Technically, this is still day 10… Yes, another sleepless night in Europe (that’s two now – what can I say, I’m a true nocturnal being!) found me slugging away at work until the wee hours of the morning. Around 4:45am, I decided that it was time to shower and pack up my backpack to prepare for the next leg of the journey – Italy.
After having gone through the a.m. ritual, I checked us out of the hotel and we made our way to the metro. I’m always surprised at how the skill of navigating through these metro stations, regardless of the city, comes so naturally to me. A few times through and a few glances at the map allows me to whip through stations like the locals do – which definitely adds a nice layer to the “don’t look like a tourist” package.
We made our way to Mariensplatz and then Haupbahnhof by way of the U line and then the S line and arrived at the train station in record time… Well, okay, this is a lie. I don’t really know what record time would be from the hotel to the train station but at the time we went, it seemed to go really, really fast. Buying our ticket was as easy as ever as I had checked the timetable the night before at www.bahn.de (not sure if this is for all rails but it has seemed to be accurate for every city connection we’ve needed along the way so I’ll continue using it!) and knew there was a train leaving at 7:30am from Munich.
A stop at Starbucks was next and in definite order… There is something about working through the night that just finds you desiring a Starbucks more than anything else in this world but there is some irony here. After being up for so long, I almost can’t stomach coffee. It’s like I hit a wall where my body is yelling, “NO MORE CAFFEINE!” But, I digress… I still had a Starbucks (well, most of it – it now sits in the train’s little cubby hole trash compartment!) and sang inside of the coffee shop at 6:30am to a crowd of people who were grumpy and thought my over-cheerfulness was NOT FUN!
Before we got on the train, we stopped in at a little market to grab some snacks for the way. Seven hours by train can seem long and we didn’t want to get thirsty or hungry along the way because it’s a long time to wait to fulfill those needs. The loot we scored was: two giant bottles of Evian (needed after hitting the caffeine wall), three mini cans of Pringles in a variety of flavours and some gummy keys…. haha, I know, I know… Breakfast of champions right? Well, we probably won’t crack into it before noon… Probably…
So, the train was right on time which was perfect because I was anxious to grab a seat and get settled in for some napping time and it’s funny just how easy it is to sleep anywhere when you’re tired enough… I learned this through previous travels when I would have airline delays and have to spend the night in airports (oh yes, I’ve done this at least six or seven times) and find anything I could to sleep on.
Now, it’s 10:07am… Our train left at 7:30am. I’ve been going between being awake and napping but more being awake than anything. So, I decided that writing was in order so I pulled out the trusty laptop (I packed it separate) and now here I am. I am not taking photos or videos even though this is the most majestic train ride we’ve had – full of snowy mountain caps, deep valleys, train bridges and little villages everywhere. This my friend is what it’s like to travel through the European mountainous areas and it’s really, really nice.
I don’t feel like being a tourist in this moment. I want to feel like I don’t need to be slinging around my camera, snapping up photos every two seconds. I just want to relax, enjoy and be in this European adventure of mine. I started today off like that in terms of not rushing through getting ready but rather just taking my time, having a long hot shower and basking in the sunshine that is this trip.
Now as I prepare to enter Italy, I can’t be more excited. Seeing Venice and Rome have been two dreams of mine and I can’t believe they are going to finally materialize into something real and true. I only hope they don’t disappoint.
I’m back! We’ve switched trains and are now on a Trenitalia and I LOVE THIS TRAIN! Our last train was cramped and so uncomfortable and it was a six hour train ride. Now, we’re on this deluxe train with four seats all facing each other and a table in the center. I’m charging my battery in the outlet provided, got my laptop setup on the table and I’m writing this! The scenery around me is a little less mountainous from earlier – it was insanely gorgeous but as I mentioned, no photographs as my camera’s battery died. However, Trina did take a couple!
