"Go through the park." Those were our only directions, and so we met outside the Institut and took off, down to the river, past the playground that we frequent (there's a mini zip line - after half a liter of beer, a ride on the mini zip line is about the best thing ever), while it's raining and sleeting and generally cold and wet. But it was an adventure, so we kept going, over bridges and across paths, until we came to the next town.
"That's a castle." Tommy spotted it first. Up on a hill, surrounded by a wall, getting closer all the time. And we wandered through a new city center, another little village with candy-colored houses and narrow twisty streets and cats on doorsteps and dozens of ducks trying to swim upstream. Fields and hills gone electric green from the rain with the sun bursting through every now and again and the sky fresh-washed blue, and then a road lined with bare-branched trees and next thing we know, we're walking through these enormous gates into a completely still, completely open castle - it turned out to be a church, but it was still humongous and silent and incredible.
The Neuschwanstein was amazing, sure - but there was a whole busload of us and a hundred other international tourists (so many Russian women in incredible make-up and furry hats) and horse-carriage rides for only 5 Euro - and today, today it was just the 5 of us, adventuring on our own and stumbling onto this giant church-castle. All we needed was a picnic. We only stayed an hour or two, but it felt like weeks - and the sun really came out then, right as we reached the top, overlooking these little cuckoo-clock villages, trains puffing past, clouds zipping across the sky.
I've had some amazing days in my life - the flight back from Harrisburg, the Big Blue Whale of Catoosa, the Oct. 6th Man Man Grizzly Bear show, the exclamation point day in Rome, the zoo in Berlin (and birth and all that, too) - but today was up there. Really up there.