All my 2009 Germany pictures can be seen at:
http://www4.rdstokes.com/Resources/2009%20Germany

Climing the hill to the Neuschwanstein Castle

We had to make a decision. Go with the family to the Neuschwanstein Castle which Disney's Sleeping Beauty's Castle is modeled from or go run with people that Serena has met online. Since I couldn't figure out where they were meeting nor where they were ending (plus, I did want to see this castle,) we chose to go with the family.

But first! Christian took us to a German breakfast restaurant where their speciality is white sausage and beer. Nothing on the menu sounded like it would wake me up. Then they provided us with large pretelzes; you know, like the ones you purchase from street venders. So I took a prezel, cleaned off the salt, split it open, and then poured sugar in it. The prezel was now pretty good. Unfortunately, it didn't wake me up. As for the white sausage, it is definately an aquired taste. And the beer, my mind kept thinking I was having milk so most every sip was a shock to my system! Christian also order some Liver and Ham, which doesn't have any liver or ham in it; it kind of feels and tastes like spam. Fortunately for me, Serena ordered some eggs with dumplings. It tasted almost exactly like a breakfast served by other people who go camping with us! So, I was able to at least eat this and not starve for the day.

After breakfast, we had one of those unexpected stops for... shoe shopping! But this is a kids shoe store. The kids got a pair of shoes... but so did Serena to add to her wall of shoes! The guy helping her kind of laughed at her purchase but was more than happy to sell her these expensive shoes.

I've been out of Euro cash for about 12 hours now. Christian has been covering for me until I get logged into my bank account, transfer funds, and then get to the ATM. Problem with me paying is that so few people here take credit cards! Most restaurants don't. Not all grocery stores. Definately not bakeries. However, every filling station has yet to refuse my American Express but then none of them have "pay at the pump."

Finally on the road to Neuschwanstein Castle! From the city, we walk up about a mile to the base of the castle. Christian walks us on about another half mile up to a bridge which traverses about a 150 foot ravine. Very pretty, very windy, very cold, very creaky as you walk across the bouncy boards.

As for the castle, I was a bit perplexed as it is well maintained. I was kind of expecting an old worn down castle like we saw in Heidelberg. Here the paintings are maintained, the place is air contidioned, light switches/outlets are everywhere, etc. There was even a callbox on the castle door with names; I guess people live here.

Down the castle mountain, to the bus, and now we're going to Christian's parents house for dinner. Of course they were very polite. They kept the conversation going. They said that they usually have Cubans over so English speaking people is a treat for them. During dinner, I noticed how they were very proper in their utensile arrangement. Kenny, Serena, and I just plopped our forks and knifes down anywhere. When they were done between courses, they would put the fork on the leftside of the plate upside down with the handle resting on the table and their knife would be on the right side of the plate again with the handle resting on the table. Each course was scheduled so that the only the main meal would dirty the plate. So our first course came on a saucer which they placed in the middle of our plate. On the second course we were to put a bowl on our plate and then fill it with salad. Last, we would put our main pasta meal on our plate. They had about a 10 minute intermission between each course to collect the dirty dish and then sitdown to engage us in deliberate conversation. I felt really bad when I had to interrupt the flow to ask for their Internet WiFi password and then begin to focus on the computer. Just like my dinner with the French family back in 1993, this was the most interesting/educative family dinner meal I've had in a long time. I'm glad I got to do it!