24 Hours in Munich on Here To Travel

24 Hours in Munich: What To See & Where To Eat

Before you carry on reading, spend the next 10 seconds trying to imagine what 24 hours in Munich might be like. What kind of imagery springs to mind when you think of the Bavarian capital? What might you see and what might you eat and drink? Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here while you have a think…

Did you do it?

In those 10 seconds, did you see Lederhosen and Dirndl-wearing men and women drinking litres of beer and eating enormous pretzels in huge tents whilst being serenaded by a brass band? Am I close? Go on, admit it!

I’m not a big fan of stereotypes as they’re normal exaggerated. In this case though, particularly if you visit Munich in September, your expectations will be met. As you might expect though, there’s a lot more to Munich than meets the eye. Here’s our an account of 24 hours spent in magnificent Munich. It’s a credit to Germany’s third largest city that we had a fantastic day and barely even scratched the surface.

Your 24 Hours in Munich Starts Here

Ready to start exploring? Let’s go!

11:55Watch a jousting tournament at the New Town Hall Glockenspiel

We started our 24 hours in Munich the way most people do, by watching a wedding, a jousting tournament and repetitive dance routine. We followed the crowds of tourists to Marienplatz and craned our necks back in readiness of watching these three events. A hush fell upon the square as bells struck 12. We waited with bated breath, mouths slightly agape, with a sense of anticipation.

Full-sized wooden caricatures started to whir into action atop the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) as bells played the first in a series of tunes. A re-enactment of the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V and Renata of Lorraine was in progress. The glockenspiel, consisting of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures, was installed in 1907 and is still in fine working order.

New Town Hall, Munich
The impressive facade of New Town Hall, Munich
Glockenspiel, New Town Hall, Munich
At over 100 years old, it’s amazing this thing still works.

To say the portrayal was captivating would be lying, but it was still amusing and rather enchanting. We were certainly impressed that this huge, decorative structure was still in working order over 100 years after it was installed. The most interesting section of the routine was the jousting tournament, particularly when one of the jousters was knocked over (Tip: place bets on which one you think might win before it happens). The crowd of spectators watched in peaceful and respectful reverence throughout and applauded when the show was complete. It was certainly a gentle start to our 24 hours in Munich.

The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) Glockenspiel on Marienplatz is one of those tourist attractions whose reputation is perhaps better than reality. But it’s the reputation that draws people in and makes this one of Munich’s highlights and we’re glad we were able to see it for ourselves.

12:20Lunch at Cafe Rischart for delicious cakes

In 1883, a man named Max Rischart opened a bakery in Munich. Since then, the business has grown considerably with branches all over Munich and, five generations on, is still run by a member of the Rischart family. Drawn in by the promise of cake (rapidly becoming our Kryptonite), we headed to the first floor of the most visited bakery branch in the whole of Germany, the Rischart Cafe on Marienplatz. With a view of the New Town Hall and its famous Glockenspiel, we enjoyed a creamy tomato soup and Rischart’s Club Toast, a delicious sandwich of chicken, salad, egg and bacon.

Afterwards, we spent longer than necessary gazing at the counter display of cakes, tortes and gateaux. After careful consideration, Jade opted for a slice of Schwarzwälder, an irresistibly decadent black forest gateau topped with chocolate, cream and a plump cherry. I on the other hand went for a serving of Fidelio, a cake made of biscuit, vanilla cream and raspberries and topped with marzipan and a fruit jelly.

Honest, tasty food and a wonderful way to get fuelled up for our 24 hours in Munich.

Rischart's Club Toast at Cafe Rischart, Munich
Rischart’s Club Toast at Cafe Rischart, Munich
Tomato Soup at Cafe Rischart, Munich
Deliciously creamy Tomato Soup
Black Forest Cake at Cafe Rischart, Munich
Scrumptious Schwarzwälder, a.k.a. Black Forest Gateau
A scrumptious torte at Cafe Rischart, Munich
Fidelio, made from raspberries, vanilla cream & biscuit

14:00Climb the Tower of St. Peter’s Church for fantastic views

With only 24 hours in Munich, we wanted to see as much of the city as we could. So, we headed to a place where we could literally see all of it – the Tower of the Church of St Peter (Kirche St. Peter). The tower, colloquially known as Alter Peter (Old Pete), is 91 metres high and offers views of the entire city and, on clear days, even the Alps. After being destroyed in a fire, the church was rebuilt in 1368 and is a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. After admiring the architecture, we headed up the 299 steps to see what we could see from the top.

The Alps weren’t visible on our visit, but the city was in all its red-tile-roofed and clock-tower-filled glory.

Old Town Hall, Munich
The clock tower of Munich’s Old Town Hall
New Town Hall, Marienplatz, 24 Hours In Munich
Marienplatz, with the New Town Hall in the foreground
Old Town Hall & Heiliggeistkirche, Munich
Old Town Hall & Heiliggeistkirche, Munich

15:30Explore the Expansive ‘Englischer Garten’ for a breather

Look at any map of Munich and your eye will immediately be drawn to a huge green scratch emanating from the city centre, extending almost 6km to the outskirts. This is the English Garden, (Englischer Garten) one of the largest urban public parks in Europe. The park boasts over 75km of path and walkways, over 100 bridges crossing 8km of streams and a series of interesting attractions.

Every so often, we’d stumble upon a curiosity or point of interest, like a gentlemen busker cheerfully playing the accordion, a horse-drawn carriage, a statue, a bridge or a waterfall.

We took the U-Bahn (Munich’s underground metro system) to Dietlindenstraße station, walked along the main road to the park and, without any real idea of what route we would take or what we would find on the way, strolled in the direction of the city centre. What we discovered was an unmanicured but well-looked-after park full of green spaces, mature trees and waterways. Every so often, we’d stumble upon a curiosity or point of interest, like a gentlemen busker cheerfully playing the accordion, a horse-drawn carriage, a statue, a bridge or a waterfall. On a lake, visitors had hired electric boats and they were dutifully dispersing wildfowl as they hummed their way across the water. It was all rather lovely and it was smashing to see the park was clearly loved and able to offer so much to so many.

U-Bahn train, Munich
A U-Bahn train arrives at a station in Munich
Matt in Englischer Garten, Munich
Matt enjoys the peaceful ambiance in Englischer Garten, Munich
Busker in Englischer Garten, Munich
An accordion player serenades visitors to Englischer Garten, Munich

Our peaceful stroll was suddenly disturbed by the unmistakable echoes of Bavarian music. Easily distracted and always open to discovery, we followed our ears to find out where it was emanating from. We turned a corner and were delighted to find a beer garden full of revellers being serenaded by a traditional band atop a Chinese pagoda of all things. The garden was enormous and was full of people enjoying the ambiance, freshly baked pretzels and generous steins of beer. We were tempted to join in, but we were still recovering from our day at Oktoberfest a few days before and decided it wise to abstain on this occasion.

Horses in Englischer Garten, Munich
Horses pull a Oktoberfest show cart through Englischer Garten, Munich
Serving hatch, Beer Garden, Munich
From this hatch, beer is served. Like many across Munich.

18:00Head to ‘Hofbräuhaus München’ for beer and meat

Our abstention didn’t last long. We were getting peckish and knew our only option was to head to one of Munich’s historic traditional beer houses. The house we chose, Hofbräuhaus, was first opened in 1589 and is still a firm favourite among locals and tourists. The place is an impressive mix of vaulted ceilings covered in frescoes and beautifully crafted wood furniture, some of which is over 100 years old.

