My Wild Ride to the Neuschwanstein Castle

It’s sort of popular

Castle 5

To start with I had no idea just how popular this castle was. There are so many stories behind the scenes. I once heard that Disney used it as inspiration for some of their pictures.

The King who created it was a character all of his own and the employees who run the castle today are extremely dedicated with mountains of stories to tell.

I could go on and on with its history, the love affair that it still holds and the lives this beautiful castle has touched for centuries upon centuries.

But I’m not going to talk about that.

I have no doubt there are historians who could do a far better job than me in describing what this castle is all about but none of them could describe the wild experience I had just getting to the damn thing.

 

Allow me to explain

To get to the castle one must walk or ride a really steep hill. For those with a weak heart, or in my case a weak knee, other alternatives are a must.

Castle 3

A mini bus is available and from what I heard it’s the easiest way to get there. I’m not actually sure one could call it a bus but the mini part is pretty accurate.

Sadly the mini-thingy was not equipped for wheelchairs so our tour guide jumped into action with a much better plan. I like to call it the horse and Carriage Journey.

 

Horses, Carriages and Elbows

We were handed a one way ticket to the top. Our tour guide wished us well, returned to the group and carried on to the top of the hill. Keep in mind they were on a schedule and the last thing I wanted was to hold anyone back.

A small problem immediately surfaced: Would I be able to climb into this carriage-thingy upon its arrival? My worry was followed by another concern: Would the aggressive tourists surrounding us push us out of the way?

We immediately learned there would be no orderly line. In other words when the carriage arrived the weak was left behind. Glancing at my bad knee and my current predicament my future looked bleak.

 

Strange Happenings

Castle Horse

When the carriage arrived I saw something that day I thought I would never see. My law abiding, anti-line cutting wife jetted to the front of the line. Tickets in hand, elbows swinging and a look that would have scared Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad boy in Terminator one.

In seconds, yes I timed her, I was pulled to the front of the line, tossed into the front seat, while the wheelchair was quickly folded and neatly placed in the back. I have no doubt the horses were impressed.

One the other hand the aggressive tourists were a little peeved.

 

Horses and Celebrations

Our journey took us half way with the remainder on foot. Thankfully members of our group were waiting and took turns pushing me the rest of the way.

When we made our way to the top a mini-celebration was in order. The Castle was no long as important as the journey but we were here and now it was time to explore.

Our journey down was far easier. By then we were veterans. A little beat up. A little dirty, but above all fearless for conquering the impossible. 

If you are ever in the area I advise you to visit The Neuschwanstein Castle. Your experience will create a wonderful memory but I have a feeling you won’t have one like mine.    

Castle 2

The Boy in the Square

Stories in the Making

One of the things I enjoy is people watching. I’m pretty sure most writers agree that a story can be found whenever we sit and watch.

It takes a little practice and a cautious style. The moment people realize you are watching the magic is gone.

So there I was hanging out in the Vienna square. Our tour guide gave us a couple of hours to explore and we were taking every advantage we could.

It was nearing the noon hour on a busy summer day. The sky was blue, the wind was warm and people of all ages were passing by.

 

Vienna Town Square

 

And there he was

He was a teenage boy. Maybe 16, maybe older. One thing was certain: He wasn’t a tourist.

He had the look of a local. He also had another look: He was on his phone with someone special.

The excitement in his eyes and the honesty in his smile caught my eye. I could hear his conversation but I couldn’t understand his words. But our language barrier didn’t matter. I recognized that tone. I too use to be a teenage boy.

 

The Suspense is Terrible. I Hope it Lasts.

To my luck he didn’t walk away when his conversation ended. I watched in anticipation as he took a deep breath and attempted to straighten his hair.

He wore a colorful button down shirt. I wanted to advise him to unbutton the top two. Three if he was daring. It was all I could do to sit still.

Without warning a familiar voice caught his attention. I followed his eyes to the end of the square. His hand quickly moved away from his hair. His shoulders stiffened, his fingers clenched.

 

And there she was

Something in his eyes told me it was too soon. He was supposed to have more time. He wasn’t ready.

