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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Europe, Part 5 · Reichenbach Falls and Neuschwanstein Castle

· Catch up on parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 if you haven't already! ·

On our way from our Alpine village to the Germany/Austria border, we took a few stops along the way.  Our first was the infamous Reichenbach Falls- scene to the final confrontation between Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Moriarty.

Being a family rather keen on mysteries, we've of course read all the Sherlock Holmes books as well as enjoying several different movie adaptations.  When I realized that we'd be including Switzerland in our trip itinerary, I just had to see how close we'd be to Reichenbach Falls!  Wonderfully, it wasn't far out of our way at all. :-)

We drove through a large portion of Switzerland that day, and it was a wonderful drive for admiring the views!  From the looks of them, I'd love to take a Swiss lake vacation at some point. :-)

This stunning view was what greeted us at the top of our funicular ride up to the falls.  SO stunning!  And we loved how atmospheric the clouds and mist were that morning- even more lovely than a sunny day would have been. :-) 

The downside to having mainly novelty prints in your wardrobe... sometime they aren't quite applicable to the situation you find yourself in- as demonstrated by my 50 States dress being worn in Europe.
I guess that's one way to broadcast my tourist status. ;-)

The waterfall was impressive, although not quite the magnitude I expected after reading the book; however, that is most likely due to the fact that a hydro-electric plant now harnesses the flow of water.  Also, apparently in the intervening 120+ years since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited the falls, they've carved their way back into the mountainside several feet.

There is a white star (only visible as a speck from this far away) on the far left that marks the spot of the duel and demise.  I'll have to read the book again, because I was surprised they marked it so far from the falls!

Up at the very top of the falls is a hotel/tea shop.  We took the original funicular from 1899 up to the main vantage point, and after hiking the rest of the way to the top, we're rather glad we didn't opt to climb up the entire thing- the falls are over 850 ft in total!

All in all, it was a great way to break up the trip, and I love visiting book/movie locations!!

We drove off to our next home, and arrived early that evening.  Isn't it another nice place??  We used to find almost all of our accommodations, and were so pleased with selection of affordable, comfortable places. :-)

This was just a one-night stopover on our way to Berchtesgaden, but it was almost within view of our destination for the next day: Neuschwanstein Castle!  We stopped by the grocery store for food that evening (local sausages-yum!), and as you walk out of the store you can't help but be struck by the clear view of the castle!  Whaaaattt.... I hope all the locals appreciate their area, because that's just crazy!  I'd love to see castles in the landscape when shopping for vegetables! ;-)

The castle was just as lovely in person as in all the famous photographs!

Unfortunately, the overlook bridge was closed for repairs, so we never really got a semi-aerial view of the castle.  I fee like that's one aspect that most castles could improve upon- give me directions to the place that I can take the "money shot"! :-)  I'm pretty sure that the view from nearby Hohenschwangau Castle would be rather nice, but we didn't make it there.

View from castle.  Sigh.  Hohenschwangau is on the right.  It was King Ludwig's childhood home- you can see why he was fond of the area!  Simply lovely!

It's kind of funny, when we drove up to the castle I was shocked at the location.  It's right on the edge of a large plain- completely not what I'd expected from all the photos!  But as you can see, it's nestled amongst the mountains, so the other 180° of views are stunning!

We had rather low expectations for the castle- we'd heard lots of people were very underwhelmed by it.  As it turned out, we were all pleasantly surprised and greatly enjoyed it!  Ludwig died before finishing it, but I didn't think that detracted much from the overall experience.  There were several interesting informational videos on his vision for the castle, the process of building it, and all of the buildings and rooms he planned but never made.

There are no photographs allowed within the castle itself and I didn't know what to expect.  I was so delighted by the interiors, though!  All the walls were painted with murals- he was very inspired by medieval stories and art and had a very opulent sense of style that meant the finished rooms were all lavishly decorated.

The whole thing has a definite "fairy tale" feel to it- it certainly doesn't feel like an authentically old castle, but I don't think that lessens the charm at all. :-)  And really- most of the well-known castles in Germany are actually from the 1800s, too!

We all greatly enjoyed our visit after all, and the horrible crowds that we were expecting really weren't bad at all. :-)

Centuries ago, there was a real medieval castle in this location, and Ludwig grew up exploring the ruins.  He decided to make his own ideal castle on the foundations of the original, and while many people deride him for his fondness for excess, it is rather true that he had rather good taste!  No one can deny that this castle has become quite iconic and universally admired.

His personal life on the other hand.... I'll admit that he sounded like quite the spoiled brat. ;-)

We spent the rest of the day driving through charming Bavaria (oh Bavaria, how I love you!!!) to our next destination: Berchtesgadener Land.  Stay tuned!


  1. Hey, wait, is the the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang castle?!!!! It looks like it!

    1. Yes, it is! Unfortunately, I despise that movie so I didn't even realize that we went to 2 of the movie locations until someone commented on my instagram photo! :-P Now I'm in a quandary- do I watch the movie?? ;-)

  2. Have you per chance seen this ad for the Graubundren district in Switzerland? (The man is speaking from the little mountain own of Vrin, which has a very interesting history - worth Googling.) When I saw this, I just burst into tears, because it would be so nice to escape life and spend an afternoon (or longer) there. I probably will never get to go there, but I'm hoping my daughter will...(When I emailed her the ad, she replied "I want to go there!!")

    1. Sally, I hadn't seen that before! What a charming ad for such a charming place! I agree- I want to go there badly! :-) Thanks for commenting!

  3. Great photos. Isn't it great when things go beyond your expectations like that? One of my favourite parts of my Europe trip was Naples. I wasn't expecting great things, we were really only going for Pompeii, but it was one of my favourite cities in the end

    1. Kaitlyn, what a wonderful trip that sounds like! Thanks for commenting! :-)

  4. Deeply gorgeous! That castle always takes my breath clean away. I love that you were wearing your 50 states dress while on vacay. What a charming, special way to keep your homeland close to your heart while being thousands of miles away from it.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Jessica, thanks as always for your sweet comment! And I love your perspective on the 50 States dress. :-D

  5. I love being able to see these places without have been there, (and perhaps never going to be.) I really enjoyed your Switzerland post. It was nice to see that at least Switzerland lives up to the expectations of what it looks like. :)

    1. Sarah, thanks for commenting! I do hope you're able to make it to Europe sometime! :-)

  6. Oh, you are continuing to make me sigh with envy, Lily! I so want to make it to Switzerland one day... but there are so many other tourist trips that I want to take first... Scotland, Barcelona... Someday though! :)


    the Middle Sister and Singer

    1. Brigid, indeed! That's the trouble with Europe- the list of must-see destinations is endless! :-)



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