Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Munich and Rome

Scott got some time off over the holidays so we decided instead of traveling back home (USA - Ohio) we would spend our Christmas break in Munich and Rome. 

First stop Munich!
The train from Vienna to Munich takes about 4 hours. Just one of the many reasons why I love traveling in Europe. Getting from country to country is so easy! The weather in Munich held up for the most part and we only had snow the last day. We were pretty lucky because most of Europe got hit with massive snow and several major airports were shut down.

While staying in Munich, we had a couple day trips planned so we decided to stayed at the Marriott by the hauptbanhof (train station) just for convenience. It took about 10 minutes to walk to Karl's Gate which is close to hauptbanof and also leads you into the main area of Munich, called Marienplatz.
A department store, Hirmer, beautifully decorated for the holidays and you get a glimpse of the Cathedral of our Lady tower in the background.
Cathedral of our Lady, known as the Frauenkirsche Dom, has two towers reaching a height of 325 feet. They are highest buildings in the city.
I love this! A group of people walking around Marienplatz offering free hugs! 
The New Town Hall, called Neues Rathaus, is located in the heart of the city called Marienplatz. The building looks very similar to the Rathaus in Vienna. Of course no city would be complete, over the holidays, without the traditional Christmas market.

In the center of the main tower is the world-famous Glockenspiel, the fourth largest in Europe. Everyday at 11am, 12pm and 5pm it chimes and the life-sized statues rotate around each other in a mock dance. We stood there with all the other tourists to see the show that lasts about 15 minutes.
The Bavarian State Chancellery at the Hofgarden.
Our first trip planned was to visit the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, which is 2 hours north west of Munich. The museum was also celebrating its 60th year of Porsche in America. Scott mentioned going to this museum when we arrived in Vienna back in August so he was very happy to finally make the trip. Not being a "car person" I was really impressed with the museum and now know more about Porsche cars then any other. Guess I will just have to get one. Ha Ha
Our second trip, out of Munich, was to this remarkable town nestled in the Bavarian Alps called Fussen. We went to see the two historic castles called Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.

Hohenschwangau Castle was built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria and used as the families summer and hunting residence. Unfortunately they did not allow photos inside either castle.
Bavarian Mountains, absolutely beautiful!
The Neuschwanstein Castle, the more famous palace, has appeared in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Of the entire castle, only 10 rooms are completed. Ludwig II intended to rebuild the old castle but he died before it was complete. It opened to the public in August 1886 just weeks after Ludwig II death. The king commissioned architects to finish the outside of the castle as Ludwig II had envisioned and finally 23 years later, after Ludwig II death, it was completed to what we see today.
View of the castle from the town. There are a few ways you can get to the either castle. The most popular is taking a horse drawn carriage ride. The other two options would be to walk or take a shuttle bus. To get to the Neuschwanstein Castle, shown below, it is a 45-minute walk up the mountain which we choose.
This is not my picture but gives an ariel view of the castle to show how big it really is and how high above the town it lies.
Back in Munich
No trip would be complete if you didn't visit the famous Hofbrauhaus, Munich's oldest brewery! We spent a lot of time here. 

Inside the Hofbrauhaus
There is live music to keep the guests entertained as they drink liters and liters of beer!


Some night shots of Munich, very pretty with all the holiday decor.

On Christmas morning we got on a flight and headed to Rome. I went to Rome with a friend of mine about six years ago and Scott lived there for a short time so we were both excited to be back. In 1 1/2 hours we arrived into Rome. We booked our accommodations with Visconti Palace Hotel, which is centrally located by the Vatican City, Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo on the right bank of the Tiber river.

Close to our hotel was a Japanese restaurant called, Taki. Since I love sushi, Scott took me there for our Christmas lunch.
Once again we lucked out with great weather and were able to walk around pretty much everywhere. A view of St. Peters Basilica from the Ponte Umberto bridge.
The famous Spanish steps, widest staircase in Europe, with its 138 steps built from 1723 - 1725. Always a great place to sit and people watch.
At the top of the Spanish Steps is Trinita dei Monti.
View from the top of the Spanish Steps
The magnificent Pantheon, which is currently being renovated, was built in 126AD and one of the best preserved of all Roman buildings.
Inside the Pantheon. The dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.
Piazza Navona Sqaure
The Colosseum
Trevi Fountain, one of my favorite sites in Rome
St. Peter's Square and Basilica
It is hard to capture how magnificent the artwork is inside the Vatican.This is the School of Athens by the famous Italian artist Raphael. Painted between 1510 - 1511.
More of Raphael's work.
Last Judgement inside the Sistine Chapel.
The ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel. 

This sculpture, called Sphere, is located in the Belvedere courtyard.
Court of the Pigna (Pine) also in the Belvedere Courtyard.
Scott's camera takes great night shots so we walked around the city and snapped some pictures.
The Rodeo Drive of Rome, Via del Condotti
Piazza Navona
Scott and Giovanni at La Botticella that Giovanni owns. When Scott lived in Rome this was his hangout. It is a great bar just off of Piazza Navona and if you are a Pittsburgh sports fan you will love it even more. It is the official Pittsburgh Steelers Bar! The walls are littered with pennants from colleges and sports teams all over North America but the largest display is from Pittsburgh / Pennsylvania.
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