His smile broadened, his dimples ran deep. I watched as they met halfway. She made the first move by placing her arms around his neck. His hands lay still. A moment of confusion, I guessed, but I knew in time he’d figure it out.

She kissed him on the cheek and spoke a few words. I had a feeling this was one of the greatest moments of his life.

 I watched as they slowly disappeared into the crowd. Were they friends? Were they more? Or was this simply a great day?

I smiled and continued on my way. Not everything requires an answer, I said.

Getting lost in Vienna is as great as it sounds

Vienna 1

We were just a little worn out

When we arrived in Amsterdam I’m not sure the word ‘tired’ best describes the true state we were in.

Our bodies didn’t do all that much and the only true exercise I experienced were my adventures to the bathroom. If you’re confused please see previous post.

After a couple of hours in the Amsterdam airport we hoped a short ride to Vienna. Yes, it was as cool as it sounds.

After some minor confusion with luggage, security and me agreeing to something I shouldn’t have – Long story for another post – we met our group and tour guide.

 

Why are you in that thing?

Our tour guide was supposed to know all about me and my current state of affairs. Bad knee in case you’re wondering. With one look at the wheelchair a tiny panic crossed his face. After a brief explanation that the wheelchair was nothing more than a cool set of legs we headed for our bus and our first day of adventure.

We were introduced to our bus driver and our bus. Our tour guide, Stefan, explained how these two things would be part of our lives in the coming weeks.

He wasn’t joking.

I’m pretty sure most of us would have been happy to escape to our hotel room for a nice 9 hour nap but Vienna was calling. Not to mention we were on a schedule and when you’re on a tour a silly thing such as ‘dead tired’ must wait.

 

Stubborn is a silly middle name

We were to meet in an area where a Cathedral and shops await. From there we were to have dinner, get to know each other and slowly make our way back to the bus.

I made the first mistake by struggling up a flight of stairs. Stubborn in my way of showing I wasn’t completely helpless, our tour guide suggested we take an alternate route when I reached the top.

In a blink of an eye the group was gone, leaving the wife and I all alone in Vienna.

How cool is that!?

 

It all sort of blended in

Vienna 8

When you’re new to a big city everything looks the same.

We turned left, we turned right, we crawled into a gutters….not really….finally, realization hit.

We were lost in Vienna!!!!!!

For two hours we searched. Our tour group, along with our kids, vanished into thin air. Were we upset? Not really. Were we worried? No. Our girls were safe. But we were probably causing a few wrinkles with our new group and this was only day one.

 

A solo adventure

I wheeled over cobblestones. I listened in on the local language. I smiled as an elderly couple walked hand in hand and I laughed as a little girl played tag with her sister.

It was a warm summer night a half a world away. I was far from my home but the world was the same.

With the help of a waiter and a passerby we slowly found the street our tour had earlier taken.

The Cathedral was amazing. The square was beautiful and as luck would have it, our tour guide suddenly appeared.

We were no longer lost in Vienna but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

Vienna 10

A 10 hour flight is a strange place to be

Jet Lag

I’m a firm believer in breaks. Work three hours, take a 15 minute break. Work five hours, go to lunch. I’m sure you’ll agree breaks are good for the body and mind. But for reasons unknown I could not convince the pilot to do the same. Not that I actually had a chance. But if I did I would have kindly suggested we break this ridiculous lengthy flight in two.

 

The day started off so fine

Our flight schedule was as follows: Hop on a plane in Eugene, Oregon for a nice 2 hour, 50 minute flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. It was nice. It was pleasant. Refreshing comes to mind.

Unfortunately the following flight was a one shot – non-stop flight to Amsterdam.

Yes. The Netherlands.

 

I tried to entertain myself…..really I did.

The mind can do strange things when the airplane seat refuses to recline and the mind refuse to sleep.

Allow me to explain:

  • If I would have brought my own bed my sleep issue would not have existed. Sadly there are rules against this.
  • I had no idea there was an endless supply of movies. I also had no idea these particular movies would place me into a hypnotic state I had only seen in county fairs. Not that I mind.
  • Thinking sleep was near, damn you hypnotic state, I turned off the movie for a nice five hour nap. Within seconds the mind snapped out of it. Nature has an interesting sense of humor, doesn’t it.

