The curtains in our hotel room were far too good at their job, erasing any evidence that it was day time. My phone had no such issues however, blaring the obnoxious and familiar tone that signaled it was time to get up. I had intended to get up early in order to get to Neuschwanstein castle at a reasonable hour however our tour reservation came back for late in the afternoon. Annoying, but it gave us time to get some housekeeping out of the way before we headed out, something which had vexed me ever since we failed the night previous.
Trusting Google in this instance seems to have been our downfall, the laundromats that showed up being only a small selection of what was actually available. I found one that was much closer than the ones we’d tried before and, thankfully, had instructions in English. An hour and about €10 later we had our newly laundered clothes ready for the rest of our trip and even helped some bewildered Americans navigate through the laundromat’s systems. Flush with victory from our housekeeping adventures we sought out a light lunch at a local hipster joint before catching the train out.
This trip was a source of consternation for me as all the guides online said there was a direct train to Fussen, the town closest to Neuschwanstein. However no matter how hard I searched I could not find said train, everything require at least 1 connection, most of them by bus. Even more frustratingly none of them mentioned the train number, precluding me from looking it up to see if anything was amiss. As it turns out the train stations on that track are currently being renovated for the next month or so and the last 3 stops have been replaced by a bus. Thankfully this didn’t seem to affect travel times too much, but it did make me worry about how we’d get back home should we stay back later than I anticipated.
The weather throughout the day had, to be honest, complete shit. It had been raining fairly steadily since we arrived and that continued as we traveled out to the castle. As I primarily wanted to go there to get some great shots I was a little disappointed although I figured I could salvage something from it regardless. Luck was with us however and the skies parted almost exactly as we arrived at the castle, providing ample opportunities to get some great shots from the location. Unfortunately one of the bridges has been out of commission for some time, precluding any good shots of the castle itself. Still I’m not complaining, especially with the picture above being one of the more average shots I got.
The tour itself was really good too, diving into the history of the relatively modern castle and the man who commissioned it: Ludwig II. Whilst it wasn’t as personal or in-depth as some of the other tours we’ve been on so far it was still very well done, streamlined to ensure they could get as many people through as humanly possible. I was a little miffed that they didn’t allow pictures, or a self paced tour, but that was more than made up for by the beautiful view and the in-depth audio guide that was included in the admission cost.
After we’d had our fill of great views we headed down to the local bus station to make our way home. Little did I know just how much time we’d spent up at the castle, arriving at around 4PM and not coming down until 7PM or so. Thankfully there was still a large throng of other tourists waiting at the former train station and, sure enough, a bus eventually arrived to pick us up. The one wrinkle in the plan was that the direct train was no longer running, although the conductor helpfully informed us of which one we’d need to catch to get home. We still didn’t get back to the hotel until 11pm however.
Thankfully our hotel staff were more than accommodating, making us a lovely small dinner and serving us beers well until the night. The only black mark on it was the 2 young Australians talking some mad shit with an older American; both sides of the conversation big noting themselves for discernible reason at all.
We don’t have much planned for tomorrow, mostly because I only really wanted to see Neuschwanstein. I haven’t had a chance to visit any of the beer halls here however so I’ll likely be paying a few of them a visit. If we manage to do more than that great, but I’m definitely in no rush after the major success we’ve had today.
Our room had finally cooled down to below boiling allowing us a night of rest that wasn’t interrupted by fever dreams. This was after we’d endured the various smells emanating from the restaurant below us, a lovely combination of fetid cheese, cigarette smoke and whatever the rain had dredged up. Suffice to say packing wasn’t filled with that same solemn feeling that all our previous places of rest was, especially as we tripped over each other as we were doing it. Our journey to the train station was thankfully uneventful and we boarded without issue.
Today’s trip is the last we’ll be taking by train here in Europe. I had hoped to do all of it by train but the realities of train travel in Europe won’t accommodate the many places we want to visit. That and the fact that some trips are simply better done by plane like, say, Berlin to Zurich which would’ve taken half the time to accomplish. My wife expressed her sadness at this fact as it had been quite nice to watch the countryside go past, the green hills a stark contrast to that of what we have back home. I too lament it somewhat, although I do like the idea of not losing an entire day to travel for our last few locations.
We arrived in Munich in the late afternoon and quickly set ourselves to task in getting our laundry done. I found us a place not too far from where we were which appeared to be good and we headed out into the rainy afternoon. When we got there though they informed us that they wouldn’t be open tomorrow, nor the day after, and so couldn’t take our laundry. Perplexed that they’d be closed on a weekday we left in search of another place. Problem was we had no cash, which we quickly remedied, but then the machines only took €5 and €10 notes. Feeling defeated after wasting 2 hours trying to chase a place down we decided to leave it for tomorrow and headed out for dinner.
