Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Konigsschlosser

We left Innsbruck reluctantly, as we found it so beautiful with its mountain surroundings.  The aim for today was Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau - two of the palaces associated with King Ludwig II of Bavaria, which are located just over the border in Germany.

It was already quite warm when we arrived there about 11:15, and the day just kept getting hotter and hotter (when we got back to the car just after 5pm, the SatNav said it was 36 degrees outside - and a lot more in the car!).

We first visited Hohenschwangau,  which is where Ludwig grew up. Then we we had lunch, followed by a visit to Neuschwanstein.   We had been to both these castles back in November 1991, and a lot had changed.  Most obvious was that at that time there was snow all around, and the trees were all bare, but were covered in leaves now. But not so predictable was that you now had to buy the tickets down in the valley below the castles before visiting them, and you were allocated a particular time to view each castle,  based on the language in which you wanted your guided tour to be conducted. 

It had nearly killed me climbing up to Hohenschwangau owing to the combination of the heat and asthma, so when the time came to face the 40 minute climb up to Neuschwanstein I declared that I wasn't going to do it. There were horses and carriages that could have taken us part of the way up, but the best option appeared to be catching a bus which left us with a mostly level walk to the castle.  What we didn't realise was that the entire population of Yokohama would be crowded onto the same bus as us. I am sure it was quite unsafe having so many people in the one bus.

Once inside Neuschwanstein I found it every bit as breathtaking as I had 23 years ago. Sadly, they still did not allow photos inside. They had opened up more of Neuschwanstein since we were there, including some of the unfinished rooms which had been converted into a cafe and gift shops.


Neuschwanstein perched up on Swan Rock
Then we had to try and find somewhere to stay.  What we didn't realise was that it was a long weekend,  and most places were totally full. It was a long time after we had crossed back into Austria before we found somewhere to stay, but it was another of those wonderful finds. The Hotel Alpenrose was at the end of a long dead end road, so was quiet, and had more fantastic mountain views. Dinner in their restaurant was a tasty and enjoyable experience.  And even more surprising,  no one there could speak any English,  so I had to converse the entire time in German,  which I managed without trouble. They understood me and I understood them. It seems my German is better than I realised - it just came naturally.  I guess that's the legacy of living for 9 months in Munich.

Gasthof Alpenrose
The valley leading to the Alpenrose

Mountain view from our room

The dining room

The moon rising over the mountains

Fields of wildflowers

Wildflowers everywhere

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