Today is another lovely day here in The Land of Fairy Tales! The sky is clear and blue and the air is crisp and cool… You can almost forget the drizzle, fog and damp of the last few weeks… All the same it’s cold out there today and I’m snugged up in my little office under the eves of my German cottage looking out over the sunny street and drinking my hot earl grey tea.
Today I’m to start telling you about my mom and dad’s visit here (it’s going to take more than one entry because there are a TON of pictures from their three week trip!) I suppose the best place to begin is the beginning…
They flew into Frankfurt on the 29th of November. We were late getting the airport because of traffic but it turned out to not matter. When we arrived at the gate they weren’t there… everyone else was out but them… We sat down to wait for them hoping that they hadn’t wandered away or gotten lost. About 20 minutes later an airport employee came out and told us that there were still two people left inside trying to find their luggage… It was of course my parents. We left the airport an hour late and two bags light but safe and sound and so happy to have them here.
The first few days were spent close to home waiting for the bags to show up. We also gave my parents a tour of the base that we call home and our little neighborhood.
The bags arrived the next day and we decided it was time to get out and about. The first glimpse of the true Germany that my mom and dad got was the Christmas market in Dudeldorf. We of course forgot to take the cameras but we had a wonderful time. There really isn’t anything in this world quite like a German Christmas market. The smells of roasting chestnuts, cooking brautwursts, hot chocolate, and hot mulled wine. Pine trees and lights everywhere, handmade wreaths and ornaments… Nope really nothing like it.
After we had finished in Dudeldorf we went to the Christmas market in Bitburg. We had the camera there and took a few silly pictures.
Wilcommen to the Weihnachtsmarkt of Bitburg!
There in Bitburg we found a little stand that had homemade waffles served with hand whipped cream (not sweet) and cherries or cream with grilled apples, cinnamon and sugar. They were amazing… so yummy! We stood there in the little square of our home town eating waffles and laughing… making a truly sticky mess of our faces and hands.
The next day we decided we needed to get a Christmas tree. There is a man down the main street in my town that sells them in the dooryard of his home. We bundled up and set out on foot to buy our Christmas tree. As we started out it started to snow… just little flurries, but so perfect for the day!
It was the perfect tree, and we had so much fun getting it all set up!
We had to be satisfied with that though. We decided not to decorate it because we were leaving home for a few days to drive south and visit Schloss Neuschwanstein!
We set out early that morning for a four hour car trip that took us a little more than nine! We got all the way down to Ramstein (about 1 1/2 hours south of our home) and our GPS system kicked the bucket. We ended up going to another base a few miles from there and buying a new system and then decided to stop for lunch and give ourselves some time to learn how to use it. After the unscheduled stop we were on our way again. Between traffic, weather, and a semi truck derby the trip time was doubled but we had a lot of fun all the same.
We finally arrived at about 5pm (already full dark here in Germany) and drove around the little town of Fussen until we found our hotel. It was actually a home that had a finished attic room for rent. That’s the way to do it here in Germany, real hotels are dreadfully expensive. This room was half the price and really one of the most quaint places I’ve ever been.
The big bonus of this room was the free continental breakfast. Never in my life have I seen such a spread for four people. There were a dozen fresh rolls from the bakery down the street, a boiled egg for each of us, sliced of breakfast meat, soft cheeses, jellies and honeys galore, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, juice, pats of butter, and a half dozen fresh pretzels. It was enough food to get full on and then we packed away the leftovers and ate it for dinner too!
After this amazing breakfast we set off for the castle. We parked the car in the bottom lot since you can’t actually drive all the way up, then we set off on foot into the town of Schwangau. Once there we took a horse drawn carriage to the castle.
After a 20 minute ride we finally arrived… this is the Schloss Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein is the castle of King Ludwig II, also nicknamed the Fairy Tale castle of the Fairy Tale king. It’s the castle that Walt Disney used as his model for all the castles in his full length cartoons and is know, even here in Germany, as Cinderella’s castle.
I was so excited for this trip… this is one of the places that I really wanted to see while we live here in Germany… This was a dream come true!
From where the carriage dropped us off we had to walk up a little farther to the door of the castle. On the way up we stopped to take a few pictures. Here are my mom and dad at the foot of Neuschwanstein.
This is the valley of Schwangau and the little farming community.
Ryan and I standing in front of the valley.
Me and my mom…
This is the view from the base of the castle of the mountains it sits up against melting into the valley.
The face of the castle… famous for the red brick front.
The courtyard view of the main building of the castle.
The view of the castle entrance from the courtyard.
As we waited for our tour to be called it began to snow there in the courtyard.
We were having such a great time!
After about 20 minutes our tour was called and we headed into the castle for a tour. It was amazing! We were not allowed to take pictures of the inside of the castle, but I did find pictures on the official website along with information on each room. I tried to write as much as I could remember of the tour as well. I’m putting them here so you can have a taste of just how amazing this castle was!
Servants’ Room with simple oak furniture.
The kitchen was equipped with the latest technology – the spit in the background is driven by a turbine. The crockery was warmed with hot air from the stove.
The paintings on the walls of the Lower Hall show scenes from the Sigurd legend.
The Throne Room in the form of a Byzantine church looks as if it is decorated with precious stones and mosaics. The pillars are however made of colored stucco and the “mosaics” are paintings.
The Throne Room without a throne: wall painting “Christ in his glory and canonized kings” in the apse of the Throne Room, Wilhelm Hauschild, 1886.
The Study with the wall picture “Tannhäuser in the Venus Grotto” by J. Aigner on the right.
Dining Room ~ On the table a centrepiece sculpture of Siegfried fighting the dragon, on the walls scenes showing minnesingers in the Wartburg (F. Piloty and J. Aigner).