After stumbling back the way we came we eventually found a small Indian restaurant that seemed quite reasonable. We made the unfortunate error of ordering far too much food and were completely stuffed halfway through it. The waiter even asked us if it was no good, which we told him unequivocally no, but I can definitely see where he was coming from. With the hangries at bay we caught an Uber back to the hotel to dry off and prepare for tomorrow.
We’ll be spending the better part of tomorrow visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, said to be part of the inspiration of the Disney logo (and also home to some Bavarian royalty for a short period of time, but that’s not what anyone really cares about, right?). Hopefully we’ll be able to sort out our laundry too as there’s nothing more…uncomfortable… than wearing clothes again when they haven’t been washed. All else fails it’s the hotel sink for some socks and jocks, although I hope it never comes to that.
With my wife in such good spirits from last night I had high hopes for today. We could leisurely make our way to our bike tour and finally see the other side of Amsterdam that we’d heard so much about. However the look on my wife’s face as we woke up told a story I didn’t want to hear: she was struggling in just the same way as she was before. I figured we’d try to make our way through breakfast at least before calling it quits. On our way back up to our room though my wife called it and slumped down on the bed, crippled by nausea and pain.
I stuck around for an hour or so to make sure she was ok before I left to do a small tour of the surrounding area on my own. Our hotel was right next to a local park, one that many had said was worth a walk through. The quiet rustling of the trees and low ruckus of children playing in the distance was a nice background to me hunting for photographic inspiration. There wasn’t a whole lot to be found there unfortunately although there might be a few shots in there that will keepers if I put enough work into them.
Afterwards I headed back to see how my wife was doing. She was still bundled up under the covers and didn’t stir when I opened the door. After a while she woke back up and said she was feeling a little better although her face was still that same distraught look that I had seen earlier that morning.
I decided to take care of our laundry then since she wouldn’t be up to doing anything else for the rest of the day. After a few wrong turns I did manage to successfully find the laundromat that came highly recommended on Google. The reviews were spot on too, our week’s worth of clothes washed, dried and folded for €17, a bargain compared to what any hotel would charge. On the way back to pick it up later in the day I did manage to snag a few more photos, one of which adorns the top of this post.
Upon returning with 2 bags of fresh clothes my wife seemed to be feeling a lot better and so we decided to get ourselves some takeout from a local Mexican place. It reminded me a lot of Zambreros from back home, the imagery and designs very reminiscent of each other. The food was very good and the cheap Trappist ales that I picked up at the local supermarket even better. It was a nice way to cap off our final full day here in Amsterdam, even if it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I first booked our holiday.
Tomorrow we’ll make our way to Berlin by train. Hopefully our second train journey will be just as luxurious as the first although I’m sure there’s as much variability in trains as there is with planes. We likely won’t get up to much else as we won’t get in until 7PM or so, one of the few downsides when it comes to long distance train travel. Still it’ll give me time to catch up on my reading and maybe a few other things that I’ve neglected.
Honestly it’ll probably just be nice to not be walking all day for once!
There was only a dim glow peeking through the curtains but it was lacking that distinct orange tint to it that I’d grown to expect. Throwing them back revealed a threatening looking sky with the overcast clouds merging into the smog in an eerily smooth gradient. It seems that the cross country flight had done some magic on our body clocks and we were up early again giving us some time to plan for the day ahead. We’d planned to go to Universal Studios today and decided to stick with that plan even with the foreboding weather. I also made a quick check to make sure that the server had come good after Danne kicked it over for me, thankful that it came around. I uploaded the 3 posts I had sitting in my queue before heading off, taking our laundry with us so we could get it done on the way home.
Dialling in the address into the GPS we drove the 10 miles to North Hollywood arriving into a strangely quiet strip of shops. We started walking around looking for somewhere to have breakfast and found a decent cafe about halfway down. The weather had was holding up and without my Internet connection on my phone working (again!) we decided to just go ahead and go into the park, figuring that it would could still visit most of the park even if it was pouring with rain.
There were a few people at the entrance to Universal Studios but it still felt almost deserted. It is the off season but that didn’t seem to have a damper on the numbers when we were at Dinseyland so we figured we had just gotten lucky. We made our way through one of the exhibits in the top lot before taking the multiple escalators to the bottom lot which was even more deserted than the top. That worked in our favour though with virtually no line for all the rides down there, letting us zip through the entire section in about half an hour. The rides were pretty good with their scale being extremely impressive. I can’t remember the last time I rode a rollercoaster that was entirely indoors (I think it might’ve been space mountain in Disneyworld in Tokyo where I hit my hand on a low flying pole).
After that we headed back up to the top lot to see some of the other shows they had going on. There were no less than 3 3D movies with all sorts of various augmentations. The most extravagant one was the Terminator with oodles of pyrotechnics and a cast of 3 people jumping in and out of various places all over the place. There were also a couple live shows that we saw the best of which was the Waterworld one. Now I’ll be honest here I was only going to go to it initially because there was a fated summer holiday where my brother and I watched that movie nearly every day. However the show itself was quite amazing with a smattering of watercraft, acrobatics and explosions all over the place. After we got out our last show at around 4:30pm everything was winding down so we headed out to find ourselves some early dinner before heading out to see a movie.