 

Bathroom Breaks and Comedy Acts

plane 2

As most of you know I traveled to Europe with the help of Mr. Wheelchair. I love the window seat but attempting to climb over two people was probably a bad idea. My ticket was for the aisle with my bad knee away from the passengers.

Smart move, I remember saying.

With the bathroom break occurring somewhere near or over the Atlantic, I immediately realized it may not be as easy as I thought. On the other hand a Marx Brother’s comedy routine had strong possibilities.

I could never figure out how to raise the arm rest. Being a typical guy who hates to ask I convinced myself it was broken. I swung the bad knee over the arm rest, really bad idea, and grabbed hold of the seat in front, another really bad idea. I quietly apologized to the person in front for pulling out of chunk of her hair.

FYI: Her roots were dark, her hair platinum blonde.

I stood in the aisle and waited for the bad knee to unlock and loosen. I appeared motionless pretending nothing was wrong but standing motionless in the aisle of a plane in this day and age is a bad idea. I immediately grabbed hold of the seats in front of me and took a step.

Once I reached the bathroom I realized there was a double line. I quickly learned the aggressive one wins out. I remember having flashbacks to those videos of black Fridays.

 

Snack time became the greatest moment in my life

It was hour seven, maybe eight when we were handed these little slushy drinks. Mine was orange and in that moment I became the world’s greatest slushy drinker.

I could feel the lovely sugar running through my veins and just as I began to beg for more another round of snacks appeared.

This time it was a giant cookie and a cold coke. Moments later a hot disposable towel was placed in our palms. I remember the sensation was something I hadn’t felt since my teenage years.

Yes, I’ll stop talking.

 

Free at last

When we exited the fight and stepped into the real world I have to admit it took some getting used to. The colors were extremely bright, the voices a little loud, but above all I really missed my orange slushy.

I was ready to get this show on the road. Europe was calling and I was ready for the challenge.

Vienna here I come!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Fozzie Bear and a Rare Monday Post

First of all, it is Monday morning. Our internet was down last night and I had hoped to post this last night.

Technology: Love ‘em/hate ‘em.

After a week of catching up on sleep and rediscovering my lost energy I am ready to get back to work. I missed my daily routine and my conversations with all of you. The travel was fun but it’s good to be home.

As you know, I post every Wednesday and Friday but for a little while you will see me every Monday. Sunday night if you live in the western states and Monday if your home is far away from mine.

The reason for the Monday post has a name and his name is Fozzie Bear.

We all grew up with that certain something in our house that seemed to have been around forever. Maybe a painting or a ceramic cow or an old chair. We always saw them but we never knew their history.

In my case it was Fozzie Bear.

He made his first appearance in our home when I was a teenager and didn’t leave until a cold October morning in 1990. Curious as to how he arrived at our doorstep I asked my Grandparent’s daughter – Aunt Betty. Below are her words.

Mom and Dad loved The Muppet Show. Dad’s favorite was Fozzie Bear. Not only did Fozzie make Dad laugh, Dad claimed he once wore a hat like Fozzie.

 One day he told me if he ever saw him in a store he’d buy him. As luck would have it I saw him in a store during the Christmas holiday. It was 1978 when I placed him in Dad’s Christmas sock. To my surprise Fozzie became Dad’s favorite gift. I can still hear his laugh when he pulled Fozzie out of the sock.

 Dad owned a Chevy half-ton truck. It happened to be brown just like Fozzie. The trucks dashboard became Fozzie’s home until Dad died in 1990.

 Every time I see Fozzie I think of my dad. Fozzie will always warm my heart.  

 Two days after my grandfather’s funeral I flew back to college. Sitting in my carry-on was Fozzie.

He traveled in my backpack to all my classes and at night he rested on my desk. He was there when I got married. His homes consisted of tiny apartments, duplexes and finally a house.

He met all of our pets and saw us bring home our daughters. I must say he has seen it all. But there was one thing he hadn’t seen and that was Europe.

In the coming weeks your Monday will begin with a picture of Fozzie in a European town. I’m pretty sure he had fun just like I did but I have a feeling he’s happy to be home.

Have a great week everyone.

 

Fozzie and Bryan