Criminal Museum and Neuschwanstein Castle

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June 4th 2010
Published: June 10th 2010
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Day two of the group trip began with a nice breakfast at our hotel. Breakfast here is certainly not like breakfast at home. At home, in a continental breakfast in a hotel, there is usually cereal, fruit, some kind of special bread or pastry, and not a lot else besides coffee, depending on the level of hotel one is staying at, of course. Here when one gets a hotel breakfast there are different kinds of bread, cheeses, and meats, plus fruit, juice, and coffee. I do not understand the fascination with salamis and bolognas for breakfast, but there is always ham, which is good too.

We had a little time in between breakfast and when we would leave for the museum, so I used it to go to the cathedral in Rothenburg, St. Jakob’s Church, a Lutheran church. As I got in just after the doors were opened, the organist was still practicing for the upcoming Sunday, and I was treated to several pieces on a monster pipe organ inside a fantastic sanctuary for such sound. I got about two minutes worth of recording done on my camera, all I have to do now is figure out how to access the organ recording. Anyway, the real reason I had wanted to go there of all places in Rothenburg was the altar carving was supposed to be one of the best in Germany. And, Rick Steves, you were right, it was fantastic. Strangely enough, they put it behind the organ in the back of the church, rather than somewhere the regular congregational members can see it.

After breakfast and the church, I rejoined the group to go to the Criminal Museum. The museum was right across the street from our hotel, and featured some very interesting things. All kinds of torture devices, shame masks, legal documents, and weapons were on display. The shame masks were very interesting: basically iron contraptions shaped like different animal heads or just outlandish-looking, to publicly punish someone for all kinds of things. Some had bells on them to let people know the shamed person was coming! The executioners’ swords were really nice, big and shiny. The layout and exhibits of the museum could use some work, but overall it was quite a neat place to visit.

Then we all piled into the bus for about four hours until we reached Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the fairy tale castle that I know at least Disney modeled his castles on at Disneyland, maybe others have copied the look of the castle besides him, I don’t know. Evidently there were only two ways of getting up to the top of the hill that the castle sits on, walking or riding a small bus. We chose the small bus, but had to split the group in half for everyone to fit. I rode up with the first group, and the ride was crazy. It reminded me of the first time that I drove up from Silver City to Gila Cliff Dwellings during my internship in New Mexico, with hairpin turns, switchbacks, railings where there should not be and no railings where there should be some, and no warning system for when someone might come careening out of nowhere and hit you. But we made it up the mountain all in one piece, and after the rest of the group came, we went to a bridge over a small gorge with a river where one could look up a short incline and see the castle. I have no pictures of it because I got ten steps onto the bridge, felt the wooden planks moving under me, saw the rushing water and rocks way down below, and decided that I wanted to stand on nice safe rock back behind me, instead of swaying bridges. So I stayed there until we all trooped up the rest of the hill to the castle. We did not actually go in, because the inside is supposed to be a letdown compared to the fantastic outside, so we stayed outside and took pictures. Walking all the way back down to our bus was a lot of fun. There were many different kinds of trees and ferns to observe walking down, and every once in a while there would be a stream or something close by the road.

After boarding the bus again, we drove for the rest of the afternoon to Bregenz, which is where we spent the night. The drive was beautiful, with rolling green hills with cows, dark forests every now and then with lots of beautiful tall birch and pine trees, and little towns to look at from the highway. Upon arriving in Bregenz, which took a little while since we got lost a couple of times trying to find the hotel, we unloaded the bus and I examined my room. Dinner was at a little Italian place fairly close to our hotel. I had pizza, which was really good, except for the artichokes on it. I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but water here in Europe comes in two varieties, water with gas (water with carbon dioxide, also known as sparkling water, or “bubbly water”), and water without (ordinary tap water). Basically sparkling water is soda without any of the flavorings or chemicals added to it. It sounds really strange, but once one has had it a couple of times, it starts to grow on you. I won’t say I prefer it to regular water, but I have grown to appreciate it. It’s rather fun to drink too.

After the great pizza dinner, it was off to bed. I did not even get a chance to try out the Samsung 30-32 inch television in my room, by then I was so tired that I all I wanted was sleep. End of day two.


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