Hi friends! Sorry for the delayed post, but it’s been a hectic week and I did not have my Sunday binge of wifi like I usually do.
This past weekend, we took a road trip with our boss across Germany and slightly over the border of the Czech Republic. Why would five of us cram into a tiny (and I mean tiny) car and drive four and a half hours? What better reason that to shop…
Cheb is where the market is. I don’t mean fish and meat and cheese, I mean all things from scarves to watches to purses. I have already experienced the Souks in Marrakech, Morocco, (BTW if you ever get the chance, GO TO MOROCCO!) so I was prepared for the type of bargaining and behavior that would occur at the market. It was pretty similar, but let’s just say it was a little bit more sketchy here.
We would be walking along the center aisle and in their broken English, people would ask what we were looking for. They would whisper ideas or suggestions, and if we showed interest, they became very secretive. They would turn their heads left and right, then say, “come come,” and hurry us down a narrow hallway behind a blue tarp to a door unseen by the public. They would then let us into a tiny, cramped room where all the real goodies are. The longer we spent in each room, the more the price would go down. It was slightly awesome. Once we completed purchases, they told us to “keep quiet” and ask “how much you pay?” to suggest that we not advertise what little we spent on [insert item here].
After we were plenty frozen (the market is outdoors) and ready for our next adventure, we hopped back in the car and shortly after, stopped for gas. Now I normally wouldn’t include this portion in my story, but an important member of the family was added at this gas stop. His name is Roary (hehe) and he is a (stuffed) lion. He is dressed in an adorable German outfit and he’s even wearing a hat. I was reluctant at first, but he’s now my godson and you will see him featured in future adventures. Roary goes everywhere now.
After driving for about four hours until we got to our destination: Füssen. It is a quaint town that just happens to have two enormous castles up above the town. No big deal. After we checked into our hotel, we walked around the town to find something to eat. The shops and little streets were picturesque, holding character and beautiful architecture in every direction. We finally settled on a warm and inviting authentic German restaurant.
Exhausted from a long day of mostly driving, we headed back to our hotel to soak up the limited amount of time where we had wifi at the touch of a button. Most of us caught up on communicating with friends and family back home before crashing for the night. We needed our beauty sleep if we were going to wake up as royalty.
Well, we didn’t wake up as royalty, but we did wake up to 3 inches of snow with no signs of stopping. I shouldn’t complain, because I’m from Iowa and I’m used to waking up to flash ‘floods’ of snow, 10+ inches. But I’ve gotten used to hardly any snow and more mild temperatures. I’m being spoiled, I know. (Sorry Iowans, I don’t miss the weather!)
We ate breakfast in our hotel before heading up the hill to the castle. It snowed most of the day, but it was worth it. The castle we visited is called Neuschwanstein and it was where the King of Bavaria, Ludwig II, reined from. Next to Neuschwanstein is another castle, just as immense and grandiose, but it was his childhood home. Because every child needs a childhood castle, and a castle for adulthood. Duh.
Given the occasion, we treated ourselves like royalty and took a horse carriage ride up the mountain. It was peaceful and we didn’t have to climb the giant, slippery hills in the snow.
King Ludwig II was very involved with the planning and architecture of the castle, which is impressive considering he could have just said what he wanted and thy will be done. He worked first hand with designers to create his perfect sanctuary. Unfortunately, only 1/3 of the castle was completed before his death in 1886. When he died, so did the work on the castle.
Perhaps the most unfortunate room that had not been completed was the throne room. We toured this immaculate room, complete with a 2,000 pound chandelier and 2 million tiles on the floor, and beautiful tapestries and artwork consuming every angle of every wall. The theme of his throne room was religion, evident with a large portrait of Jesus Christ himself above where the throne would have been. The only thing missing from the throne room? The throne. The guide stated that, because there was no royalty after King Ludwig, there was no reason to continue building a throne.
We then toured his bed chamber, complete with a beautiful reading chair, as he loved to read, and his own vestibule to pray in. The theme of this room was Tristan and Isolde, an interesting choice as the story is quite tragic.
Due to the weather, the bridge behind the castle was closed unfortunately. This bridge is a small hike from the castle itself, but offers picturesque photo opportunities and a beautiful view of the castle. Just another reason why I need to get back there again someday real soon.
We met up with our group and took a horse carriage ride back down the mountain. We browsed some of the shops and continued on our way, leaving the adorable town of Füssen and Neuschwanstein behind. It was about 4 hours back home, so we settled into Hugo (the nickname for our boss’s car) and ventured home.
I always say that it can’t be considered a road trip if you don’t get lost at least once. Good thing Hugo made sure of that. We ran into a traffic jam on the way back, and the GPS system decided to take us to another traffic jam. After programming Hugo yet again, he led us in a circle right back to the original traffic jam. Thanks a lot Hugo.
We made it home safe and sound and utterly exhausted. Being cramped in a very small European car for 4+ hours is not ideal, but the weekend and those it was shared with made it worth it. Road trips are the epitome for making memories.
Stay tuned for my post about Empanada-making night with my co-workers! Yum!