05/08/2019 - 05/08/2019
Part of the modern "going to bed" ritual is plugging in your phone for the night. But when we went looking, we found that we were one short. My hypothesis is that it is still at the rest stop. I gave it back after taking the pictures of him drooling over the meat, but he says he never got it back.
Good thing I have a reecipt from there. The front desk was able to help us locate their phone number, call them, and confirm that they had it and we could come pick it up.
So, instead of a leisurely morning loafing in the huge castle bed or even touring around the village, we were going to drive backwards to get the phone.
First though, we had breakfast. They were set up inside as it was brisk with a threat of rain outside, but we felt it was too pretty to not eat outside. We had a great view of the back of the castle as well as some of the nearby grounds. The breakfast foods were simple- eggs, bread, jam, cut veggies, cheese, and such, but it was presented elegantly and tasted delicious. We especially liked the juice and the jam.
At some point, it started to drizzle, probably hinting that eating outside wasn't as smart as we thought, but it was light enough not to bother us too much.
We didn't have time to stick around and linger anyway. As soon as we were done eating, we packed and left.
Even though our time at the castle was cut short, it was totally worth it.
My guy drove on the way back to pick up his phone. He marveled at how smart our rental car was. Apparently, the cruise control automatically slowed you down as you approached other cars.
We headed back to the rest stop and were able to claim the phone. They made us describe it before they even let him try to unlock it, and confirmed that it unlocked it before they would give it to us. Impressive security.
We then drove back exactly the way we came, passing the same hills, forests, and villages that we already passed twice. That didn't detract from their beauty at all.
It continued to drizzle lightly the whole way to the castles we were due to see today, but let up just about the time we spotted them up on their hills off in the distance.
First, we parked and went on to get our tickets. Even though we preordered them, we still had to show up at least an hour before our entry time to physically pick them up. The tickets confirmation said they'd be cancelled with no refund otherwise. Personally, I get wanting people there somewhat early so that they have time to get up to the castles, but demanding an hour seems a bit unreasonable. One thought is that they want you hanging around, buying things from the variety of souvenir shops and food vendors. But there's time for that anyway.
Instead, we drove back to a cute little town we passed through on the way here- Fussen.
Fussen has its own castle, albeit much less majestic, mostly because it's in town and not up on a hill. Nearby, we had spotted a cobblestone pedestrian old city area, which is what we wanted to check out. Many of the shops sell tourist souvenirs, but many also sell regular clothes and items that would be of interest to non-tourists. My favorite was a clothing store that had many more modern clothes, but also lederhosen. You know- just in case you need something for casual Friday at the office.
Meanwhile, my Guy was attracted like a magnet to every store selling any kind of beer paraphernalia, which seemed to be every third store. He also ogled the food in the various shop windows, planning where he wanted to come back to.
The old town was small and quaint, replete with traditional Bavarian architecture. I could imagine that the buildings may have been painted the exact same way for the past few hundred years.
I enjoyed strolling through it, feeling put back in time a bit. I saw a shop selling some sort of traditional pastry, which of course I had to try. It wasn't that great. It seemed like they took the extra pieces of cookie dough left over from using cookie cutters, threw it in a ball, and deep fried it, except that they forgot to put the sugar actually in the dough and put it on the outside to make up for it. Also, the dough was a bit dry, so it wasn't chewy or soft when fried, mostly just crispy. But not a sharp potato chip crispy, more of a stale bread crispy. I ate half of it anyway, but wouldn't order it again.
What I did enjoy was the lunch we ate at a deli in town. In addition to their cold cuts and uncooked meats, this deli had some delicious prepared foods. I had some super fluffy potato cheese patties that were just heavenly as well as some spaetzle with cabbage that had just the right amount of tang and bite to it.
After lunch, it was time to return to the castles. The tour starts at the Hohenschwangu castle. This one was built by the non-Hapsburg Austrian royals and used as a summer palace. We saw the floor used by the queen, and the separate floor used by the king. I guess in an era of political alliance marriages, one of the best ways to keep happy was for each to have their own space and household.
Both floors of the palace are amazing. All of the walls are covered in elaborate murals that would hold their own in any major museum, except they're painted on, so they're not easily transferable. The ceilings are decorated beautifully. The stained glass is extremely detailed, giving the impression more of a lighted painting than normal stained glass. It's unfortunate they don't allow pictures as the postcards in the gift shop don't really capture all the interesting bits inside the castle.
