The Neuschwanstien Adventure- Schwangau, Germany

After leaving the beyond idyllic town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Julia and I embarked on a quick hour and a half roadtrip to see our second Ludwig II castle, Neuschwanstein. This is the one castle I had heard of before doing any research into where I wanted to visit, as it’s about the most famous of all German castles and arguably the most beautiful. Something I didn’t know before we went is that it’s also one the most visited tourist destinations in all of Europe, which makes sense of course, given it’s accessibility and beauty.

The skies were a clear brilliant blue and I enjoyed the views on the drive- the rolling hills, lush green farms and small towns just off the main highway almost begging for us to stop in and explore them. Finally though, the road curved just right and off in the distance, nestled right into the hills, we spotted the castle.

A 19th century romanesque revival palace constructed for a king who could be best and most kindly described as a social recluse, it was built in homage to the operas of composer Richard Wagner. Neuschwanstein was still incomplete when the king died in 1886 however, and in total he only slept 11 nights there. As the official tourist website for the castle states “the shy king had built the castle in order to withdraw from public life – now vast numbers of people came to view his private refuge. ”  To say there’s something deeply and almost sadly ironic about this would be an understatement.

After catching this glimpse of the castle so near and yet still so far away Julia and I continued on our way and then we ended up missing our turn and would up driving into the outskirts of Füssen, which turned out to be a lucky break as a I had no idea the town was there, nor that it would be so immediately interesting to me. As we made the necessary u-turn to get back on the right route I turned to Julia and said, “We really should see if we can find the time to come back here after we tour the castle, or at the very least stop in for lunch.” She readily agreed and all was well, even as we got behind a long – extremely long- line of cars that were all apparently going the same way as us.

By the time we made it up to the general parking lot at the bottom of the hill from where the castle is situated, we realized that perhaps spending our morning exploring Garmich-Partenkirchen had been a bad call and we should have gotten here earlier. Tour bus after tour bus lined up 6 deep and more people walking around trying to either buy tour tickets, start their walk up the hill to the castle or board a bus than I had seen at any of all the other places I had been to so far. Both Julia and I were caught off guard and we both expressed some version of “holy crap” as we tried to navigate our way to a parking spot.

So here’s something I rarely talk about in my blog posts- heck something I don’t even really talk about in my everyday life- which is the fun fact that I have occasional bouts of sensory overload coupled with social anxiety. As you can maybe imagine, traveling, especially to extremely crowded or busy places… well it can honestly wreak hell on my nerves. I can handle it well enough after years of forced practice and in general, unless you know me pretty intimately, you would just think i’m a bit tense and maybe not having the greatest time. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy traveling in cities or to tourist attractions, just that I need to be prepared in advance for the amount of energy i’ll need to have to find it in myself not to get overwhelmed by everything and everyone.

I work really hard to make sure there’s nothing ever standing in the way of the things I want to do- whether thats time, money or even myself- but of course the other side of that is also knowing when something isn’t quite worth the effort. If I had been by myself I would probably have taken one look at this crowded parking lot and flashed a cheery peace sign as I departed to calmer pastures but since I was with someone else, I took a deep breath and grabbed that extra cord of determination I keep stored at the bottom of my chest for emergencies and did my best to put on a happy face.
Thankfully however, neither of these were necessary as Julia was of the same opinion that really, this didn’t look like it would that much fun. So we talked it over for a bit and came to the decision that we would book it out of that madhouse, head to Füssen for lunch and then go to Linderhof Palace and maybe come back to Neuschwanstien the next day.

We got a bit turned around as we attempted to make our way out back to Füssen and ended up on some quiet roads that provided some really wonderful (and much more solitary) views of the castle and the surrounding hills and really, that just made us feel even better about our decision.

Things to think about if you decide to make the trip out here:
Just like all the other Ludwig II castles, you can only enter to visit with a tour, and these tours only last 30 minuets. The tickets cost $19 per person and while you can buy them when you arrive, it’s best to reserve ahead of time as they do sell out. Like I mentioned above, it’s an extremely popular destination and it’s probably best to try and make it as early as possible, though tours don’t start until 9am during the summer hours and 10am in the winter. And last but not least, photography is not allowed inside the castle.

On our way back from Füssen (which i’ll cover in the next post), as we headed to Linderhof Palace, we spotted a road that wound it’s way to a very picturesque church so we of course made a quick little detour to snap a couple of photos and check out some pumpkins being sold by the roadside that I had become intensely interested in. The skies had turned grey over the course of the past few hours we had been here but the wind was only a little crisp and with no rain immediately visible on the horizon, we headed on our way to the final Ludwig II castle on our Bavarian agenda.

