Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Amendment to the plans

We got up around 8am this morning and ate a decent breakfast at the hotel. We wandered around downtown Innsbruck for a while and took pictures and bought a few souvenirs. After about an hour though, we kind of got a pretty good urge to go home. Mark had called the night before so we knew there was a flight out of Ramstein on Thursday to BWI. We had originally figured that we'd just try to get on the next one, but as we were walking Mark asked if I'd like to try to get on that flight and I definitely did. The problem was our hotel rooms. We'd booked both online through and we were supposed to stay at our current hotel in Innsbruck another night and then get to our hotel near Garmisch the following night. It was already past 11am (check out time) but we decided to see what we could do anyway.

We went to our current hotel and asked if we could check out today. She said that check out was already pasted and we kind of nodded, since we figured that's what she'd say anyway, and then she said she'd let us check out, but we'd have to clear it through, otherwise she'd get charged for it. Since Mark's cell phone hasn't gotten any reception at all since we've been in Austria we had to go to a cyber cafe nearby and use Skype. Mark got ahold of customer service at and switched our reservation for tomorrow night to tonight and cancelled our original reservation for tonight, so thankfully everything worked out perfectly. We thought our hotel in Innsbruck would charge us extra for checking out so late, but they only charged us for one night, which we're very thankful for.

Around noon, we headed out towards Fussen to go to Neuschwanstein Castle. It took us about an hour to get there - through the fog and rain, but the area was still beautiful. There were actually 2 castles close together, but Neuschwanstein was by far, the larger one. It sits up on this mini-mountain, with bigger mountains behind it and this big open flat area in front of it. (As in, miles of flat area infront of it.) We paid the 9Euros each for the tour and caught a bus up to the top of the mini-mountain. (Otherwise it's a 45+ minute hike up the mountain... No thanks.)

The castle actually isn't finished, which is interesting. I think only 2 of the floors were finished. King Ludwig had the castle built, but I guess he only reigned for 172 days, before they found him to be mentally unstable and kicked him out of office and shipped him off somewhere. It's very pretty inside. Lots of bright paintings everywhere, with gothic arches everywhere. It had a throne room, with big marble steps and a chandelier that weighed like 2 tons, but there wasn't any throne chair, because it was never made. The kings bedroom was surprisingly small for a castle as big as that one. It was MAYBE 20x30, but that might even be too big of a guestimate. The bed, however, was VERY ornate with dark wood and probably hundred of different sized wooden crosses on top of it. The whole room had very ornate and detailed woodwork, and the guide said the wood carvers worked 4 years straight to finish the room.

After we walked through the castle (which you couldn't take pictures of the inside - only out the castle windows) we decided to walk to Mary's Bridge, which you could see from the castle. I'm not afraid of heights at all, but that thing freaked me out. It's a suspension bridge over a 10-ish story gap with a waterfall directly underneath it. It's beautiful, but while the bridge is made of iron, the floor of the bridge is made of 2x4 boards.... BOUNCY boards that aren't completely up against each other so you can see through them to the waterfall below. So you walk along this bridge and the soaking wet boards (it was misty/raining) bend when you step on them... YIKES!! I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach and tried to keep both my feet on 2 boards at once. But we got some great pictures.

After the scary, packed bus ride down the mountain we headed for our next hotel, which is in Grainau, just outside of Garmisch. Apparently we saved the best for last because we LOVE this hotel. (Gastehaus Buchenhof) It's in a little tiny town, but this place has all the comforts of home and it's beautiful. It reminds me of some of my parents time share places that I've been in. We even have our own mini kitchen and very nice bathroom and a porch out back that overlooks a pretty big backyard. Mark and I would love to come back and spend just a week here sometime. We also ate at a really nice restaurant (probably the best food we've had so far too) right next door to our hotel. I think we'll both sleep well tonight because this place is comfortable and peaceful.

We're going to try to get out tomorrow on a flight to BWI from Ramstein. We're hoping it all works out but we won't know until tomorrow. After we get to BWI we'll have to figure out how to get a flight to Chicago from there, but that's a ways down the road I think.

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