Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Rain, rain and more rain... We had breakfast at the hotel. It was a nice buffet, and gave us all more opportunities to try new foods. After breakfast, we started the relatively short journey south to visit the castle Neuschwanstein. It's probably the most famous castle in Germany. It took about two hours to get there... in the rain. We bought tickets to visit both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Hohenschwangau was the first castle we toured, built by Emperor Maximilian, and Neuschanstein was built by his son, Ludwig II.

The process for getting into the tour is interesting. When you purchase your tickets, you are assigned a group number and time for admission. So you hang out outside the entrance to the castle, then they display your tour number and you can scan the bar code on your ticket and go in. If you miss your group, you are not admitted and must go buy another ticket and time slot. We didn't have any problem getting in to Hohenschwangau, and it was a modest castle with fun things to see. But getting to Neuschwanstein is a real challenge. It's a 40 minute zig-zagging uphill walk. So we decided to take a horse drawn shuttle up the hill. Once they let you off, you still have another 5 minute walk uphill to the castle. We had our lunch at a local bier garten, then went to wait for the horse cart. We ended up waiting for a pretty long time for our ride up the hill. Once we got there, our number was next to be called. CRAP! So, Sonja and I each took turns hustling mom up the remaining walk, in the rain. We got to the entrance just before they called our tour number. But we made it and were happy. Unfortunately the first thing you do once you enter the castle is go up four flights of spiral staircases. My poor mother!

But seeing Neuschwanstein is an unforgetable experience. It was amazing and crazy all in one. The throne room, his bedroom... everything was only seen to be believed. Oh... and one more thing... Ludwig had one of the rooms of the castle decorated to look like a cave. Ya, a cave, complete with stalactites and stalagmites. You literally walk from his study into a cave. It really was weird. No wonder they arrested him for being insane. The views from the castle were really awesome, though. You can understand why Ludwig wanted his castle built here.

After the tour, it was still raining, so we decided we'd take the horse cart back down the hill. We waited in line for maybe 20 minutes, and no cart showed up. We finally gave up and started the long trek down the hill. There was a pedestrian short cut that we took, but it was steep and slippery. I was really glad to finally get off that hill! The rain finally stopped on the drive back to our hotel, and we ended the night with dinner at the hotel and a relaxing swim.

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