The Eastern Alsace region of France (see previous post) is known for its mixed culture. It borders Germany and has been claimed by both France and Germany on and off. So, after our tour of Alsace, we logically went to Germany next, or more specifically, the mountains of Bavaria.
Neuschwanstein Castle is most famous for having inspired the Disney animators for the castle in Beauty and the Beast. With modern internet, this is common knowledge so there are hosts of tourists trying to snap their perfect picture. We opted out of touring the inside of the castle because we don’t particularly enjoy paying to be herded. Instead, we hiked up and around the castle to a bridge where it’s impossible to take a bad picture. This photo spot is also well known, but I found that actually crossing to the other side of the bridge made all the difference. Most people arrive at the bridge, walk out a few feet, elbow in between some people, take their picture, and go. We ventured further than a few feet and managed to enjoy the view for several minutes without being elbowed.
Neuschwanstein was just a pit stop for us on the way to Munich, where we were welcomed by an old friend from high school.
Miriam did an exchange year in Logan, Utah of all places in 2007-2008. We met in theater class and have managed to stay in touch for 10 years now! She’s from Berlin originally, where I had the pleasure of staying for Christmas 2011. She was kind enough to put me up again and show us around another German city.
I appreciated that for a big city, Munich is quite calm. There is a huge park with a river running through the middle and many food markets. It’s also a popular destination for tourists; it was one of the few places we saw Americans in the majority.
The next leg of our trip took us through more mountains, this time in Austria.
We stopped in Salzburg to have a look around, eat a wiener schnitzel, and see the house where Mozart was born. Definitely worth a stop.
Our final destination in Austria was the small village of Hallstatt.
I was really looking forward to seeing Hallstatt because it looks so picturesque. However, Erwann and I were somewhat disappointed. Although it is indeed picturesque from the outside, the inside is stuffed with people. Many tour buses stop at Hallstatt, and apparently it is very famous in China. I guess the first Chinese tourists to see it were so enamored that they even built a replica of the village in China. See here.
Despite the Disneyland vibe and the overcast sky, we took advantage, walked around, took our pictures, and left when it started to rain. We slept on the road in an adorable hotel run by only one lady. We had breakfast included, which she served all by herself. Usually “breakfast included” means cornflakes and orange juice, but she actually served us at a table with as much bread as we wanted, fresh juice, coffee, eggs, etc. We were very impressed.
That wrapped up our German-speaking adventure in Europe.
Next up: Slovenia and Croatia!