My first weekend in Germany rounded off with a road trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein castle, a very famous medieval structure that is said to have inspired another famous castle—Walt Disney's.
While the countryside leading to Rothenburg was fascinating, I don't think it came close to that over the German-Swiss border in the south. Great big mountain peaks, green grass, tiny farming plots and bright blue skies were all we saw throughout the drive.
When we were close enough to see the castle we had to pull over and take a few pictures in a nearby field. This was the calm before the storm.
The actual area around the castle is swarming with tourists and traps as well. While the original plan was to tour inside the castle, I decided a five our wait and thirteen euro wasn't worth it for me. Besides, it was only a thirty minute tour and I was much more excited about hiking the base of the beautiful Alps I was staring at.
So we skipped the line and the wait and hiked straight up to the castle ourselves. It turned out to be a great decision. Not only did I still see all of the castle I could soak in, but I also enjoyed avoiding a lot of the pushing and shoving and waiting.
The castle was beautiful but I honestly think it was the scenery around it that made it stand out. A building is just a building until it is set with an artist's backdrop. Such was the intent of the King Ludwig II when he chose the site for his castle.
After a few hours of soaking up the view and dreaming of knights in shining armor, Maggie and I found a trail leading around a nearby lake and showing off the step-brother castle, which was still gorgeous, but again, nothing compared to the natural beauty we were surrounded by.
The trail we chose took us over one hour and covered the entire circumference of the lake. There were relatively no other tourists and the views of the water and the mountains refreshed my soul in a way that even fairytale castles cannot.