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The Romantic Road – Germany

Nestled at the foot of the Bavarian alps is the quaint town of Füssen. The Gasthof Zum Hechten is a big improvement on our previous nights accommodation.

The thing that declines in quality is the food.  The Germans do not excel in gastronomy, they seem to prefer stodge!

Heavy black breads, sliced cold meats, cheese and a boiled egg are the usual breakfast options. Things like goulash, Spätzle, potatoes, schnitzels and sauerkraut feature for lunch and dinner.  It’s not really our thing.

Füssen marks the beginning/end of the ‘Romantic Road’ and is close to two of the most popular castles in Germany; Hohenswangau and Neuschwanstein. We have a ‘one castle a day’ tolerance and opt to visit the more infamous!

Neuschwanstein looks like it is straight out of a fairytale, which is not far from the truth – since it was inspiration for Disney when designing Cinderella’s castle at Disneyland and it’s the castle they fly over in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The castle is the legacy of Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria, he had a passion for building picturesque castles. They are scattered across the Southern German countryside, the most famous is Neuschwanstein.

Ludwig was an eccentric King and probably preferred the company of men, more than females (if you get my drift). He spent lavishly and accrued considerable debt from his obsession for building castles.

In a coup orchestrated by his greedy relatives, Ludwig was declared unfit to rule. Three days after his dethroning he was found dead. Ludwig supposedly drowned in the lake, even though he was a good swimmer and no water was found in his lungs!!

The Mad King would probably now be a wealthy man – his castle is now one of the regions major tourist attractions, the destination for hundreds of tour coaches every day.

We arrive early hoping to avoid the crowds, however tours are scheduled in languages and the next English tour is 50 minutes away. Plenty of time to walk up the hill to the castle – at least we can tick off getting some exercise for the day!

I can’t bore you with many photos as they are not allowed inside. The tour is an interesting insight into the flamboyant fantasies of the King. He seemed to have a fetish for Swans and in one room they feature in everything, from wallpaper and fabric to furniture and figurines.

The floor of the grand throne room is a mosaic of over two million stones. A painting on one of the walls depicts another castle that Ludwig designed but never built. The castle was never finished as poor Ludwig spent only 170 days living in his dream home.

Our journey continues to Salzburg. Famous as the birthplace of Mozart, it’s a gorgeous old town. Today though it’s a bit too touristy for our liking. It may not have helped that we had timed our visit on the day of St Rupert’s fair. The town is bustling with people and plenty of activity; musicians, market stalls and rides for the kids fill the town square.

Many of the local men and women proudly wear the traditional dress: lederhosen and dirndl’s. I later discover that Salzburg is the traditional dress capital, which explains why there are so many dirndl shops.

We are not good at being tourists and after an hour or so taking in the sights and perusing the shops we are done. Over a coffee we quickly agree that we’ve seen enough of Salzburg and decide to explore further afield.

We stop at the tourist office to ask for some suggestions on a lunch location. Jane and I are flabbergasted by the lack of hospitality and assistance the girl in the tourist office provides. Clearly in the wrong job! Begrudgingly she did give us a map and directions to a lake within an hours drive.

We arrive at the small lakeside town of Fuschl am see. The girl in the tourist office had at least pointed us in the right direction. It’s a lovely sunny day and this is a perfect spot to enjoy a lazy lunch of ‘fresh from the lake’ trout. Now, this is how you discover Europe!

On our way back we stop off at the scenic town of Mondsee, unbeknown to us, the church of St Michael’s was used in the Sound Of Music wedding scene. My sister is ecstatic, the movie is a family favourite that her and the girls (not sure James is into it), have watched many-a-time.

Tonight we now need to make a decision on our next destination. The original plan was to head across to Passau, pick up some bikes and do some cycling along the Danube. This is something that’s been on my bucket list for a long time.

The plan is under threat for two reasons 1) the weather is looking dodgy in that part for the next week and 2) we are all a little over the food, do we really want to spend another 4/5 days eating stodge?

So what’s the option…..find some warmer weather?  Tuscany is looking good and the food has to be better.

And, so the Danube stays on the bucket list…….


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