Christmas in Germany

For a holiday traveler in the Bavarian Alps, disappointment quickly turned to delight, thanks to a slight attitude adjustment.

By Alan Gallagher, Middletown, New York

As appeared in

You need a pass to go inside the castle,” the ticket-taker told me in German at the entrance to Neuschwanstein in the Bavarian Alps. “They’re sold at the base of the mountain.” I checked my wristwatch: almost 4:00 p.m. I’d never get down there and back by the last tour of the day.

I’d done everything wrong on this trip. The night I landed in Europe, I took the wrong train and nearly wound up in Holland. Now I was shut out of the castle, my whole reason for taking a shuttle up the mountain in the first place.

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I turned my collar up against the cold and moped around the grounds. When twilight deepened into early evening I headed to the shuttle stop—just in time to see it pulling away.

“Wait!” I yelled. Another mistake. I trudged down the mountain road, my toes numb, and threw my head back in disgust. The sky was filled with stars. Snow-tipped Black Forest pines flanked me on both sides. Light, fluffy snowflakes fell like angel feathers. I was walking through a Christmas card come to life!

Guess my sightseeing mix-up wasn’t a mistake after all—just an unexpected blessing.

 

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