Day 5: Castles, Churches, and Doughnuts

Thursday, May 10

After a late night last night, getting up early this morning to leave at 7:30 was a little more difficult than usual. But it was worth it, because we were visiting the castle Neuschwanstein (directly translated to “new swan stone”), which was one of three palaces built by König Ludwig der Zweite, also known as Crazy King Ludwig II. A fun fact about this building is that it was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella’s castle.

The ride lasted about an hour and a half. As we got closer to the castle, the landscape became more and more rural, surrounded by mountains. On one of these mountains was the castle itself. The bus dropped us off nearby in the town of Schwangau, which not only contains Neuschwanstein, but also Hohenschwangau, a lower, smaller castle that belonged King Ludwig’s father. From the bus, we began making our way to the trail which would lead us up the mountain.

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One thing that engineers and nerds in general tend to love is empirical data. On a whim of curiosity, I decided to use the elevation filter on Snapchat to measure our altitude before and after climbing up to Neuschwanstein. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but it should be in the ballpark.

Anyway, according to Snapchat, we climbed up a height difference of 515 feet (157 meters). For perspective, this is only 20 feet shorter than Cathy. From this measurement, we can calculate how much energy we expended to get up there. Nonconservative work done on an object is equal to the negative of the change in potential energy of that object. In this case, we are dealing with the change in gravitational potential energy, which depends on the mass of the object, the acceleration due to gravity and the change in the distance from the center of the earth. Ignoring any temporary downward slopes as we walked up, the amount of work done by a 63-kilogram person to get from the bus to the bridge near the castle would be approximately 97 kilojoules (23 Calories).

We stopped on the Marienbrücke, a bridge spanning the gorge next to the castle, to take photos and admire the view. We then had a few minutes to look at some souvenirs before heading over to the castle entrance at our tour time. Before going inside, an attendant told us that we would have to wear our backpacks on the front of our bodies. The reason why is clearer once inside. The interior is very intricately decorated, and could be damaged accidentally by an unaware backpacker. There were some rooms with elaborate murals on the walls and ceilings, some rooms with incredibly detailed carvings. One aspect of the castle that I find interesting is that King Ludwig had running water in his bedroom, a feat ahead of its time in the mid-1800s. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take photos of what we saw on the inside.

After finishing the tour and passing through two gift shops, we finally found ourselves outside again. We then headed down the mountain and back to the bus. A two-minute drive later and we were in another town called Füssen, where we ate lunch. The dish that I ordered was Knödel, bready dumplings, with mushroom sauce, which I enjoyed!

After lunch, we had a bit of time to walk around an area of the town with a lot of shops. Most of the group went to get ice cream, but I was still full from lunch, so I found myself walking with Arielle and Dr. Feick. We leisurely looked around, poking our heads into a shop every now and then. One in particular that caught our eye was a bakery with very intricate cakes in the window. We didn’t buy anything, but it was cool to look!

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When our free time was up, we made our way back to the bus again. We were going back to Augsburg, but on the way we made a stop at the Wieskirche, one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Bavaria.

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Across the street from this church, we also visited a famous doughnut shop. An odd combo, but no complaints from me!

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Once back in Augsburg, it was almost time for dinner. A group of about eight of us or so went to a sit-down Döner place. A Döner is a large sandwich usually consisting of shaved lamb, lettuce, tomato, onions, and tzatziki sauce. It is widely popular in Germany now, and one of my favorite things to eat while in Germany, but the concept was actually originally brought into the country by Turkish immigrants. It’s interesting how we think of America as a melting pot, not really thinking about similar effects happening in other countries.

Step count: 23,245

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