Roast Pork at Hofbrauhaus, Munich
Roast Pork served with a potato dumpling and homemade gravy
Mixed Salad at Hofbrauhaus, Munich
A mixed salad with roasted kernels, crispy bacon bits and house dressing

We headed straight for the main beer hall, Die Schwemme, which was a fluster of activity and noise. Revellers roared with laughter and held their steins aloft in celebration whilst servers in traditional garb emerged from doors bringing yet more beer. We apologetically squeezed our way between tables and found one of our own amongst the hubbub. After exchanging nods and smiles with our table-mates, we got about to the important business of studying the menu. We decided to have roast pork served with a potato dumpling and homemade gravy and a mixed salad with roast kernels, crispy bacon bits and house dressing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we also ordered two beers. Helped by the house band playing traditional Bavarian tunes, the revelry was infectious and it wasn’t long before we were singing along and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

After we’d eaten, we were keen to explore the rest of the house. We walked upstairs and came across the Festival Hall, an cavernous room full of more long-tabled merriment above which hung beautiful chandeliers and even bigger vaulted ceilings covered in more decorative frescoes. For a true taste of Bavaria, there couldn’t be a better place than this.

Die Schwemme at Hofbrauhaus, Munich
Die Schwemme, the main beer hall at Hofbräuhaus, Munich
Festival Hall at Hofbrauhaus, Munich
The beautifully decorated Festival Hall at at Hofbräuhaus, Munich

21:00Go for a Ride at the Oktoberfest Funfair

For you to enjoy this part of your 24 hours in Munich, Oktoberfest will have to be running (yearly during September). If it isn’t running, simply stay in the beer house or move to another one of your choosing. If you’re lucky though and Oktoberfest is in full swing, catch the U-Bahn again to Theresienwiese station.

We’d already had our day at Oktoberfest earlier in the week so we were here just to go on some rides. If you are visiting the festival ground to do the same, access is free and unrestricted. You can just pay for each ride as you’re going around. If though you’re hoping to experience the beer and pretzel-fueled version of Oktoberfest, don’t show up at 9pm and expect to gain access to any of the beer tents. Unless you have a reservation, you will be met with closed doors and shaking heads.

Big Wheel at Oktoberfest
One of the tamer rides at Oktoberfest
Rischart's Café Kaiserschmarrn at Oktoberfest
Tasty treats aplenty at Rischart’s Café Kaiserschmarrn

We don’t recommend you mix a full-on drinking session with the funfair (unless you enjoy feeling sick). Instead, we suggest you designate a day or evening for the funfair either before or a few days after your Oktoberfest experience. We’ve made a complete guide to Oktoberfest especially for Oktoberfest newbies with more tips such as this one. You can view it here.

Oktoberfest – 22 Essential Tips for a Fantastic Day Out

To the uninitiated, Oktoberfest is a brash and intimidating taste of Bavarian culture and tradition. Fear not though, as we’ve drawn together 22 essential tips for having a blast at the world’s largest beer festival.

View our Complete Guide

It was interesting to see how different the festival ground is at night. When we visited initially by day, there was a sense of fun and silliness. By night however, there was a heightened excitement and much more of a party feel. Jade and I avoided the beer-guzzling and toured the food stalls and rides, all the while bedazzled by thousands of twinkling lights. It was a fun way to end our 24 hours in Munich.

Special Thanks to the Munich Tourism Board

Our 24 hours in Munich couldn’t have been possible without the assistance of the Munich Tourism Board. Thank you for your help in making our day so special.

Drop us a comment in the box below if you’ve found this post helpful and don’t forget to share it with your friends.

Lumiere London: The Capital’s First Light Festival

London has joined the growing list of cities around the world to host their very own festival of lights. Dubbed Lumiere London, the festival saw 30 artist-created light installations placed around the city for spectators to enjoy. Despite the chilly night air and it being London’s first foray into the world of Lumiere festivals, thousands turned out to point and marvel at the elaborate illuminations.

