Today has been the day that I and many of us were particularly excited about. Today, we went down back near the Alps to see the glorious Neuschwanstein Castle. At around 1.5 hours, this was the longest drive yet, but definitely one of the most fun cultural visits we’ve had. We began by walking by the large bluish-green lake with scenic mountains and trees in the background. Pictures cannot do the beauty of this view justice; it was absolutely magical. Everything from the slow-moving, crystal clear water to the snow-capped mountains in the distance that were visible on this clear day.
We then began the LONG uphill walk up to see the castle. I believe it was purposeful that we had to walk up 400 steps to the top of the church in Ulm yesterday to prepare us to walk a mile uphill in sunny, 75-degree weather. After breathing in multiple whiffs of horse waste on the way up, we finally made it to the lower viewpoint of the castle. It was truly stunning, especially the countryside view and the waterfall.
At 11:50, our short tour of the castle began. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed; the inside was fascinating to look at. All the ornate decorations, detailed paintings, thousands of jewels, and HUNDREDS of swans in the engravings and on textiles were spectacular to see. It finally clicked for me that “Neuschwanstein” translates to “New Swan Stone” when the tour guide talked about how much King Ludwig loved swans. After the tour, we went up to a balcony for an INSANE view of the lake and countryside. Nothing could really top the view we had. It is something you truly need to experience for yourself.
On the way back down, a few of us stopped for these German donuts? They didn’t really have the texture of donuts; they were very spongy, and it said they were made with some cheese (Niko or Maxi, if you’re reading this, let me know what they’re called!). We then immediately got on the bus to spend two hours in Füssen, another small fairy-tale-like town with great food. We soon returned home, and it was time for me to take a fat nap before working on my project.
Later around 10pm, many of us planned to go bowling at a place only a 5-minute walk from our hotel. However, once we arrived there, the people told us that they were closed when on Google and their hours sign outside said they close at midnight! It was quite disappointing and almost ruined our evening. Half of us then got döners and relaxed outside in the warm night. The German people behind us then asked us where we were from, then Oday and them were having a full conversation in Arabic! It was really cool, although we had no clue what they were saying. Then, on the way to the hotel, we were approached by a teenager who asked for a cigarette. We said no, but he likely heard our accents, saw our very American clothes, and asked where we were from. From this conversation, we learned that he is a Ukrainian refugee who’s been living in Augsburg for 2 months now. We didn’t get into the details, but the fact that we even met someone who’s been through the terrible crisis was crazy to us. Meeting these people turned the disappointing night around for us, which made it easier to walk back to the hotel happier and sleep well. Tomorrow’s a light day, and although the program is sadly coming to an end, I hope I can share some interesting stories again soon. Until next time!