Neuschwanstein Castle looks like it would be nestled in the pages of a storybook but, luckily for us, it’s actually nestled in the cliffs of the Bavarian Alps, just an hour south of Munich, making it an easy-to-get-to, must-see destination for travelers all over the world!
FUN FACT: Neuschwanstein Castle was Walt Disney’s inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
Whitney and I chose to make this the last stop on our Central European road trip as Munich was the most realistic city to fly out of to get back to London, which is where we were flying back to America from. In case you missed it, this road trip began in Budapest. We flew there on New Years’ Day after ringing in the New Year in London. We also stopped in Lake Bled, Slovenia and Salzburg, Austria before heading to Schwangau, the municipality where Neuschwanstein Castle is located. This was most certainly the destination I was looking forward to the most as it’s been on my travel lust list for a few years now and Instagram, knowing my thoughts the way it does, would feature photos of it pretty frequently on my discover page, only fueling my desire to see it for myself. Why does Instagram have to be so weird & creepy? But, I digress.
Prior to arriving at Schwangau, our trip had been pretty much a breeze …. for the most part.
I mean … we MAY have struggled to get out the door on New Years’ Day to catch our flight to Budapest due to one too many glasses of champagne in London the night before, which then … may or may not have caused us to have to RUN through the Stansted airport … only to find the boarding process hadn’t even started. * face palm * Honestly, I’m proud of us because we technically got an intense cardio workout in before noon. I don’t think there are many people who could have said the same. Y’all … I’m out of breathe thinking about that morning right now because it was QUITE the feat! If you are familiar with how far gates are from the security exit in European airports … usually about a 20-25 minute walk … you know what I’m talking about!
And, we may have had a minor hiccup when we crossed were crossing the border into Austria from Slovenia. The Slovenian authorities pointed out that we had [inadvertently] been driving around without a Slovenian driver’s tag that we were supposed to know needed to be purchased in any petrol station along the highway! Whoops. To our defense, there were no signs that indicated this to us … in English, at least. [I’ll talk more about this in my Lake Bled, Slovenia post .. coming soon!]
The biggest concern we had about our trip was how short it was compared the number of places we were trying to squeeze into it. We left on January 1st and drove back up to Munich on the evening of January 7th. So, we essentially had SIX days to cover FOUR places. When you plan a trip that way, you really put a lot of pressure on the days that you have being absolutely PERFECT, sans hiccups. If they aren’t, it could botch either your drive getting from one place to another OR your ability to see one of the destinations on your itinerary. So, clearly … Whitney and I were willing to take the risk but we were very nervous the whole time. So, thankfully, aside from these two things, everything had been a breeze up until this point!
Whit and I set out from Salzburg, Austria on a crisp Saturday morning and enjoyed the most beautiful three hour drive, weaving in and out of Austria and Germany until finally arriving in Schwangau. I can’t really explain how beautiful the Bavarian Alps were as we drove down the main road before taking the turn into the town so here, let me just show you:
Upon arriving into Schwangau, it’s hard to miss the crowds of people in this small area who have ventured from all over the world to see this castle. It was honestly so many more people than I expected! I tried to put that out of my head, as I’ve never been much of a crowd person, and focused on getting the car parked and us checked in to Hotel Müller. We took a quick liking to our hotel as it was perfectly situated across the street from the start of the path that leads up to the Neuschwanstein Castle giving us the perfect starting point for the next morning.
We got the run down from the hotel receptionist, Graham, about what to keep in mind, what path to take and which paths are closed.
“Closed? Wait, some paths are closed?”, I asked.
“Yes, the path to the Marienbrücke, or Mary’s Bridge, is closed for safety and annual repairs.” Graham replied.
* cue heart sinking feeling *
That’s exactly why we had come … to see this place from some of the best far reaching vantage points and they’re closed? We didn’t necessarily want to tour the inside. This was simply a day trip to check off a bucket list destination. I guess we didn’t take into account that it’s located on a hill in the mountains … and it’s Winter so, I’m sure the snow and ice doesn’t make that a safe venture.
We were bummed but, being that there wasn’t any snow in the forecast, and the leftover snow from the last storm was almost completely melted, we decided to set out early the next morning anyway to see if – by some chance – the path would be open.
Whitney and I got up before the sun, got ready and headed out on the path. Graham told us we had about a 20-minute walk up and that, at this point in the Winter, cars and buses were not allowed up the path, so we got to stepping. We shortly realized that Graham is a terrible judge of time because it was certainly taking longer than 20-minutes and we were really starting to feel our calves burn.
We see a car coming and Whitney & I both look at each other and IMMEDIATELY put our thumbs out to see if we could get a ride up the rest of the way.
I realize this decision is questionable … however, there’s only one way up and one way down, and there’s nothing beyond the castle so we figured it was just castle staff.
Thankfully … we were right, ha!
A German woman was driving a French man to work at the castle. They spoke no English.
We thanked them [Danke Schön, in German] and said our goodbyes, then looked around for what was next. We walked around to the entrance of the castle, which was under construction and still closed because I don’t even think it was 7:30AM at this point.
