On our third week in Germany we were starting feel a little bit more comfortable in our surroundings. This is when we decided it would be a good time to venture out on our first rail trip. It was the week of Valentines Day and my birthday, so I had the perfect place in mind Hohenschwangau! Yes, it is a mouthful. This is located in the southern part of Germany in the Bavarian Alps region. What I specifically wanted to do was visit the Neuschwanstein Castle – yes, also a mouthful. (Honestly, I don’t know how German kids pass their spelling tests!) This castle is famous to Americans because it was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at the one and only Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It’s famous to Germans because of its mysterious builder King Ludwig II who died before finishing the castle.
We left on Wednesday morning of this week after our Tuesday midweek Bible Study. We were so excited to actually take the train somewhere! (I will insert here that I am not a great photographer. I realize this is not a good quality in someone who keeps a blog. However, I get caught up in the moment so much, that I just end up taking it all in through my eyes and forgetting to pull out my camera or pulling it out too late, but I think I got some good shots by which to remember this fabulous trek.) The train is nice to take because it saves energy mostly. It can still be long because of all of the stops along the way, but nobody had to drive or navigate us so that we all arrived ready to enjoy.
I thought maybe that we would have to cancel the trip. Lynn woke up with a mysterious pain in his elbow in the night. When he awoke in the morning it was red and swollen. By the time we arrived at our destination, the picturesque town of Füssen, it was huge, red, swollen and excruciating to touch! So, though we enjoyed the trip down, he was constantly reminded of his pain with each movement. We decided that maybe we should find the apothecary and they could direct us to a clinic or something. Thankfully, the lady at the apothecary could speak enough English to tell us where we needed to go, but her English was broken enough that we misunderstood some of the directions. We ended up walking around in the freezing night looking for this clinic! When we finally found it the Dr. there was stupefied as to what the cause was. She said they could do a blood test, but that would require him to stay in the hospital overnight – not something we wanted to do. She didn’t see any reason to believe that it was an infection and thought maybe it was gout. However, she wasn’t completely sure, as this doesn’t usually show in the elbow in a man of Lynn’s health. She basically gave us ibuprofen and sent us on our way. It has since gone down, but we’re putting it on a list of things to check out when we return to the States.
Since we were on foot for this trip, we decided that we should have the hospital call us a couple of taxis to get back to our Airbnb apartment. Lynn, Katie and Jarod went in the first and Megan and I took the second car. We had quite a scare as he drove as if we were in some kind of high-speed car chase! Then he dropped us off a block from our apartment. Since he couldn’t or wouldn’t speak English we just laughed and walked the rest of the way back.
In the morning we made our way on the bus over to Hohenschwangau to see the castles. Yes, Ludwig II’s father also built a castle in the town which was a beautiful tour as well. Here are some pics outside of that castle.
It was finally time to get up the hill to take our tour. This was the exciting part of our day. The castle sits up on top of a hill. A hill that takes over 30 minutes to walk! There is the option of a bus that can take people part way up the hill, but since it had snowed recently the bus was not running. We decided to go with option three – a horse drawn carriage that would take us up part way. However, the line was so long for the carriage that we missed our allotted time. Thankfully, Lynn talked to the people at the castle and they allowed us to go on the next English-speaking tour. It really was a marvelous experience to see these beautiful castles! Like we stepped into a fairytale land. We were able to linger around and take some fun pics outside of the castle. On our carriage ride back down the hill we squeezed in with a group of Asian ladies who seemed to be having a fun time. I noticed the woman beside me was trying to take a selfie, so I kept ducking out of the way until she finally let me know that she was trying to take the selfie with me! Then they all started taking pics of our family! They spoke little English but were able to tell us they were from Korea. After a slight pause they clarified “SOUTH Korea!” When we saw the same group of ladies in a store down in the town, one of them approached Jarod and rubbed his face! Guess they thought he was as cute as his momma thinks he is 😊.
After our castle tours, we boarded the train again and headed for Innsbruck Austria. It was only a three-hour train ride away and we thought it would be a great experience to get to see a little part of another country. We weren’t going to have much time for exploring as we needed to get back to Mannheim for Church on Sunday. So, we decided to take the cable car from the middle of town up into the mountains. Before we went on this trip, I made sure that we all had new hats, gloves, coats and boots. I was ready for snow and mountains. What I was not ready for were the breathtaking views and the warm air! It was amazing to be surrounded by so much snow but not feel frigid. Check out some of our views at 7,400 feet above sea level!
Coming from Oklahoma we had never been skiing (well, the girls have tried out skiing in Nebraska, but, well…). We didn’t try here either. However, we had a blast watching these crazy risk takers! We watched some of them tackle the slopes that were at a 70degree angle down. One lady that rode the cable car up was at least 70 years old and said she had been skiing this area for 14 years. At the next stop down from the summit was a landing area where most of the skiers hung out with a restaurant and beach chairs set up on a deck looking down the mountain. At this point we watched the ski jumpers doing their thing making my heart skip a beat each time one came over the hill.
We took the cable car down another to another stop where we at lunch at a little Alpine café. The whole area had kind of an American beach town vibe with skiers instead of surfers. I was so grateful for the experience.
Each week we’ve learned new things on this journey of ours. One thing we learned on Friday evening as we traveled home was that the Friday night trains are crowded and that means you stand or sit wherever you can if there are no seats open. So, we ended up sitting. This wasn’t too bad until the train came to a halt before we even reached Stuttgart. An announcement came on over the speaker, but we couldn’t understand as it was all in German with no translation follow up. After about 20 minutes like this Lynn finally asked some of the men around him if any spoke English and if they could tell us what’s going on. One young man said, “Something was blocking the tracks.” This is when another man approached and let Lynn know that was a kind of “code” for a suicide occurred on the train tracks. Apparently, this isn’t a rare thing in Germany as there are hundreds of suicides on the train tracks every year delaying trains countrywide. I’ve read since, that the number has even thought to be upwards of about 800 per year. Goodness, what a horrific thought! As we waited for the next hour and a half, Lynn kept talking to the man who had shared that information with him. Giving him as much of the gospel as he could as the man was clearly an atheist. However, he was very congenial and they both enjoyed talking with one another so extensively. We have prayed for this man since then. Praying that God would open his eyes and convict him of his need for salvation. It was a terrible cause for delay, but a divine appointment indeed for one man.
We finally made it home much later than expected, but thankfully we had Saturday to sleep in and recuperate. We’re still getting used to the different schedule of the church over here. There is only one service on Sundays, and it is at 4:00 pm. We hardly know what to do with ourselves on Sunday mornings, so we’ve been having our own family time of listening to sermons from our home Church’s App so that we can keep up with what our own Pastor is preaching back home. It’s been a sweet time of fellowship for us. Just to keep it real though, I may struggle a little bit when we return, and I can’t have Sunday morning church in my pjs. “