Lumiere London – See the city in a new light

Jade and I couldn’t resist joining the light-loving crowds ourselves. We started our walk on Piccadilly to watch some huge illuminated fish (Luminéoles by Porté par le vent) dance and swoop above our heads to atmospheric music. They were originally created for Fete des Lumières Lyon in France, the most famous of all the world’s Lumiere festivals.

Lumineoles on Piccadilly

185 Piccadilly

Occasionally, the music would be interrupted by the sound of an angry elephant. The sound belonged to a huge projection of an elephant (Eléphantastic! by Topla-design © Catherine Garret) over a nearby alleyway. From one end you could see the elephant from the front, while at the other end of the alleyway, another projection showed the elephant from the rear.

Stick men made from florescent tubes seemingly bounced about, chased one another and danced to music and comedic sound effects.

We walked down an adjacent alleyway to see Voyageurs (The Travellers) by French artist Cédric Le Borgne. The travellers were a series of illuminated human forms frozen in flight above the street. These figures had already traveled from Toulouse to Geneva and Seoul, bringing a sense of reality to their name.

Lumiere London Sign

1.8 London

We then headed down the upmarket shopping parade that is Regent Street, normally busy with traffic, now completely closed for the festival. Here we discovered Keyframes by Groupe LAPS. This was our favourite of all the installations we watched and drew quite a large audience. Stick men made from florescent tubes seemingly bounced about, chased one another and danced to music and comedic sound effects. We really liked the sense of fun and were impressed by the effort and imagination that must have gone into its creation.

Northwards we walked to Oxford Circus where a huge jellyfish-like object (1.8 London by Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman) had been hoisted above the famous traffic intersection. Signs gave instructions on how to interact with the piece, but it didn’t seem to work when we tried. The piece was named after one of the astonishing impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

“Such was the strength of the vibrations, the earthquake momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened that day by 1.8 microseconds. Using data from NASA, Studio Echelman turned this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis of which was used to create the shape of this piece.”

From Oxford Circus, we took the tube to Kings Cross where a large concentration of illuminations had been installed. We managed to watch part of a huge circus themed projection (Circus of Light by Ocubo) but didn’t get much further. By this point, the crowds got the better of us and we abandoned any idea of seeing any of the other displays. The sheer number of people on the street made navigating a nuisance. We were lucky. So many showed up the following night of the festival, organisers were forced to switch of the displays temporarily in order to reduce the swell.

Circus of Light, Kings Cross

Sadly, this is now a common problem with events being held in London. Large events in the centre of the city always attracts huge numbers of people. For street-based events, getting around can become troublesome.

Despite the crowds, we enjoyed walking around the traffic-free streets and seeing the displays. Perhaps next time though, the installations should be in place for a week or two rather than four nights, in order to reduce any chances of disruption.

 

Untersberg – Climbing The Mountain In The Sound of Music

In one of the most iconic scenes in the history of cinema, a young nun joyously sings and runs through lush meadows of green grass against a dramatic backdrop of mountain peaks stretching into the distance. As she crests a summit, she twirls about and proclaims, “The hills are alive, with the sound of music.” Recently, we headed to Untersberg, the very mountain Maria sang on to find out if she was right.

For the best value ride, we recommend getting a Salzburg Card.

The rather unattractively named Untersberg lies less than 16km from Salzburg and is the very mountain that appears at the beginning and end of The Sound of Music. It is in fact a massif of six peaks, the highest of which is Berchtesgaden Hochthron at 1973m. While there are walking routes to the summits, most visitors ascend by the Untersbergbahn cable car which lifts passengers from the lower terminus at the village of St. Leonhard to the Geiereck spur at an altitude of 1,776 m.

Salzburg Card

For the best value ride, we recommend getting yourself a Salzburg Card. Many tourist-friendly cities around the world have visitor cards which, for a fixed fee either covers the cost of entry to a handful of attractions or offers discounts. Salzburg’s offering is by far the best we’ve ever found, providing inclusive access to all of Salzburg’s major attractions, unlimited use of public transport and discounts on concerts and excursions.

