Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hello from Fantasyland

Well we are having a GREAT day here at the base of the alps in fairy tale land. The castle we visited today was Schloss Neuschwanstein. It actually isn't really that old, it was built in the mid 1800's by King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

It is so fun comparing this castle, which looks like it was taken straight out of Disneyland and plopped down here at the base of the Alps. But instead of a 100 foot "Matterhorn" behind a forced perspective castle we got to see the full sized castle at the base of the real Alps!

We toured Ludwig's childhood castle which is below Neuschwanstein first this morning. It was interesting as it was a "real" (as in actually lived in) castle that was built back in the mid 12th century. After that castle we took the shuttle bus up the hill and it dropped us off at a point where we walked a bit out to Mary's bridge. This bridge was built about 150 years ago and it spans a waterfall that overlooks Neuschwanstein. The first photo was taken from this bridge (along with about 30 others) and then from there we trecked on over to the castle. We toured the castle from the inside (it was actually never lived in, Ludwig died 172 days after construction of the castle had been completed and it was immediatly turned into a tourist destination after his death). After the castle we made the long hike back down the hill (okay, mountain, I suppose you can't call the Alps "hills") and rested for a bit at the bus stop.

We hopped on a bus over to Tegelbergbahn (which is only about 3 kilometers from Neuschwanstein) and there we bought some luge tickets and gondola tickets. The first thing we did was jump on the gondola and ascend the 1,700 meters up to the top where we were witness to some of the most spectacular views I think either of us had seen. We were able to look down into the Schwangau valley here in Bavaria from way up at the peak.

After running around up at the top of the peak for about an hour we headed for the gondola car to head back down and hop on the luge ride. Unfortunately, right as we boarded the gondola the cable snapped and the car went plummeting down the hill. Okay, I made that last part up. What REALLY happened was that it started raining and as we moved down the hill the rain got harder and harder. By the time we got down to the luge track they had closed it down for the rest of the day. Luckily we were able to return our tickets for the luge and get our €5 back, but I would have much rather done the luge.

We hopped back on the bus, rode it back to Füssen and as soon as we got back into town the rain had stopped. It was too bad about the lugeing but it is nice to be able to walk around town and stay dry.

Well tomorrow we our off on our longest train ride, we leave at 7:00 in the morning from Füssen and head off the Venice, Italy! The train ride is about 10 hours long, so we won't get in to Venice until about 5:00 tomorrow, but that will still leave us some time to wander around the canals before turning in to bed, and then the day after we will really get to see the sights. I don't know what kind of internet they have in a town whose streets are made out of water, but I am guessing we should be able to find an internet cafe and post some more pictures.

Oh, and about the Rothenburg pictures... it was raining and my feet hurt, so sue me for not wanting to walk back to the hotel to get them. I am sure I will eventually get them posted, I suppose that is what I get for "promising" to get them posted yesterday.

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