Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bodensee & Neuschwanstein

We are just back from our third vacation in 6 weeks. There are so many German holidays in May and's wonderful. This trip was to the Bodensee and Schwangau. You may not be familiar with these places…the Bodensee is also known as Lake Contstance and Schwangau is home to Neuschwanstein (or Cinderella's castle).

During the drive to the Bodensee, we drove through some fantastic farm land. Apple orchards, cherry trees, asparagus, strawberries, and a mystery crop. This was a vine like thing that had a really intricate support structure for it to grow on. After finally asking, we learned that these were hop plants and, upon further research, I have discovered that southern Germany is the leading producer of hops in the world (the Pacific Northwest is the 2nd, in case you were wondering). This picture below is just a small patch. Imagine acres and acres of this -- it's really amazing to see.

In Lindau, a city/island on the Bodensee, they were preparing for their annual yacht race. We had so much fun just watching the boats arrive by trailer and then get assembled on the spot. A crane had obviously been contracted to move the sailboats around. It was so amazing to see these 40-50 ft yachts dangling from the crane and then lifted into the water. We spent most of Thursday just watching the activities and the preparation. There was an "Oompa" (or polka) band playing and Carter insisted on stopping to watch for about 30 minutes. This gave Ben a chance to sample some of the beer.

On Friday, we took Carter to Ravensburger Spieleland. For those of you not familiar with it, Ravensburger is a brand of toys (most famous for their jigsaw puzzles) and this was it's theme park (like a Legoland, but not as cool). We all had a great time with all the rides and games. A special attraction (which was Carter's favorite) was a huge water slide. Ben took Carter and they had an absolute blast. Then Ben decided it would be fun to offer to Carter to have his mommy take him….knowing full well that I'm afraid of heights and drop offs. You can find all of the pictures from Ravensburger Spieleland by clicking here.

Next to Ravensburger Spieleland was another "tourist attraction" called Minimundus. This is a nicely landscaped park with miniature sized replicas of some of the world's most impressive buildings. They claim you can see the whole world in one day! We originally thought this would be more interesting for me and Ben and not so much for Carter but it turned out that Carter loved this place. I think it was that he was bigger than everything. There were over 80 different replicas. You can find all of the pictures from Minimundus by clicking here.

On Saturday morning we drove about 2 hours from the Bodensee area to Schwangau, which calls itself the town of King's castles. This is on the edge of the Alps and absolutely beautiful. The first of the two castles was Hohenschwangau. This was King Ludwig's childhood home. The view from the castle was so breathtaking. It looked out over the Alpensee and had the Alps in the background. King Ludwig decided to build a castle across the way, a place he called Neuschwanstein. The king was borrowed ridiculous sums of money to build 5 different castles. Not surprisingly, he was declared crazy and unfit to rule. King Ludwig died under mysterious circumstances before the castle was finished, however, the rooms that were finished were extraordinarily ornate. I was so disappointed because we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside of either of the castles.

Hohenschwangau Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Following the castle tours and a nice hike through the woods back down to the valley, we went to the Tegelbergbahn which is a huge cable car that takes you to the top of the Tegelberg peak. Unfortunately the line for tickets moved so slowly that we missed the last cable car. BUT!! the summer luge run was still open. The picture below is of Ben and Carter crossing the "finish line." This was by far the highlight of the weekend for Carter.

We have to admit that we have been so lucky with the weather for each of our vacations. We certainly can't complain if the weather is a little gray and rainy in Cologne this summer because we've had incredible weather when it counted. We have just over two weeks (hopefully quiet and restful) at home in Leverkusen before our trip home to the States the first week of July.

No comments: