We had an early one this morning, eating breakfast and leaving the hotel by seven to catch our early train to Fussen, which is in another part of Bavaria, south west of Munich. The two hour train ride was not so bad and provided a great opportunity for napping, which partially made up for yet another horrible night of sleeping (or not sleeping). When we arrived in Fussen, we jumped on a bus for a short ride to the village of Hohenschwangau, which sits at the base of a small mountain. Situated on top of said mountain is Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was commissioned by Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1869 but was never completed. After the mysterious death of the king in 1886, the unfinished castle was opened to the public. The castle was built and decorated using influences from both the Middle Ages and the baroque age, with many of its paintings and murals being inspired by the musical dramas of Richard Wagner.

Upon arriving at the bottom of the long and winding road that let up to the castle, several of us decided it would be a much better idea to wait to take a horse-drawn carriage. The other, more fit and brave, members of our group decided it didn’t look too bad and began the hike. We waited in line for a carriage for just under an hour, but I’m still convinced it was worth the wait. All the way up the road I was struck by just how beautiful the castle and surrounding area were. When we reached to top the view was even more amazing.

We took a guided tour through the beautiful castle, which as I mentioned before, is incomplete. We got to see the throne room, the King’s bedchamber, the singer’s hall, the kitchen, and some other smaller rooms. Everything was so ornately painted and decorated, with intricately carved wooden pieces and very detailed scenes painted on almost every wall. It stuck me as very sad that no one ever really got to use the castle, and that the King’s grand ideas were never carried out. With everything decorated in such medieval styles, it was surprising how modern most everything was, especially the kitchen. We saw a short video that went through what the unfinished rooms and structures would have looked like if they had been completed, which was very cool. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle.

After exiting the castle, we decided to do some exploring. Some other members of our group had found a bridge with some absolutely spectacular views of the mountains and the castle earlier, so we decided to make the trek to find it. It began with climbing around a gate marked “do not enter.” There were several other tourists doing the same thing so we weren’t too concerned about the legality of our actions. We followed the icy path (which is why they had closed it off) for about 10 or 15 minutes before coming to a small bridge far above a small stream. Our fellow travelers had not exaggerated just how spectacular the views were. We took several photos before making the somewhat scary journey back down.

Bavaria has been by far the most beautiful area we’ve been to, in my opinion. Everything is green, there are mountains in the background, and there are amazing castles! I promise to put up pictures as soon as I get the chance. I’ve taken lots of them!

Getting back to Munich was quite an adventure. We rendezvoused at the bus stop at 3:00, so we could get back to the train station to catch our 4:06 train back to Munich. When we were all gathered, we learned that the bus wouldn’t be coming until 3:42, which would make catching our train very interesting. We were surprised when the bus pulled up at 3:30, but we piled on. After a bit of a ride the bus pulled over, somewhere we had never been before, and the driver announced that we all had to get off. Apparently something had happened with our train, and we would no longer be able to board it at the Fussen station. The bus driver gave us instructions to get on a certain bus that would bring us to our train, so that is exactly what we did. That bus went on forever, finally stopping near a train station. We all got off the bus and climbed over some train tracks to board what we were desperately hoping was our train. We settled in on the train, glad to no longer be running or wondering, and amused ourselves by playing the Game of Life on Aaron’s iPad. The train stopped at the Munich station (thank goodness) and we made the short walk back to the hotel.

We went out to supper as a group, to a nearby restaurant with a name I can’t remember. We had a good time, talking, laughing, and enjoying some traditional Bavarian dishes. I ordered the goulash, which was not what I was expecting. It was a lot of beef in a brown sauce, served with some dumplings. It was pretty good, not the best thing I’ve ever eaten though. After supper we returned to the hotel and are now relaxing and preparing for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we get to sleep in a little (yay!) before we head out to explore the Olympic tower. The rest of the day will be free time until we board an overnight train to Rome. Talk to you soon!