SCHWANGAU, DEUTSCHLAND: Reiseziel 3
The next stop on my exploration was a city near the southern border of Germany…Schwangau. Here my sister and I had our first taste of public transportation gone wrong. Until now we had survived without any problems. After initially discovering that we boarded the wrong train from Stuttgart, a slight panic ensued, until we realized that luckily it still ended up in the same connecting train station of Ausberg. So far, so good. Unfortunately, right before the Ausberg train station, there was some malfunction causing our train to stop and all trains leaving and entering that station to have a delay of about a half hour. Our whole train had to exit through the first car, as that was the only wagon close enough to the platform, which doesn’t sound too bad. But once again, my sister and I had more luggage than we should probably be trying to carry and were at the back end of the train. After a slight wait we were once again on board a temporary, fill-in train, which had a schedule of its own to stick to. This left all the passengers in a small town, where we were loaded onto two coach buses. From there we had a nice ride on country lanes behind bikers, tractors, and pretty much any other slow-moving vehicle you can imagine…until we finally made it to Füssen, the major town outside of Schwangau. At that point Morgan and I thought we only had to make it on the bus to Schwangau, and we would be in the clear. Too bad things never go as planned! While we did make it to our stop in Schwangau, we received directions to the wrong hotel (who would put a Hotel Helmer and a Hotel Helmerhof in the same town?!?) We thought we would have a 15 minute walk, yet it took about an hour, just to find out we were at the wrong one! After a hot, dehydrated, and stressful journey back into town, Morgan and I were definitely the recipients of some strange looks…no doubt due to our over-dressed apparel and bulky luggage on a hot summer day.
Once we checked into the (correct) hotel, the afternoon was a bit more mellow. Schwangau, a small, country town had a beautiful landscape surrounded by mountains and a few lakes. We were able to walk along the Forggensee the first night.
Our second day led us to the Neuschwanstein Schloss (castle) and Hohenschwangau Schloss in the nearby town of Hohenschwangau. The Neuschwantein Scloss, built by King Ludwig, was actually one of the major inspirations for the Disney Cinderella castle. We took a tour, and the interior of the castle was incredible! Although the castle was never completely finished, due to Ludwig’s unexpected death, the decoration and carvings in the finished rooms were amazing to see.
Nearby was the Marienbrücke (bridge) which we hiked up to, revealing a great view of the city and the Neuschwanstein Schloss. The Alpsee, next to the Hohenschwangau Schloss, was also a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains which we were able to walk to, as well.
Although staying in a smaller town on the outskirts of a larger city had its drawbacks, Schwangau had a more relaxed feel and let us slow down our travel pace. The restaurants were smaller and fewer between (a slight problem when we were hungry), but the food was typical German cuisine and forced us to rely only on speaking German to get what we want!
SALZBURG, ÖSTERREICH: Reiseziel 4
From Schwangau we crossed borders into Austria! After a long morning of travel, Morgan and I arrived at our hotel, which was connected to the beautiful St. Sebastian Kirche. Immediately behind the church was an ornate cemetery, which housed only the graves of members of Mozart’s family (pretty cool!) Our first evening left us with quite a bit of time to check out this city, including the Mirabell Garten (garden) and Mirabell Schloss, the Salzach (river), the Dom (cathedral) to name a few. Our hotel was located on the east side of the river, but most of the transportation downtown was by foot, so crossing the bridges and traveling between the two sides was no problem.
On our second day in Salzburg, we were able to start off our morning with a three and a half hour bike tour…hitting up all the locations the Sound of Music made famous! Definitely a highlight of our two weeks, we were able to see many of the places where the movie was shot (at least those not reconstructed in Hollywood): the Von Trapp house (front and back…two different homes!), the gazebo, the Nonnberg (the monetary where the nuns lived), and more! Of course, if you haven’t seen the movie, this might not make a difference. Regardless, the tour by bikes allowed us to see more of the city than we would have able to by foot and took us on the outskirts of town.
After the ride, we spent the afternoon and evening around the city, hitting up everything we hadn’t yet! We were able to make a trip up to the fortress above the city, Festung Hohensalzburg, and check out both Mozart’s birth house and the house he lived in for part of his life. The arts are a huge part of Salzburg’s culture, something that was evident through both Mozart and other composers musical influences as well as many of the street artists here…a talented city!
More to come later…bis dann!