Choose Your Own (Fairytale) Adventure

I am quite a happy little lady this week. I’m feeling on top of the world, which is in fact somewhat like where I found this little ladybug. I’m living a fairytale.

That is if fairytale princesses wore backpacks instead of ball gowns.

If fairytale princesses stopped cleaning stepmothers’ houses and stopped ever feeling quite clean themselves.

If fairytale princesses swapped cottages and seven dwarves for mixed dorms and seven men all named Snory.

If instead of talking animal friends, fairytale princesses had string instruments named Steve who died at Austrian train stations a third of the way into the story.

If fairytale princesses found boys Charming and said, “Boy, I’ll see your happily ever after and raise you happily ever after five months.”

It’s like I said to someone today –
When I can’t play with my friends, I just play with my words.

Munich was a good place to be for me, but different than all the others. I saw the sites, I ate the sausages from the market under the maypole, I drank beer from (a restaurant nearby) the Haüfbrauhaus, and I spent time in the parks… But so much of my time there, I didn’t feel like I’d come to Munich to visit a new city. Instead, I settled in easily and started writing, hardly phased by the new surroundings at all. I walked rainy streets, sat on statues and tucked myself away in the corners of coffee shops. It was like I was anywhere, and I was comfortable.

So to shock the system, I set out to find castles.

And you thought I was just being grossly sentimental with all the fairytale talk. I’m just telling it like it is.

I arrived in Füssen last night. The online directions given by the hostel said “Follow the signs.” Sure. That would have been so much bleeping easier if it weren’t dark out.

I’d checked the weather before traveling to Füssen to ensure I’d have good weather to see the castle that had inspired Walt Disney. I saw the picture of the sun. Unfortunately, as previously covered, my German isn’t that good, and this morning I woke up in a cloud. Being the smart Southern California girl that I am, I know this coastal fog layer will burn off around 1. Never mind that we’re in Germany.

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I’d read a week ago in Rick Steves that to get to the castles… Something about 3km away… Buses or you can walk. Well, I have time. I can walk 3km. I check a map posted in the middle of the old town. The castles are that way. That way with an arrow off the map. I can handle that. Hey look, the sky and the street are the same color.

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I start walking that way and there are no signs pointing to the castles anywhere, but I figure I’m in Europe where castles are a dime a dozen. Signs would make them look special or something. It’d be so easy to find the giant castle on the mountain without this fog. It’s beginning to mist so I start keeping track of options I can backtrack to should it start to rain. My favorite one was “under that bridge.”

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About 2km into walking, I still can’t see past four houses ahead and I turn around. There is no point in getting to the castles in this weather. Maybe later, maybe tomorrow. I have time. I return to my hostel. It’s 10:30a.m. and I’m a 5k into my day.

Two hours later, the sun is peeking through. I set out again, this time to catch the bus to the castles. Note that it is now the fourth time I’m walking down my hostel’s street but the first time I can see it, thus the smartest exclamation to ever cross my lips: “Hey! A mountain!”

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The bus went ten minutes and five kilometers the direction opposite that of my morning route. Arriving at the base of the mountain, I remembered what Rick Steves said. “Once you get to the mountain, something about 3km, something about bus up the hill.”

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The sign says it’s an hour walk to get to the best view of the main castle. A minute on an inclined treadmill and I hate life, but I don’t want to take the bus. 20 minutes later, I’m walking uphill bent forward, in case shortening myself would decrease wind resistance. Seven years of NASCAR watching didn’t teach me nothing, folks.

I made it to the bridge. Complete with mountains behind me, valleys and lakes ahead of me, a waterfall falling below me. A beautiful castle was in front of me.

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It was really foggy. If that was the best view I’d get of the castle, I wouldn’t complain, but I had time so I had an important life decision to make.

Do I stay on the bridge to wait for the clouds to move away from the castle? Or do I follow that unmarked dirt trail?

I followed the trail uphill, and when the trail seemed to end without notice, I passed “Do not leave the trail” signs, followed a retired couple from Colorado and climbed the hill, using roots of hundreds-year-old trees to pull myself up.

And would you look at where I found myself.

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Happy little ladybug, yes, I am. Also, the winter hat and t-shirt look is 100% acceptable after walking uphill forty minutes in weather in which you can see your breath.

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I stayed up there for as long as I could and I had my journal out to write a story, but now alone, I feared another fog layer coming in and obscuring the footholds I’d need to get down. Being the responsible person I am, and the slightly morbid weirdo I am, I took a photo in case I fell off the cliff, so the people who found me knew where I last was, and more importantly, where I was intending to go.

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Crossing the bridge again, Guy #1 asked me to take his photo in front of the castle. As I was framing it, Guy #2 walking by asked if I wanted him to take “your picture together.” Oh, if I thought Guy #1 would understand my sense of humor… Not telling Guy #2 yes may be my first regret of the trip.

I got home, wrote for a bit, walked into the old town to look for dinner, and promptly left it to go ten minutes to regular town (where houses have satellites on the roof and you see gas stations) to a restaurant where locals speak German and babies cry gibberish. And that is where I wrote this post, all while eating a “funghi pizza” and drinking a Paulaner.

Fairytale day. Through sunset and beyond. Maybe I haven’t been looking up enough, but tonight even the stars seemed better than I’ve seen in years.

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