|Today our major goal was to see Neuschwanstein, or as many Americans know it, the "Disney castle". We got up for the earliest breakfast possible, and then stopped on the way out of Oberammergau so Marsha and Marilyn could take lots of photos of the houses painted with religious themes and with fairy tale stories. The best ones were Little Red Riding Hood, and the large house dedicated with several Grimm's Fairy Tales such as Hansel and Gretel. When I can post photos (soon), you'll be able to see them. In the meantime, go to the internet and look up something like Oberammergau's painted houses.
We were on the road to Neuschwanstein by 0900, as planned to get us there in plenty of time. Before I write about the castle, let me add a couple of explanations. On the map, the location is indicated as "Schwangau" which is just west of Oberammergau. This program does not allow me to enter "Neuschwanstein" as a city, so I'm using Schwangau, which is the closest town. Also, this report may look like we stayed at Neuschwanstein, as it does not indicate Rothenburg ob der Tauber (or Rothenburg hereafter). Since we'll be in Rothenburg for two nights, I'll write about it tomorrow.
Seeing Neuschwanstein is a fairly major production and scheduling challenge, in my mind. It all started with picking a day we wanted to visit. I did that from home a couple of months ago. When we had the date, I asked for a tour time in the early afternoon, and was given one for 1325--exactly. To make that time, we needed to back up from the tour start by the amount of time to walk from the upper parking lot; back up from that for the time to ride up the mountain in a horse-drawn carriage; back up from that the time to wait in line for the carriage; back up from that the time to drive to Schwangau from Oberammergau; and that gave us our departure time in the morning. We added in extra time to each step to be sure we were there on time for the tour, and wound up needing to wait about 90 minutes after all. We were luckily in the shade so it was not bad.
As advertised, the tour started precisely at 1325. Actually, the turnstile would not open until that time. We were given audio guides which resemble a cordless phone, and these seem to be somewhat standard now in Germany at attractions. To get our blood pumping right away, the tour began with the climb up about three flights of stairs on a circular stone staircase. We four were huffing and puffing, but we made it. We had a very congenial tour guide, and naturally, he explained what each room was as we toured the castle. Rather than try to capture here what was said, I encourage you to look online, such as at Wikipedia, to see the story of the castle. The one thing I would add is that the castle was not finished after King Ludwig the II's death, and you can see evidence of that in several places. What was finished was grand.
As the tour ended, we passed through the obligatory gift shop, then the castle's kitchen, and finally to a balcony from which you could take photos--no photos allowed inside the castle otherwise. The views from the balcony on second floor were spectacular, and I hope the photos will do them justice.
Since the ladies wanted to shop a bit more at the castle, I walked down to the car, and they followed shortly afterwards. They had acquired some more goodies and were pleased with what they got. Marsha and Marilyn will hopefully add to these comments when they get home, because I probably will not do justice to their purchases. I know Marsha was so pleased to find and then buy a Lladro figure of "May flowers". It was something she wanted to buy for her mother when she was still alive, but felt she could not afford it. Then, she could never find it. She went into this shop in southern Germany and found one--one--of the figures. Like I said, she is really pleased to have found and bought it. I hope she will elaborate on what I've written. Marilyn has been finding things all along the way, such as additions to her necklace, and yesterday a red crystal beer stein. We, however, are buying little as we seem to be in the stage of giving things to family while we downsize.
We were in the car and back on the road by 1230, and were looking at a 3 hour drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It took about 15 minutes to find our way to the Autobahn via GPS, and after that it was Autobahn all the way at about 75-80 mph. I'm not comfortable above that and there were several stretches under construction. The GPS got us close in Rothenburg, but again, we needed to ask a local couple for help. They were very eager to help, and gave us good directions--basically, it was across the street, but we just did not see it. I went in to get us registered, and then we went looking for a recommended place to eat. Bummer experience at first. One place had no room--a party was coming; another was closed for a summer break; and a third also was waiting for a large party. We eventually went back to a Gasthof Rappen next door to our Hotel Hornburg Garni.
Dinner was an interesting experience. We ordered four different meals, and Marsha specifically asked the waitress to leave the onions off her pizza. When our food arrived, all was right, except that the kitchen had put onions on Marsha's pizza. The waitress said she would get it done right, and while Marsha waited, we ate our hot food. Shortly thereafter the head man in the kitchen came out to talk with Marsha to get the order correctly, and came back a second time to tell her he personally had fixed her pizza with fresh tomatoes and herbs. He was really nice about it all. When her pizza came out, there were no onions and since the crust was thin and soft, she folded it over to basically make a calzone. When the head man stopped by to see if all was right, he joked that he had "worked to get her pizza right and she made a calzone out of it." Again, he was very nice about it. I had a couple of tastes of her pizza, and it was very good with fresh tasting veggies and sauce.
As soon as we had paid, we headed back to move our luggage to our rooms. Unfortunately, this hotel does not have a lift, so we lugged our bags up a flight of stairs. By the time we got done in the humid high 80s weather, we were all soaked with sweat. We bid each other a quick good night, and headed to bed about 2130. Thank goodness there was a tower fan in the room and we kept it on all night.
Before I close for today, I wanted to make a general statement about Neuschwanstein that is my opinion and the ladies might disagree later. While it was really worthwhile to make the visit, it does take lots of coordination to be on time. Also, you need to be in fairly good shape to do the walking and stair climbing that is required. If the weather is not so good, that could be OK since most of the tour is about the interior of the castle. However, if you have a clear day as we did, the vistas can be spectacular and memorable. I've done it once now, and will probably not do it again unless we were showing it to fellow travelers.