After spending a couple of days in Munich and meeting up with long-time friend John John from California, the four of us headed back towards Stuttgart. We stopped along the way because John's girlfriend wanted to check out a couple of castles that are right on the border of Germany and Austria.
The castles are about half-way between Munich and Konstanz and just north of the Alps. The combination of the castles, mountains, lakes, and other scenery is all wow-spectacular but, unfortunately, the more scenic of the two castles, Neuschwanstein is currently undergoing renovations so it's covered with scaffolding and cloth:
Neuschwanstein is rumored to be the inspiration for Disney's Cinderella Castle but who knows. Maybe there were a bunch of dwarfs (why isn't it dwarves?) up at the castle but there's no way that I was waiting the 1 1/2 hours JUST TO BUY tickets to a CONSTRUCTION SITE! OMG! What is this, the Liberty Tower? It seemed like the entire population of China was in that line! (As an aside, I still haven't figured out what the appeal of Stuttgart is for the Chinese. There are bus loads of them in the center of the city every day. Maybe it's the Porsche and Mercedes museums? Ich weiß es nicht!)
Anyway, no problem in regards to the long lines. We decided to go instead to the nearby Hohenschwangau castle. It's smaller and less Disneylandish but it's supposedly in a more "authentic" condition...and the wait was exactly zero minutes long.
Hohenschwangau was originally built in the 13th century and has changed hands and been renovated several times over the years. The setting is amazing with the Alps, a large lake, and a small, scenic village out the front windows of the castle (lake out to the right in the photo):
Waiting for our tour to start I saw a little girl filling up a water bottle in the fountain. She was filling it by dipping the bottle in the "used" water so I went over and refilled it with the fresh water from the faucet. Turns out that she was from Spain so I got to speak with her in Spanish a bit. This picking up girls thing is pretty easy! :-)
I don't have (many) photos from the inside of the castle as you're not allowed to take them. There was one thing that I couldn't resist though... In one of the rooms there's a small box displayed on a table. Inside the box is a loaf of bread that's (according to the guide) over 100 years old. I'm not sure why they've saved/preserved it but it must be pretty-damn important. So, here it is, 100+year-old bread. Please pass the Nutella!
The castle was in great shape and impressive but no dwarfs were found. I enjoyed the guided tour even though I felt a bit like a sheep getting led around. Let's just say that they're efficient moving the different tour groups through the building. On our way, Diana and I stopped to take one of our self-portraits where you could see both castles in the background...
...what we didn't know was that John was taking photos of us taking photos our ourselves. I love it!
After our guided tour, we took a walk through the woods that surround the castle. We stopped on this ridge and got this group photo:
From here, it was down to the lake for John, Stacey, and Diana to take a quick swim. Yeah, I didn't do the swim thing because, well, I hate going swimming. I just hung out, people watched, and took photos, which is fun enough for me! And guess what!?! I got to drive back on the autobahn in John's rental Mercedes! Wooooooosh!