~m

A Church By the River – Ramsau, Germany

well I don’t know if we will make it before dark… but we’re already on our way so…

might as well try!

That’s the exchange Julia and I had as we drove from Salzburg, Austria to Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany while we were trying to decide if we would make it in time to see the church she was taking me to or if we’d arrive after dark. After getting turned around twice while trying to navigate our way out of Salzburg, it was anyone’s guess at this point. The postcard worthy scenery as we made our way- tall lightly snow dusted mountains, lush green valleys and a winding road that showed it all to the best advantage- had already made the drive worth it to me though.

And what were we on our way to see? Why, another church of course! The Parish Church of Saint Sebastian( if you haven’t read my previous post on all the churches we visited in Salzburg- here it is – , which might give you a greater insight into why we both enjoy visiting these places and how truly worth the visit they are even if you wouldn’t normally be interested in these kinds of places)

The town of Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden is a small one, and one I had never heard of before Julia mentioned it. She told me the area was very popular with tourists though, as they liked to photograph the church, which is situated by the lovely Ramsauer Ache river, with the surrounding mountains rising in the background. It just sounds very picturesque, no?

The gently curving road eventually deposited us outside the town and I can say with full honestly the first words out of my mouth were a solid “wow”. The town is like something out of a fairytale, nestled right into the valley, with the main street tucked next to the river. There were also plenty of hotels and Gasthäuser in the area, not to mention a few tour buses and vans spotted here and there so it’s definetly popular with tourists of all kinds.

After finding a lucky parking spot just by the river and walking across the bridge to take a couple of photographs of the church opposite the other side, we meandered around the streets there for a bit and then made our way back. We crossed the surprisingly busy street (well, busy for the small town atmosphere) and found ourselves looking up at the church. “Should we go inside?” Julia asked and why not? We’d come this far, it would be almost silly not to really take it all in.

We encountered a group of German tourists at the entrance and they asked Julia to take a photo of them- coincidentally, they both had the same camera model after which they headed off and we looked around to realize we had been left with the whole place to ourselves.

The inside of the church was modest, at least compared to some of the other splendorous insides we had seen that day, but there was a really wonderful intimacy that was unique to the space that still stands out to me when I think back on it. We stayed inside for a bit and then quietly made our way back outside, where we took the path just next to the church that leads up to the cemetery.

Is it in bad taste to comment on the aesthetics of a cemetery? Maybe, but that doesn’t stop me from saying this was one of the loveliest cemeteries I’ve ever visited. It’s situated right behind and slightly above the church, which means it overlooks the valley, river and surrounding mountains, providing a really unexpected kind of view. We walked through the area there before heading back down and then taking another path around the side of the church through what ended up being a historic graveyard.

What I can most easily remember as we walked there in the town and around the church was the gentle smell of burning firewood somewhere , something heady and slightly sweet that wafted over us and made everything seem that much more idyllic.

Eventually though, true darkness began to settle in the valley and we decided it was probably high time to make our way back home to Julia’s apartment- especially since we wanted at least a little bit of an early start the next day when we headed to Herrenchiemsee, to see the palace built by King Ludwig II that was intended to be a Bavarian Versailles.

~m

Crinkled Maps, High Hopes and Rain Clouds- Loch Lomond, Scotland

The day started earlier than I expected, at 5am. Jetlag sucks, but at least it helped me get an early start to the day, which included a brisk walk down into the center of Morningside (the district in Edinburgh my hotel was located in) to pick up some breakfast and grab pastries to bring along the planned roadtrip up to Loch Lomond. The day was already a bit rainy but I had hopes that maybe it would clear up as it went on. I also had hopes that I wouldn’t completely collapse on the side of some Scottish mountain while trying to keep up with someone who was much more accustomed to being out and about in the woods than me. Only one of these two would be fully realized (lets take a guess which one).

Fun side story: the week before I left for this trip, actually just 4 days beforehand, I endured a grueling hour long 3-person panel interview for a new position at work that I still wasn’t even sure if I actually wanted. The reason this is relevant is because I couldn’t help from worrying about hearing back about it, as I can be a tight-knit ball of stress sometimes that doesn’t know how to relax even when on vacation. I do honestly still feel bad that Rob had to deal with that while just trying to enjoy this mid morning hike up around Loch Lomond that we eventually decided on, but then again he’s been my friend for a good bit now and knows my personality can be a fun grab bag of both good and bad. 

