass can be bought online or at the museums/attractions as well as numerous souvenir stands throughout London.  Just look out for the ‘buy the London Pass here’ flag!

Keep  look our for these signs to buy your London Pass

Keep a look our for these signs to buy your London Pass

 

To spend or to avoid… Airport shopping!

Airport duty free shopping. It divides opinion. For some travellers it is a ticket to spend. For others it’s a painful gauntlet that’s full of dilly dalliering travellers rushing to catch flights.

I have some friends who look forward to the experience. They stock up on cheaper priced face creams, cosmetics and perfume.

I have others who avoid the shops like the plague and instead find a seat in the corner to ‘man the bags’ whilst their partner goes off shopping. I would suggest that this also works well!

Whether you are rushing for a flight or have time to kill, the Duty Free section is sure to get in your way or give you an escape!

Whether you are rushing for a flight or have time to kill, the Duty Free section is sure to get in your way or give you an escape!

As smelly, not washed often enough backpackers I’m sure we have all at one point or another felt that we could do with smelling a little sweeter. Bingo. Walking through the perfume section sorts this little problem perfectly. Like many others I always take the opportunity to try out a new scent and see what I think. I certainly don’t buy every time however I do from time to time make a purchase. Choosing the scent to try can depend on several factors. How long you want it to last, whether you go for something totally new or one you know. Perhaps above all it depends on where the shop assistants are located as to which one is easier to get the biggest ‘squirt’ of! The tricks of the trade….

Some Duty Free favourites...

Some Duty Free favourites…

It’s fair to say whilst we assume prices are cheaper, this is not always the case. I recently looked at a Ted Baker set in Boots at a London airport. Eager not to carry it round I searched to see if I could buy it online. To my surprise it was being sold on the Boots website quite a bit cheaper. However most things are ‘duty free’ and indeed less expensive at the airport. This in itself encourages travellers to part with their heard earned cash.  My tip – if you still have lots of time to kill and have your smartphone handy, then double check prices to make sure you really are getting a bargain!

Duty Free champers - these  appeal to The Smart Way Round!

Duty Free champers – these appeal to The Smart Way Round!

For me, the biggest thing airport shopping provides is that feeling of being on holiday. It’s a signal of the beginning, of the excitement that lies ahead. You might not want to buy anything, but with time to kill at an airport it provides a space to wander and stretch the legs. And hey, if yet another MAC eye shadow should fall into my shopping basket then who am I to complain….

– Natalie

We Blame Oktoberfest!

Hi everyone

To all our loyal followers you may have noticed that this week we have not posted a blog. Well a little something called Oktoberfest got in the way. You know, the world’s largest fair, where they consume close to 10 million litres of beer, 2 million bratwurst sausages, 400,000 chickens and 800 full oxen, or there abouts.

We will be back next week, but in the meantime thought we would share some of our photos from the festivities…

Prost!

 

At the main entrance to Oktoberfest grounds

At the main entrance to Oktoberfest grounds

The giant ferris wheel offers great views over the grounds

The giant Ferris Wheel offers great views over the grounds

Views from the ferris wheel the following morning

Views from the Ferris Wheel the following morning

Advertising in the U-Bahn

Advertising in the U-Bahn

First beer officially at 10:33am

First beer officially at 10:33am

A sense of the size of the Augustiner Beer tent

A sense of the size of the Augustiner Beer tent

Getting into the spirit of things...

Getting into the spirit of things…

Nothing beats drinking beer in traditional costume

Nothing beats drinking beer in traditional costume

 

Safe travels everyone!

N&D

Exploring Tuscany and Chianti the fun way – on two wheels of course!

Italy. It has a reputation for good wine, high fashion and romantic scenery. Does it live up to this reputation – absolutely!

Whilst cars and motorbikes can get you to most places, you will find you blink and soon pass some of the sights. I was lucky enough to be involved with co-leading the Exodus ‘Cycle Tuscany and Chianti’ trip last week, alongside the awesome leader Radu. Slowing things down and seeing things from a bike I conclude, is actually the best way to see this stunning region.

Our group of 16 met and became well aquatinted with their two-wheeled friends for a week. With days in the saddle ranging from 50 – 75 kilometres, the group found their pre-trip training came in handy!!!

Keep peddling up the hills!

Keep peddling up the hills!

For the first two days the sun shone and we eased the legs in gently! We had our first introduction to the ‘white roads’ (gravel) and a couple of nice big ‘undulations’… This was to become the word of the trip!  Gelato was on tap as were the wines of the Chianti region. Chianti Classico anyone?

Vineyards as far as the eye could see

Vineyards as far as the eye could see

After a few days in the saddle the group had a well earned break in Siena.  Meanwhile Radu put me through my paces on the bike!  Siena truly is beautiful.  With the magical Campo (main square) and Duomo there were photo opportunities galore! I enjoyed a glass of prosecco on the edge of the Campo with two of our guests. In Italy you never get bored of watching the world go by!!!

Siena - wow

Siena – wow

By the middle of the week the group were back in the saddle again and we entered the Chianti region. Castellina here we came!  At this point it felt like there were vineyards everywhere we looked!  The undulating hills and blue sky backdrop just made the whole area look like a fairy tale.  I managed to fit in a quick swim in quite possibly the best pool I have ever swam in. Pictures didn’t do it justice. Outdoor (of course), the backdrop were vineyards, the town of Castellina and forests. As the sun set I swam up and down trying to take in the tranquility. In amongst a busy week, the ten minute break came at the right time.