We’re deep into Italy now and we’re about an hour or so from Venice. I’ve already stripped off my scarf and my sweater and replaced it with a cute dress, leggings and my Uggs. I’m ready for Italy baby! The weather is gorgeous and there is not a cloud in sight. We couldn’t be luckier! I’m anxious to see our hotel – we’re staying at the Hilton Molino Stucky which is a brand new hotel that just opened on the Guidecca. It’s actually a converted flour mill and warehouse. And… the best part… it is only accessible by shuttle BOAT or GONDOLA!
So, I don’t have much else to write now except YAY! We’re in Italy and this is one place I’ve been DYING to get to ever since we started this journey. Two nights in Venice and two nights in Rome. It should be so interesting to absorb ourselves into the history that makes up these two cities. We’re blessed… Very, very blessed.
Finishing off this blog post… It’s later in the night now and we’ve had a wonderful first night in Venice. Very uneventful but we needed it. We landed right outside of Santa Lucia, the main train station for the island of Venice, and were immediately met with the gorgeous views of buildings and canals… An amazing first glance at Venice. We didn’t want to do the “touristy” thing quite yet so we began the trek to our hotel.
This is the first thing you see out of Santa Lucia’s train station in Venice, Italy.
Staring across from Venice at the Guidecca, where our hotel is located (not in this photo)
Due to our hotel being on a separate island called the Guidecca, we had to walk across Venice and then take a hotel shuttle BOAT to get there. We’re staying (forgive me if I said this earlier) at the Hilton Molino Stucky.
Gorgeous hotel and highly, highly recommended. Our hotel is a converted flour mill and in our room, we have traditional wooden beam ceilings, views of the canal and the channel and these magnificent doors / windows that open up to let the fresh sea air into our room.
Our hotel room in Venice, Italy.
Trina hanging out one window and the view from our room!
The beautiful window / doors in our hotel room.
The room itself is done up like you would come to expect of a Hilton except this one has a hundred times more charm. This place looks and feels like a museum that you might wander through except we get to sleep here for two nights! Tonight was work as per usual and cappucinos and tomorrow, we’ll wander down and see some of the sights but keep the day light, airy and relaxing. Lord knows we need it!
The view from the front step of our hotel. This is looking toward Venice.
A cruise ship leaves the harbor. Taken from the sky deck at the Hilton in Venice, Italy.
Today was one of my favorite days thus far over here in Europe (besides my love for Vienna of course). This morning, we awoke to two wake-up calls (I always request two because I generally sleep through one of them!), quickly showered and ran out the door. We were heading to Neuschwanstein Castle and I have been looking forward to this since one of my friend’s mentioned it and suggested I go.
We had got great directions the night before from our hotel desk so we were reviewing those when we realized that we had very little time to actually catch the train to Fussen from Munich’s Haupbahnhof (that means main station for those of you who don’t speak German…) So, in true Amazing Race style, Trina flew to the curb, hailed a cab (it just so happened one was coming down the street) and we told the driver to STEP ON IT and get us to the train station as quickly as he could. (Side note: he didn’t speak English very well so I’m not really sure he understood but he seemed stressed because he played with the radio, adjusted his hat, put his window up and down a hundred times and didn’t say one word…)
We got to the train station with six minutes to spare (literally) and, still keeping with the Amazing Race style, we RAN to the ticket counter and I threw my pre-printed information at the guy who whipped through the purchase of the tickets like nobody’s business. He gave me my tickets and we RAN to platform 32. It was far. We were winded by the time we got there but we literally just made it… A few seconds later and we would’ve missed the train and not had another opportunity to take one for an hour.
On our way to Schwangau, Germany.
On our way to Schwangau, Germany.
