. Once we were in Fussen a few hours later, we saw Schloss Neuschwanstein in the distance. This is the fairytale home of King Ludwig II and the castle that Walt Disney used as a model for Disneyland. We had a picnic with the castle as our backdrop. Soon it was time for our after hours tour at the castle. They only allow wheelchair patrons to visit on Wednesdays and after the castle is closed to other visitors. We drove up the windy road to the base of the castle and took a hidden elevator up to the main floor. Our guide spoke in German, so we listened to English language audio guides. It turns out that King Ludwig was quite a little primadonna. He loved of all things.......swans. Swans are everywhere in the castle. They adorn the light fixtures, walls and even the door knobs. If swans aren't your thing, perhaps you would like his other love, the peacock.
Ludwig never married and mysteriously died outside near the castle. Neuschwanstein was never finished and remains unfinished to this day. It was surreal to visit this place that we have seen in posters and on television our whole lives. If you don't mind a steep climb, but love a nice view, check out Marien bridge behind the castle for a great photo op of the castle. We got up there and saw the beauty of scaffolding. Awesome! That's the thing about Europe. Nearly every beautiful edifice of architectural majesty has scaffolding or a crane looming above it. I think they do that so you are forced to buy the postcards. It was getting dark and we still had a 2 hour drive to Innsbruck for the night.
In the morning after breakfast, we checked our bags and went to squeeze all of Innsbruck into one day. We walked to the Goldenes Dachl. This golden roof is really neat. We don't know the significance of it, but it's a roof and its like made of gold. This has nothing to do with Romeo and Juliet, although drunk tourists think it does
. Innsbruck is a nice little Bavarian town. It has all the rich stuff but isn't pretentious. Speaking of rich stuff, we decided to go to the Swarowski Crystal World or Kristalwellten. A tour bus took us outside town for about 27 US dollars. Once we arrived, we paid for tickets, and entered an enchanted world of crystal and shameless propaganda. This was basically an exhibit of various artist installations having to do with crystal and light. Fourteen artists rendered different displays to brainwash you into buying crystal in the gift shop. All kidding aside, this really was a unique experience and we enjoyed playing with our cameras. Photography was allowed throughout the museum and we have so rarely found that to be the case on this trip. As we raced for our train to Salzburg, we felt that another couple days would have been nice in Innsbruck. There are a lot of things to do here and in the surrounding area. We were bummed our time ran OUT in Innsbruck!
After the beer haze lifted from Munich, Shannon and Rachel were on their way to bigger and better things. A side trip to Fussen and Innsbruck, Austria was on the agenda. We decided to drive this time because who doesn't love a roadtrip??? With gas at 7.50 per gallon, what part of driving doesn't equal Partaaay!! Renting a car in Munich would ensure that we would be driving the ultimate in luxury and performance. We imagined a choice BMW or perhaps the luxurious leather interior of a Mercedes-Benz. After dragging ourselves several blocks to the car garage, we were stoked to find our silver Ford Fiesta waiting for us. Lets just talk about how cherry it was. A 2008 4-door hatchback with manual transmission and count 'em......one cup holder. This little honey was purring like a kitten after Shannon stalled it a couple times in traffic. Look out Bavaria, we were on the road and bound for Fussen after we figured out how to get out of the parking garage. We got lost a few times which added an hour or so to our journey