Firstly, I would like to pat myself on the back for not booking us in hostels for the majority of the trip. The place in Fussen was... weird and pretty awful. But we're done with that, it was cheap, and it was only one night.
Anyway, we got up two mornings ago, checked out and left our bags at the house, and set out for a positively lovely day. We decided not to take the 10 minute shuttle bus to the castle ticket office, and instead had a cool, tree-lined 5K walk. It was gorgeous. We got our tickets with tour times for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, and decided to go ahead and walk up to H. to wait since our tour time wasn't for another 40 minutes. This gave us a chance to cool off after our morning constitutional. The tour was short, and took us through only a few of this "hunting and holiday" castle, but the guide was extremely well-spoken and it was a good time.
After this, we went back down to the central ticket area and decided to take the shuttle up the mountain to Neuschwanstein - the hike up involved a half-hour of steep pavement, and we didn't feel like not being able to walk the next day. :P N. is way more visited than H., so there were tons of groups of kids and just overall more people waiting for tours. Of course, we got stuck in a huge group for our tour with American high school kids, and they were awful and annoying and didn't listen and took three hours to wander in from room to room. Bleh. I definitely had to yell at a group of them to shut it because their chaperones weren't doing a thing. Grr.
After this tour, you have some options on how to get back down. You can walk the paved path, take a horse-drawn carriage, hike up to the bus stop, or actually hike down a gorge for a different view... and we took the last option. It was an excellent choice, as there were practically no other people so it was serene and beautiful, and it was just a unique walk. There were even a few places where they had built a walkway around a cliff so you were suspended over the rushing river below - scary but cool.
Back at the central area again, we ate lunch/dinner at a lovely little restaurant, and I had some of the best potato salad ever. It tasted just like Mom's only without the crunchy stuff - I don't know how they did it. :P We ventured up to a snack bar for some ice cream, sat down to eat it, and it started POURING. People were getting soaked. Thankfully we were under a roof and weren't in a particular hurry, so we just waited it out before we walked 5K back into town. Once we got back to Fussen, we hauled butt getting our bags and getting to the teeny station because the sky was black and we wanted to outrun the storm. We took a completely crowded little cow train back to Kaufbeuren, proceeded on to Munich, and had a two-hour wait until our night train, in which we ate some dinner (Subway over here is almost the same, but not quite), used the very weird bathrooms, and got annoyed at some more Americans in the lounge.
Our sleeper compartment was tiny, but it was all our own, so it was much better than the last time. Also, it was much newer and first class as opposed to second, so it was overall a pretty nice experience. We had our own sink with towels in the room, and the bathroom was right around the corner - it even had a shower, which we were too afraid to use because we didn't have full towels and the train was doing quite a bit of careening around in the morning. I didn't sleep much, but it wasn't because the bed wasn't comfy - I could just hear every noise and my brain's cool like that. :P
We arrived in Paris, checked our bags at the station, and headed over to Notre Dame. To get our Museum Pass, we thought we'd go to the Paris Archaeological Crypt, since all of the sites covered by the pass are supposed to sell it - but of course they didn't. Also, the tourist info booth outside selling them only took CC, and I wanted to pay with cash. So we just went in Notre Dame and took Rick Steves' Historic Paris Walk instead. We saw a memorial to French people killed in concentration camps, went to a famous English-language bookstore and bought a couple of things, saw a pretty little church called St. Severin, ate some lunch, went to the Cluny Museum (where we finally bought our passes), went to Sainte-Chappelle and the Conciergerie (where prisoners were held before going to the guillotine), and then went to the hotel to check in. The room is small, and the bathroom is like train-sized, but there's air conditioning and I slept really well.
We took showers, went to the laundromat (where a prostitute or something decided to come hang out but the clothes got clean and it was way cheaper than in Venice), went back out for some food, and came back to hang out and sleep.
Whew. We're headed off to Versailles this morning, which we didn't get to see the last time I was here, so it should be a good day. More later!