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Mike & Katie's Alpine Adventures - Days 9 & 10 (Germany!)

Day 9 (Friday 7/21) saw us pack up and say goodbye to beautiful Bolzano Italy and we boarded our bus again at 8:30 to travel to our next destination: the German Alps and the southern Bavarian city of Fussen..which apparently means "foot".

Along the way, our tour guide Brian had a couple of nice surprises up his sleeve for the group. The first was a stop at Innsbruck Austria to spend a couple of hours perusing the two-time winter olympic host city. We had just enough time to walk the old town and climb up the 51 meter city tower built in 1450. After climbing the 148 steps to the top, the tower offered breathtaking views of the city. To finish our brief stop we did a bit of shopping and then grabbed a gluten-free turkey burger and fries for the bus trip.

The second surprise of the day was driving to the Zugspitze, which stands on the German-Austrian border and at 9,718 feet, is the highest mountain in Germany. We decided to not travel via gondola to the top of the peak, but instead we had a couple of drinks in the bar with two tour-mates of ours, and then ride a few laps of bicycle go-carts around the track before departing for Fussen. We had a BLAST! We arrived at our hotel in the early evening and capped the day by dining together with the entire group on the hotel restaurant. Mike had turkey and spatzle while Katie had fish, roasted potatoes and vegetables. Those Germans like their hearty food!

Day 10 (Saturday 7/22) began with a nice hotel breakfast and then we departed for one of the primary destinations of the area: a day trip to visit the castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein! We boarded a city bus and were there in only 10 minutes. The first castle was Hohenschwangau (say that three times, really fast!), which is a 19th century palace and childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. It was absolutely stunning and personally, Mike's favorite of the two castles. Afterwards, we stopped for a quick pretzel break and then we proceeded to walk uphill for 45 minutes to get to the famous Neuschwanstein castle. This castle, also built in the mid 19th century, was home to King Ludwig II of Bavaria and served as the inspiration for Disney's famous castle. It embodies fairy tale and embraces Germanic lore and legend. Richard Wagner was known to have stayed here several times. To say that the castle was amazing would be an understatement! Just see the pictures!

After hiking back down the path towards the bus stop, we managed to find time to grab a beer and fries to hold us over until dinnertime. Katie had a sparkling apple cider drink earlier in the day, and Mike has gravitated towards these German beer-lemonade drinks called Radlers...which are perfect for a warm summer day! We finished the day eating a gluten-free meal at a restaurant next to the hotel where Katie had turkey schnitzel with spatzle and Mike had pork tenderloin medallions with fries. Afterwards we walked to the Lech river and checked out the impressive Lechfall waterfalls. A perfect ending to a great day.

Tomorrow we get on the bus again for a 6-hour ride to the Lauterbrunnen Valley of Switzerland, where we will be spending the next three days. That's all for now, auf wiedersehen!!