Castle Neuschwanstein and Hohenzollern

I've had a fascination for castles that I've covered in a few different posts before - Alcazar of Segovia, Duffus Castle in Scotland, and various others in Frias and Lerma. Its no surprise that if I get to the castle capital of the world, I would try to visit at least one of them. Well, on two separate trips, I got to see two different castles - Castle Neuschwanstein and Castle Hohenzollern.

I wish I could visit both these castles with more time, and I definitely plan to go back to Neuschwanstein. This castle is actually deep in the heart of Bavaria, very close to the border with Austria. The castle itself is a major tourist attraction, and you should definitely book your tickets online so you don't have to wait in line. Be prepared to intermingle with many tourists vying for photo ops. One way to have it be less crowded is to go in the winter, but be prepared to have it be really cold. But it may be worth it, because the views would be pretty awesome: Castle Neuschwanstein in Winter. But this view is not that accessible unless you are willing to go on a hike. You can get a really good view of the castle if you hike along the path to go to Queen Mary's Bridge. But if you really want an awesome view, you will need to hike a little bit more to go to Pöllat Gorge, and you should get a view from the waterfalls that is much more off the beaten path. Castle Neuschwanstein has a very rich history, and you can read all about it here.

I would like to say that I got to both of those places, but there was really no time as it was getting dark, and I only got to take a few pictures. Must. Go. Back.


The other castle I got to visit on the other trip is Castle Hohenzollern. Burg Hohenzollern is a ancestral home (oh, the suffering) of the Hohenzollern family. Its another castle in Germany with a very rich history. I can never get tired of these castles.This is also pretty touristy, but its so big, you can wonder the whole place without running into crowds. Plan your trip here.


A Visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a picturesque little town in Bavarian region of Germany, one of the towns on the Romantic Road, a theme based travel route set up by travel marketers in the 1950's. Its one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. 

Our drive to Rothenburg was pretty uneventful, aside from a stop at the Krausenbacher Forst. We were eager to reach Rothenburg and explore the town. We got there at night, checked into our hotel and took a walk. We reached on a wednesday night when the town was asleep somewhat already; so we decided to take a walk around and find a place to eat and find all the nooks and crannies of the medieval city.


Rothenburg is a not a UNESCO heritage site, but it is still very popular with the tourists, especially Japanese tourists. Just as in Segovia, there are translations in Japanese everywhere, including the street signs in the Romantic Road. Rothenburg has also become a popular tourist destination for Japanese because of the animated film "Sugar a little snow fairy", where the main character lives in Rothenburg. After all the walking around, In the end we found something to eat in hotel we were staying in.


Rothenburg is known as the quintessentially German town, representing everything that is pure German. It was a very prized city, and so during WWII soldiers were sent to defend this city from the allied forces. This town was very well protected by the 20 feet wall with guard towers around the town, so the allied forces couldn't do too much damage. But then the when the town got surrounded, the allied forces gave them Germans the option of surrendering, otherwise they would bomb and level the town. In the end, the German forces gave up the town, so there was no warfare within the town itself; which is why the town is so well preserved.

The next morning, we woke up earlier (as I was suffering from jet lag) and decided to walk around again and find the wall. There are stairs to go up the wall, and walking on the wall gives a very nice view of the city from a higher elevation.


After the walk on the wall (sounds like a Pink Floyd album), we finally ventured into the city center. At the end of the day, Rothenburg IS a tourist city, and the city had to be brought up to have a lot of the modern amenities. So, when I was taking pictures from the top of the wall, the line of parked cars stuck out like a sore thumb. But at the same time the juxtaposition of the old and new is interesting, and something I've always found very interesting - the fact that they can live together side by side.


Rothenburg as a medieval city is perfect for a Christmas setting, and even though it was only October, they preparations were well under way, especially the window settings. Some of the window settings were exactly what I imagined it to be - with small wooden toys, and christmas decorations.



No trip to Rothenburg is complete without having a few "Schneeballen". What is "Schneeballen", you ask? Schneeball is made of pieces of dough, turned into a ball and deep fried. The recipe is old and traditional, particularly in the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, where different shops and bakeries produce this traditional sweet and sell it in bakeshops.

According to history, the Schneeball is more then 300 years old. According to the locals, the pastry initially started in the Thirty Years War in Europe, as a way for soldiers to carry food easily. The original Schneeball was just dough fried and topped with sugar, but it has evolved and the bakeries now dip them in chocolate, mix other ingredients like nuts and caramel into the dough. Nowadays you can find fancy flavors, like dulce de leche, etc.

We stopped by to have a few of the eclectic flavors - chocolate dipped and cinnamon and caramel. First bite is tough, but it gives way to the softer inside, and all the extra ingredients overload the taste buds. I have a serious sweet tooth, so this was delicious - just the right of sugar to help me continue the tour.


After the Scheeballen, we were hopped up on enough sugar to go around a few more times. The town is easy to navigate because of the wall around it, so you really can't get lost. Because of the fortress nature of the town, the walls have towers that have artillery in them, and all the features of a town from the middle ages. The exterior is mostly woods, and somehow walking through the towers and the wall, we ended up outside the wall. Unexpectedly, outside the wall it was very peaceful and serene.