So, train ride is going fine until we have to switch at Bucherole (I think) and when we stop and get on the next train, the driver comes in and says, “Sorry, this isn’t going anywhere, it’s broken…” So, we get off and have to take a street bus to Fussen to catch the bus to Schwangau - where the castles are. All in all, it worked out fine but when we got dropped off at the castle, we had 2 minutes to spare before missing our deadline to pick up our reserved tickets. (Side note #2: if you plan a trip out here, go online and book your tickets in advance. You get to skip out on a HUGE line-up!) Luckily, we made it and were feeling pretty good about our rushed yet super successful morning…
First sight of the castle.
The castle, autumn leaves and mountains… Glorious!
Then… we stepped out into the glorious day and realized we had one of two choices. Both involved climbing the mountain but it was our choice as to whether it was a 30 minute hike or a 45 minute hike. We had an hour plus to spare so we opted for the 45 minute one. WOW. That’s really how I will sum up the walk up the mountain (I’m not kidding - it’s a mountain… See photos!) It’s steep and hard work!
Erin Blaskie sitting at the top of the mountain near Neuschwanstein Castle.
Erin Blaskie & Trina Lamarche.
But… when you get to the top, it’s worth every moment. The castle sits high on this mountain and the views are incredible. Like nothing I’ve seen thus far. And, we kicked the 45 minute trails ass and did it in 30 minutes! (I apologize for the use of the word ass but it’s needed to explain our exuberance!) So, we stand around and wait and end up having a conversation with some guys who are living in Germany doing some missionary work but are from the US. They were mini celebrities as people were asking to take photos with them… Didn’t understand it but it was cool nonetheless!
The view of the other castle from Neuschwanstein.
Our tour number finally came up and we stepped inside the castle. In the tour, you can’t take any photos or videos but I snuck in a couple anyway :) I couldn’t resist with my handy (and easily hidden) Flip camera!
The castle that inspired Walt Disney.
The tour takes you through 1/3 of the rooms that were finished. The King who requested this castle be built actually died during construction and on the day he died, all construction ceased entirely. So, it’s not all done and they were actually doing work on it while we were there.
Views from the castle.
The throne room and the singer’s court were really neat. We also got to see the King’s bedroom, living room, secretary’s office and his dressing room. It is a colorful castle with rich details and magnificent views everywhere. The coolest part was that it also featured an indoor grotto (kind of reminded me of the Playboy Mansion - maybe this King was wayyy ahead of his time!) and a little outdoor / indoor garden off of his bedroom. Very cutting edge for a King me thinks.
The castle from afar.
The tour didn’t last long but it was still worth going through. Outside, we snapped some additional photos of the castle itself and then headed toward Mary’s Bridge. Mary’s Bridge is suspended between two mountains and offers amazing views of the Castle. It too is not an easy walk but it’s worth it if you can manage it!
St. Mary’s Bridge.
From Mary’s Bridge, we did a few other photos before starting the long trek down. The leaves on the trees looked beautiful in all of their colorful splendor so we stopped along a trail to do an impromptu photo shoot.
Trina, looking gorgeous with leaves falling on her head…
The beautiful foliage.
After making our way all the way to the bottom, we grabbed the bus, headed back to Fussen and took the train from Fussen to Munich, sleeping nearly the entire two hour train ride.
When we got back into Munich, we decided to see some sights before heading back to the hotel so that we could leave really early for Venice the next morning. We went to St. Mary’s column and took a few photos in the Mariensplatz square.
Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus in Munich, Germany
St. Mary’s Column in Munich, Germany.
After doing the touristy thing in Munich, we retired back to our hotel, grabbed a comfy couch in the lobby near the bar, had some dinner and have been chugging Red Bulls ever since. Yes, I know, not healthy but we’re not sleeping tonight! Instead, we’re going to save our sleep for the seven hour train ride tomorrow and keep tonight productive… Get ahead on all of the work in our inboxes!
So… the next time you’ll hear from me, I’ll be at the newly opened Hilton on the canal in Venice. The hotel is only accessible by shuttle boat or gondola and offers amazing views of the city and accessibility to all major sites. We can hardly wait.
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