Matt & Jade on Untersberg Untersberg Viewpoint

View from UntersbergJade and I used our Salzburg Cards to get ourselves all the way from the city centre to the lower terminus of the Untersbergbahn by bus and then up the mountain. Individually, this would have cost around €24, the same cost as an off-season 24 hour Salzburg card giving you access to every other major attraction in Salzburg. So even if you only intended on visiting Untersberg and one other attraction, you’d save money buying a Salzburg Card.

Ascending Untersberg

The ascent in the cable car only took around 8 minutes, but those 8 minutes were full of drama. The initial leg to the first pylon lifted us gently over the village of St. Leonard. Passengers shuffled around the cabin to take photos and murmured their appreciation to one another. As we approached the pylon, the mountain felt like it was within touching distance. Suddenly, it felt like we were moving much quicker than before, though it was just an illusion of proximity. We crested what we thought was the summit, but discovered we were actually only half way there. Passengers audibly gasped as the mountain dropped away from us again and a huge cavern-like drop was revealed.

Cafe on Untersberg Untersberg Signposts

Upon arrival at the Geiereck spur, two things hit us. Firstly, it was much colder than it was just 8 minutes before. We were glad we had anticipated this and put on some extra layers. Secondly, the views were breathtakingly spectacular. We had visited on a clear morning. Cloud was building, climbing mysteriously up the sides of the mountain face towards us, but still the views were wonderful. We could see Salzburg sprawling out into the countryside like a spider to the north. To the north-west, we could see the farm lands of Bavaria stretching out to the horizon.

It was an easy and rewarding walk, made all the more exciting by swirling clouds of mist obscuring the pathways.

Having soaked in the views, we decided to hike towards another slightly higher peak in the distance. The route was well marked and wooden steps had been installed at the steepest sections. It was an easy and rewarding walk, made all the more exciting by swirling clouds of mist obscuring the pathways. Once we’d reached the summit, we found a bench and a large cross and not much else. We stood wordlessly and motionless and surveyed our accomplishment with pride.

Matt Climbing Untersberg Untersberg Pathways

Recreating that opening scene

The stoicism didn’t last. In our case, it rarely does. We were on the mountain made famous by The Sound of Music for goodness sake! We couldn’t come all this way and not recreate that famous opening scene. Cue Jade twirling about on top of a mountain, me slipping down a hole while I’m filming and an unceremonious exit from scene.

Viewers in Germany unfortunately cannot watch this video due to copyright restrictions.

Have we inspired you to climb every mountain, literally and figuratively? Have you got a mountain-related story to tell? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Best Way of Seeing Salzburg is by Segway

There’s no avoiding it – cruising around the UNESCO protected medieval streets of Salzburg on a Segway will make you look like an invading robot army platoon. This juxtaposition of old meets new is probably why you’ll get a few angry and disgusted looks from locals as you sail past them. Don’t worry though, as neither of these things actually matter. You’ll be having far too much fun to care, safe in the knowledge that seeing Salzburg by Segway is easily the best way of introducing yourself to this incredibly pretty city.

Salzburg Panorama

At the time of writing, Segway Salzburg is the only company brave enough to offer Segway tours of Salzburg. Brave, because on the face of things, hoping aboard a Segway anywhere in the world is an extremely foreign concept to most people. Also though, offering such an option in a city that prides itself in its heritage is a ballsy move. Staff could only offer resigned sighs and apologetic smiles whenever they mentioned just how much Salzburg residents hate Segways.

Segway Salzburg offer a range of tours, from a short hour long tour of the city centre, to a huge 2 hour scoot through the centre, out to the suburbs and around. We decided upon the longer tour. We had only arrived in the city the day before and we wanted to get a feel for the place before we dived in deeper. Our guide was Jonathan, a Swede who had set himself up in Salzburg a few years before. During the winter months, he would swap his Segway for a snowboard and head into the nearby mountains to coach tourists. For now though, he was our tour guide aboard a Segway.

