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Winterwonderland in the Bavarian Alps by Rachel Schmiedel

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This place is special to me because my husband proposed to me by a brook off the beaten path at Neuschwanstein Castle. For the less romantically inclined, the Alps are breathtakingly beautiful, and offer hiking in summer and world class skiing in winter (note the Olympic Skistadion). Take the cable car up the Zugspitze, Germany's highest point which is snowcapped year round. The 3 castles in the area are tied to "mad" King Ludwig II, who grew up in Hohenschwangau, built Linderhof, and died before the completion of Neuschwanstein, which later became the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. For those wishing to see vintage household and work articles as well as learn how Germans lived in earlier days, visit the Freilicht and Violin museums.Cafes are dotted all over the area where you can partake of a favorite German custom - Kaffee and Kuchen. Have fun like I did and shop for touristy items such as a Dirndl (traditional German dress), Lederhosen, and a cuckoo clock, which are actually made in the Black Forrest. For the best experience, I encourage you to stay with locals, who rent out apartments in their homes.