Schwangau - Kings, castles and naked people

It's no secret: My boyfriend recently celebrated his 50th birthday (although nobody would believe it, he looks so much younger). This called for a special gift: A surprise weekend trip!

I just told him to sit in the car and drive while I was giving him directions. When he realized where we were going, he was VERY excited. Definitely a good choice!

I mean, it's not too bad when you arrive at your destination and find a tiny little castle on a hill... Despite the cloudy weather, Hohenschwangau was well visible thanks to its yellow color.
But before visiting we had to get some lunch. This restaurant did its best to cater to all the expectations of a Bavarian place. Including live music and groups of Germans who were singing along, encouraged by large jars of beer. 
Window detail
We were looking for the Neuschwanstein castle but didn't know where because of all the clouds.
The lake Alpsee however already looked pretty.
After walking up the steep hill we ended up in the garden of Hohenschwangau. Swans are EVERYWHERE!
And there it is, up on the hill! To avoid the biggest tourist hordes I had planned to visit Neuschwanstein early on Sunday morning (the following day).
Posing with lions to take a break from all the swans.
Corner lamp at the entrance
A last look back when we entered.
This castle is a perfect example of neo-gothic architecture and it's also very well preserved.
All the walls are painted with scenes of old legends and every little detail was designed to match the theme.
It's forbidden to take pictures inside, so I borrowed some from the castle's website:

The Oriental Room, inspired by a trip to the Bosphorus, complete with pictures of Istanbul on the walls. I need this!

And here's the one lustre that I wanted to take home: A lamp made of swans, what's not to like?
Back outside and back to my own pictures. We made sure to see every corner and perspective of the castle possible.
Cloudy mountains
Quite impressive!
But I also liked this detail - autumn colors with fresh green.
More colors!
The park also has a small covered pool, like a little cave.
Looking down to the parking lot - and this is the off-season on a slightly rainy day. I am glad we were not here in Summer on a sunny day! There must be millions of visitors!
Happy people
On the way out
More than just one door!
We made our way back to our hotel for a little nap. Please note our stylish bed and the pictures of another castle project (that was never realized).
The hotel's restaurant closes at 6 PM! But we wanted to go out anyway.
Boots are where it's at!
Actually we weren't really hungry because a German lunch and a big piece of cake later had taken care of that for many hours!
Instead we went to the Kristall Therme - a huge public bath.
No pictures from inside, but that's what websites are for.

There are a lot of different pools with warm water that contain various minerals. We sat in all of them, taking turns with visits to the two steam baths and the hamam. There are also about 10 different sauna rooms, but I am not a big fan of saunas, they are too hot for my taste.
All of saunas, the hamam and one of the steam baths (where you rub yourself down with salt) are in the "textile free" zone. People only cover up to sit outside but not in the rooms, so we got to see a lot of naked people that evening...

Oh and of course we also went to the pool bar where everybody was sitting in the warm water. Us drinking fruit juices and everybody else beer and cocktails.

We had booked 2 hours but enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere so much that we stayed another hour longer.

On our way out I had to take a picture of this swan mosaic!

Our hotel is right under the Neuschwanstein castle which means that we are allowed to drive up the hill instead of having to walk like everybody else.
The castles are illuminated at night, and this is basically a teaser for the next day...