Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 15--Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein, and Fussen

Day 15--Honenschwangau Castle, Neuschwanstain Castle, Tegelberg Luge, and Fussen

Brilliant day!

We left Munchen early since we had about a two hour drive. The ride from Munchen to Fussen was beautiful in the early morning as we passed one quaint little village after another as we watched the sun slowly illuminating the fields and ushering in the new day.

Our B&B in Fussen was charming. It fit all my notions of what the quintessential German B&B should be--a funny little German grandma who didn't speak any English, big wooden balcony that overlooked the countryside and the castles, and window boxes overflowing with red geraniums.

The B&B was in the perfect location, about twenty minutes from the castles and allowed us to walk through beautiful fields, down quiet country roads, and by charming little houses on our way to the castles.

The town of Honenschwangau is the ultimate tourist trap--but you have to do it. Tours are schedule in such a way that the only thing you're really able to do it to eat or shop (yes we did both). And while they have signs telling you how long it will take you to hike to the two castles, we think they purposely exaggerator so that you'll pay for either the bus (which we did took up to Neuschwanstein) or the horse drawn carriage to take you to the castles.

And while I may not have liked the interior of the castles as I'm not a huge fan of medieval architecture (Tay and I split on which castle had the best interior), the views from the castles made up for it. Each castle is set on a high hill and you have to walk through the forrest to reach them. When you finally get to the castles you're rewarded with stunning views that overlook green countryside, red-roofed villages, and clear lakes.

The view of Neuschwanstein is breathtaking from Mary's Bridge (Marienbrucke). Not only do you get a beautiful view of the castle, but the bridge is built over this waterfall that comes crashing down the canyon and from the bridge you can really see why King Ludwig built the castle where he did.

I love how Europe isn't really that concerned over safety. There were numerous times in Europe where I found myself thinking "that would never fly back home." We'd restrict an area instead of saying "beware--danger of death" (yes those signs really can be found in the mountains by Mary's Bridge). The bridge seemed a little unstable (or it might have been the fact that we got to the bridge the same time as a bus of Japaness tourists and they seemed to be EVERYWHERE), and as I watched the wood on the bridge bow I hoped the bridge would hold.

While in Germany I really wanted to ride a luge and the Tegelberg Luge was our last chance. One of the things I wanted to do was to do the Tegelberg Luge. At the map of the entrance to the town, it looked like the luge was about the same distance away from the town as our B&B. It wasn't (and yes, we didn't learned our lesson that the maps in the town were all off). While we were worried that we wouldn't make it to the luge before it closed (we did), the walk would have been worth it even if we hadn't made it to the luge. The path took us through farm land, then wooded areas with streams, before bringing us through pastures filled with cows. After the hustle and bustle of Hohenschwangau, I loved the quiet of the walk and hearing the beautiful cow bells echoing through the countryside. For me one of the best parts about traveling is getting off the beaten path. It's taking that trip through the cow pastures where the true treasures and heart of a country are found. Plus if you don't walk through cow pastures how are you ever going to get video's of Taylor saying "amy, amy" in perfect timing with the cow's chewing? :)

The luge was great. You get in this little metal sled and they pull you to the top of the course (about half way up the mountain). The luge pulls you right up along the many cows that use the ski resort as their summer grazing spot and if I had wanted to, I could have reach out to touch the cow.

Since we really didn't have any additional plans we figured that hiking at one of the lakes nearby wasn't a bad way to pass the rest of the evening. After a slight detour into Austria, we ended up at one of the lakes and found what was one of the highlights of the trip--an outdoor miniature golf course.

When Taylor first suggested going mini golf, we're in Germany why should we spend the evening golfing? But I'm glad we did because mini golfing in Germany is nothing like America. There's no paths through the grass or even a decorate course. Instead you have these slabs of cement that have some strange looking geometric hole (I had to take a picture of some of the more unique ones) and a course that you weren't allowed to even stand on. Taylor and I laughed so hard as we played this ridiculous course because it ended up being a more difficult than anticipated and we each had a hole that was almost near impossible for us to get. Mine was to shoot the ball into a target and Taylor's was getting the ball to stay in the volcano (it kept bouncing out).

As evening fell we took a walk through Fussen and it's a beautiful town. Many of the buildings are beautifully painted with decorative features. We walked through the town square, the cementary that dates back to the 16th century, along the Lech river and the medieval wall and monastery.

One downside to Europe is that the stores close early, which is a problem when all of your allergy medicine is gone and you throat itches. By the time I remembered I was out of allergy medicine everything was closed. Our last hope was a gas station and while they didn't have any we had this nice man tell us that one of the apocathery shops in the city has to be "open" at all times and he'll take us to where we can find out which one is. The apothecary shop isn't really open, instead you ring the bell and wait for the druggist to open the little window on the door. Through the little window you tell him what you need, pass him your money, and he slides back your drugs.



HONENSCHWANGAU CASTLE AND CITY
1. It was originally built in the 12th century, but destroyed by Napolean.
2. It was rebuilt by King Maxamillian II in the 1830's to match the original castle.
3. The name means "high swanland." The swan is one of the symbols of the royal Wittlesbach family.
4. The Wittlesbach family still owns Honenschwangau castle.






NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE
1. It's the castle that inspired the Disney castle.
2. While it looks medieval, it was built in 1869 to 1886 as is only as old as the Eiffel Tower.
3. It's name means "new swan."
4. Only a third of the castle was completed when King Ludwig died.
5. Many of the rooms are devoted to Wagner and his operas.







Looking down from Mary's Bridge








View from Mary's Bridge






OUR COUNTRY RAMBLES


Wooded paths


Country Roads
Farms

Cow pastures


Cow's in the ski resort



Country churches


Farms

Who knows

Trying to get a picture with Neuschwanstein. You can kind of see it.
And yes I know the picture looks kind of couplely.

TEGELBERG LUGE




I was trying to get the country below me, it didn't work.


MINI GOLF






Do not stand on the course





The view across the lake

FUSSEN


Under the red and white flag you can see the apothecary shop

My allergy medicine



I love this sign because it means something like
Obey the road signs to set a good example for your children.



OUR B&B

I forgot to take a picture of the outside of our B&B,
but it looked almost exactly like this house.


The view from our balcony