Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Castles of King Ludwig II and Mary's Bridge

A series on our trip to Germany and Austria in October 2014

Neuschwanstein Castle
Schwangau, Germany
1,300,000 people a year visit Neuschwanstein  making it one of the most famous castles in Germany. Neuschwanstein, near Fussen, was built by King Ludwig II who was also known as the fairy tale king. He began building Neuschwanstein in 1869 and it still wasn't finished when he mysteriously died in 1886. One look at his castle and you'll know why Walt Disney used this castle as a model for the Cinderella's castles that grace the Disney parks.

Due to the long wait time to get a tour we decided to skip the inside of Neuschwanstein. Instead we headed up to Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge) to get a view of the castle and surrounding areas.

Tip: Don't ever get in front of a tour group. They must have about 3 minutes at any given stop to get out, take selfies and get back on the bus. Seriously just step aside and let them go by. In a few minutes they'll be gone and you'll have the place to yourself. That is until the next tour bus pulls up.

Hohenschwangau Castle
On the lower hill from Neuschwanstein Castle

This was the childhood home of King Ludwig II built by his father King Maximilian II of Bavaria

Mary's Bridge was free and although we could have/should have walked it we did pay 2 euro each to ride the bus up and back down. There was also a parking fee of 5 euro. 

Linderhof Palace
Ettal, Germany

King Ludwig II had a great admiration for the French monarchy and in 1868 he began building what he called a new Versalles in the Linderhof valley.
We did tour the inside of Linderhof. No photos allowed and it's just as well. I don't think I could have possibly captured the opulence of this palace. Gold, mirrors, crystals, brocades,and even a chandelier carved from ivory. Wow!

I felt overwhelmed and a little sad while touring the inside of the palace. According to Theodor Hiernels, a servant in the palace, they would prepare meals for 3 or 4 people even though Ludwig always ate alone. The king would pretend he was dining with people such as Louis XIV and Louis XV and their lady friends. I think he was just a lonely man but the government declared him insane, he was disposed from the throne. In 1886 he was sent to Berg Palace where he mysteriously died the next day. Hum... I wonder what really happened?

The best part of Linderhof Palace is actually the grounds. Beautifully maintained park setting complete with a man made grotto and fountains.  I'd go back just to walk around the palace.

Linderhof Palace entrance fee for the palace and the grounds and grotto was 8 euro each. Parking was 5 euro.

No Day is Complete Without a Little Something to Eat

I'd read several good reviews of the Stortwirt cafeteria style restaurant in Reutte so we decided to stop on our way out of town. Unfortunately the cafeteria portion was closed for the day but the little sandwich shop was still open. We ordered schnitzel sandwiches and they were pretty darn good!

Apple Spritzer - my new favorite drink

Our next stop will be in the Black Forest.

Wednesday Walking 1

This is where I share the favorite place I walked this past week.

Favorite Place

Beach walk at Jekyll Island, Georgia

It was cold and windy but compared to our neighbors up north we had nothing to complain about! I loved that the beach was almost deserted. So peaceful.

Where will you walk this week?

Badge for Travel Photo Thursday, Budget Travelers Sandbox

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Austria - Stuiben Waterfalls and Lake Plansee

If you're near Reutte, Austria two places you need to see are Stuiben Waterfall and Lake Plansee. 

Small chapels like this dot the landscape. This one was near the car park
at the trail to the falls.

The inside of the chapel was almost as ornate as the big churches

Stuiben Falls

Even though it was a fairly steep climb to the falls the scenery was gorgeous. Something about looking at the clear flowing Archbach river and the towering mountains takes your mind off the climb. 

On the trail to Stuiben Falls

Stuiben Falls

We were there!

Lake Plansee

I think if I'm ever here in the summer this would be the place to come. I'm sure boats would be in abundance on the water but in the cool of October the lake was quiet. Quiet and beautiful.

...and He leads me beside the still waters.

Lace up and take a walk to somewhere new!

What Goes Up Must Come Down - Ehrenberg Castle Complex in Reutte, Austria

A series on our trip to Germany and Austria in October 2014

In this post I'll tell you about how we got down...

As they say what goes up must come down. According to the map you can either take the long way down (the way we come up) or take the short cut. 
A 15 minute walk down. So we opted for the short way. 

When I say down...

I mean down...

Like straight down...

This is the beginning of the trail. I feel pretty happy.

Not so happy now.

Just praying I don't break my ankle...

This was a very steep trail with lots of trip hazards in the form of rocks and roots. 

