In Search of a Schloss:

It was spring break time and Austrian Tourism invited me, and SNOW Editor in Chief Lori Knowles, to come experience some of the top cities and ski resorts in Austria. Since it was spring break and school was out, we both brought our sons along for the trip. My son Micah is 9 and Lori’s son Emmett is 11. We met each other in the Munich airport, Lori and Emmett had come from Toronto and Micah and I flew from Aspen. The boys were meeting for the first time, but thanks to their common love of “Sonic Racing” on the I pad, they became fast friends.

We picked up our Jeep 4 x 4, an upgrade from Hertz, and packed our gear in and set off. We programmed the GPS for King Ludwig the 2nd castle in Neuswanstein. We named our new chariot the “SNOW Bernard” and the cultured British woman who was directing us became “MoneyPenny”. She had a classic Public school accent, but her German pronunciation was crap! She did manage to get us out of “Munch – in” though and we arrived at the town of Neuswanstein in time for lunch. We found a cute Italian restaurant and I took over for MoneyPenny in slaughtering the German language as I spoke to the waitress. Since I like to eat, I was highly motivated to be understood and I managed to order our lunch, the fact that our choices consisted mostly of things like “pasta bolognese” and “gnocchi” was a bonus! Well fed, we began our pilgrimage up to the castle. You had to either ascend the winding road up to the castle on foot or hop onto a horse drawn carriage. Since we were all “stark” skiers, we went on foot! We were almost to the castle when Micah’s retail gene got the best of him and he dashed into the souvenir shop. He’s been asking me for ages to get flags of all the countries he has been to and, low and behold, they had a collection of flags. We bought the German flag to celebrate his 22nd country and a few others, including France and Brazil. Purchases in hand, we got back on the road to head up to the castle. We were too late to go in so we just walked around the perimeter and through the outdoor courtyards. The castle was the inspiration for the Walt Disney castle and made for an impressive start to our trip. Nothing like Disney in real life! We were due in Innsbruck for dinner so we had Money Penny direct us to Hotel Europa in Innsbruck. The hotel was right by the old city, next to the train station. It had both a modern and traditional, but elegant feeling to it. I told the boys that the hotel was built in 1869 and they should try and wrap their head around how old that is and what was happening in the world at that time. For American’s, we think something is “old” if it is from the 50’s! We dropped our bags and headed into dinner. Now I got a chance to try my Deutsch with real German words! Micah had the pancake soup, or frittatensuppe and I had my first of many schnitzel’s with cranberry sauce. My friend Pepi Strobl, ex Austrian World Cup ski star, and his cousin Mike drove 2 hours to come see us so we met them after dinner in the “Stube” for “Apfelstrudel” and Prosecco. Of course I was stuffed, but since we were only in Austria for a short time, I had to find room. Thrilled to see our friends and honored that they had come so far to see us, I did my best to stay awake. Don’t get me wrong, Pepi is beyond charming and handsome, but sometimes sleep wins out. We headed off to bed as tomorrow we had an 830 breakfast and a 9am start. No sleeping and lounging for us, we are in Austria and there are people to meet and places to see!

Neuschwanstein Castle