“So I wish you’d look around until you found a castle in the neighborhood for sale…”
“Oh, I already have! It’s tiny, only 27 rooms, and the moat’s a mess!”
My trip to München and Füssen this weekend was my last excursion of my time in Europe, but it sure was a good one… I’m definitely ending my semester on a good note.
In Munich, I met up with Natalye, who is also from Houston. We’d never met before, though we had talked online quite a bit. We’re both studying in Germany for the semester (but in decidedly opposite corners of the country, I in Freiburg and she in Hamburg), and our moms know each other through my brother’s alma mater, so all semester we’d been trading stories and trying to find a time to do a joint trip… we finally found a good weekend two weeks before she heads back to Texas and three weeks before I leave.
First item on the agenda: see Harry Potter! The movie had come out two days before, on Wednesday at midnight, and it killed me to have to wait that long, but it was worth it to be able to see the original version (re: in English). Once we finally located the theater, we picked up our tickets and grabbed some dinner at this really cool place that combined a 19th century German atmosphere with club music… interesting, to say the least. Our waiter was… really friendly… and insisted that he treat us to some free shots after we’d paid our bill. So, long story short, we each took two shots in addition to the beer we’d had with dinner… before seeing the movie that effectively ended our childhoods. Awesome.
Overall, I really liked the movie. I had my hands on my face the entire time (a surefire sign that I am engrossed in the story), certain verbatim parts from the movie were absolutely perfect (“Not my daughter, you bitch” made up for at least 3 other failures on the part of the screenwriters), several one-liners made me laugh out loud (though that might have been the alcohol, who can say?), and I can justify the one noticeable plot change. I’m going to have to see it again, preferably back-to-back with Part I, to make my final judgement, though.
The next morning, we got up early to catch the train to Füssen. Apparently every tourist within a five mile radius had the same idea, because the train was absolutely packed. We stood in an extremely crowded juncture compartment for the first hour of the trip. Once we got to Füssen, which is about 4 kilometers from Hohenschwangau, the home of the fabled kings’ castles, it wasn’t quite so bad, because we chose to hike to the castle as opposed to taking the touristy bus. It was a gorgeous walk, we saw some cows and got some far-off glimpses of the castles, and walked off the delicious picnic food we ate once we got to the castles.
First up was our tour of Hohenschwangau, the older and smaller of the two castles. It was pretty incredible–the inside was so intricate, with biblical and mythological murals on all the walls, original furnishings, and somewhat of a glimpse into 19th century German royal life.
...no pictures were allowed inside. Unlike others on our tour, I heeded this request
We then walked up the hill to Neuschwanstein, the newer, better-known of the two castles. Until our scheduled tour time, we picnicked (aka ate the last of the cheese we hadn’t finished yet) and admired the absolutely drop-dead gorgeous view. I have to say, if I were an insane 19th century monarch, I’d probably have a hard time finding a better location to build my huge fairytale castle.
It turns out that both Natalye and I had had multiple people tell us that the inside of the castle was unimpressive, so neither of us was expecting very much. These expectations were so, so off. The entire interior, or at least the part we got to see on the tour, was extravagant and gorgeous. (It also helped that I’d just seen Harry Potter so the whole time I was thinking moving staircases and living portraits.) I basically want to live there.
Another famous part of the castle area is Marienbrücke, a bridge that overlooks Neuschwanstein and the surrounding mountains and lakes. It was awesome! We tried to get a good picture of both of us with the castle, but the best one isn’t actually on my camera. Enjoy this goofy one instead!
Being the adventure-seeking, studying-abroad type women that we are, we decided to take the road less traveled and hike up the mountain across the bridge to take in a better view of the castle. It definitely paid off, and we’re both still alive, so… score!
We hiked back to Füssen, enjoyed a delicious German meal and some ice cream (we deserved it, ok?), missed the last train to Munich, and finally made it back to our hostel at about 11. The next morning, we made a little trip to Olympic Park, which neither of us had seen in previous trips to Munich. It was really awesome–I wish we could’ve stayed longer! The architecture surprised us with how modern it was, and it was really cool to walk where so many amazing Olympians once competed… we even got to go into the swim center! The smell of chlorine takes me back to so many hours spent in Don Cook Natatorium… sometimes I really miss swimming. Nevertheless, Mark Spitz swam in this pool! Totally awesome!
Overall, the trip was a success. I had a great time, but now it’s becoming painfully apparent that my days here are numbered. I’ll be back in Sugar Land three weeks from today, and before then I need to survive a ten page paper, three more bilingualism assignments, two tests, packing, and bucketfuls of administrative crap. WISH ME LUCK!!!