Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Germany Trip Part 5 - The Castles

We woke up to the most picturesque day possible for our castle tours of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein!  The sky was blue, the sun was shining, the leaves were changing colors, and the surrounding mountains were snow capped, it was perfection! After a quick breakfast at our hotel we packed up the car and headed up the nearby road to the base of the castles.  Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein are absolutely beautiful castles owned by the last of the Kings of Bavaria, Maximillian and his son Ludwig.  They were only built in the 19th century, so they're hardly the oldest castles we saw in German, but they were by far the most elaborate. Here were the views when we left our hotel:

 After we parked we headed over to Hohenshwangau first, which is the older of the two castles first built by Ludwig's father Maximillian.  It was their "vacation home" and while the castle was definitely lovely, it was the views and scenery that truly blew my mind...


 We weren't allowed to take pictures inside of the castles.  I admit I snuck a few, but they didn't turn out all that great since they were hurried pics that I couldn't frame or focus properly.  To be honest, I don't know that the pictures would do them justice anyway.  After our tour of Hohenschwangau (say that 5x fast....) we were going to take the bus up the mountain on the approximately 1 mile trip to Neusschwanstein, the newer of the two castles built by the crazy king Ludwig.  However, due to an abundance of Asian tourists (waiting in the line would have taken longer than just walking), we decided to make the trek on foot.  The weather was perfect for it and the mountain wasn't particularly steep, but it did give us a whole new appreciation for the craftsman and artisans that had to make that trek daily (with massive blocks of stone no less!) in order to build the castle.

 The snow capped mountains reflecting in the mirror smooth lake and with the leaves changing colors just rocked my world.  It was SO insanely gorgeous.  That picture above with the golden ceiling was taken from the gilded throne room and it was by far the most elaborate room I have ever been in in my life. The chandeliers were studded with huge rhinestones and nearly everything was covered in gold.  The excess was actually kind of ridiculous, but stunning none the less.  After our tour of the second castle we hit up some gift shops for souveniers and an overpriced restaurant with rude waiters  for food.  As we made our way back down the mountain we lost S at one point and found him minutes later with a beer in one hand and a giant pretzel in the other - he had finally reached the beer-land of Bavaria!!!!  He'd only been waiting the entire trip for a good German beer....

We left the castles awestruck, full of beer and pretzels, and ready for our next adventure!  On our way out we caught one last image of the glory of Neuschwanstein against a setting of nearby pastures.
We then drove 3 hours through farmland and over the Alps to the 6th part of German(ish) adventure - coming up next: Salzburg, Austria!

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