Ahhhh Germany… a country with an abundance of incredible castles and home to Oktoberfest…what’s not to love? Okay, so what European country doesn’t have an abundance of castles strewn through the countryside, right? There’s usually one around every corner, on every hill, or in every town, but German castles are what fairytales are made of. Literally.

My travels to Germany took me through Würzburg, Rothenburg, Heidelburg, and Munich before heading to what every fairytale loving tourist in Germany wants to see… Neuschwanstein Castle. I’m not much of a fairytale fan, but I do believe I am a princess and that I was meant to live in a castle, and frankly, I think Neuschwanstein would do just fine.

My travel bud, Erin, and I arrived there: me, confused as to why we weren’t dropped off right at the door of the castle like any princess should be, and Erin who seemed to be anxious to stretch her legs. Our guide advised that we had two options to get to the actual castle: we could walk up the long roadway, or we could hop on the horse drawn wagons. I was all for the wagons except for the fact it cost extra money and well, I’m frugal. Erin was all for the trek up the hill. I should point out that Erin is an all-American, girl-next-door, loves physical activity, and could appear in those wholesome skincare commercials, she’s just that kinda woman. Well, except she’s Canadian, not American – but you get my drift. She was decked out in her comfort wear, complete with running shoes, I seemed to look like Robin Hood in my tights, mid-thigh coat, and knee-high brown boots.

Yep, pretty much me here ... minus the weaponry and hat, and change the tights to brown.

“This is gonna be awesome.” Erin said to me. “I could go for some exercise this morning. I’m gonna jog to the top of the hill. I’ll wait for you at the top.”

This is how I looked at her…

She was gonna jog, and I was going to drag my arse all the way up the hill. Weren’t there any free shuttles that pass through here?? Our guide informed us that while we could take the wagon up the hill there was something to be said for the feeling of accomplishment that comes with walking through the hilly forrest that leads to the castle. I believed her. I’m stupid. Two minutes into the trek I was sweating bullets and had only walked fifty feet. I’m sure I could have zipped up the hill with no problem exept I’d probably gained 10 lbs in the time I’d been in Germany already. I couldn’t pass by a German bakery without getting some sort of fluffy pastry or a schneeballen (snowball) treat. And bakeries were everywhere I went. On top of that, all the meals I’d had up to this point while in Germany were outstanding. We stayed in a remote town the first night and while walking to the restaurant we passed numerous country homes with amazing suppertime aromas coming from each place. Seemed like every German knew how to cook, and knew how to cook really well.

Part of the path to the castle (though this is it in the summer, not February)... and since I looked like Robin Hood at least I was dressed for the occasion.

It was February but it was beautiful weather. So, ten minutes into the walk up the hill, I was exhausted. About halfway up the hill you come across a little house that sells sausages, drinks and probably a slew of other things. I didn’t dare stop, because by the time I’d gotten there I’d built up some momentum and one split second of slowing down would be the end of my trek. Must… keep… going….

After plenty of gasping, coughing, wheezing and dry heaves from exhaustion, I reached the lookoff area just below the castle. This is where I found Erin just glowing from the fresh air and exercise. She looked five years younger than she was at the bottom of the hill. Me, not so much.

That castle still looks far away...

Luckily my visit to the incredible Galeria Kaufhof in Munich produced a lion’s share of Ritter Sport chocolate bars and Haribo gummy bears which sustained my energy for the remaining hike to the actual castle. If you haven’t had a Ritter Sport chocolate bar, you’ve been missing out. I think the German flag should have one on it, or at the very least it should be featured on the Euro because it’s definitely one of Europe’s greatest accomplishments. Incredible. I bought somewhere in the vicinity of 20 of them to bring back home, although I think only 2 of them lasted long enough to make it to the plane ride home. Kidding. Well, sort of. Don’t judge me if you haven’t had one of these bars… if you’ve had one before, well then you know.

The castle was spectacular, that is, after I had a nap while waiting our turn for our number to come up on the digital counter. I’m only joking of course, but it was well worth the hike up the hilly forest and well worth the wait.

Germany has incredible charm and real warmth. Its countrysides are beautiful, its cities are lovely and its people are super friendly and hospitable.

I think everyone should go to Germany. And if you do, Neuschwanstein is a definite highlight. Here’s my million dollar advice if you go to Neuschwanstein and you’re like me and aren’t the poster child for “active living” … save yourself the drama and take the horse drawn wagon to the top of the hill!

Germany, you are truly amazing!

Okay fellow readers…my enquiring mind wants to know… What about Germany has captured YOUR heart?