Monday, May 5, 2008
Schlosse Neuschwanstein and Munich
The next day we got up and ate breakfast with Suzanne, our hostess and proprietor of the B&B in Fussen. She prepared an excellent breakfast, and we ate lots of muesli and yogurt, cold cuts and bread and hot tea. The kids ate Cap'n Crunch which I retrieved from the car. I think Suzanne was a little offended at them not eating her breakfast, but they did drink the hot chocolate she made for them. Ann took the Kendrick family up to the little town at the base of the castle mountain, paid for tickets (because she's wonderful) and left us to hop in the horse-drawn carriage. The men driving the carriage kept waiting for a full load which made us nervous as the time for our tour drew ever closer. We enjoyed the carriage ride up the mountain and then sprang from the carriage and did a quick death march up to the castle just in time for our tour number to be flashed on the big board. Whew! I stopped to use the bathroom on the way up and I thought Justin was going to leave me. He was channeling Uncle Jeff.
The tour was really interesting, though Jack would not be still for a nanosecond which diminished my enjoyment somewhat. It made me so grateful that we had not taken the kids through the Louvre or Jack through Versailles. That would have not been a good idea. The castle was beautiful inside and out, and I really enjoyed taking pictures. When we were done with the tour, the Whites and Majo were outside waiting on us. They had apparently hoofed it up the castle road while we had been touring. it's not an easy walk, so I was impressed. It had snowed recently so the bridge over the deep chasm which had made PC so nervous when he was there was not an option for us, though I took some pictures of it. In better weather, you can hike up the mountain some more to a higher vantage point for some postcard-worthy shots of the castle, but again not an option in current conditions. Plus we had to go to Munich! After an absolutely delightful stop for lunch - I had spaetzle and cheese, my new German favorite - we descended to the little town again and Jeff took the train team to the train station, leaving me, Katy, Mason and Will to wander around the lake and look for a potty. We found one, he came back, and we were off to Munich. The kids happily played video games and I got to look out of the window at the passing countryside. the mountains went away and after a while we entered Munich. We checked into a hotel and after a bit, Jeff went to retrieve the train team who had pulled into the station nearby. Then the whole group was together, Jeff tried to sleep, I helped Jack put together his Bionicle that he had gotten the day before at Legoland, and ate some squirrel hearts. After a bit, Ann said she was going out for a walk, so Justin, Will and I tagged along. We saw a little bit of the pedestrian friendly part of Munich, but not much. Our impression of Munich was not entirely good, but partly because the hotel where we were hanging out was close to the train station which is not the best section of town, but the best logistically for us b/c everyone was getting on the night train to Florence in about 4 hours. So I would love to go back and do Munich justice one day. We peeked in to the Haufbrau Haus - I'm sure I'm misspelling that and saw the Hard Rock Cafe, but opted for more traditional German fare for supper. The only thing I distinctly remember is getting apple strudel for dessert - delicious! And losing Jack for a brief but horrifying period as we were leaving the restaurant. By this point in the trip, Jack is worn out and a little fragile. It was a lot of walking and new stuff to handle when you are five years old.
Then we went back up to the hotel, killed a bit of time and then walked back over to the train station to get everyone settled on the night train. After a lot of fun with escalators - the same two boys who had to be shoved onto escalators a week ago are now begging to go up and down them for kicks - the train pulls in and our people get on. I did not get on because I was going with Jeff in the Volvo, so I can't tell you much about the train experience. I heard from everyone else that it stopped alot, they were packed in there like sardines, and I don't think the adults got a lot of sleep. After the train left the station, Jeff and I walked back to the hotel, checked out, got in the Volvo, and started for Italy. I think the trip took maybe 7-8 hours. There was not much to see in the dark, and I nodded off some, even though my job was to keep Jeff awake. I do remember that Austria and Italy felt alot like a perpetual exit ramp, one long continuous curve, but I guess that's because we were going through the mountains. We stopped at a rest stop about an hour from Florence because we were going to get there before the train and slept a bit. Then we drove the rest of the way, parked the car, and met the train around 6:30 in the morning. But the rest of that is for another day.