After leaving Iceland, Vivienne and I flew into Munich, picked up our rental car and headed into the countryside. I love traveling with Vivienne, because we both prefer quirky small towns and beautiful nature to big cities like Munich, and it really paid off on this trip. Our first stop was Oberammergau, a town best known for its once-a-decade performance of the Passion Play, and the fresco paintings that cover most of the buildings in the old town center.

Oberammergau by Nina Reed Photography

It was a dark and rainy evening when we pulled into Oberammergau, but the first impression was still one of awe as we took in the quaint cobblestone streets and painted facades. We checked in to Hotel Kopa, where we were met by the very friendly owner Sandra. Our room was on the top floor, with our windows giving us great views of Kofel, the city mountain.

Oberammergau by Nina Reed Photography

Since it was raining on Saturday evening I didn’t bring my camera when Vivienne and I went searching for dessert. We came across a cute cafe that served Hugo cocktails: a cocktail with prosecco, elderflower syrup, sparkling water, and mint leaves that would become our go-to for the rest of our trip. Add in massive slices of cake, and you have two happy travelers.

Oberammergau by Nina Reed Photography

The next morning, we loaded up with a wonderful breakfast at our hotel, before going for a walk around town. We were so impressed with the abundance of flowers decorating the house facades, despite it being cold during the days and even freezing overnight. After wandering through the deserted streets, we got back into our rental car and started on the 1.5 hour drive to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Pilgrimage Church of Wies by Nina Reed Photography

Halfway to Neuschwanstein, a traffic accident blocking the road forced us to turn around. Thanks to Google Maps and my lack of fear driving on the narrowest backroads I’ve ever seen, we managed to find a detour that took us past the Pilgrimage Church of Wies before putting us back on the road towards our castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle by Nina Reed Photography

When we arrived at Neuschwanstein, we had the choice between waiting in line for half an hour to buy tickets for the tour of the castle, and then wait another two hours before our scheduled tour, or make the 60 minute walk up to Marienbrücke to take in the castle exteriors for free. 25 minute later, we high-fived each other at the top for saving time and money while getting our workout in. Apparently walking estimates are not calculated with two fit Coloradans in mind ;-)

Neuschwanstein Castle by Nina Reed Photography

Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a personal refuge, but unfortunately he passed away in 1886 before its completion. The castle was opened to the paying public right after, and has since seen more than 60 million visitors. And if the castle looks familiar to you, it’s because it was the main inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland!

Neuschwanstein Castle by Nina Reed Photography

While there were a fair amount of visitors at the castle along with us, it was pretty quiet compared to many of the photos I have seen from high-season, where you’re pushing your way through the crowds to get any photos.

Neuschwanstein Castle by Nina Reed Photography

After exploring the castle grounds, we made our way down to the hill and back to our rental car … where we were greeted by the parking lot attendant who was surprised that we were back so soon. Turns out that walking and seeing the castle on our own put us back at our car before our tour would even have started if we had gone that route!

Neuschwanstein Castle by Nina Reed Photography

Bidding Neuschwanstein Castle farewell, we continued on to Tegernsee for the next part of our trip – but that stop deserves a post of its own!