When we landed in Frankfurt after 17 hours of travel and zero sleep, we were exhausted and a bit overwhelmed by a severe case of culture shock. We had traveled through time and space from a tiny laid-back town on the coast in Mexico, to a German megacity that moves at the speed of light in an efficient, sterile, and somewhat intimidating manner. We can always find our way in new places and make ourselves understood when necessary, but this was a new ballgame for some reason. Maybe because we were sleepwalking after the long plane ride and time changes, or maybe because the German language sounded so foreign in our Mexican ears, but we were a bit dazed by it all and eagerly found refuge in a soft hotel bed snuggled under a cozy down comforter. Zzzzzzzzz.
Waking up after a lovely 14 hours of sleep, we were ready to face the crazy maze of streets and square buildings, and made our way to the Bahnhof for our train to Schwangau. We were once again treated to a show of German engineering as our train zipped along smoothly and quietly at 150 mph on our way south to Bavaria.
We arrived in Schwangau in the rain and dark and were met by our hostess, Petra, who took us to the local market on our way to our home away from home. And what a home it was, a beautiful apartment with a view of the castles and mountains and all the comforts of home.
We spent five nights in Schwangau and loved it. This is a small town in a large river valley at the base of the Bavarian Alps, situated right on the southern border of Germany. It’s mostly a working town with lots of farming and cattle, but the nearby castles bring plenty of tourism to town too. In the winter it’s pretty quiet though and we enjoyed our days just walking the many trails through and around town and visiting the two famous castles; Schloss Hohenschwangau, Schloss Neuschwanstein.
One day we rode the tram to the top of the Tegelberg, a local ski area that was still waiting for the first major storm full of winter snow. We walked around the top of the mountain enjoying the incredible views, watching some crazies jump off the cliffs with parasails, and then shared a fun lunch with a couple of German ladies who had spent the day hiking.
Another day we took the bus to the nearby town of Füssen, a wonderfully preserved walled city dating back to Roman times. We had great fun walking through the narrow cobble-stoned streets and checking out all the murals and carvings on the colorful buildings that are built shoulder to shoulder along the streets. We found a sunny outdoor café and sat down to lunch, listening to carolers up the street, bells chiming, and people speaking many languages. It just doesn’t get any better!
Schwangau was a perfect stop for us to begin our trip to Germany and Austria. The town itself was small and the locals were very friendly and always willing to help us as we shopped in the little markets, asked about bus schedules, and enjoyed some yummy local treats. We loved walking the many paths around town and just soaking up the local vibe. Our next stop…Salzburg!
P.S. We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!! Frohliche Weihnachte!!