Sunday morning, it was time to leave our hotel in Engelberg to head to southern Germany.There was a brief scramble as we were leaving as Daniel accidentally packed his room key for the hotel. The key is an actual key that turns a real lock, and not just a plastic key card, so the hotel charges 200 francs to replace the key. EVERYTHING in Switzerland is expensive.
Finally, we were off. The scenery in the eastern part of Switzerland was just as beautiful as the scenery on the western side.
Several of our travelers had used our time in the Lucerne area to purchase Swiss Army knives.Soon, we exited Switzerland and entered the country of Lichtenstein, stopping in the capital city of Vaduz. Unfortunately for Lichtenstein, most people seem to treat the capital as if it’s a Pennsylvania Turnpike service center, the perfect place to refuel on the way to Austria or Germany. Still, we were able to find some things to do during our brief stay. After a short visit, it was time to say goodbye. But… On the way to Germany, we briefly crossed over into Austria. Then it was off to Neuschwanstein Castle. Our tour manager, Tim, had warned us multiple times that there was a hill to climb to get to the castle. Since other hills that we had climbed had gone unmentioned by Tim, we understood that their must REALLY be a hill to climb. Prior to confronting that challenge, though, we had some free time in the town at the base of the castle. The town was scenic but contained only one public restroom, which was a pay restroom with a malfunctioning coin slot. Laura resorted to plan B – pretending to go into a restaurant to eat and then using their restroom. After this successful bluff, she passed on a detailed scouting report of the restaurant floor plan to Haylee who was able to duplicate the feat. After eating and taking a look around the town, we met to go up to the castle, and all of our travelers made it to the meeting place on time. As I mentioned, the castle was up on a hill, and the group proceeded up the hill at varying speeds. The king of Bavaria who built the castle, Ludwig II, built it as something of a replica of earlier, medieval castles. Since those castles were built at elevation for defensive purposes, Ludwig’s was too. This must have been awesome for him, because the views at the top were fantastic, but not so good for the peasants who had to drag giant blocks of stone up a hill.
Some people avoided the walk by taking horse-drawn carriages up the hill, which meant that there was another obstacle for walkers: horse poop. From time to time, some kind of horse poop zamboni would come along and use a combination of brushes and vacuums to suck up most of the remains. Even with the giant hill and numerous land mines, we were able to make it to the top and see the castle and countryside.
The castle is incredibly decorative on the inside, with paintings, statues, and inlaid gems everywhere; however, photography was not allowed inside. That did not stop Daniel from taking pictures using his secret spy camera.
Other travelers had to take their pictures in areas where photography was allowed.On the way out from the castle, we stopped to take some group shots. Just in case you ever ask a teenager to photograph you with something awesome in the background, here’s a tip: tell them that they should include the awesome thing in the photograph. Otherwise… Climbing hills and posing for taxing group shots was exhausting.
Late in the afternoon, we made it to Munich. After unloading at the we drove the short distance to the Aldstadt, the Old Town.
We stopped for a look inside Saint Michael’s church, built in the baroque style.
Then it was time for a German dinner of wiener schnitzel and beer.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the main square, Marienplatz.We exited the main square through a gate that was preserved from Munich’s old medieval wall, but the gate looked nowhere near that old.