cinque terre, italy

Last year Julius and I went spent the Pentecost holiday in Cinque Terre on the western coast of Italy. The Cinque Terre National Park is home to 5 colorful little fishing villages perched upon rocky cliffs and terraced hillsides over the deep-turquoise hued waters of the Ligurian Sea.

The five villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We stayed in Corniglia, the village in the center of the five, which is the only one that isn’t directly on the sea. It sits high up on a hill and is only accessible by climbing many, many stairs. We loved staying in Corniglia, because the day-tourist crowds aren’t as heavy there as in the other four villages, it has a great panoramic view of the ocean and the neighboring villages, and it offers good access to the hiking trails.

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Corniglia is called the turtle village. From the sea, you can see how the main part of the village (on the right) looks a bit like a turtle shell on top of the hill.

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rail tripping: hiking at tegernsee

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Our new boots!

After we’d decided that we wanted to take more trips to the mountains, we made the next logical decision to say that we’d also like to hike in the mountains. With that in mind, we invested in some good hiking boots.

And before breaking in our new boots, we just headed off to a nearby destination in the Alpine foothills and decided to hike. Not the smartest idea… Julius had the blisters to prove it.

Again, on a Sunday afternoon, we headed out from Munich to another place within an hour away.

Our destination? The Wallberg at Tegernsee.

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destination: füssen

Füssen gets a lot of tourist traffic because it has the nearest train station to the most popular “fairy tale” castle of crazy King Ludwig II, Schloss Neuschwanstein.

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Schloss Neuschwanstein

To American tourists, the castle is best known as “the Sleeping Beauty Castle,” since it inspired Disney’s designs for the Disneyland princess castle. Neighboring Neuschwanstein is a smaller castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau, built by Ludwig I. Scads of tourists on a whirlwind tour of Europe get off at the station in Füssen, board a bus straight to Schloss Neuschwanstein, visit one or both palaces, then head back to Munich all in a day. I have done the day trip to Neuschwanstein TWICE myself!

According to this news story, in 2013, a record 1.52 million people visited Neuschwanstein! Up to 6,000 people visit daily. I have experienced a wait time of several hours there. Once you get inside the castle though, because it was never completed before Ludwig’s death, there isn’t all that much to see. You only get about a 20 minute tour. In my experience, the guides usher you through at a pretty quick pace, don’t encourage questions or lingering, and before you know it, you’re out of there. So when guests come to visit from abroad, I’m usually not to keen on taking this day trip again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I visited once, but for me, it isn’t worth the money to go again and again. Anyway, the really spectacular thing about the castle is the view from the outside. It is situated perfectly in the Bavarian Alps above the Alpsee (lake), and walking/hiking around is really a treat.

Since my parents were here in September and wanted to see the castle, we decided to not just do the typical day trip, but to spend a little more time in Füssen and experience more of the town itself and the surrounding area. Continue reading

the bavarian forest

Last week was the first official week of the break. I was relieved to finish all my tests and looking forward to a little trip to the Bayerischer Wald – or Bavarian Forest – which lies in the east of Germany near the Czech Republic. It is a really beautiful area!

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