We walked back around the castle [you can only walk along one side of it] and saw a man raising some flags but, after he was done, it was completely empty. Just Whitney, myself and a large gate with barbed wire around it directly in front of us.
I started to feel a pit form in my stomach.
A lot of y’all know that I just celebrated my 32nd birthday.
But, what a lot of y’all may NOT know is that I’m on a bit of a self-discovery journey right now. Last year, I took a personality test that has given more insight into why I do the things that I do than I could have ever expected a personality test to display. If you’re interested, it’s called the Enneagram [the free test is HERE; I got the same score on both the paid and free versions] and the test indicates which personality style, out of nine personality types, you operate out of predominately, although we all have a little bit of each number in us.
What I’ve enjoyed so much about this personality typing system is that it’s simple and easy to understand and, it essentially explains the motivation behind my behavior. Personalities are complex so, obviously, I can’t put full faith in it explaining everything about me but … it is pretty accurate – from what I’ve read and listened to on podcasts – about so many aspects of who I am and how I operate on a daily basis. My type is number 9, ‘The Peacemaker’.
When I first read that title, I was like ‘what? is that really my type?’ It’s not that I thought I wasn’t peaceful but I guess I just didn’t think I was someone who was always out to help people get along with each other better.
But, the more I read about this type … the more I could see it being pretty accurate of me as a human being.
In short, the Peacemaker is someone who strives for internal peace and connection with others. According to ‘The Road Back To You’, a book about the Enneagram by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, we are typically very laid back and easy going, able to go with the flow, and adaptable. We are quick to love and slow to judge, and rarely want recognition for how they care for others. We are the least controlling number of the Enneagram and allow people the space to grow in their own time and way. However, just like any other number, 9’s have their share of struggles. They are often easily distracted and, thus, can lose sight of the big picture and the ability to assign priorities to tasks. Everything is important to them. They also numb themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed and, therefore, have trouble getting started on tasks. Nine’s have the ability to see things from all sides and, therefore, have a difficult time making decisions because they want to do everything.
I let all of this sink in and, honestly, it made me feel a little annoyed with myself. So many of the negative sides of Nine’s were the very things that frustrate me so much about myself. It’s honestly why my blog posts never consistently go up at the same time every day, especially now that they’re not just outfit posts, which are fairly simple and easy to put together. We also can’t forget about the whole Chips situation I have going on at home, as well, guys, ha! He can be a consistent source of distraction from the overall big picture which, as I mentioned, really hurts 9’s ability to get things done. But .. one thing that bothers me, in particular, is how the Nine can operate out of fear a lot.
These are thoughts I think in my head all the time:
• I don’t want to say what I think about this because I’m afraid of offending this person.
See, trying to keep the peace which is of utmost importance.
• I don’t want to suggest we do that because I’m afraid I’ll make them feel like they have to say yes to something I want to do.
Nine’s also feel like they don’t matter and that their voice or opinion holds no value. Sad, right?
• I don’t want to say yes to this because I’m afraid of getting in trouble but I also really want to.
Ambivalence is a huge characteristic of nine’s. They often can’t distinguish whether they want to obey or defy, agree or disagree, etc.
And, now, here I am faced with this huge metal barrier between myself and the view I ventured half way around the world to see!
Whitney is next to me inquiring ‘okay Hay, what do you want to do? I’m ready to hop it if you are.‘
Fear and ambivalence has completely come over me and I really hate that I’m the one that has to decide what to do. Whitney has already made her decision. So, it’s up to me.
Whitney knows what these situations do to me – not that we’re faced with whether or not to trespass and break German laws very often but, you know what I mean – and how hard it is for me to dig down deep, think clearly and then say what I WANT to do but … she doesn’t help me here. She lets me sit with the risk that I’m weighing in my mind. Half of me wants to take the risk and half of me wants to walk away from it.
But …. in the end …. more of me wanted to take the risk … more of me wants to defy my fear. I came too far to be told no. It was a risk I was willing to take.
So, we scaled a barbed wire fence, which wasn’t so easy, but what path to see your dreams through ever is? We had to kind of go OFF the cliffside while holding on to the steel frame, trying to not let the barbs catch our big winter coats, and then duck through a fence to get to the other side of the path. It was interesting.
We start up another steep path and hop a couple more barriers and finally make it to the suspension bridge.
* Cue more fear *
This bridge is …. S C A R Y.
It’s old and you can tell. It was built in the late 1800’s and was supposedly restored in the 1980’s and in 2016 but … I mean, look at this:
And I wish I could show you how far up you are. I’m not particularly afraid of heights but this bridge instilled so much fear in both Whitney and myself … we would ONLY step on the outside plank because we felt like those SURELY had to be the most secure, ha! We were such babies!
But …. we did it.
We went out there and got to enjoy this …. the dream view:
Could we have gotten in a lot of trouble had we gotten caught? Maybe.
Honestly, we won’t ever know because we didn’t get caught. We got to stand there, despite all of the fear we had individually felt along the way, and enjoy the majesty of this beautiful castle … in absolute peace.
It was quiet. No one was there but us. It was such a dream come true.
