The Week of Castles

Is there a such thing as too many castles? I think not. This last week has been filled with mostly castle exploring. I saw seven up close and personal, but if you count the ones I couldn’t get into, which I do, I saw ten. Those are just the ones I’ve seen this week. That’s a lot of damn castles. They ranged from fairy tale castles to castle ruins.

The fairy tale castle or Neuschwanstein (its proper name) I saw earlier in the week outside of Munich. That was the one place I had been most looking forward to seeing and it did not disappoint. Although, I would have liked a little more snow on the ground. Then it likely would have been colder and my toes might have fallen off, so I guess it was good that there wasn’t more snow.

Both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau (the castle next to the fairy tale one) were an amazing sight to see. They each sit on the side of mountains. Hohenschwangau overlooking a lake on one side and a small town on the other. Neuschwanstein has an amazing view of other mountains on one side and the same small town as Hohenschwangau on the other side. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the inside of either, but holy cow, they are both spectacular. The chandeliers in the fairy tale castle are shaped like crowns and there is also a room for a thrown. Everything about these castles is extravagant. I can’t imagine living in such a place. Actually, I can because it would be a dream, but I also can’t because it is SO extravagant.

The story behind them is pretty interesting, too. I am not going to go into details about it because then this would only be a post about those two castles (and there are many more castles involved in this last week), but I definitely recommend researching it. You know, if castles are your thing. Which, castles should be everybody’s thing.

The rest of the castles I saw this past week are more castle ruins than castles that are still livable. I’ll get into those later in the post.

The rest of my time in Munich I walked around the city and through a couple of parks. They have some huge parks in Munich. One of them being the old Olympic Games site. I walked to the top of a hill in the park that overlooks the old stadium. Plus, I could see all of Munich from this vantage point. It was impressive. I hung out up there for a little while. Partly to catch my breath after climbing that steep hill, but mostly because the view was so impressive.

After I walked through that park, I grabbed lunch a local spot and ate the most delicious wienerschnitzel. It’s the only wienerschnitzel I’ve actually eaten, but it set the bar pretty high for any other wienerschnitzel I eat after. Also, it’s really fun to say wienerschnitzel.

Once I got my belly full, I walked it off at another huge park about two and a half miles away, which I walked to as well. There was a lot of damn walking this day. Not that there isn’t every other day, too, but that’s besides the point. Really I went to the second park because it had a beer garden, which was right by a pond. I sat and had a beer, listened to all the ducks quack at people for food and then watched the most spectacular sunset. Of course after staying to watch the sunset, I had to attempt to navigate my way back to my hostel in the dark. What should have been about a 45 minute walk turned into an hour and a half walk back to my hostel. Not to mention I had to pee the entire time. But, I was in the park for at least an hour of that walk trying to figure out how to get out of the park and there was no bathroom around. By the time I made it out, I was ready to get back to the hostel, so I didn’t stop in anywhere. Good news is I did eventually make it back to the hostel and thankfully relieved my bladder.

Munich had some good qualities, but if I’m being completely honest with you, it wasn’t my favorite place.

Onward and upwards to Heidelberg, Germany. This is a small town outside of Frankfurt. There used to be an army base here where my grandfather was once stationed and where my dad was born. My dad only lived here for the first six months of his life, so he doesn’t actually remember being there. That’s why he flew to Germany to meet me in Heidelberg and we explored the town together.

I got to Heidelberg the night before him because his flight got in early the day he arrived, so I wanted to make sure I was there to greet him. He flew into Frankfurt and had to take the train to Heidelberg. All I will say is he navigated the train system about as well as I did when I first got to Europe. And, that’s not a positive thing. He did eventually make it to Heidelberg.

Unfortunately, it was raining on his first day there, but we didn’t let that stop us from going on a hike to explore a few castle ruins. There were four castles along the hiking trail. We only actually got to walk around in one. What was left of it anyway. There was one tower and a couple of walls still standing from the 15th century. There were really good views from this point.

Eventually we made our way back down and went to the town center. We made our way to a pub to, you guessed it, drink a beer. We also had dinner. And, talked life and politics for a while. It was quite the night. We didn’t make it back to the Airbnb until 1 am. I didn’t know the ole man could hang like that. 😜

Moving on to day two in Heidelberg, we explored another castle called the Heidelberg Castle. No fancy name for this one. It was by far the largest castle I had seen so far. During our tour of the inside, we learned this castle is actually the largest castle in Europe. This castle also holds the worlds largest wine barrel. The wine barrel can hold 255,000 gallons of wine. Germans may love their wine more than their beer. There are many more fun facts I could throw at you about this castle, but I’ll spare you.

We spent the majority of the day at the Heidelberg Castle. It sits high above the city, so with awesome views and so much castle to see, why wouldn’t we spend a lot of time here?

After a little bit earlier night and much needed rest, we went on another hike to explore yet another castle. For as small as Heidelberg is, it has a lot of damn castles. And, obviously we had to explore them all (or as many as we could in three days). This was no easy hike however. We walked up stairs and steep hills for over an hour (an hour and a half to be exact) before finally reaching the castle. The hike again provided great views of the town. The castle was just one tower. I’m not sure you can really count that as a castle, but they did. I didn’t read much about this castle, so I’m sure there was once probably more than just one tower.

Pretty much Heidelberg mostly involves going on a bunch of hikes to see old castles and views of the town below, which is awesome. I wish we had more castles in the US. In a matter of three days, we saw six castles and that wasn’t even all of them. What a cool freakin’ town.

Off to Berlin next. We’ll see if it lives up to all the hype. 🙃

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