A ‘mad’ king and a beautiful castle; it may sound like another one of the Grimm Brothers fairytales, but this is reality. For a week I was assigned to stay at a German family’s home in a town that sisters my own home. Within the time I learned their culture by eating what they ate, going to school with my German Sister Antonia, experiencing their transit by train, and by seeing their land. When the week concluded the group I arrived with got back together for a three day adventure in Munich. On the very last day we traveled to the edge of the Alps to see Neuschwanstein (New-sh-wan-stine) Castle, or famously know as the “Cinderella Castle”. Once the group cleared their breakfast off their plates, we got onto the ever so majestic carriage, the bus called Rippl. An hour into the trip, we passed a small town surrounding a small lake which was one of the many lakes that was formed by the glacial shift at the end of the ice age. Nature became even more breath taking as lumbering coniferous trees engulfed us, but that was nothing compared to the view of the towering, ear popping, mountains that grew from Germany’s rolling hills.
Masterful ‘sir’ Frits, bus driver, baring his gray scraggily mustache, transported our group safely to Neuschwanstein with jerky ease. We were not able to be dropped off at the pristine entrance of the castle, so we traveled up the side of the mountain where the castle stood the old fashioned way. Waterfalls, stacked rocks, and a cold, clear, refreshing creek made its mark on the trail.The trail started with the group walking over a metal bridge that allowed everyone to see what lay beneath, which was the rocky, fast flowing stream; remarkable, yet scary. An extraordinary rock beach to the stream was approached. It welcomed us like a fairy tale with rocks stacked in various ways like some mythical creature used them as building blocks; but of course it was done by travelers like us. Stairs glared down at us ahead, which was nothing new to our group since we experienced them plenty the week before. Because the steep mountain was challenging to get up, it took 20 years for builders to finish the 200 year old castle. Neuschwanstein castle stood above a gothic, yet romantic styled castle called Hohenschwangau (hoe-hen-sh-wan-gow). This castle belonged to King Ludwig’s father, which he visited often as a child. Since he loved Hohenschwangau so much that he wanted his own castle above it.
A five minute walk from Neuschwantein Castle is a bridge that hangs over a huge drop into the gorge below. On the bridge the castles illustrious structure could be properly appreciated. Mad or not, the king had a good eye for location, inspiration, and beauty. The travel back down the mountain was relatively less challenging since it was the not so nature inspired, safe, paved tourist route. Bavaria’s beautiful quaint towns were proudly embraced at the close of the day. Their buildings embraced ancient tales of Germany, for they were literally illustrated on their walls. We all instantly recognized the buildings that illustrated the Grimm Brothers tales with deep excitement; well, at least my dorky self did since I adore their tales.
The day in the Alps came to a dreaded close. It marked the last full day in Germany, and a night of packing ahead. I wished the bus would continue onward back to my German home, but Neuschwanstein on a sunny beautiful day couldn’t have wrapped the trip up more perfectly.
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