Monday, August 4

I woke up this morning at 6am so that I could go for a run before heading off in the car for Palace Neuschwanstein – the famous castle that I built a puzzle of about 10 years ago. It was a nice, little run, but I kind of died. I think I forget how to run already!
We had an amazing breakfast of typical German sausage and things that I ignored because there were also croissants, nutella, and milk – my staples when I am here!! We ate with the whole family, which is always something that baffles me when I stay here. It was good in any case.
We drove Bettina to the train station so she could go to work and us remaining three went to the castle. Ralf drove us the scenic way, which was nice because then we got a great view of the countryside instead of only the autobahn. No matter how much I drive here (or am a passenger) I don’t get used to the speeds that people drive! I made Sophie sit in the front because I wouldn’t have been able to handle it!
It took us the full 2.5 hours to arrive at Neuschwanstein, and it was raining! It is too bad, because the white castle would have looked incredible against a blue sky, but I wasn’t at all disappointed in the castle at all, in any case! We went and waited in line for about an hour to get tickets for the castle tour. Then, because they only allow a few people inside at a time, we had another 2 hours to kill before we could go for our tour! The area is actually a ski hill and has several lakes and lots of forest area, therefore, we walked around one of the lakes that was there. It was spectacular. I was in heaven – I have wanted to go to this castle FOREVER!!!
After our 1h walk around the lake, we went and had a snack at the car before hiking up the mountain to reach the castle entrance. It was funny because the signage said that it was a 40 minute walk up and we did it in 15 minutes! We just kept passing people, and I don’t think we were walking all that fast at all. And I have the short legs of the group. Ralf and Sophie are all giant in comparison to my height! It is located on a jagged cliff that is located 200m above the river valley.
In any case, we got to the top and took a million pictures before our tour started. The “fairytale castle” of King Ludwig II was built in 1868, which wasn’t all that long ago in castle years. He was building it to put Richard Wagner’s operas into reality. Construction started in 1869 and was almost entirely finished by 1886. The third floor was never completed because Ludwig died in 1886. The government declared him insane because he was building several castles including this one and because he never married. He drowned in the lake next to his place of confinement through mysterious circumstances. To this day no one really knows how he died.
The interior decorations were phenomenal. Millions of tiles were used to make scenes of nature on the floor in the main hall where the throne would have been, had it been finished. All of the posts and ceiling decorations were painted in detail. The ceilings in various rooms were made of pine and painted. In his bedroom there were secret panels and doors to get to the bathroom and other rooms. And, above his bed were fine wooden sculptures that took a bunch of sculptures a long time to finish everything. All of the walls were painted with scenes from Wagner’s operas. It was probably the most beautiful inside of a castle I have ever seen.
I was seriously smiling all day long because I was sooo happy to be visiting the castle! And, it was so awesome that Ralf was able to drive us, because it wasn’t really easy to get to! I am sure that is way above and beyond normal ‘couch surfing’ duty!
We arrived back home quite late and dinner was made for us! (I felt so spoiled) It was cheese, meat, and bread – the perfect dinner to me! We talked a lot about Canadian identity, which is always an interesting conversation to have with Europeans because we don’t have any history compared to those people here. The bonus when I discuss things like that with people here is that they too like to argue, so it makes me really think about what I am saying – good debates make me happy!!
Herman gave us an idea of what we should be doing and seeing in Vienna, which was a good thing because that was one of the only cities that I didn’t have time to research at home. Moving kind of got in the way!
I said good-bye and good night (which was really quite sad!!) and then went to sleep! I can’t believe how they welcomed us so easily into their family for 2 days! I was really quite sad to say goodbye! And I was only there for 2 days!! (really only 1.2, in reality!!)
Off to Salzburg tomorrow. Hopefully the rain stops a bit before then!

-Allison

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