And, in that moment, I thought …
“That’s what fear does, doesn’t it? It all too often tries to rob us of these beautiful dreams that we have for our lives, that we see for ourselves.”
And we simply can’t let it.
We don’t realize this enough … that we have more power over our dreams than we give ourselves credit for.
Will it mean taking risks?
A lot of times, yes.
Will it mean being uncomfortable?
Most likely, yes.
Will it mean thinking outside of the rules laid out in front of us?
Rules and guidelines are there for a reason. They are meant to protect us and keep us safe, and they should absolutely be respected and considered when making these decisions but they shouldn’t dictate whether we are able to live the life we have imagined for ourselves.
Sometimes living the life you have dreamt for yourself might look reckless to others and it might seem daunting to you but … the moment you get to sit back and enjoy the majesty of a dream seen through gives you so much peace. It’s so satisfying because you know what you had to go through to get there. And you can’t let the uneasy thoughts and the fear of what the path will look like for you to achieve your dream steer you away from trying.
Believe me, I totally understand that it’s easier said than done sometimes because, while I was able to tackle this fear and come out on the other side of the risks I took to see this dream through, there are so many others than I keep tucked away and I do nothing about because I’m scared. The path is uncertain.
So, here’s where we get to talking … the talk part of Heart Talks 😉
At the end of each Heart Talks post, after I’m done sharing my heart, I’m going to pose a question and I’d love it if you could participate in answering it by commenting your answer in the comment section below because, more than anything, I hope these posts give you some kind of comfort, encouragement, inspiration, etc. to go and live your best life or identify an area or idea you need to sit with, work toward and / or plan out. Sometimes all we need is for someone to be in our corner and encourage us or tell us we can do it or that it’s going to be okay so, why don’t we be that for each other within these posts?
The question for this post is …
What do you want out of life that you are afraid to see through and why?
I would love to live in London, more than anything. I experience an overwhelming feeling of ‘I’m home’ when I arrive and a heavy feeling of sadness when I have to leave again. I’ve never felt that way about a place and I don’t even really have a huge group of friends or family there. So many of you reach out when I’m there stating how I seem so much more alive in London and it always brings me to tears because the desire to be there is so strong.
I think I try and put the fire out a bit at the thought of going after a Visa because
1. The one I was told that I need, the Investor Visa, is VERY expensive and requires me to hire two people full-time in the U.K.
2. It’s really expensive to live in London and, on top of paying my employees and investors back, I’m not sure I’d be doing very well from a business perspective to pay for a flat and potentially office space for my employees to work.
3. My audience is 95% American and, due to extremely high import taxes, my job as a style blogger that still honored and purchased from retailers that Americans can easily buy from and receive free shipping & returns would be very challenging and very expensive. I know this first hand 🙂 When I lived in London, it was SO expensive to ship things from Nordstrom or Shopbop or Revolve. There was also a HUGE lag time in getting product from the States to my doorstep in London and if I didn’t happen to be home for a delivery … well, that was just a mess. Then, half the time, everything I had purchased was sold out so … yeah, I think I just doubt that I would do my job well from over there
4. Let’s be real … Fish & Chips would need a GARDEN. I’m not running up and down five flights of stairs like I did in Earl’s Court with TWO dogs … no way. I can only imagine how hard THAT kind of flat is to find.
5. This one is hard for me to admit but, I think it has to be true if I’m not going after this. So, here we go …. I often doubt that God has anything better in store for me over there or that He could present a completely different way of sharing my life with the world that could also generate an income for myself and my business from the U.K. It’s hard for me to see that He could potentially have more in store for me and my business than style blogging. I’m not sure if that makes sense but I guess it could be easily explained this way …
I’ve had friends, who know my deep love for London and know I’m actively resisting my dream to live there, say ‘but Hales, what if He has more in store for Sequins & Things than just sharing your outfits … what if there’s MORE? Don’t you want to see why he’s put this desire in your heart?’
And I do. But …. I’m scared.
To the point that I’m crying right now writing this haha … gosh. I’m so crazy. Maybe there’s hope for this dream. Maybe I haven’t talked to the right immigration lawyer yet. We shall see. I’m going to try to have lunch with one or at least have a phone conference with one before I start traveling again on April 19th.
I’ve said it so I’ll need y’all to hold me accountable, okay? 🙂
ANYWAY! I hope this comforts you in knowing that you’re not alone if you’re scared of how big your dreams are. Our dreams should be SO big that they scare us … but we can’t let that fear win.
One last thing, this quote came to mind while I was writing this and I wanted to share because it’s a good reminder:
“Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.”
There are going to be people out there that try and do this. Don’t let them in. Surround yourself with people who want you to live out the life you have dreamed up for yourself! Encourage them to hold you accountable and to keep praying for direction and discernment. You got this! I can’t wait to hear all about your dreams!
“No one was ever remembered for playing it safe.” – James Cameron
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair
“Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.” – John F. Kennedy
“Fear tricks us into living a boring life.” – Donald Miller
“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.” – Maya Mendoza
Thanks for stopping by, guys! xo.