We were in China for Rick’s birthday, and had been talking about how we wanted to celebrate for a while. As a going away gift, our friends Will and Angie Jacobus gave us “a night out Jacobus-Style” – for those of you that know them, you know what that means! For those that don’t, let’s just say it’s “go big or go home” style.
We knew Beijing would be a great place to go Jacobus-Style, and what better occasion than Rick’s birthday. I found the perfect place – a 600 year old Buddhist temple. No seriously.
It’s one of the top restaurants in Beijing and it’s in a 600 year old Buddhist temple. It’s also an art gallery. And it’s known for it’s over the top service.
I called for a reservation and told them it was Rick’s birthday. When we arrived we were greeted with two glasses of champagne and offered a private viewing of the grounds and gallery. It was beautiful! The pictures don’t begin to capture it.
We were seated in the gorgeous interior and ordered the tasting menu. Each course was French twists on traditional Asian cuisine, and all delicious!
Rick got four different birthday desserts. And his very own cheese cart. Yep – his own cheese cart!
We spent the entire night there, and didn’t even realize it was well into the morning when we were finishing up. It was such a special and incredible evening that we’ll never forget. Thank you Will and Angie for such an amazing experience!!
Well I’m 31 now. I’m into my 30’s officially. To be honest, I’m not feeling super great about it. I liked being 30 and wasn’t totally ready for that to be over. But oh well, no real choice about it, so I figured we should get on with the celebrating!
We debated on where to go for a while – a birthday in Paris would be so romantic, a birthday skiing in the Alps would be so exciting, or maybe Amsterdam? But turns out that Europe is stinkin’ expensive!! Just the train ticket to Paris is $350 Euros! And that’s before you get a hotel. And I’m quite certain that if I was in Paris for my birthday there is no hope of me stopping myself from going out to incredible meals, eating my weight in cheese and pastries and drinking ridiculous wine – that is to say it would have gotten really expensive really fast. Same goes for skiing (plus, the snow reports say there’s not any good snow yet).
So we decided to go to one of the “must see” sights in Germany – the Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s this gorgeous castle set up on a rugged mountain surrounded by gorges, and it’s right on the border of Austria in the beginning of the Alps. It was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, you can really see the similarities.
So that was the plan, but of course plans go awry! Its supposed to be a four hour drive to the castle, so we left early in the morning with plans to make to the castle, then spend the night in the hour-away mountain town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Oh important tidbit, while we didn’t get a white Christmas, we got a white day after Christmas… and every day since then! So there’s a good amount of snow already, and as we’re leaving it starts coming heavily down again. So our four hour drive turned into eight+ hours to get to the castle. We arrive there and park, but can’t see the castle because of the snow coming down. We go to buy tickets to go up, and learn that we got there 10 minutes AFTER the ticket office closed. So no princess castle for Lizzy on her birthday.
Knowing it’s taken twice as long to drive as we had planned, we decide to leave for our hotel immediately since it’s going to take a couple hours and make the most of it. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and took us through Austria for the majority of the time. The snow was really fluffy and I just couldn’t help myself, when we got stuck in traffic I jumped out and made snow angels!
The hotel was great and we quickly headed into town to grab dinner and figure out where to celebrate. We walked a couple blocks and found the “Grill und Wein” restaurant we were hoping for, and then found it was closed for the holidays, as were most of the other nice places in town. So what did we do??? Exactly what you do anywhere in the world when you’re celebration plans don’t work out… you find the Irish Pub! And there was one just down the street. After a birthday pint of Bavarian brew there, we went to grab pizza for dinner, promising our new Irish pub friends to be back shortly.
After our quick dinner we returned to a big welcome from the Irish pub. Seriously, how is it that every Irish pub in the world consistently delivers a guaranteed good night?! We made lots of friends there and closed the place down at about 4:00 AM!
The next morning we were up early and ready to see this castle! We made it back to the castle and this time were able to get tickets AND we could see the castle from a distance. It definitely lived up to the hype!!
It’s a 40 minute walk up the hill, which was like walking in a winter wonderland.
We took the required tour to see the inside and it was equally as impressive. Both Rick and I agreed that of all of the famous, historical buildings we’ve seen on this trip and others, this was our favorite! It’s beautifully made inside, and intricate and in great condition. Sorry, no photos allowed inside so I don’t have any share 🙁
King Ludwig II who built it was considered insane. I can see why from even just the exterior design, it’s so different from other castles. It took 23 years to build. The king moved in before it was completed… and good thing because he only got to live in it for one year before he died. King Ludwig was a recluse and built it for complete seclusion, the plan was for the castle to be “sacred and out of reach” from people… and only six weeks after he died the castle was opened to the public. It’s in the top three most visited places in Germany. Guess that didn’t work out so well for him!
It was pretty awesome to see. I’m really glad we visited while we were in Germany.
But I have to admit the 18+ hours of driving was kind of a beat down so it was really great to get lots of emails and Facebook comments from everyone back home! Thanks for making me feel special on my birthday! Cheers!