Fairytales and Rainstorms
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
You can try with all that you are to write a seamless schedule, to put together the perfect itinerary, or draw up the inner workings of the ultimate travel plan. However all the organization in the world can’t contend with a train that shows up three minutes late.
We had boarded the train early that morning in the Münich station. We were headed towards Bavaria to see the famous fairytale castles. Our schedule was tight and planned down to the minute. We would be on this train for an hour and a half and have exactly 8 minutes to cross under the tracks at the next station. We would have enough time to run up the stairs and down platform 5 to board the next train. German trains run like clockwork so we should’ve had 3 minutes to spare.
As we approached the upcoming station we pulled down our packs form the overhead and proceeded to get them situated on our backs. We had this down to a science by now. We had been backpacking through the countryside and cities now for over a week. Everywhere we traveled was by train or bus. We had become very proficient.
Suddenly the train slowed to a crawl and then stopped. Looking out the window we could see that we were not in the station yet. I looked at my phone to check the time. We had 13 minutes before our next train left. 3 minutes passed followed by another 5. With deep concerns building up within us we were desperately checking the time and cramming our faces against the glass in hopes of seeing what the hold up was.
Finally we began to move again slowly pulling up to the station. Doors open and we bolted out like crazy people. All five of us in a full sprint down the stairs and under the tracks. We had 30 seconds to make the jaunt from one platform to another. Everyone in the train was running just as we were. We came to a T in the tunnel. Left? Right? There were no signs! Human instinct drove us to follow the crowd. WRONG decision! However, it would be 4 hours and 135 km out of the way before we would know this.
This quick decision that led to a big mistake demolished my down to the minute schedule . Our plans for the day were no longer. To correct this we ended up on three different trains and two buses. One of which that took us into Austria. We ended up traveling for 8 hours that day!
We finally arrived in Garmisch just before dinner. Luckily we were able to swap our plans with another day. We would have another go at the castles in two days.
The morning of the castles arrived and we were prepared to conquer the schedule yet again. You see if you don’t arrive before 9 am all the tickets for the day will be sold out. Hohenschwangau and Nuenschwanstein are the two most popular castles in Bavaria.
Glad that we hadn’t bought the tickets in advance because of the train mishap, but stressed about the fact that there was only one train that would get us there on time. I should note that this train left at 6 am! We arrived and caught our bus and we were on our way up to the castles, finally. We raced up the hill to wait in the already over crowded line. We had arrived at 8:30 am and already the tours were booked out until 12:00!
We would need to get through Hohenschwangau and hike up the 1.5 mile hill to Nuenschwanstein in an hour. Why? Because the only way back to Garmish was by bus that day and we had to be on it by 2 pm. Again we would tempt the schedule fates.
Still the sun was shining bright and the day was beautiful. We made our way up to Hohenschwangau taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. I made reference to how much things had changed since the last time I had been. The castle was stunning and we were thrilled to hear the stories of King Ludwig, the very eccentric king of Bavaria.
We were right on schedule and started to make our way up the steep hike to Nuenschwanstein. Suddenly big dark clouds began to blow in from the valley below. We began to walk a bit faster. They were moving with force and speed.
We made it to just below the castle where we paused at the gift shop and restroom. Phoenix and I had a blast playing with the best hats we had ever seen! I am pretty sure we tried on every hat on the rack! While there, the shop owners started pulling in the souvenirs in preparation for the inevitable rain storm.
Phoenix and the epic hats!
We made our way up to the entrance of the castle and waited for our tour time to be called. It was now pouring. By the time we were called we looked like drowned rats. Happy to be going inside now that we were cold and wet.
To say I was worried about getting back down in time would be an understatement. I hadn’t planned on rain or that our tour would go over the time that was scheduled. The fates would be in charge again today.
The castle was grand and enchanting. I loved seeing it this time through adult eyes. I was a little disappointed in how tourist driven it had become. The kids and CJ didn‘t know any different and really loved every moment of it.
Looked at the clock, tour went over, we had 20 minutes to get down the hill and onto our bus. It was go time! We rushed down the stairs and weaved in and out of the crowds, ran through the kitchen portion of the tour and out the castle doors.
Mikah and Blake volunteered to run ahead. So they began their sprint in the rain now turned down pour. We looked like crazy people! Picture if you will, five soaking wet americans running down the hill jumping over or splashing through puddles.
We arrived at the bottom 15 minutes later only to find a very confusing round about with bus stops at every junction. I literally wanted to die trying to figure out which bus it would be. Remember I said it was the only way back to Garmisch? Well it was also the last bus of the day going to Garmisch! We could not miss it!
I ran back and forth across the street trying to make sure we were in the right place probably 4 times. I was having a hard time matching the right bus number to the right direction. The difficulty was terribly increased by the unrelenting rain.
I finally managed to get our bearing right and after triple checking with the bus driver in my broken German language we boarded the bus and let out a huge sigh of relief.
My advice, it’s great to have a plan, but know that it will not always work perfectly. Especially when you need it to. We absolutely loved the beautiful Bavarian castles. Our memories of the all the details, the history, and the decor inside may fade, but I know we will never forget running down that hill in the pouring rain!
Hohenschwangau before the storm