Afternoon dip

Afternoon dip

The next few days brought mixed weather but the group became experts at dodging the showers. We made a day trip to San Gimignano. The first 18k from the hotel were downhill…. But of course that made for a nice uphill on the way back!! As usual this ‘medieval Manhattan’ town was bursting at the seams and the queues for the ‘best gelato in Italy’ went on for ages!!!  As usual the support van was on hand with drinks and snacks to help them up the hills on the way back!

Prize-winning gelato!

Prize-winning gelato!

After sampling lots of wine and lots of gelato, the trip continued with a mixture of ups and downs to Florence. As we pulled in you could see the Duomo in distance just waiting to be explored.  What an iconic place to finish! The historical sights awaited….

Above all, the trip was full of great people and was at a pace that was doable for all. With regular snack breaks and photo stops who could not enjoy it?

Snacks and grapes...

Snacks and grapes… 

Tuscany and Chianti really are better off seen on two wheels!

Cheers!

– Natalie

P.S  Heres the link to my flipagram montage – enjoy!

Oktoberfest 2014: Top Day Trips out of Munich

It is now less than two weeks until Oktoberfest begins and if you followed are Pre Oktoberfest Checklist you should hopefully just about be ready to go! While a week-long beer drinking binge sounds good on paper, after a few days of being jammed into the Oktoberfest tents you may be looking to get out-of-town and rest your liver. Below we have listed a number of great day trips all within a couple of hours journey from Munich.

1. Ludwig II’s Fairytale Castles.

‘Mad’ King Ludwig’s castles are the jewels in the crown of Bavarian tourism. Neuschwanstein is the most famous, with an estimated 1.4 million visitors every year. Neuschwanstein was also the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle and has captured the imagination of tourists since the King’s mysterious death in 1886.

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary’s Bridge

However, while most people flock to Neuschwanstein, his other two castles are equally as impressive. Linderhof, near the famous Bavarian religious town of Oberammergau (also worth a look if you have time) is the only castle Ludwig ever completed. Much smaller than the other two, it is a far easier visit than Neuschwanstein and also doesn’t get the crowds. Nestled amongst the mountains and surrounded by lovely gardens, Linderhof would have to be our favourite of the three.

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The final castle is situated on an island in Bavaria’s largest lake, the Chiemsee and is situated almost half way between Munich and Salzburg. Herrenchiemsee was built to be a living breathing museum dedicated to Ludwig’s idol, Louis XIV of France. An almost exact replica of the central sections of Versailles, Herrenchiemsee is probably the least visited of the three but has an idyllic location and can only be reached by a boat ride out to the island.

Numerous companies offer day trips from Munich and often combine Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Oberammergau. If you do go with theses agencies double-check what you are booking, as a lot of the tours DONT include entrances into the castles themselves.

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

2. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Visiting a concentration camp is not something you will necessarily say you enjoyed, but it is something you will be glad you have experienced. Dachau was the first camp set up in the 1930’s and now days is part memorial and part museum, dedicated to all those who suffered under Hitler’s regime. Getting out there can be a little tricky on public transport, however a number of local tour companies offer trips out to Dachau normally meeting in Marienplatz. We highly recommend the audio guide.

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

3. Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

According to legend when God was creating the earth he gave all the natural beauty to the angels to distribute evenly around the world. As you can imagine this is a time consuming job. With the angels running behind schedule (he did only give them a week after all), God bellowed out “Hurry up!”, and the angels dropped all the natural wonders in Berchtesgaden.Or so the story goes.

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

Approximately two hours from Munich the region of Berchtesgaden is stunningly beautiful. Dramatic mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers and of course Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Specially designed local buses drive you up one of Europe’s most amazing, and somewhat hair-raising roads to the base of the Eagle’s Nest. From here it is a short walk through a tunnel to the original elevator made of polished brass before arriving in the building itself. Eagle’s Nest has a little something for everyone, incredible alpine scenery and photo opportunities for the nature lovers and some very interesting history for the history nerds (like me). Our tip, try to get there early, queues for the buses and the elevator can be very long if the weather is good.

4. Salzburg

The hills are alive! That’s right, after only a two hour train journey you could be yodeling away Julie Andrews style in the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . Salzburg makes for a great day trip from Munich if for no other reason to just ‘pop’ over the border into Austria.

Salzburg's gorgeous Old Town

Salzburg’s gorgeous Old Town

Combine the imposing Festung or fortress towering over the city and the charming medieval streets and alley ways, Salzburg is a photographer’s dream. There are plenty of sights from ‘The Sound of Music’ to keep you amused or for something totally different head out to Hangar 7, the home of Red Bull. For great views of the old town and fortress head to the Cafe Sacher and enjoy a slice of the famous chocolate cake, Sacher Torte.

Sacher torte, yum!!

Sacher Torte, yum!

There are numerous other possibilities that we haven’t mentioned her as well. Nuremberg has a great old town and huge city walls, while from Garmisch-Partenkirchen you can catch a cable car up to the top of Germany’s highest mountain. If you fancy staying in Munich there are also some great experiences to keep you busy. We love Mike’s Bike Tours, a great way to see loads of the city and have a seriously fun time doing it. You can also hire bikes from them and they also run trips to Neuschwanstein and Salzburg.

Remember (if you haven’t had too much beer), Munich is a great city and so is the surrounding countryside, so make sure you take time out from Oktoberfest and get out there and explore!

– Dean

Prost!

Prost!