I may have spent more time in Germany than any other foreign country. It’s an easy transport place and there’s so much to see there. I really admire the people there, the strong economy, and the language. I spent some time years ago digging into family history connected to Charlemagne in the North of the Country, took a look at the Berlin Wall and ex-Nazi relics in Berlin ( I’m back in my Nazi fighting Indiana Jones adventure hat!) In the early days of my travels, I drove the Autobahn in the Rhine River Valley. Now driving on the Autobahn at high speed just feels normal. But in all of that trouncing, never have I seen what I most wanted to see in Germany, my top German bucket list place, Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairy tale one. The one where I cringe a little as I say Walt Disney based Cinderella’s Castle off of.
The Austrian Alps lived up to their reputation, as did Switzerland. And in my little Serbian Renault Clio rental (which earned several bewildered looks of it’s own) I decided that I couldn’t finish country collecting in this region without seeing Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle sits in south west Bavaria, tucked in a hillside, very close to Austria. Never before had it been so convenient for me to get to and I was excited to finally see it. See the photo below? Those are what I had seen in my German textbooks in class, on Pintrest, and Google. It certainly wasn’t what I was going to see when I got to Neuschwanstein. Compare my first photo with this one:
Coming into the fields surrounding the castle, I could see it on the hillside in the distance. I craned my neck to see quick previews between the trees.
“That’s it?!” I asked in disbelief. I checked the map to make sure we were in the correct location. I have a hard time spelling Neuschwanstein and thought maybe I typed it into Google Maps wrong. That was it. *Side note, I still have to google the spelling of Neuschwanstein every time I write it. Thank you copy, paste*.
I did a drive through of the tourist trap town of Hohenschwangau, looked around at the horse and carriage rides, and opted not to climb the hill to see the inside of the castle. As Anthony Bourdain once said, “I can just Google that later”.
It’s not even that old, I thought. What makes this castle so special compared to the hundreds of other ones all around Europe?
I still don’t get it.
Nevertheless, I had an excellent time photographing the castle and the mountain scenery. Wildflowers and a brilliantly colored fat caterpillar stole my attention. If you look closely, you can see it’s setae (see-tee), the hair. From my best guess, this guy was going to turn into a Swallowtail. Sometimes what’s most incredible isn’t the flashy attraction but the small details right beneath our nose.
Something that scares me in this lifelong journey is seeing so many “unbelievable take your breath away” places that I no longer become impressed. That’s my favorite feeling– bewilderment. It’s what fills my cup. I wouldn’t want to go on without it.
And although this particular place didn’t give me that bewilderment feeling that I was looking for, I was totally amazed at the on-goings of the insects and wildflowers in the field, still able to have a great time, despite the fact that I had come a long way, out of my way, for a disappointing attraction.
Travel, as life, is what we make of it. We can either choose to be cynical and hardened or make the best of it. It’s all in the perspective. I hate the travel blogs that are all unicorns, puppies, and rainbows, which over sensationalize everywhere and go on and on about how amazing every place is. I can’t wait to write more about places that didn’t live up to their reputation (like The Dark Hedges, the less than spectacular beaches in parts of Belize and Bamboo Avenue ). But even when I’m cynical, I promise I will still be kind.
Trouncing today in Ukraine, Any recommendations there? Katie