Take note - Good hiking boots and walking sticks would have made this trail easier to navigate and also don't ever wear bifocals when walking down a steep trail. Half way down John told me to take off my glasses. That made it easier to get my footing but this trail was a killer!

According to the map this was a 15 minute trail. Not sure how long it took us but it was closer to 30 - 45 minutes. 

The funny thing was that coming down we met an elderly gentleman coming up. When I say elderly I mean in his eighties and he was walking UP this trail. He wasn't even out of breath! I felt slightly ashamed for the whining I was doing.

At the bottom of the trail we were rewarded with the sight of the Ehrenberg ruins. 

Lace up, grab your sticks and take the fast way down!

Walking UP to the Schlosskopf Castle at the Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble in Reutte, Austria

Up is a word you'll hear a lot as you travel through Bavaria and Tyrol. Not only up but if you ask the locals everything seems to be just a 15 minute walk...

The reality is you can't travel through the Alps without going up. But when you're a Florida girl used to walking miles and miles at sea level UP takes on a whole new meaning!

So as we headed out to walk to the Ehrenberg Castle Ruins we knew we'd be walking up to the top of a mountain. And up it was.

BTW I say mountain, the locals say hill. I guess it's all in your perspective.

A little history before we begin our walk.

The Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble is a grouping of old buildings and castles that had pretty much gone to seed. Beginning in 1971 Friedl Schennach from Reutte began a rescue operation and in 2001 the European Castle Museum Ehrenberg Association was founded to preserve the complex which includes the  Ehrenberg ruin, the Schlosskopf, Claudia Fortress and the Klause Toll House.

  • Burgruine Ehrenberg (Ehrenberg ruin) - Constructed in 1293 under Duke Meinrad II established the northern border of Tyrol. 
  • Hermitage Ehrenberg (Klause Toll House) - In 1480 it served as a military road block and a customs house. This now serves as the museum.
  • Fort Claudia - Named after the Tyrolean Archduchess Claudia it was built during her reign between 1639 and 1645. Fort Claudia sits on the mountain ridge opposite the Ehrenberg ruin.
  • Stronghold Schlosskopf - the big daddy sitting on top of the overlooking mountain. Built between 1733 and 1741 it never gained importance and was shut down in 1782.

From the left on the highest mountain is Schlosskopf, on the next mountain is Ehhrenberg, in the valley Ehrenberg Klause,
across the valley Fort Claudia.

At the entrance to Hermitage Ehrenberg (Klause Toll House)
Walking to the ruins is free but there is a parking fee of 2 euro.  The museum is described as a hands-on-museum where you can experience the thrilling history of the middle ages. Looks like it would be fun for the kids. We didn't go into the museum because time was limited and we came to hike the mountain.TIP: Get an AKTIV Card from your hotel. There's no cost for the card and you can get into many places, including this museum, for free. 

Going up to Schlosskopf castle

Another part of the trail going up to Schlosskopf

Beautiful views from the trail

Another view from the trail

Interesting signs along the way told the history and folklore of the area

Das Goldloch - The Golden Hole

There are many small caves in the rock face of the castle hill and legend says that this particular cave holds a treasure of a lump of gold. Only those who have a pure, honest, golden heart are able to seize the gold. All others will be met with the bite of a snake.  

Well, I guess we know someone's not pure of heart...

Stronghold Schlosskopf

 According to the map it was a 45 minute walk up to Schlosskopf. I think it took us a good bit longer.  The path was easy and clear, not a lot of roots or rocks to walk over. However it was steadily up all the way with a number of switchbacks. I have to admit that although I walk for miles on flat land the incline and the altitude got the best of me. I had to make a few stops to catch my breath but I made it!

It was well worth the walk. The view from the top was spectacular!

Gorgeous view from Schlosskopf

Unobstructed view of the surrounding area

From Schlosskopf Castle looking down on Ehrenberg ruin, the Toll house (in the valley) and across to Fort Claudia. 

Look closely at the picture above. You can just barely make out the cables running from base of Ehrenberg over to Fort Claudia. This will be the Highline 179 the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. Opens at the end of 2014. We'll have to make a trip back to walk across.

We made it to the top but the walk down is another story which I'll share in the next post.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

Lace up and walk up a mountain (or hill)!

I sharing at:



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Girl's Retreat to Jekyll Island, Georgia

John and I went our separate ways this week but that's not a bad thing.

He went to the Florida Keys for the annual Winter Star Party and I went on a girls retreat to Jekyll Island, Georgia. While John was looking at the stars in the night sky with fellow astronomers I was walking the beach and having some girl time with my friends Trina and Renee. 

