"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Castles, Mountains, and Trompe L'Oeil, OH MY!

After hitting the highlights in Heidelberg, we traveled with the Grandparents (a.k.a. 'DeDe' and 'Poppy T') to the German Alps. We decided to brave the Autobahn and travel by car three hours Southeast to the German-Austrian border. DeDe and I had more than a few tense moments in the backseat of the car while Poppy T drove. Once I thought the side mirror was going to be knocked off when we passed a truck on a very narrow road, and every time a car raced by us going over 100 mph I found myself gripping onto the seat in front of me. Thankfully we made it safely to our destination with no casualties and only a few wrong turns. Whew!

We spent the first afternoon and evening in the small town of Füssen. There wasn't much going on there, but we did manage to take in some nice (albeit mostly cloud-covered) views of the mountains. There was also a beautiful river that flowed through the town. The water had a cool blue-green hue to it.

DeDe and Poppy T

One of the more interesting aspects of Füssen is the Gothic Hohes Schloss (High Castle). It was rebuilt in the 1500's as a summer residence for the bishops of Augsburg. What is most interesting about it are the Lüftmalerei paintings on the walls of the castle. They are the local Bavarian version of trompe l'oeil that was popularized in the 18th century. From far away the castle tower looks like it has fancy architectural details and a clock, but when you get up close, you realize they are just painted onto a flat wall--crazy stuff!

The painters really went crazy inside the courtyard of the castle. This picture makes it just look like painted walls, but I'm telling you that when you view it from certain angles you would swear it's for real!

Other buildings around the town of Füssen had Lüftmalerei decor as well. Here is one of my favorite. The bottom part of the building is supposed to look like red stones.

This restaurant/hotel in the neighboring town had a neat festival scene painted on it. Doesn't this picture just scream "quaint German town"?!

The hotel accomodations weren't the most luxurious, but Penelope didn't seem to mind. In fact, she slept in bed with the father and me, and she didn't wake up the entire night!

Since it was dark by 5:00 and quite chilly outside, we spent most of the evening indoors sipping beer and warm drinks. Here is DeDe proudly displaying her first Hefeweizen, and yes, she managed to drink the whole thing!

It took some creativity, but we managed to keep Penelope happy and entertained while we finished our drinks and ate dinner.

The real reason we traveled to the German Alps was to see the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles. Below is the Hohenschwangau castle. It was where Ludwig II grew up. The castle is decorated with swan carvings and paintings of scenes from the legend of the Swan Knight (Schwan is German for 'swan').

Inside the castle courtyard

Perched on top of the hill is the real gem of the region--Neuschwantstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein is the castle that supposedly inspired the Cinderella Castle in Disney World. And apparently this castle is similar to Disney when the tourist season reaches its peak. Thankfully we avoided most of them by coming to see it in November.

The view of the castle was breathtaking, but the sad irony of it is that the builder of the castle, Ludwig II, never saw the castle completed. The rooms inside that were finished are magnificent, but the fact that nothing ever took place inside of them makes the whole place feel empty.
Ludwig II is known as "Mad" King Ludwig because he was so shy and reclusive. Though he was known for his good looks, he never married. He had a peculiar fascination with the great composer Richard Wagner. Every room in his castle is dedicated to one of Wagner's operas. Ludwig was eventually declared insane and dethroned. He was discovered drowned in a lake--very mysterious...

Our little family in front of Neuschwanstein

The glowing grandparents

The only picture of all of us--guest photographer lost sight of his subjects

In front of the castle entrance

View of the mountains and lake from the castle balcony

Like father, like son

Girl power!

Penelope rejoices in her freedom

Hooray for castles!

After touring the castle we hiked up to the Marien Bridge for a view of the castle from behind. Here is a view of the bridge from the castle courtyard--very scary looking!

DeDe and Poppy T on the bridge

Peering down from the bridge into the gorge below

When all was said and done, we had a great experience in the German Alps. Snow-capped mountains, painted buildings, fairy tale castles. You can't beat Bavaria!


  1. Looks like some amazing adventures, friends. I'm glad to see that the rental car idea worked out! It looks a lot colder over there--yesterday it was 70 degrees! Drakon!

  2. i covet your warm weather! speaking of drakon, we saw them palying again on sunday afternoon. only one swinging chain ball thing this time!