We found this amazing little Japanese place just up from where we had had lunch earlier. I ordered the tonkatsu with a Japanese beer I had never seen before: Echigo. We had just less than an hour so I was glad when our meal was served quickly and even happier still when it was quite good, especially for the price. Satisfied with our meal we went to see our movie for the night, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1. 2 and a half hours later we emerged from the movie, both happy with the experience. I’d recommend the movie to anyone who’s enjoyed the previous releases in this particular series, I won’t comment on those who’ve read the books however (I haven’t).
Afterwards I found us a coin operated laundry not too far from we were so we headed over there to get ourselves some clean clothes to wear. After loading up the machine we sat down to watch what they had on the TVs around the place, mostly bad reality TV shows and overdone mexican dramas. About an hour later we were done and out of there, driving back through the rain that had finally started to come down. We got back to the hotel safely and flopped down on our bed, weary from the long day we had had. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing tomorrow but it will either be a visit to Legoland or back to Disneyland but really I could easily spend a day off my feet to let them rest. I don’t think I’ve walked less than 8KMs per day over the past 2 weeks.
I had struggled to get to sleep last night as my room was either blazingly hot or freezing cold thanks to the air conditioner that seems to operate on a whim all of its own. Still walking up this morning I didn’t feel too tired and went about looking for something to do. I had thought I would go to a beach since there were several within an hours drive from where I was, the question was which one of them to choose? I found a couple good sites on 5 of the local beaches and I eventually settled on Cocoa beach since it had a good amount of shops close by and seemed to be the biggest out of the lot.
Before I could leave though I had to attend to the matter of what to wear. Specifically the fact that I had worn pretty much everything I had brought over with me and they really needed a wash. Thankfully the hotel had a coin (well no cash value token) operated laundry on the second floor. I’d never used one of these before and it was novel, at least for the first 15 minutes until I realised my paranoid self couldn’t leave the clothes alone in case someone nabbed them. About an hour later I was out of there with half of my clothes clean and dry with the other being clean but still wet since they couldn’t be tumble dried. I strung them up in the laundry and then went about getting out of the hotel.
I hadn’t bothered doing my hair or anything since I knew I was going to ruin it not 30 minutes later when I arrived at the beach, so the first thing I did was take the top down on the Corvette. It was nice have the wind in my hair all the way down there although I quickly realised I had neither a beach towel nor any sunscreen to speak off. A quick detour into the local Walmart solved that problem and I continued on my way. No sooner had I got back onto the highway than did I see the sign for the next exit. It read “Kennedy Space Centre” and instantly my heart began to soar. I knew I was going to be going close to the KSC but I didn’t really know how close until I was crossing over the bridge. Just as I was getting over the apex I saw a structure I recognised, the Vehicle Assembly Building a giant hangar designed to house the shuttles while they’re being prepped for launch. I was like an excited kid, bobbing up and down in my seat at the mere site of it. I promised myself I wouldn’t go there until launch day, or failing that the last day before I left Florida.
With a giant grin on my face I continued on to Cocoa beach. It was getting on in the afternoon and I hadn’t had any lunch yet so I thought I’d get some food before heading down to the beach. No sooner had I pulled into a random car park to get my bearings than I heard the unmistakable sound of several large jet engines flying low overhead. Looking skyward I saw it was a Boeing C-17 being followed by two Blackhawk (I think, they didn’t look armed) helicopters, performing an in flight refuelling manoeuvre. A smile crept onto my face as I realised that I had lucked out and found the Cocoa Beach Airshow, the one I had been searching for but had be unable to find. What ensued was several hours of lying in the sun watching various aircraft perform all sorts of feats overhead. I even got to see the legendary Thunderbirds and their compliment of F-16s. Alas I had unknowingly left my camera back at the hotel, but I did grab a few iPhone pictures as momentos.
Once the show was over I went for a quick dip in the water. It was warm and inviting, the perfect way to finish off an afternoon of staring into the sky. After jumping out and towelling off a bit I realised there were no public change rooms in sight, nor any public showers. I made my way back to the car and then did the most awkward clothes change I’ve ever done, with half of myself sticking outside of the car and the other squished up against the centre console. I got there eventually however and was off on my way back home, content in the fact that I had lucked out considerably by choosing Cocoa Beach as my destination for that day.
There’s still been no word from my travel agent as to whether or not I can change the flights without incurring some kind of penalty. If I don’t have a response by tomorrow morning I’m going to take matters into my own hands and call the flight directly. I still haven’t found a hotel yet but I’m not terribly worried, we’re not in peak times over here yet and when I was staying at the airport I would bet on the fact that at least half of those rooms were empty. We’ll see though but if worst comes to worst I’ll just rent another car and sleep in that 😉
Hey, I might actually have a use for that stupid cellphone I bought. Awesome.