We bought a vignette for 7 euros, filled the tank, and headed up some windy roads out of Innsbruck toward the famous Neuschanstein castle, near Füssen. It was our last day on the trip that had started with our first night in Como; today we would return to Germany and to Besigheim.
After some off-route travel through the old village of Mötz, and a road that narrowed to an unpaved pathway, we got on route for Schwangau, and made it there by early afternoon. We got in line for the castle tours, but realized the Neuschanstein one was booked until 5:40, and I couldn’t imagine killing four hours in this small village, only to end it with a long tour in a castle, then another three hour drive back to Besigheim. So we opted for the Hohenschwangau castle instead, where King Ludwig II grew up, with his dad Prince Maximillian and Queen Marie.
We had a decent, Bavarian-style lunch with brats, potato salad, and beer (the girls ate chicken nuggets and fries), then walked up to the castle for our 3:55 tour. They really take people through the castles like cattle – which only makes sense – and you get in a lane with your corresponding tour number, as displayed on the readerboards overhead. There were enough rude Europeans and tight quarters, combined with Charlotte squealing and kicking on my back, in the backpack, to distract me from the details of the tour, and the facts about the various paintings and dates the tour guide rattled off, in a thick German accent.
We got more ice cream however, and got back on the road by 5-ish. We got off-route again though, and had to ramble through various small villages in search of the A7. Finally on the autobahn, I enjoyed the speed and set the cruise control to 140KM. The miles dropped off quickly to Stuttgart, but on the last leg of the journey I had to shake off my first really odd encounter with another male in a public restroom, just off the autobahn.
We got into Besigheim after 8 p.m., and were glad to see our friends Gilles, Eberhard and Benny there with my mom, and a lit grill (the others looked a bit lit, too). Eberhard was happy to see the vignette in my window and asked if we had it for the way down or the way up. I said we actually went through Switzerland on the way down; apparently we were supposed to have a permit to drive through there, too.