The thing about this hike was, I didn’t realize till about a 3rd of the way- at the point where I needed to take a break every 15 minuets- that we would only be going straight up and the landscape wouldn’t level out till we started making out way back down. It was at this point that I decided to just gracefully bow out of further physical exertion and head back down to the lakeside to rest and de-stress. Though it would have perhaps have been more interesting for me (and this blogs readers) if Rob had followed me down and we had tried a different trail or continued exploring the area together, I urged him to finish the hike as he had been really excited to do it and I didn’t feel it was fair for him to miss out on the experience just because i’m a dumpster fire mess sometimes.

So after we parted ways, I took my time on the winding trail heading back down to the lake, photographing the beautiful landscape as it was laid out before me, the air so crisp and clean and scented with something I still can’t quite put my finger on. Green, wild and unknown. Eventually making it back down to the lake I spent the next two hours writing in my travel journal, talking to my boyfriend back home who helped me stop worrying about everything (the lost credit card, the potential job I was waiting to hear back from, the idea of meeting up with a bunch more people I had never met in real life and wondering if we would all get along, the stress of traveling through all new countries mostly by myself, ect) and by the time Rob made it back from the hike my head was clearer than it had been in weeks.

We headed back to Edinburgh to drop off the rental car, enjoying a leisurely drive that was full of more genuine conversation and laughter than had been there before and we wrapped up the day at The Worlds End pub complete with fish and chips, haggis and of course, surprisingly good warm beer.

The next day was another early start as I headed off to Amsterdam and though it wasn’t as quick or as easy as I had hoped (I missed my connecting flight and kept mistakenly buying sparkling drinks even though I hate sparkling drinks), eventually I made it to the city I had dreamed of visiting since I was 16 and all the struggles to get there were more than worth it.

~m

Coming up, Amsterdam (Walking tour around Amsterdam and the canals, the Rijksmuseum, Albert Cuyp market) and then Germany (Bavaria and King Ludwig II’s castles) and Austria (Salzburg).

Outtakes- 2017 Colorado Edition









As always, it takes me good while to get to the end of posting about a trip- between editing all the photos and just life in general, i’m actually pretty surprised it didn’t take longer. But, here we are! Two months from the end of the trip and i’m finally done and onto planning my next trip.

Getting the chance to explore these parts of Colorado more in depth was a perfect vacation and while I don’t see myself returning any time soon, I know i’ll be be back. Whether it’s to go hiking in Rocky Mountain NP, finally make it to Lake City, see the night sky at the Great Sand Dunes NP or just relax in the quiet of South Fork, Colorado is a state that holds too much not to be worth a visit for anyone with a sense of adventure.

All The Posts:
First Post, Overview
Rocky Mountain NP Pt1
Rocky Mountain NP Pt2
Caribou Ghost Town
Gem and Minerals at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Gem Carvings of Konovalenko at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver Museum of Nature and Science , Last Part
Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain NP
Garden of The GodsBachelor Loop, PT1
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Pt1
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pt2
Sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park and PreserveBachelor Loop Pt2

I’m taking a break from writing any blog posts for the month of June to give myself time to focus back on neglected art projects, finish up the editing for the novel i’ve been writing, catch up with friends and above all, plan my next trip. I bought a ticket to Paris back at the end of March and i’ve yet to really settle on an itinerary (or get my passport in order) so hopefully by the time I get back on here, i’ll be able to share some kind of travel plan. Or beg for suggestions.

Either way, i’m wishing everyone a fantastic start to their summer and much luck in their adventures!

not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m

Quiet and Calm, Rust and Rot- Creede, CO











You know it’s not a roadtrip unless we end up exploring abandoned places…

Coming down the Bachelors Loop back towards Creede to head back to South Fork, we pulled off so I could take a better look at a structure partially obscured by trees and snow. Of course that ended up with me grabbing my camera and dragging myself (and the bf) to go up and over the hill, to better explore what looked more and and more interesting by the second.

I’m still not quite sure what this place is/was to be perfectly honest. When I looked at the Bachelor Loop map more close, it looks like this isn’t actually on there? The closest spot is #15, which is the Creede Cemetery (where I took the photo of that church from the end of my last post) but after that is #14 which is the Creede Scenic Overlook (again from where I took last posts photos). I remember passing a sign that said “Ponderosa” but thats about the best my memory serves me and no matter how much googling i’ve done, i’ve come up with nothing to give a name to this abandoned structure. To be sure, I also don’t remember any “Private Property” signs- which we saw a lot of while doing the other parts of the Bachelor Loop- and given the graffiti we saw inside plus the general air of disuse, i’m pretty sure I didn’t go stumbling through just anywhere.

What I do know for certain is that it was entirely unexpected but more wonderfully interesting and i’m always happy to get a chance to explore gems like this, even if I can’t always put a name to them.

~m