Riding A Segway

Jade & Jonathan in Salzburg

Jade and I had been on a Segway taster session a few months before, so we were already well aware of just how easy riding a Segway is. To the initiated, a Segway with its two parallel wheels looks difficult to control and as if it could topple at any moment. But failing to topple is a Segway’s primary feature. After a couple of minutes of tuition, most find that they can trust the Segway to keep them upright, and providing they don’t also trust it to steer them away from walls, curbs or people, you’ll find riding one is not only very intuitive, but tremendously good fun.

The Big Tour of Salzburg

Once we’d had a quick practice, we set off to explore. Within seconds, we were riding through the historic centre, surrounded by beautifully restored buildings housing shops and restaurants. Tourists and locals gazed curiously at us as we rode across Staatsbrücke, the city centre bridge spanning the fast-flowing blue-grey waters of the Salzach. Our first calling point would be Mozartplatz, named after the famous Salzburg-born composer. A statue of the man himself stood proudly in the centre of the square surrounded by tourists taking selfies. The most important landmarks were pointed out to us by Jonathan, including Dom zu Salzburg, an impressive seventeenth century cathedral and Residenz Fountain, a large ornate fountain around which Maria sang “I have confidence in me” in The Sound of Music. As we progressed around the city centre, Jonathan was keen to point out as many Sound of Music filming locations as possible as the area is absolutely overflowing with them.

Mozartplatz, Salzburg

River Salzach, Salzburg

Dom du Salzburg

Our next stop put our Segways to the test as we climbed Festungsberg, a 542 metre high mountain, one of five in the city and on top of which Hohensalzburg Castle sits, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Despite the steep ascent, our nimble Segways ascended the mountain with ease. We enjoyed the truly breathtaking panoramic views of the city below, but could have probably done without being stared at by a clearly furious local, angry at our sheer presence. Within moments, we were well away from his vicinity, so it’s really difficult to understand why he and so many other residents of Salzburg are so annoyed by Segways in Salzburg. We smiled back at him, half to appease his disgust, half because we were just too happy aboard our Segways to care.

Next, we headed out to the suburbs and into the countryside. From here, we caught a first glimpse of Untersberg, a mountain we would later climb (a post on this coming soon). For now though, we simply admired it’s craggy dominance over the neighbouring farmland. Our tour continued around lake Leopoldskroner Weiher and the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo palace that provided the exterior shots of the Von Trapp mansion.

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg

Matt & Jade in Salzburg

Untersberg View From Salzburg

Finally, Jade, Jonathan and I wound our way through narrow cobbled alleyways up to the top of Mönchsberg, another of the city’s mountains. On top, we found more spectacular views of both the city and surrounding green fields and mountains.

From the start of our tour to the finish, we were convinced this was easily the best way of seeing Salzburg. Our battery-powered scooters effortlessly and silently scaled mountains, navigated busy cobbled streets and shot across wide open squares. Without them, seeing so much of Salzburg in the same length of time would have been completely impossible.

The Future of Tourism?

Segways were first seen in 2001, yet it’s only now that entrepreneurial types are seeing the massive potential they possess for the tourism industry. Clean, quiet and reasonably discrete transportation that doesn’t require the riders to have prior experience, nor a license. For medium sized cities like Salzburg, it’s almost as if Segways were made to been ridden by tourists. Now is definitely the time to drop any preconceptions you have about Segways and put them at the back of your mind the next time you’re planning a trip. Does your destination have a Segway tour company? If so, get yourself booked in.

If Salzburg is your destination, we can only hope our glowing review of Salzburg by Segway will encourage you to book yourself onto one of their tours. Despite them being nearly 15 years old, Segways are an important part of the future of the tourism industry, whether the residents of Salzburg like it or not.

