My own personal fairytale

The air was brisk as we boarded the train to Füssen, Bayern last Friday morning. We were five exchange students hailing from Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and the US, toting suitcases in a variety of sizes, business cards, and cameras.
Three and half hours later, we were gliding through the snow-glazed Allgaü mountains. Now we were eight exchange students; two more from the US and one from Canada had joined our party.
Arriving at the end of the train track in Füssen, we immediately met the rest of our party. With five Rotex leaders and 25 students, we spoke six different languages and came from ten different countries. It felt like coming home. The bond that forms between exchange students is indescribable; from the time we met until the time we left each other, the days were full of laughter, food, songs, photos, chatter and, of course, marvelous views and experiences.

We lugged our suitcases to the youth hostel, creating a heap of belongings that resembled a refugee camp. Then it was back into the chilly mountain air for food and a brisk walk. We trudged up the hillside, not realizing that we were on our way to a deep channel of teal water, cutting through dusky stone to fall in foamy stripes back into the gorge. It grew dark, and we remained on the bridge, looking down into the water and up at the mountains.

After a brief interlude of snowman-making and dinner-eating, we ventured out into the dark, armed with torches. Our pleasant nighttime walk culminated, naturally, in a snowball fight.

The next day we began walking early (we walked a lot, upwards of 15 km total), in order to get to a cheese making farm. Our tour was exceedingly detailed; we learned the entire process of the making of different types of the famous Allgaüer Emmentaler. We were allowed to taste the delicious products, some of the best cheese I've ever had.

Afterward, we had another snowball fight.

We woke Sunday filled with anticipation: today was the day we had been waiting for. The frozen morning mist was just lifting as we walked through the forest.

We looked for spires through the trees, but it turned out the first thing we saw was just a different castle, not the one we came to see.

A few minutes later, our destination loomed up out of the mist: Schloss Neuschwanstein.
Built by Mad King Ludwig in the late 19th century, the 'ultimate fairy tale castle' was never completely finished, though tourists from all over the world flock to it every year.
Our army of exchange students fought to conquer the mountain upon which the castle is situated, finally triumphing next to the large gate that marks the entrance to the castle.

Like a swan outside, built of white stone, the castle is sumptuously decorated within, with a singing hall, plumbing, hot water, and a telephone, not to mention meticulously woven tapestries, art honoring past German kings, and plenty of gold leaf.
We walked up yet another hill to reach the Marienbrucke, which hosted the most magnificent view of the Schloss. Here we held our flags out over the bridge and looked out at the magnificent landscape. Es war für mich ein Traum, und ein Märchen.

Lovely pictures by the talented Ben from Ohio, USA and Daniel from Madrid, Spain. Vielen Dank!

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