We stayed at the Villas by the Sea on Jekyll Island.The three bedroom villa was situated by the ocean and surrounded by a stand of  trees.  Beautiful surroundings, sandy beach, clean, uncluttered rooms, and the only person I had to worry about feeding was me! Perfect get away.

Walking and Eating 
Two of My Favorite Pastimes!

Jekyll Island Georgia lace up and walk

Our villa was near Driftwood Beach. A beautiful beach with a stand of trees that have been turned into driftwood graveyard by the incoming tides. It's actually rated one of the most romantic beaches and many people get married here. Unfortunately the romance is short lived when you realize that the stand of trees has been killed off due to erosion. The Jekyll Authority is doing what it can to stem the erosion by adding rocks to the beach to keep the existing live tree line in tact. Even though Villas by the Sea is 50 feet from the beach it isn't consider ocean view because of the natural trees that form a barrier between the buildings and the beach. 

That's OK. I don't need to sit on my balcony and see the ocean. I'd rather be walking the beach and get an up close view.

Views of Driftwood Beach

A view from the north end of the island. We're heading towards that small bridge on this walk.

Walk to Eat, Eat to Walk!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I love to eat! I guess it's a good thing I also love to walk.

While staying at the Villas by the Sea we ate every night at the Driftwood Bistro.( I think this is the first time I've eaten out that I didn't take a picture of my food!) So no pictures to show but you can check out the link below and see the menu. 

Trina, Renee and I all had different entrees and we didn't have one thing that wasn't perfectly cooked and super tasty. 

I enjoyed the Yankee Pot Roast, Grill Chicken Tenderloin, and the Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin. My favorite side was the collard greens but the squash casserole, sweet potato casserole and the green beans were mighty tasty. The veggies tasted fresh not like anything came out of a can or frozen. 

Renee had the fried green tomatoes and after she raved about them I almost placed an order. But I didn't so I know we'll be making another trip to eat here soon. I'm glad it's only an hours drive from my house.

And should I mention the dessert? Of course! The Georgia Bourbon Peach Cobbler was superb. Just the right ratio of peaches to crust. I had mine Ala-mode. I love it when you can see the specks of vanilla bean in the ice cream  and oh yea - the whipped cream was real whipped cream. Not that fake stuff! I'd go back just for the dessert...

Grab a a couple of friends and take a walk on the beach!

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Maple Hill Hop

Friday, February 20, 2015

Eating at the Hotel Maximilian

Eating at the Hotel Maximilian

I decided before beginning this trip that I was going to eat and enjoy myself. And I did! 
We did plenty of walking so it was no problem. 


ZWIEBELROSTBRATEN vom Ă–sterreichischen Qualitätsrind Bratkartoffeln, Bohnenbouquet  
(Roast loin of beef with onions and gravy, potatoes, green beans wrapped in bacon.)

 This beef dish was so good. The meat was tender and the gravy flavorful.
Yes I cleaned my plate!

John had the salmon on a bed of potatoes in cream sauce.

Our first dessert in Austria...
Ofenwarmer Apfelstrudel mit Eis und Sahne
Apple strudel with fresh apples, ice cream and whipped cream.
 Decadent and delicious! 

We'll have to lace up and walk this off tomorrow!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ehenbichl, Austria - Hotel Maxmilian

A series on our trip to Germany and Austria October 2014

Our first hotel for this trip is the Hotel Maximilian in Ehenbichl on the outskirts of Reutte and very near the Ehrenberg ruins castle complex. This is by far my favorite hotel on the entire trip.

We were greeted by the sound of cow bells as the cows were driven home to somewhere up behind the hotel. What a lovely peaceful welcome.


Cows in the pasture across the street from our hotel.

The farmer driving the cows up the hill.

The hotel itself was covered with gorgeous flowers and leafy vines. By far the best part was meeting Gabi, the owner. Gabi was so sweet and energetic. She obviously knows and loves the area and happily shared her knowledge with us. What a wonderful introduction to this lovely country.

Owner Gabi joined us at the table. 

The hotel had an up to date old world charm. Our room was small but comfortable and so quiet we had to turn on the bathroom fan so we could sleep!

I loved this room. Small but comfortable and oh so quiet!

Small, clean updated bathroom.

From the balcony outside our room we had a clear view of the Ehrenberg Castle Complex. It was especially beautiful at night.

Beautiful hotel, friendly staff and delicious food. Hotel Maximilian is a great place to stay!

Check out this post and see some of the wonderful food we enjoyed while staying here.

If you're going to be in the Reutte, Austria area check out this hotel. You won't be sorry.