I didn’t get many pictures of my trip through Germany because I spent most of my time on the road. The shots that I did manage are worth sharing. To start off my adventure, I took a train to Strausbourg, a bilingual city on the border of France and Germany. From there, I rode through southern Germany on the Autobahn to visit Austria and the Czech Republic, stopping in Munich and visiting Bavaria.
Riding on the Autobahn was an adventure in itself. As you may well know, there is no speed limit on this superhighway, which is spread out like a spiderweb across the country. It was so unlike any highway I’ve rode on in the United States (especially in Austin, which is notorious for its horrible traffic). I did not hear a single driver lay on the horn; slow drivers stayed to the right; cars were able to pass others with ease. I saw many world-renowned sports cars, putting our modest rental car to shame as they sped past us. I can imagine the sheer glee (or terror) that one must feel to own one of the fastest cars in existence and to be able to legally drive it as fast as it can go.
Germany was a picturesque country. It was clean and well groomed: every landscape I rode across looked like something out of a storybook or the scene of a 5000 piece puzzle. There were rolling hills under sunsets, happy cows grazing in wide open spaces, and hops fields. Oh, the hops fields. I had never seen (or even considered) how the hops for beer are grown, and I was blown away by the hundreds, maybe thousands, of hops farms that we passed. I didn’t get any pictures, but you can click here for an example of what I’m taking about. We also drove through the Black Forest, where Hansel and Gretel met their untimely fate. The road within the depths of the forest was steep, narrow, terrifying, and beautiful. It was lined with the tallest and thickest trees I had ever seen.
I visited Munich where I drank beer from a mug the size of my head at Hofbräuhaus, one of the city’s oldest beer halls. I wandered the Rathaus (the city hall), which is located in the middle of the Marienplatz (the town square). I went to Bavaria, where I toured the Mad King Ludwig’s castles. This was the highlight of my trip; unfortunately, photographs inside the castles were strictly forbidden. I will talk more about that below.
The life of the “Mad King” Ludwig of Bavaria was interesting. This orange castle is called Hohenschwangau and was his childhood home. I toured the inside and it was magnificent. As I mentioned before, photography was strictly prohibited, but I can assure you that the interior was utterly stunning. Every wall had highly detailed murals depicting scenes from heroic fables of knights and princesses. Each room was filled artifacts made of gold and precious jewels. Imagine a life where you are dripping such luxury from birth: these extravagances became Ludwig’s hard and fast reality. After the death of his father, Ludwig was announced King of Bavaria at the age of 18. One of his first conquests was to build a castle of his own, called Neuschwanstein, which can be seen from the windows of his childhood home.
Neuschwanstein is the archetypal Disney castle: it looks like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel could have roamed through the halls. Hohenschwangau was elaborate. Neuschwanstein was extravagant. It was completely over the top. It had everything that Ludwig’s childhood home possessed and more. The murals were more imaginative and (to be frank) quite gaudy, covering every wall, corner, column, and ceiling. The furniture was, as they say, “fit for a king,” with its exhaustingly intricate woodworking. Ludwig bankrupted Bavaria in construction of the castle, which he living in for only a few months before he was declared insane and unfit to be King. A few days after this ruling, Ludwig died a mysterious death: drowned, in a nearby lake, with his psychiatrist.
Shortly after his death, the castles were made accessible to the public and the cost of admission pulled Bavaria out of its debt. The castles remain some of Europe’s top tourist destinations, and I could not recommend a visit enough.
I will end with this picture of one of the happiest cows I’ve ever seen. I even got shocked by an electric fence in the process of taking this picture. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the photos!