Ludwig’s bedroom with the richly decorated, cathedral-like bed. On the walls paintings illustrating the Tristan and Isolde epic, August Spieß, 1881.
A swan faucet that actually had running water, both hot and cold. He also had a toilet with working pluming in his bedroom.
The “Gothic” Oratory is accessible from the Bedroom and from the adjacent Dressing Room and was for the king’s private use.
Dressing Room, with scenes from the lives and poetry of Walther von der Vogelweide and Hans Sachs on the walls, E. Ille, 1880/81.
Salon with the painting “The Miracle of the Grail” by Wilhelm Hauschild, 1880/81.
The Grotto which was a “cave” formed of plater and wire right off of the salon area. Ludwig liked to sit with a glass of wine in the Venus Grotto designed for him by the landscape architect August Dirigl.
Through the Grotto is a small conservatory, also known as the winter garden. From the Conservatory there is a splendid view of the Alpine foothills.
The spiral staircase, which no-one but the king was allowed to use, leads to the Upper Hall, where a dragon guards the entrance to the Singers’ Hall. The staircase ends with a column in the form of a palm tree which spreads upwards into a starry sky.
The Singers’ Hall under the roof of the Palas was inspired by a Munich performance of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser. It was modeled on the historic Singers’ Hall of the Wartburg. The Singers’ Bower can be seen in the background. The hall was built to be a place where the king could watch private operas. The balcony on the right was his own personal box and the floor of the room is the actual stage! An opera was never sung here before the King’s death but a Wagner opera is performed her every year and tickets can be procured for a price.
There was so much more to see than these few pictures can show… It was a beautiful place and something to remember for all time.
On the way down we stopped to take a few more pictures.
Mom and Dad in front of the castle.
Ryan and I in front of the castle.
Ryan and I were goofing off and of course dad caught in all on film.
I had no idea he was goosing me… dork!
We got back down to the little lot where the carriage had dropped us off. We climbed back on the carriage and rode back down in to Schwangau.
We had a wonderful view of the castle from the bottom.
The castle looked stunning with the mountain behind it dusted with snow…
This castle truly was a Fairy Tale.
On the way back down we did a little window shopping. This tea set was over 5,000 Euro!!! Can you believe that?
Once we were done at the castle we decided to head back down into the town of Fussen to do a little sight seeing. The town was all decked out for Christmas, with pine trees and lights simply everywhere.
We had a lovely time walking and window shopping.
The streets of this town were charming!
A picture perfect German town!
As night began to fall we ducked into a little bakery for some Appel Streusel and hot chocolate.
Once we had warmed up we headed back out to the streets.
The window displays were all done up for Christmas.
We had a lot of fun looking into all the little shops…
As we reached the center of town and the town Christmas tree big fat fluffy flakes of snow started to fall…
When full dark hit all the lights came on…
It was beautiful…
We started back towards the car and on the way we stopped into a little shop and bought Dad and Ryan traditional Bavarian hats! Don’t they look handsome?
It was a wonderful trip and one full of memories!
The next morning we were up bright and early. After showers in the tiny bathroom and another excellent breakfast we were off for home. On the way out of town we saw a sight that had been hidden from us on the way in. The Bavarian, Lechtal and Allgäu Alps!
Sights right out of a calendar! Such a beautiful place…
The clouds had cleared up that morning and it made for a beautiful drive…
It was a trip worth every penny!
The drive home took the four hours that was promised instead of the eight it took us to get there despite some truly hair raising driving by yours truly. There were huge sections of the autobahn under construction (as is always the case here in Germany) and large stretches were closed down to one and a half lanes. It was, again, packed with semi trucks that could only go 70 kilometers an hour (about 45 miles and hour) and they had to stay in the far right lane. The cars were left to brave the half lane at about 100 kilometers and hour (about 60 miles and hour) and I can not tell you how scary this was. The half lane was only 2 meters wide, which is exactly 6 feet 6 inches. Please consider that my car is exactly 66.5 inches wide which is 5 feet 6 inches. That gives me 6 inches of clearance on each side of my car and that does not account for my mirrors and, of course, the trucks were weaving in and out of our lane. (And yes dad I looked this all up and did the conversions on a website!)
There is no way to truly portray how scary this lane was… And in true dad fashion my father sat in the back seat and egged me on, telling me I could easily make it! So I went! Just as my side panel gets even with this trucks trailer he starts to bob and weave so I hit the gas say a prayer and just yell at the top of my lungs until I’m past him. This happened over and over for about 30 miles of road because it was packed semi after semi going slow. We were a sight to see I’m sure! My father and mother laughing hysterically (I’ve yet to figure out if from fear or sheer lunacy!) Ryan praying under his breath and saying quietly every few minutes “Oh Courtney!” and me screaming! Finally I was just jello. I honestly doubted my ability to hold the wheel straight anymore and so I got behind the next truck and stayed there until we were out of construction… I fared better than my mother though… who hyperventilated and very nearly lost consciousness! Next time she comes to Germany I’m bringing ear plugs and a brown paper bag for her!
We finally made it home and spent the evening unpacking and doing laundry… and honestly just unwinding!
The next day we decided to decorate the tree. We put on some Christmas music, I made some stove top hot chocolate, and we went to it!
Mom and me unpacking the ornaments
Gandalf getting involved…
He liked it on his face for some weird reason…
And didn’t want to come out when we tried to get started.
Trimming the tree!
It was the perfect evening.
Yoda posing under the tree for me…
The perfect tree, the perfect day, the perfect time!
I think I will leave it there for today… There are many more pictures and stories to go!