We awoke to find that the sun does, indeed, shine now and again in Munich. We had cool weather and blue skies for our 2 hour bus ride to Neuschwanstein Castle. The scenery along the way was some of the most beautiful I've seen in my life. I was seriously expecting to see the Von Trapp family running down the mountainside singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music..." followed by men in Lederhosen with those long horn thingies calling out, "Ricola!"
Neuschwanstein (pronounced newsh-vahn-stine) is nestled high atop the foothills of the Alps and was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. And much like Cinderella, it really was like a fairy tale. Except, in a fairy tale, a fairy godmother would have appeared at the base of the mountain and bibbity-bobbity-booed our sorry butts to the top of the cliff. Our group became subdivided into 3 smaller ones: the fast (aka the physically fit, to which most students and chaperones belonged), the slow (2 students and Michelle), and the lame. Guess who was the leader of the lame? Yep. Moi.
I “volunteered” to stay behind with 3 students who suffered various ailments and walk at a snail’s pace. But in my defense, it was the Alps. And I am 40, which puts me closer to senior citizenship than the young whipper snappers jogging up the 89-degree angled path. Even though I was panting and wheezing and my muscles cramping, it was so very worth it! What an amazing sight to see!
As we toured the castle and listened to the stories about how crazy mad King Ludwig II was, we came across a bust of dear Ludwig and made and interesting discovery. Pascal was a dead ringer for Ludwig II! It was uncanny and we all got a laugh out of it...even people who were not in our group recognized the resemblance! Unfortunately, we have no picture to prove it as no photos or video were allowed in the castle.
After Neuschwantstein, we headed to another of Ludwig II's residences - Linderhof. It appears as though Ludwig II might be the only other person in history more infatuated with the French monarchy than I am, and so built a mini-Versailles complete with a mini-hall of mirrors, mini-gardens, and decorated with dozens of paintings, portraits, and sculptures of court life in France. And of course, I loved it.
Manfred, our mad bus driver with mad bus driving skills, bobbed and weaved our bus over the twisted roads of the Alps as he blared German folk music, and occasionally cursed in German at inept drivers, and whisked us back to Munich just in time to make our dinner reservation. Since it was our last night, we had a little free time to finish shopping and check out a few last sites before Manfred again blasted German folk music and made the bus "dance" to chants of "Manfred! Manfred! Manfred!" There were also chants for Pascal followed by several female voices that demanded "DANCE, Pascal!!" It was hectic and crazy, but we all laughed and cheered knowing there was no better way to end our trip than this.