The tour guide shared information about the castle- Wagner played on this piano, the chandelier is made of pure silver, this bust is the queen at age whatever- but told very few stories. For example, she pointed out that one of the large murals is a scene from the story of the swan knight. But she never bothered to tell us the story or what it was even about. I can tell she does this many times per day and is super-efficient. But really, she could have been replaced by a recording for what we heard.
The one more storylike description she gave was that the servants had to duck through tight holes carrying wood for the fireplaces. She also could have expanded on the story of one of the presents.
Many of the rooms had some present the king was given featured on a table in the middle. He received sculptures and dishes, items of gold and silver, and they were all crafted with extreme effort. He also apparently received a loaf of bread from some Russians. And the original loaf of bread is still sitting there, under glass, waiting for us to come look at it. I want to know why the Russians thought bread was a gift for a king when everyone else was giving gold. I want to know why the king saved it instead of eating it, and how it isn't moldy.
The tour of that castle finished with enough time for us to hike over to the next castle- Neuschwanstein.
The tourist map said 40 mins, but again we took much less time. It is still quite an uphill hike though.
This castle was never really lived in. The prince who grew up using Hohenschwangu castle as his summer home became king and decided that he wanted to build his own castle nearby. The castle was never finished, but within a week after he moved in to part of it, he died. The internet had a lot of information about the suspiciousness of his death- the people were unhappy at financing the castle, it was ruled a suicide despite him not leaving a note, someone else died with him- but the guide seemed to be sticking to some script. He said it was a suicide under somewhat suspicious circumstances, and when some other tourists in the group kept asking, he really didn't elaborate much. Like the guide at the other castle, we would have been about just as well off with a recording.
The castle itself was just as impressive as the first though. The walls were again completely covered in paintings. Even though it's newer, the king had it designed in a medieval style with ornate detail. He even put a cave room inside the house because there was some story he liked that somehow involved a cave.
For me, one of the cool parts of the tour was the restoration. The castle is getting old, and apparently needs some repairs. The people who were touching up the paint were not hidden from our view. We actually got to watch as they dotted and touched up the walls. What a fun job!
By the time we finished our castle tour and made it down to the Museum of Kings, we only had about a half hour to browse before the museum closed. I didn't need the whole half hour. The museum contained a single large room of displays. Half of it showed some objects they used and the other half was a long family tree explaining who was in charge of the area when and who married who. It was interesting enough, but just not expansive.
In our half-panic about the phone this morning, I had forgotten to go over the information about our apartment for tonight. I knew there wasn't 24 hour reception, but until we connected to wifi at the grocery store, I didn't know how much time we had. Seeing that the car gps told us it was 3 hours away (although google had told us 2.5) and that check in ended in 3 hours 15 minutes, I started panicking a bit and called the hotel owner to make sure we would be ok. He told us that things here run on German time, but he could have them wait 5 minutes, if needed. I promised we'd be there and scrambled to finish picking up supplies and check out.
Fortunately, the car gps time was less accurate than google. As we drove, our estimated arrival time crept earlier and earlier, until we had over a half hour to spare. I wasn't driving particularly fast, but my guess is that since much of the way consisted of back country roads where it was easy to get stuck behind a tractor for miles and miles, just not getting caught and driving a normal speed was probably enough to make good time.
The apartment was very cute. They had turned the top floor of a ski lodge style building into a hotel room. It had small but sufficient kitchen with a little eating nook, wood cabinets, and a nice view of the village.
We settled in quickly and splayed our groceries out over the kitchen table. We had picked the most exciting basics we saw. Of course we had bread, but to go with it, we had found mango chili sunflower something-or-other. It ended up being almost like hummus with a sweet and spicy kick. We had picked up Limburger cheese. All I knew about it was that cartoons always showed it with stink lines. It was actually more mild than many of the strong blue cheeses we like, but the flavor really was like stinky feet. (Later in the trip, my guy asked me to close my eyes and try to guess if what I was smelling was cheese or his dirty socks. I declined that game.) We had picked up buratta, which went much better with the sun-dried tomatoes and salad. Overall, it was a tasty dinner and promised to be a tasty breakfast for tomorrow.