“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
A dream come true, extraordinary, meaningful, moving...that's what this journey was. When I was young, I saw a photo of a castle surrounded by clouds and mist in the light of the early morning. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! I didn't even know if it was real! I soon came to find out that not only was it real, it was nestled in the mountains of Bavaria, Germany. I had figurines and huge framed photos of this gorgeous castle all the way into adulthood. But until moving to Italy, it was just a dream. Not something I never thought I would ever actually see in my lifetime. Once we received the orders to Italy, it became a real possibility and I swore that if we went nowhere else while we were stationed here, I would get to Neuschwanstein Castle. After two years in Europe, we made it! We went on a day trip with a tour group and I was a little annoyed at the disorganization of the whole thing. And it was a decent trip out there...a 2 hour train ride, then a bus ride to the bottom of the mountain. While I was sitting on the bus and we turned a corner and my castle came into view all my frustration fell away and I cried! Just reliving the memories at Neuschwanstein makes me tear up now just talking about it! Our whole trip was amazing! It certainly wasn't without it's ups and downs, but it all added to an incredible experience from Munich to Berlin that involved a God-awful lot of walking and hiking. Planes, trains, automobiles...and bikes would certainly sum up this journey. I learned that Munich and Florence have a couple things in common and I also discovered that you realize what you're grateful for when you have to sleep on a train platform for 5 hours. Enjoy the photos and the journey along with us! :)
My first glimpse of this fascinating country!
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) in Marienplatz.
A Maypole in the market advertising what vendors are there. The sign at the bottom is a commemoration of the Germany Beer Purity Law. It was signed on 30 November 1487 when the Duke of Bavaria specified that only water, malt and hops can be used in the beer!
Our next stop was St. Peter's Church. The church itself was nice, they had a bejeweled saint behind a glass case. That's pretty cool.
But the real reason to go in there was to climb the tower and see the spectacular views of Munich.
We came back down the 300+ steps to see the Glockenspeil show celebrate the wedding of the Duke of Bavaria. Complete with jousting knights!
These two were so talented! I don't always tip, but I'm partial to the fiddle and it was gorgeous! This is the 2nd nose rub I've given this bronze pig! My first was at Fontana del Porcellino in Florence, Italy! This wasn't the only thing that Munich and Florence both shared. ;)
We had some summer showers that gave me a pretty rainbow! And that's my husband patiently waiting while I take some photos and play on the lily pads! (You can tell who the grown-up is in our relationship) HAHA!
The next day was the day!!!! We were going to Neuschwanstein Castle! And got to see lots of farm animals along the way from the train!
This was IT!!!!! My first glimpse at my dream castle!!!!!!
I'm going to apologize in advance for the ridiculous amount of photos you are about to see of this castle! :)
I feel like I missed out by not taking them up on this offer! ;)
Hohenschwangau Castle (left) was King Ludwig's (builder of Neuschwanstein) boyhood home. The right is a Jagerhaus, I think that speaks for itself! :)
More Maypoles! I think they're adorable!
Lake Panorama at the bottom of the mountain! It even had SWANS (it was so perfect)! Fun fact: "Neuschwanstein" means "New Swan Stone" and "Hohenschwangau" means "High Swan region/land" and they are both decorated with swans!
Just walking up the hill..Oh hey there!! Getting closer!
Once inside the castle walls after entering through the main gate, we received our time-stamped tickets that told us what time we could check in. I had 10 minutes to get up some stairs and take more picture of the inner courtyard!
And the photo frenzy began!
I don't know if he legitimately wanted to be there for pictures or he was afraid I'd get so wrapped up in taking pictures of just the courtyard I would miss the check-in time. If you know me, his concern is justifiable! HAHA!
The backside of the main entrance!
Even the doors were stunning!!!
This is a panorama I took shooting out the castle window! They said we couldn't take pictures INSIDE the castle, the didn't say we couldn't take them FROM the castle! ;)
A model of the castle...inside the castle! (The tour was over, we were free to take photos). I want this in a Lego set - Lego, get on that! Although I'm fairly certain the giant 3D Puzzle of this castle I never did finish is still at my parents house! (I told you, it's been a long love-affair with me & this castle). HAHA!
After touring inside the castle, we had to walk down (and then up) another path that led to Mary's Bridge to get the best photo-ops of the castle! Andiamo!!! Allons-y!!! <--- (If you can understand one, you can understand the other...if not you need to watch Doctor Who!) ;)
As with pretty much every turn in this country, the views are magnificent! There's Hohenschwangau in the distance!
Now a little closer! :)
There was a man near the bridge playing a Hurdy-Gurdy and singing! It was absolutely perfect!!
AHHHHHH!!! **Cue Hallelujah Chorus***
And I promise you, this is maybe 1/3rd pf the pictures I took of this castle!! You're welcome! :)
But hey, I found this handsome fellow on the bridge!!
Panorama of the whole valley!!
It's like a fairy tale!!!
I did ultimately have to be practically pulled off the bridge, but I got one last glimpse before we got back on the bus!
The whole town was just so perfect! The architecture, art and atmosphere! Not sure what deal was with the flag around the statue, but I caught it through a moving bus window! Skills! ;)
Don't know where this was along our train ride back to Munich, but I just loved the long shadows!
Next stop: Hofbräuhaus! Lively, fun atmosphere, live music, great beer and giant pretzels!!!!
The next morning we were off to Rothenburg, Germany along the Romantic Road! We first made a stop at Ausburg Castle. It was beautiful and quiet and the tour guides were good. But let's face it, it's not Neuschwanstein.
We finally arrived in Rothenburg!! This entire town makes you feel like you've stepped into another time! And it was such a strange contrast with the modern cars and delivery trucks driving down the roads. It was a bit of a paradox.
