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Ethnicity. A European Medley!
Location Radomyshl, Ukraine
School. Seattle Pacific Univ
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August 1-3, 2011
Saturday. 8.3.13 10:21 pm
From Munich, Dad and I drove southeast to Berchtesgaden, a gorgeous mountain town boasting proximity to several interesting sights.
First we visited Kehlsteinhaus-- Hitler's special retreat... which now houses a restaurant. Getting there is an adventure in itself. After buying a ticket, you board a bus which takes you up a winding mountain road which, in my humble opinion, is too narrow for its own good. After that, you can take a trail up for another mile or two, or you can queue for a classy brass elevator that will take you STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN' MOUNTAIN!! In case the Caps didn't tip you off, this is a badass experience not to be missed.
Despite its unfortunate past, Kehlsteinhaus is a lovely spot. The views are amazing, and there are lots of cool nooks and crannies to explore in the rocks (ok, I'm still a 10-year-old at heart). We had a picnic on a ledge overlooking Konigssee, fed the birds, and jumped around on the rocks for a few hours before taking the trail back down. We could have taken the elevator, but it was nice and sunny, and it can't be good for anyone to spend too much time in a small space once used by an unhinged, evil dictator. The crazy bus took us back to our car, and the search was on for a bed for the night and some beers.
The next day, at my insistence, we took a boat trip on the Konigssee. The lake is almost entirely surrounded by mountains and the water is incredibly deep and clean, so it made for some beautiful photo ops. On the way out, tour boats stop, and a trumpet player demonstrates the fantastically clear echo.
We went on the "half tour" that stops at a peninsula occupied by the St. Bartholoma church. There are some lovely trails in the area that lead into the mountains, so we went a short way out, and were rewarded with waterfalls. Unfortunately, it started raining, and we needed to move on to the next town, so we didn't spend a great deal of time at St. Bartoloma.
We were headed to Fussen next to see Neuschwanstein, the famous "Disney Castle" that inspired Sleeping Beauty's digs. My dad and I are notoriously stubborn about backtracking, so a trip that should have taken four-ish hours on the Autobahn back to Munich and out to Fussen, took about six hours on secondary roads through the countryside. Our route could have been considered scenic, if the rain hadn't impeded visibility. We were so late, in fact, that the proprietor of our hostel had given up our beds. Fortunately, there were still some available, just not the ones we'd booked.
The rain had mostly gone by then, and we had just enough time to check out the "old town" and get some beers before it started getting dark. You can tell Fussen really cherishes its tourism dollars, and it's an easy place to be a traveler. I think it'd be a decent place to take a family, as it's quiet, comparatively easy on the wallet, and there are lots of kid-friendly sights and activities (Hello... a mf-ing DISNEY CASTLE?).
We tried to hit Neuschwanstein fairly early in the day, and since we weren't interested in the rather expensive tour inside the castle, crowds weren't really a problem. It was pretty touristy, but I guess you don't see a castle like that every day, so if you're in the area, give it a shot. I wouldn't suggest a trip to Germany just to see it. Berlin on the other hand...
I had way more fun in the afternoon when we went bobsledding.
You may be thinking, "how did you go bobsledding in summer, Muse"? Don't you need ice and stuff? Wasn't that the whole reason no one believed in the Jamaican bobsled team?"
Apparently, concrete and aluminum bobsled runs are pretty popular attractions in Southern Germany, because we saw several different ads in the tourist guides. We went to an aluminum one, which seemed slightly safer to me. I had read several bobsled injury anecdotes, most of which involved scrapes. I don't think I let myself go fast enough for that type of calamity, but it sure was thrilling. We bought a discounted card of six rides and each took three. When we were finished, there was a beer and pretzel stand ready to accommodate us. I should mention that this area is also popular with sky divers, and we were entertained by a floating flock of multicolored parachutes while we had our snack.
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