Segway Salzburg Office

More Information on Segway Salzburg

Tours by Segway Salzburg run daily from 13 March to 31 October. During winter months, tours can be run on request providing the weather is good and there are a minimum of five participants. We were taken on the ‘Big Segway Tour’, but you can choose from a selection of smaller tours should you wish to. For the most up-to-date information, head to the Segway Salzburg website.

 

Disclaimer: Segway Salzburg generously offered us a complimentary tour of Salzburg. This has in no way affected what has been written in this article. All opinions are those of the author.

Need somewhere to stay in Salzburg?

Salzburg offers a variety of places to stay to suit every budget. Here’s one hotel we’ve personally stayed in that we recommend.

Bergland Hotel, Salzburg

 

Bergland Hotel, Salzburg

Our Rating:

This family-run, centrally-located hotel offers individually designed rooms, a continental breakfast and plenty of artwork and artifacts to peruse. Prices are good and wifi is free.

The Good

Each room is decorated in a unique style with plenty of personal touches. We really like the old, wooden explorer’s writing desk and the antlers on the wall in our room.

The Not-So-Good

The centre is close, but still a 10-15 minute walk away. Really not a deal breaker.

 

Book with Booking.com

Book with our preferred partner for low rates, no booking fees and free cancellation on most rooms. Best price guaranteed!

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Have you been on a Segway? If not, are you now tempted to have a go on your next trip? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bounce Below, Snowdonia

Bounce Below: Unbelievable Subterranean Playground in Wales

What if I told you it was possible to go trampolining deep inside an abandoned mind shaft in the middle of Snowdonia National Park in Wales?  You’d think I was mad, right? Despite the implausibility, some clever people have managed to make this ludicrous idea a reality. Dubious, we headed to Wales to find out for sure.

We almost didn’t make it. I had decided to twin a visit to Liverpool, England (Related: posts on Liverpool) with this experience in Wales and had booked us a hotel near to where I thought the experience was based. Upon arrival at our hotel, the receptionist delivered the bad news that we were in fact an hours drive away and that we would almost certainly miss our booking. I frantically called the organisers and asked them if there was anything they could do. They said they might be able to squeeze us on the last session of the day should there be two no-shows.

Driving through Snowdonia, Wales
Driving through Snowdonia, Wales
Scenery in Snowdonia, Wales
Scenery in Snowdonia, Wales

Driving through Snowdonia National Park

We set off immediately, desperately hoping that fortune would shine in our favour. To get there, we had to wind our way through the stunning landscape of Snowdonia National Park. The further we got in, the more spectacular and rugged it became. While we enjoyed the scenery, we were concerned that our efforts would be in vain and that we’d just have to turn back again. Upon arrival, we parked up and rushed through the rain-sodden car park to the reception to find out our fate.

Waiting in line was excruciating. It seemed like it was taking ages! When it came to be our turn, we nervously identified ourselves and were told… that two people had cancelled. What unbelievable luck!

The Nervousness Begins

The panic was over, for one of us at least. I had made the booking and had watched videos on YouTube by others who had already visited. Jade on the other hand didn’t have a clue what we were about to do and was now pretty nervous.

This photo demonstrates the our differing emotions.

Matt & Jade at Bounce Below, Wales
Matt & Jade at Bounce Below, Wales
Waiting at Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Waiting at Bounce Below, Snowdonia

Helmets and red jump-suits were donned and a liability waiver was signed, neither of which helped calm her nerves. After a short talk by one of the staff, we were ushered to an old and very tiny mining train for a five minute journey into the side of the mountain and into the cavern. The tunnel was dark and very claustrophobic. The train bumped its way through the murk to a large opening where it came to a halt. Here, we were asked to put on net shoe covers and were given more safety advice before we were led around the corner to see the experience for the first time.

