Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Neuschwanstein Castle, Pilgrimage Church of Wies, and Regensburg

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We were up bright and early on Sunday to make sure we had enough time to stop and see everything we had planned.  Our first stop was Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the main reason we left so early.  We had heard from another Olmsted-er that we needed to get to the castle by eleven or we wouldn't get tickets because it was so popular.  You can reserve tickets ahead of time, but you have to do it at least 48 hours in advance and we had already missed that deadline, so we had to get up bright and early. We figured we should just plan to get there around eight when it opens to make sure we get tickets.  It's about an hour and a half drive from Edelweiss, so we were up and out by 6:30.

It usually takes me a while to wake up and get going, but there are some times where it's definitely worth it to wake up early and get going.  This was one of those times.  We were one of the first ones in line when the doors opened and were on the first tour of the day.

Let's back up though for a little history lesson.  There are actually two castles that you can tour while there and I definitely recommend it.  King Ludwig II was the mastermind behind Neuschwanstein and had it built for him when he was an adult so that he could hide himself from the public eye (he was kind of a recluse). The other castle, Hohenschwangau, though, was his childhood home (tough life, I know) and equally as extravagant and stunning as Neuschwanstein.

Our first tour was of Hohenschwangau and it was us and two other couples.  Continuing our trend of hanging out with the 55+ crowd, we quickly befriend these couples who were delighted to hear about Turkey, our travels and our life abroad.  We were equally as interested in their stories of their travels because they had been all over.  One couple had been on a safari, Abu Dabi and was telling us that we must go to the Greek Isles. What do you do for a living and how do I get your lifestyle?

After befriending the other two couples, we began our tour.  It's kind of weird because there is a tour guide, but you listen to the entire tour on a recording that is given to you at the beginning. She was able to answer questions we had, but I didn't really understand why she didn't just give the tour. Oh well.

You can't take pictures inside the castle, but believe you me that these babies were incredible. They're right up there with Versailles when it comes to extravagant.  There were chandeliers in the castles that probably cost more than the nicest house I'll ever own. Tough life for sure.

The view from outside of the Hohenschangau castle

I'll live in a shack if I get to look at this view every day

The tour guide did let us take one picture out of a window so you could see the view.  I mean, it's not thaaaat great. HA!

From one castle to the next

After the first castle, we had over an hour before our tour started for the next one. We grabbed some breakfast and began the hike up to Neuschwanstein.  There are signs all around that say that those who have trouble walking should be weary, but I figured it wouldn't be that bad. Wrong.  This was definitely an uphill walk. I mean, I was fine, but I may or may not have broken a sweat getting up there.  They have benches along the way for people to rest in and they looked pretty appealing about halfway up. They do have buses and horse drawn carriages that will take you most of the way up, but you still have to walk from the drop off point to the castle.

When you get to the top, the view is pretty terrible.  Just kidding. It's stunning, as always in Germany.  I swear this country doesn't have a flaw. Mike and I spent all week looking for one and couldn't find anything. There are lots of great places to take pictures with the scenery.  They even have a particular picture taking spot so you can get the castle in the background (see below)!

Let me know when this baby goes on the market.  I'm looking to upgrade from our apartment.

We were able to sneak another shot from inside the castle out the window and the view was equally as disgusting.  Just kidding. Breath taking as always.

We finished the tour and headed back down the trail to the car.  Luckily it was all downhill this time and a lot easier.  I didn't envy those walking uphill though.  We were done around 1:00 and grabbed some lunch at the restaurant near the ticket sales.  It was decent but I wish we had just driven into town for some not-so-touristy stuff. Oh well. 

Our next stop was the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It looks like a typical Bavarian church from the outside, but it's incredible inside.  Mike and I have seen our fair share of churches this summer and this was definitely up there for the most beautiful award.  It's Rococo style, so not only was it beautiful, it was different from everything else we've seen. 

As we were leaving, we noticed that there was a biergarten right next door, which is a trend we saw with the Catholic churches in Germany.  Conveniently, it was Sunday, so everyone went to church and then headed straight to the biergarten.  We saw some Protestant churches later in the week, but there were no biergartens in sight. I think I like the way the Catholics do Sundays :)

Our last stop for the day was Regensburg, which is where we stayed the night.  The town of Regensburg is another UNESCO site (do you see a trend?) and definitely worth stopping there. There are some beautiful churches, as well as some great biergartens.  We took advantage of both before calling it a night. 

We loved Regensburg and it was a great town to stop in overnight.  There were plenty of restaurants and biergartens to spend the evening in and it was a picturesque Bavarian town.

We ended the night with some exciting news for Mike and I...we were asked to be Emma Fick's godparents!!  We are so happy, excited, and honored that her parents think we're responsible enough to help raise little Emma.  I think they're probably just sleep deprived, but we'll go with it.  In all of the excitement, Mike and I forgot to ask when the baptism is (we won't be able to go).  We're obviously off to a great start at this god parent thing.  

Step count:  23, 983