Saturday, January 14, 2012

Füssen and the Sleeping Beauty Castle

Big R's parents are in town for a short visit, so we decided to take them to the mountains to see one of the most visited castles in Germany.  Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival castle that sits in southern Bavaria just above the small village of Hohenschwangau. King Ludwig II had it commissioned as a retreat and it's design is so elaborate and over the top that it inspired Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle and is seen in many other movies.  The short of it is, it's a must see here in Germany.

  We ascended to the castle from the village by horse carriage, which little r thought was pretty fantastic.

I have no doubt this is quite a place to see in the summer.   It turns out this is also an incredible time of year to see this touristy locale.  Not only does the snow and wintery bliss give the castle a special character, but there are very few visitors this time of year - no lines, no crowds, and no obnoxious tourists.  It was fabulous.  I was especially appreciative of this because of having little r to take care of.  He could really care less about the castle just yet.  Some things were neat to my little toddler's mind, but waiting in line and taking a tour of the castle is probably not on his high list of excitement.  He let me know this a few times, but overall I have to say he did exceptionally well (and with no nap and a 3+ hour car ride under his belt, I was amazed!).

After we descended back to the village, we headed into Füssen where I had booked a hotel for the night.  I chose a hotel deep in the heart of the Altstadt so that we could be close to the action.  Rory's father broke his foot back in October, so his mobility was quite limited.  I was surprised by how well he got around and we were able to see quite a bit more than I had anticipated.  It was great to stay right down on the pedestrian zone.  Füssen is often called the romantic soul of Bavaria, and it was so easy to understand how it got this name.

Our hotel was comfortable and had plenty of German and Bavarian charm.  We ventured out into Old Town and found a cute German restaurant called "Ludwig's" (seemed very appropriate), and it might be one of the best German meals I've had since we've been here in Germany.  Our waiter was patient despite our wild little monster trying his best to make a scene, and we had a lovely time at dinner. Somehow little r survived and no one left the restaurant screaming or pointing at us.  We just got creative with how we entertained the little one including letting him roam the restaurant, which is something we often see the Germans do with their children.  It was oddly effective. Hmmmm....

With our bellies full and our spirits light, we sauntered back to our hotel.  Big R took his folks to our hotel's restaurant for a little Bavarian desert while I got little r settled down and into his pj's.  Big R came back with a bottle of wine for us all to share, which we did as little r feel asleep on my lap as we chatted away about our amazing day.

In the morning we were greeted with snow, and felt somewhat like a fairy tale.  We did some more exploring of Füssen including making some fun purchases.  Big R and I are now the proud owner of a coo coo clock.  We said we'd never own one, and now that we are here, we've had our eye on them.  We found a great shop in the Old Town that had some incredible clocks and other German crafts.  I am really happy with the one we took home.  I'll be sure to take a photo of it once we get it hung on the wall.

It was such a beautiful day that we decided to ride the gondola up the mountain and pray the weather holds for an incredible view of the valley.  We drove to a sweet little ski resort and bought a ticket to ride to the top.  The sun stayed strong just long enough for Big R to capture the beauty of the Alps.  Here are a few of my favorites.  This new camera takes some amazing pictures.

As we stepped onto the gondola for the ride down the mountain, the clouds crept in and we could no longer see ten feet in front of us.  The drive home was long but uneventful.  I experienced my first drive through a German snow storm and had fun skidding around on the ice.  Otherwise things were relatively uneventful.  We couldn't have asked for a nicer adventure.  The weather was perfect, the company was pleasant, and even little r was mostly on his best behavior...mostly :)

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