Much To Do in Munich

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In the summer of 2019, I found myself back in Germany which is an amazing country which is a mixture of history and modernism; nature and big cities; it’s also a city that holds some of the most bucket list items.  These was my 3rd time to Germany but my first time in Munich so I was excited to see what a smaller city was all about.  

 

Our main reason for visiting Munich was to visit to Neuschwanstein Castle which in case you’re wondering was the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella; I was excited because this castle has been on my list for quite some time an added plus was that we got to drive through the Black Forest Mountain range in Germany.  I have seen many mountain ranges throughout the US and Europe, and this is by far one of my favorites.  There’s just a simplicity to all of the towns that you pass through in the black forest and such greenery that you don’t see anywhere else.  The black forest is also where the famous cuckoo clocks come from.

 

Since I was with a small group of clients, we did a prearranged tour to Neuschwanstein Castle, in my opinion the tour option we took wasn’t worth it. I’m all about transparency here and trying to be as honest as possible.  There is thing I would have done differently, and I can’t worry about the past however, I can help with someone not making the same mistakes in the future. Our first mistake was that we went to visit such a popular tourist attraction in July, which is the middle of the summer, which is the most popular travel season in Europe.  It’s crowded everywhere around this time so just imagine the most popular tourist attraction in the city.  

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Visiting the castle isn’t as easy as one would think, and this is why I am also opposed of the pre-arranged tour.  The tour in a 1-day trip from Munich which you would think is enough, however the castle is roughly 2 hours from Munich by bus.  You arrive in Munich roughly around noon, the tour then gives you 3 hours to tour the area get up to the castle and then make your way back down again.  There are only 2 ways up to the castle, shuttle bus or horse drawn carriage; then you have to hike the rest of the way for about 30 minutes and then tour the castle in the inside and throughout this time we also had to eat lunch because we were heading straight back to Munich.  The tour tickets do not include the transfer on the way up to the castle or the tickets to enter the castle.  If we would have had more time in the area, we all would have taken our time to tour the castle.  But in all honesty who wants to do all of that in a rush.

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Now in their defense, the shuttle buses in the middle of the summer only took about a 30 minute wait before you were on your bus, and walking down a hill isn’t as bad as walking up, in case you didn’t want to wait for the shuttle bus at the top.  Now the horse drawn carriage only takes up to 8 people at a time so you can imagine the wait for that was at least 1-1.5 hours.  After waiting for about 45 minutes we decided to enjoy the little town at the foot of the mountain, have a leisurely lunch and enjoy some shopping. 

My only complaint was that our “free time” to tour the castle was cut too short, so it wasn’t enjoyable.  However, the tour was worth it for the drive through the Black forest alone.  I enjoyed that ride tremendously and maybe if I ever go back, I’d do it on my own so I can dictate my own time at the castle.  That is usually my issue with pre-arranged tours, is that you can’t be as independent as you’d like and do your own thing.  You’re constantly on someone else’s watch and having to be considerate for other people instead of just enjoying your time there.  

 

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The Marvelous Niagara Falls

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The Niagara Falls is a sight that usually goes unmentioned.   From the U.S.  Canada can be entered through various states and yet most citizens have yet to cross over to the out neighbor in the North.  I remember as a kid visiting Canada and the Falls and being overwhelmed by it.  This was back in the winter of 1996; the attractions can’t be compared to what they are now.  Also, back then we just did a quick drive by and it was in the dead of winter for this Florida girl. 

This past week I got the opportunity to visit the Falls for the first time in the summer.  I was also given the opportunity to do allthe attractions that the Falls offer.  Let me tell you, it was exhausting to do it all in 3 days but boy was it worth it!

My first tip is to stay at hotel on Fallsview Boulevard, we stayed at the Embassy Suites.  My room literally had the view from the top of the falls, I could look out and see it without any disturbances.  I was also able to get some epic pictures without any other tourists in the way.  The hotel also had a funicular that would drop you off right in the middle of the falls viewing platform.  In my opinion, this is the only option when staying in Niagara.  

Our first day, there we woke up extra early and headed on our tour of the Niagara Falls, we literally stopped at so many different parts of the falls and did every attraction there was to do.  From the whirlpools, to the maiden mist, to the journey behind the falls; trust me it’s a long day but it’s worth it.  You will have seen the falls from every angle and have learned so much all that’s left to discover after that tour are the zip lines and the helicopter ride.   This was such an extensive tour, but I was so glad we decided to do it.

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After our tour we decided to have dinner at the Skylon Tour, one of the main reasons of having dinner here was to catch the fireworks show.  The Skylon Tower has 3 levels, the revolving dining room, the buffet, and the observation deck.  In order to get to the dining room, you must take an outdoor elevator up to the absolute top, which is a ride in itself.  Being that the dining room is revolving, there’s no guarantee that you will be facing the falls once the fireworks start.  Just our luck the moment it started we were front and center to the fireworks show.  Now the restaurant, is amazing because of the view and the food is delicious, however if I am reviewing it as just a restaurant, I have to say it’s lacking in the service department and honestly, it seemed very outdated.  

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The next day, we woke up and headed the 2 hours to Toronto to spend the day there exploring.  We had a private transfer from Niagara Falls to Toronto by private bus and it was the best way to travel.  We arrived in Toronto at 11 a.m. got straight on the hop on hop off bus and spent the day touring around the city.  Some one our stops included: 

• The CN Tower

• Castle Lomo

• Lawrence Fresh Market.

Those were the best stops in the city, I can’t ever turn down a fresh market and this one did not disappoint.  The Lawrence market is 2 stories of fresh food and shops, with plenty of places to have a seat and enjoy your lunch, it was our first stop.  

After our last stop we took a river cruise to the different islands around Toronto and the views were just spectacular.  It was a nice relaxing way to end the trip.  We then went over to the Amsterdam Brewhouse and had a great dinner to end the trip as a group.  Our transport was waiting for us to head back to Niagara.  

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Unfortunately, like all great times they must come to an end. We have done this trip in the past before and it’s always a trip enjoyed thoroughly by our clients and this one certainly did not disappoint.  We had a small group of about 20 and I went along as a tour guide to answer any questions and make sure everything went smoothly.  We had so much fun that I can’t wait for next year’s trip to Niagara Falls.  I’ve taken a break from travelling because I was beginning to feel the burn out and Canada hit the refresh button for me.  There are just certain places that seem to do that for you.  We had certain times that we would all just rest for the next day and because of that we were able to accomplish so much.  

 

Don’t underestimate Niagara Falls, remember the world is a beautiful place but there is plenty to see in our backyard.