Net Shoe Covers at Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Net Shoe Covers at Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Bounce Below, Snowdonia

A Network of Nets

Before us, lit atmospherically in a changing variety of colours, was a cavern twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. A complex web of bungy ropes stretched from corner to corner, cradling three levels of bouncy netting, each linked by tunnels and slides. After a few minutes, we were invited to enter the network for our hour of fun.

It was immediately clear why we were wearing so much safety equipment. It wasn’t long before were were flat on our backs and struggling to stand up. The nets were significantly more bouncy than I had anticipated and what with 20-30 others bouncing around on the same net, it was not a place for dignity or balance. Soon we were all in fits of laughter and falling about like toddlers.

Bounce Below is not a place for those with a fear of heights. The highest of the three nets is suspended 180 feet above the bottom of the cavern and, because it’s just netting between you and the bottom, you can see all the way down.

Ascending and Descending

Getting between the levels was a challenge. To get up, you had to climb through tight and sometimes steep net tunnels. Some parts were so tight and steep, we had to resort to getting on our hands and knees. Going down was not so strenuous, but it was still challenging.

The only way down was by slides. In essence, the slides were nothing more than holes in the floor of the nets with a tube of netting going all the way down to the net below. Here, we recommend covering your face while you descend as the nets are narrow and scraping your nose on them is almost a certainty.

Despite the challenging terrain, traversing the network was just as fun as simply bouncing around.

Entering the experience at Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Entering the experience at Bounce Below, Snowdonia
Derek the mining train
Derek the mining train

An hour is a long time when you’re spending that whole time either attempting to bounce as high as possible or trying to keep yourself from toppling over. We got tired pretty quickly and found we had to take regular rests, essentially turning the net into the world’s largest hammock.

Soon, the lights in the cavern flashed, signifying the end of our session. We’d had a fantastic time and were reluctant to leave, but we clambered back up the exit slope and back to Derek, the train that had brought us in. We slipped our shoe covers off and trundled back into the brightness of daylight, grinning from ear to ear.

Matt & Jade post-bounce
Matt & Jade post-bounce

Is it as good as it sounds?

Would we take a stress-filled hour’s drive through the mountain-filled scenery of Snowdonia to do it all again? Absolutely! Our experience at Bounce Below was totally unique and one that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else on earth, so we look back on our afternoon underground with great fondness.

Bounce Below is one of those attractions that serves no other purpose other than to allow people to have nothing but fun for an hour, and for that reason, we heartily recommend it.

More Infomation

Bounce Below is one of a number of adrenaline-inducing attractions organised by Zip World. Their headline attraction is Velocity, Europe’s longest zip line. You can find out more information about Velocity and the other zip lines here.

What do you think? Does an experience at ‘Bounce Below’ sound appealing?

London Chinatown Celebrates New Year

There was plenty to keep visitors entertained as London Chinatown welcomed the Chinese New Year. A noisy and colourful parade started proceedings in the morning. From midday, Trafalgar Square played host to live music and dance performances on a big stage. Meanwhile, community performance areas dotted throughout the area hosted music and martial arts displays.

The many restaurants of Chinatown joined in the fun by setting up stalls on the street. Steaming dim sum, noodle & rice dishes and freshly baked custard tarts and buns were all on offer to revellers. Despite the best efforts of the inclement weather, the atmosphere was fun and lively.

Photos from London Chinatown Celebrations

Here are some images from the day:

A Union flag umbrella next to a gate marking the entrance to London Chinatown
A Union flag umbrella next to a gate marking the entrance to London’s Chinatown
Trafalgar Square hosts live music and dance performances
Trafalgar Square hosts live music and dance performances
Lanterns for sale in London's Chinatown
Lanterns for sale in London’s Chinatown
Tasty custard-filled treat
Tasty custard-filled treat
london-cny15-lanterns-street
Laterns hang above a street in London’s Chinatown

How do you celebrate Chinese New Year? Let us know in the comments below.