I have this exact oil painting in my home right now, so I wanted to attempt to recreate the photo as best I could! I didn't do as bad as I thought I did! I also have a painting of Neuschwanstein (you thought I was kidding about my infatuation with this castle), but it's of the castle in the winter and from a totally different angle than we ever saw (I will try to render that situation one day).
I knew this guy was trouble!
All of the torture and punishment devices in the Medieval Crime Museum! Out of all of these, I think that wheel is the worst. And the Iron Maiden's spikes were removed by the museum, because it's now believed that it was no torture device, just used like a "Shaming Mantle."
If you want Christmas all year long, THIS is the place to be!!! The whole store was like a museum!! We did not leave empty-handed.
I got to "Meet" King Ludwig after all!! He was hanging out in a Schneebälle (Snowballs) store. We only had 3 hours in this magical little town and it was not enough! It deserves at least a full day! I hope to go back one day!
Our last day in Munich we rented bikes and biked all over the city! Munich is made for biking! Many people don't even own a car because they bike everywhere. And with almost 1300 kilometers of bike lanes it's so easy to do!
We made our way into the English Gardens! It's a huge, lusciously green park with a small river winding through it. So everyday there are some surfers riding the river rapids and even swimmers just lazily floating down the river. We wish we'd brought our bathing suits! We would've gone for a swim!
After taking the Garden route, we popped into the Deutches Museum! This place is HUGE! It has everything from toys, to musical and scientific instruments. Textile machines and photo equipment, planes and cars and ships! Just everything.
We biked all the way out to Nymphenburg Palace and saw more swans!
Our sweet rides! ;)
One of Munich's still-standing city gates!
When you are stuck sleeping on a bench of a train platform at 1:00 AM, you become grateful for 1. Food and 2. A free bathroom.
We had the bright idea to take an overnight train to Berlin from Munich so we wouldn't have to pay an extra night in the hotel and not lose a day of sight-seeing. Well, it WAS a good idea, but we read the train schedule wrong. We thought we were going to have a good 5 hours on the train to sleep from our transfer in Leipzig to Berlin. Well...about a week before our trip, we realized those 5 hours were not on the train, but the LAYOVER in Leipzig! We thought "For sure they'll have something for overnight travelers. It's the biggest station in the world." We couldn't have been more wrong. The lounge was closed, the mall area was closed. The only thing open was a McDonald's. It was there that we found nourishment (if you want to call it that) and a bathroom that you didn't have to pay for! We ultimately curled-up on some
comfortable hard benches until around 4:00 and our train to Berlin was to leave at 5:50. It was a long, cold night, but it's all about the experience, right? And hey, I got a pretty sunrise picture out of it! :)
We finally made it to Berlin!! We couldn't check into our flat until 1:00, so what do you do after you've been awake for more than 24 hours? You go to the zoo of course!!! :D
Their aquarium was GREAT!!! It was also gigantic with 4 floors of everything from fish and other sea creatures, to amphibians, reptiles and insects!
^ ^ I saw the 2 eels and immediately named them "Flotsam and Jetsam" (My Disney fan friends will get that) ;)
The zoo animals were soooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!! But they frown on petting....
It's ok, I used to work in a zoo! I know what I'm doing! ;)
We also biked around Berlin, but it wasn't quite as easy as Munich! HA! But we did make it out to Checkpoint Charlie and got our passports stamped!!!
There was a ginormous dinosaur Transformer the size of the building it was affixed to, so yeah...photo op!!!
We made our way out to The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and passed a street exhibition with pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Looking up between the huge stone blocks of the memorial.
Stones in the middle of the road are some of the only remaining signs of where the Wall stood.
Being at the memorial around dusk is such a moving, gripping experience.
Right down the street from the Holocaust Memorial is the Brandenburg Gate! Also spectacular at dusk!
Chris got stopped and asked to take a picture for a family! I guess he's got that kind of face! :) I will refrain on expressing my opinion on taking photographs with iPads. HAHA!
As I was going through my nearly 800 photos of our trip, I noticed this little blip on the left-side of the photo. I thought it was a cloud at first, so I looked at the very next photo and it was there, but had moved and it wasn't on any other of the abhorrent amount of photos I took of the Brandenburg Gate either! Holy crap I caught a shooting star...by total accident!!!! That made my day! :)
And of course the weekend we're in Berlin they're holding a French and German fair right in front of the Brandenburg Gate! Don't they know I need unobstructed photos!!!?? What is a photographer to do? :)
Our last day in Berlin was museum day! First stop: Pergamon Museum to see the Ishtar Gate!
Next stop: Neues Museum. It's filled with Egyptian artifacts and sarcophagi. Chris is really into Egyptian culture and this museum turned out to be a highlight for both of us. And in the photo below of the guy without a nose. I took that picture because Chris said he looked like Voldemort! OMG, IT DOES!!!!!!!!! What has been seen cannot be unseen! You're welcome!
The other thing that Germany and Florence have in common is that set of doors to the left. Those are the Gates of Paradise. This set is a copy. The originals are in The Duomo Museum in Florence and another copy on the doors to the baptistery. I feel so well-traveled when little things like this come up! When I was a kid and I'd be watching a movie with my Dad and if they were in some grand city, as a Marine, he did a little** traveling, he would always say "Been there." But now my "Been there's" are surpassing his! So take that, Daddy! ;) We'll compare when I come home to visit!
Last stop: German History Museum
The things they have in these museums never cease to amaze me. King Ferdinand's horse armor, Mozart's family photo and Napoleon's famous Bicorne hat and sword!
Our final stop in Berlin was food! So we made our way down to Alexanderplatz to see the TV tower and find the restaurant and there are these fountains that you can soak your feet in! My feet hurt so badly THAT was a highlight of the trip! HAHA!
Until the next time!