We woke up late this morning, later than we’d intended. We were all pretty knocked out. It ended up that we weren’t out of the room until roughly 9:30, but we finally got on the road and set off.
After getting on the Autobahn (to my dad’s delight), we set out to see Neuschwanstein, the fairy tale castle. It turns out that a whole lot of other people were heading that way, too. My mom thinks that maybe people were heading to Italy for Easter, but we don’t really know what the deal was. We kept hitting a lot of traffic (or “traffic mischief,” as our British GPS guide says) and the two and a half hour drive ended up being more like six hours. I didn’t really care, because I slept a lot (our rental car really, really makes me sleepy – not sure why).
The German countryside is lovely. It’s all rolling green hills and vineyards and farms and dark forests. There are a few ugly towns here and then, as well as several very quaint old villages. It was very exciting to come over a hill at last and see the Alps in all their snowy grandeur.
We finally arrived at about three in the afternoon, just in time to miss an English tour of the castle. We booked ourselves for the next tour at five and hunkered down at one of the restaurants to eat lunch/dinner. Philip and I each got two sausages and a pretzel, Laura got spaghetti, and Mom and Dad shared a meat platter. The pretzels were great! I don’t think I’ve ever had a pretzel that was actually crusty on the outside and moist bread on the inside. Most of the pretzels I’ve had in the past were just sort of chewy and… not really bread, you know? Anyway. The sausages came and they were white. Philip’s eyes got really big and critical. I wasn’t sure what to think either, but Mom and Laura had a bite and said they were great. They were pretty good – like a seasoned hotdog – but I don’t think sausage is really my favorite. It’s a little too heavy for me.
Laura went and bought a spoon at one of the stores, and I got a little miniature watercolor painting of the castle. (Later I found out that there were gorgeous, largish photo posters in the official store for like three dollars cheaper. Alas.)
We took the bus up to the top and hiked a little before it was time for the tour. We got to go on this tiny bridge over this huge canyon and river. It was rather exciting, because the boards weren’t quite even and there were spaces between them were you could see the water waaay down below your feet. There was an excellent view of the castle, and I did a few shots.
We walked over into the castle gateway and waited in the courtyard until it was time to go in. Laura’s bloodsugar dropped, so Mom had to run down to a shop and run back with some chocolate for her. Finally we got in. The tour was cool – though I don’t know enough about opera or German legends to appreciate all the references in the artwork and design of the castle. It wasn’t as old as we had thought (it was built in like 1865 or something by the “Mad King” who was taken over by Prussia, got depressed, built himself a fantasy world of medieval castles, was diagnosed as mentally ill and was found drowned with his psychiatrist the next day under mysterious circumstances). But the choir room (singing room?) was absolutely lovely, with a really pretty stage for the operas.
By the time we were done, it was too late to do anything else. On our way home, we stopped in a small town to get coffee and icecream. The town reminded me a little of Winchester – medieval, with a fort, and with little pedestrian-only shopping areas. We found an icecream place still open, and I had some Coke and vanilla icecream. It was delicious. Mom got a coffee, which she said was better than Starbucks. (We also really made idiots of ourselves to the soft-spoken German waitress by assuming she didn’t know English. Mom threw the menu at Dad and said, “You try to order!” Dad was too tired to try and pronounce the German for what we wanted, so he just said it in English. She was like, “Mmmhm, one vanilla milkshake…”)
It was fun walking through the quiet town and looking in the shop windows at swords and traditional costumes. As I write this, we are on the way back to the hotel.
I’m not sure what we’re doing tomorrow, but we’re saving the Romantic Road and Linderhof for another day.