We woke up and caught an early train to Munich from Frankfurt. The trainride provided a gorgeous view of the Bavarian Alps. The closer we got to Munich, the better the views. What a beautiful place!
When we arrived in Munich we wandered a bit and found a tour that would take us to Dachau and another that would take us to Neuchwanstein. We purchased tickets and wandered into the streets near the train station. The time came and we found the tour group and hopped on the train to Dachau. It was a short trip and our guide put us on a very short bus ride over to the concentration camp.
When we arrived, it was surreal. When you first step into a concentration camp, the reality of what people faced there hits you in the face much harder than just reading about it. The guide was fantastic and gave us lots of little tidbit information about things than we would have otherwise missed. He was an American who loved history so he knew almost everything. For instance, toward the end of it’s use, there was a new creamatorium installed on the grounds that Germany claims was never used, but that was a lie. He also mentioned that the government started to tear most of the structures on the site until they were ordered not to by the courts. Then they continued doing so until it because housing for families who lost their homes during the war. Of course, nobody liked living there and soon after they all left.
The official tour consisted of watching a little propaganda video about the camp, walking through a barracks, viewing the gas chambers and crematoriums, and going through a museum of information about the war and the history of the camp. The Germans seem to dislike remembering this horrible past, as was evident by the lack of information available at the camp. Thank goodness for our wonderful guide!
So, the guide gathered all of us up and took us back to Munich. We wandered the streets and saw the Glockenspiel as well as a large cathedral. We hit up some shops for trinkets and had dinner at a little restaurant. Wesley had some sort of sausage place and I had a bizarre concoction of pancake and beef broth. The service was horrible, and the waiters seemed like they couldn’t wait for us to leave. Wesley was very excited to not leave a tip.
After dinner, we found a starbucks and had some frapps so that we could make use of the WiFi. There was a hotel (not far) from downtown that Wesley said we could walk to. The map turned out to be way out of proportion to what Wesley thought. It turned into a 5 mile walk. My foot was already feeling bad and a 2-3 hour walk was immensely unpleasant. Fortunately it was not yet dark and we made our way there after many stops and rests along the way. When we arrived the hotel said they have overbooked which scared the #*&$ out of us for a moment until the clerk said he’d passed our reservation to a hotel down the street. Twenty minutes later we were in a hotel room and were finally able to rest.
At the end of an incredibly long and tiring day we just relaxed and let the day of visiting a concentration camp soak in. It was a bit much for both of us and a very much needed good nights rest was in order.
We awoke the next day and went to the closest metro station and headed back to the main train station. We found our tour and hopped on the train. It was a more lengthy train ride to our destination, Fussen. When we arrived we immediately got on a bus that drove us up to Hohenschwangau. The guide told us to grab a bite to eat from a little cafe place. It was packed and the food was no good – we both had a bratwurst and some water.
After a bit, our guide gathered us up and split us into two groups. We had the main guide and the other group had a british guy. We walked over to the small lake beneath the castle and the guide told us stories about Ludwig. After that he gave us three choices: (1) we could take a carriage ride up to the castle, (2) we could walk the easy path, or (3) we could walk the hard hiking path up the mountain. Wesley really wanted to try the hard path but my foot was still killing me so we took the easy path. It was still a long walk up because my foot hurt so much and we fell to the back of the group. We eventually made it.
Once the group linked back up at the castle and after some pictures, we went into the castle. Wesley was very nervous because, unbeknownst to me, this was finally the moment when he would ask me to marry him. His plan was when the group went out onto a balcony or overlook of some sort he would pop the question, but as the tour grinded on and they were inside the whole time, he became more and more nervous that we wouldn’t get a good view. But at last when the tour was nearly over, there was a little cafe setup inside the castle next to the balcony with arguably the best view from from the castle.
We went out onto the balcony and Wes waited until the other people there walked away before asking me to take a picture of him. Then Wes wanted to take a picture of me. So I stood by the railing waiting. Wes said that the light was weird, so he knelt down. I grew a little agitated wondering what the issue was, so I glanced around looking at the view while waiting. When I looked back, Wes had put the camera away and pulled out the ring he’d been waiting to give me the entire trip. Through intense emotion and a pounding heart, Wesley was able to get out the words: “Sterling, I love you. Will you marry me?” I didn’t know what was going on, because I thought he was supposed to be taking my picture so I responded with “What?” And after a couple seconds it dawned on me what was happening. I had the biggest smile said yes and let him put the ring on my finger (I had to tell him which finger). We embraced for ages and laughed and cried. Everyone nearby wished us congratulations and offered to take our picture. After we composed ourselves we went and joined the group again but had no idea what the guide was saying, we were too focused on each other to pay attention to anything else. We left the castle and took a carriage ride down the mountain.
On the bus ride back to the train station, the guide heard word of our engagement and he asked us to stand up and announced congratulations to us on the mic. We got a nice round of applause. On the train ride back to Munich, we sat next to an older married couple. The wife told Wesley “good job!” on the way he proposed. When we got back to Munich, we found the train information for our ride to Berchtesgaden. We went and had dinner at a local cafe and again had some starbucks. Using the wifi, we announced to the family that we were now engaged. The flood of congrats came in and it was all quite wonderful.
The train ride was not too long and when we arrived at Berchtesgaden we had trouble finding the hotel. The path up to the road it was on was extremely dark, steep, and scary. Horror movie scary. Fortunately nothing happened and we made it to the hotel. The staff had already closed and left but the key was left with the nearby bar. We retrieved it and finally got to our room. For an extra $2 we paid for a view, which really was the most spectacular view and well worth the small fee. We were all around very happy. Thus ended one of the best days of our lives.