Trip Start Jan 07, 2004
Trip End Jan 27, 2004

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Flag of Austria  , Tyrol,
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Hello everybody,

Trains can be fun and efficient.  For a trip through the Alps and Germany, though, I rented a car.  Easy access to all the castles and quaint little towns.

The Alps are pretty impressive.  One Mt Rainier after another.  The summits are generally 10,000 feet above sea level, as opposed to 14,000 back home.  But there are soooo many.  A view from the top was simply too tempting to pass up.

Reutte is strategically located in the Austrian panhandle.  In Roman times, it was a stop along a major trading route.  In Medieval times, it was a Catholic stronghold against Protestant invaders from the North.  Today it’s a popular winter resort for Europeans.

Overlooking Reutte is a pair of ruined castles dating back to the 13th century.  It makes for a great afternoon hike.  At some points I was hip-deep in snow.  But the view was worth it.

What interested me about these castles was the chronology.  The older castle is Ehrenberg, located on the lower peak.  It protected the city until cannonball warfare destroyed its walls.  The townspeople countered by building Schloskopf Castle on a higher peak.  With walls three feet thick, medieval warfare evolved one more time.  This can be seen throughout the castle. Schloskopf provides great views of the neighboring summits and Reutte down below.

Across the German border are some very different castles.  Konigsschlosser, the King’s Castles, represent the romantic style popular in the 19th century.  These are the homes of ‘Mad’ King Ludwig II, the so-called ruler of Bavaria for 23 years.  He was removed from power after being certified insane.  Three days later his body was found floating in a nearby lake.  His castles have become some of the biggest attractions in Germany.

Hohenschwangau was the boyhood home of King Ludwig II.  I enjoyed this castle more because of its homier interior.

Neuschwanstein was the king’s adult home, though never completed and seldom used.  It later became the model for Disneyland.

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