As I have found on my travels, getting a locals insight into their city or town is priceless. In Croatia, this got me beyond Dubrovnik’s city walls. When I was in Australia, it helped me decide for myself between Canberra and Can-boring. In these cases, I was lucky to have found a great tour company or had a friend show me around their backyard.
If only this could happen in every city I visit.
Enter ToursbyLocals, a company dedicated to showing off the world by the people who know it best. I got to experience this dedication while in Munich with a day trip into the heart of Bavaria. Here’s how it went.
Our day with ToursbyLocals started with a punctual pick up from our Munich hotel. Simone, a born and bred Bavarian, was ready to show off what makes her corner of Germany so great.
Unlike canned tours and big bus companies, heading out with Simone instantly felt different and obviously more personal. Instead of listening to a bus driver recite the same facts and spiel for the umpteenth time, going with a guide from ToursbyLocals offers a catered and meaningful experience. Along with learning about Baravia as we cruised down the Autobhan, I got to know Simone and her personal take on her backyard. As a tourist, I could quickly see what I liked about Bavaria and why tourists would want to visit. Simone shared why locals love it and why they live it.
Welcome to Oberammergau
Our first stop on this Bavarian ToursbyLocals day out was the massive dome monastery, Ettal Abbey. As we walked the freshly snowed on grounds, Simone explained how this picturesque monastery came to be. With roots dating back to the 14th century, Ettal Abbey has seen some things. It was expanded in varying styles of the times and today includes a school, a brewery, a hotel, a distillery, and even a cheese factory!
Down the road, we pulled over at an orphanage unlike any other. Staying true to the theme of Oberammergau, the colorful murals of several (frightening) German fairy tales are on display. This is part of the areas Lüftmalerei which is a fancy German word for curb appeal. The town of Oberammergau has held up this tradition in spectacular fashion and is a big draw for visitors from Germany and beyond.
We strolled the town as friends do with guests, taking in the other decorated buildings while Simone filled us in on the history of the area. Besides the murals, Oberammergau is known for the Passion Play. This play takes place every 10 years and is fully put on by members of the community. How did this production start? Simone explained that in 1633 residents vowed to put on the show if spared from the bubonic plague. Much like staying with the tradition of painting their homes, locals have held true to this promise and put on one heck of a show. A pilgrimage started to see this show, one that has continued to this day. The popularity of the play has deemed for a state of the art theatre complete with a retracting roof! Looking to catch the show? The next one isn’t until 2020!
Sticking with the pilgrimage theme, our next stop was the massive Wieskirche Church which was constructed to showcase one creepy statue. Why? Because it was said to have cried real tears. Simone explained that the statue was deemed too ugly to be on display in a nearby monastery but once the waterworks started a tiny chapel was built. Then the people came…by the thousands.
The highlight of this ToursbyLocals day was a visit to the famous Neuschwanstein castle. Although it gained it’s popularity because the Disney castle was modelled after it, Simone’s explanation of how an odd and reclusive Ludwig the Second built it, it became much more fascinating. Although the day turned grey, robbing me of any postcard-perfect photo, Simone’s local knowledge made the visit a memorable one.
My day out with Simone and ToursbyLocals echoed what I had already known – seeing a new place with someone that lives there is the best way to experience it. Until now, I have relied on friends to experience a new place this way. Now with ToursbyLocals, I can see a new place with what feels like visiting a friend’s hometown instead of taking a canned tour…and you can too.
How great is that?
ToursbyLocals Good to Know
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Although I was provided a complimentary tour of Bavaria with ToursbyLocals,
the experience, opinions, and friendly experience are my own.