Tuesday, we journeyed to the south of Germany to visit the castle that inspired Walt Disney when he was making Cinderella’s castle for Disney World. King Ludwig designed and oversaw its construction from his nearby childhood summer castle, Hohenschwangau, which we also toured.
When we toured Hohenschwangau, we arrived expecting an automated audio tour. They guy handing out handsets told us there was a live guided tour in English starting in 10 minutes, if we would like to wait. We said yes. He said that we could step behind this rope and wait in those chairs over there. The rope marked off some old wooden chair covered in velvet in front of a royal chapel that was part of the castle. We weren’t allowed to photograph inside the castle or else I would have taken a picture. I didn’t want to get kicked out of my 10 minutes of waiting in that setting. It was pretty special to sit in those chairs with no barrier between us and the castle an imagine all the others who might have passed that way before us.
Then we toured the newer castle that was never finished and has been a tourist attraction since 60 days after King Ludwig’s unfortunate demise. The Austrian Alps in the background and the winding forest patches were all pretty idyllic.
The kids are tired and still not quite adjusted to Germany time, but the castles were magical enough to win them over. However, the kids may remember today as the day I let them have McDonalds for lunch AND dinner. In my defense, they had a touch screen menu where I could order and pay in English.
Rob discovered a park with a pirates’ ship, a rope course, and a river near his office. After we dropped him off at work, we played there for a while, with a detour to a toy store. Spencer got a soccer ball and Meg got some art stuff.
We played until lunchtime, when Rob joined us to go to the Ulm minster to climb the tower. The staircases were narrow and had frequent windows, so you could simultaneously enjoy claustrophobia and a fear of heights, if you are in to that sort of thing. Meg and Clare stopped after a chapel at a midway point and went back down to enjoy the stunning interior and listen to the pipe organ. We did get high enough to look down on the 8 bells and a chapel high above the rest of the city. Rob will post views from the top of the tallest church tower in the world later.
I found the restoration efforts quite fascinating. I wonder what we are working on now that will attract attention in 650 years or if there is anything started now that someone will come back and finish 500 years from now.
Today Rob’s coworker Reiner took us to Nördlingen, a city on the Romantic Road with a wall from the fourteenth century or a bit earlier built in the center of a 20 km wide meteor crater created 15 million years ago. He brought 3 of his kids, Hugo (10), Erika (7), and Anna (4). Hugo knew some English and he and Spencer got on quite well. The boys played in the fountain in the square where we got lunch. The restaurant was very tasty, but they forgot to bring the kids’ food, so we got them crepes after. We checked out the first of many churches. Climbing the tower, we saw an old human powered elevator. Apparently prisoners provided the power that brought up construction materials to finish the church tower. The view from the tower was pleasant. It included a stork tending its own babies on a nearby room and the town hall (which has a green onion dome). The “mountains” in the background are actually the ring of the metro crater. Rob checking out the view. The Nördlingen church tower had about 350 steps, some of which were a spiral staircase. After our climb, we got ice cream. And went to a museum to learn about the meteor crater, which seems to have been a pretty epic event. The meteor vaporized upon impact. The meteor liquified silicone, the droplets resolidified as they were flying in the air, and were found somewhere in the Czech Republic. Climbing up onto the city wall to walk back to Reiner’s car. They boys defending the city from imaginary invaders on our walk back. Trout in the river within the city wall. Wall with a view of a defense tower. Down from the wall, loading up the van. Back from our adventures, reading Frog on a Log.
Our adventure begins, like many do, with waiting in an airport. Promisingly, our plane has arrived.