Half a Day in Wurzburg

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Wurzburg Palace and Gardens. January 2019.

Two friends and I really needed to hit an athletics store that would sell swimsuits year round (because of course we did) and, since the closest store is about an hour away, we decided to throw a little extra fun into the trip. This felt especially urgent to one of the companions who simply couldn’t understand how neither of us had ever visited this cute little stop in Germany. She had no choice but to correct this problem and I love that she did!

We didn’t have much time out because of school timing, but we decided that we could very easily accomplish The Wurzburg Palace to help make the trip worthwhile. And the palace was so worth it.

Parking at the palace is a little weird but the rates are really good. The weird part about the parking lot is that while it is within a city and therefore meant to house a lot of cars, it’s also a huge part of the square in front of the palace gates which has a statue at the top with no directional lines of how to drive through the square or really where to park. it was the weirdest thing having to avoid pedestrians and drive through the open center when the closest side was full.

If you are an English speaker, especially if you have a sense of humor, take the tour even if you have to wait a little while. In that time, you can wander around the gardens or the palace itself – you don’t need to do the tour in order to see the whole palace but it helps to get all the fun information.

We all loved our guide. He was very sassy and made a lot of jokes at every countries expense – there were a whole lot of American jokes to be made thanks to the world fresco – but he was very tactful and read our group well enough to hit all the right notes. It can be difficult to do so I was impressed. He also wasn’t shy about sharing his knowledge beyond what was in the palace; our guide thought it was hilarious that he traveled all the way New York only to discover pieces from “his palace” sitting in the exhibits of the MET!

The art featured and that makes up this palace is magnificent. The stucco work is world class and I implore you to listen to everything your guide has to say about the White Room – I liked our guide’s suggestion that if you wanted to sit in that room for longer with kids, you should have them play Count the Dragons. There are so many interwoven all in beautiful white stucco and I could cry thinking about how the whole room was done by hand, each section had to be done very precisely but quickly to not let the stucco dry before you were done shaping the pieces.

The frescos are also amazing but you have to pay attention to all the details. Spoilers: skip to the next photograph if you don’t want to know: the ostrich, in particular, in the Americas’ fresco above the stairs is the scariest thing I have ever seen. The animals can be scary enough when angry so I would hate to see what they could do with the legs they have in the painting!

Every room and piece of art have so many tiny details from painting appearing to jump out of the frames and others that actually do. But there are also details like fabric drapings that aren’t even fabric! These designers and artisans were brilliant. As someone who has studied art, I was blown away completely.

The funniest pieces for our group to discuss were probably the chandeliers. You aren’t likely to see chandeliers like this in any period film – generally, you see gold and some glass but nothing like in Wurzburg. If you wanted to show your wealth in this time, you bought Venetian glass and for a little extra, colored glass that was blown and shaped. These were definitely of the time and we delighted ourselves debating which were the ugliest (by today’s standards of course) and which ones we thought would cost more – we were always very wrong.

Plus there’s a pretty cool fact: these chandeliers were moved across Germany in butter! Yes, butter from the kitchen because soft enough not to break the Venetian glass but sturdy enough that it can handle shaking when being transported across country roads without modern shock absorbers.

The end of the official tour isn’t the end of what you can see in the palace so don’t run off just because the guide leaves you! You can still walk through the women’s quarters and you absolutely should. When entering this wing, you should ask about the differences time has made on the wallpaper of the first room and the techniques they used. It is already beautiful aged but it would have been striking in its day – it was all of our favorite room.

There is also an art gallery which is included in the ticket price. it’s all pretty normal fare but I laughed at how many pieces I recognize.

This was right at the beginning of the new year, so we took a quick walk around the gardens which are free to see but I can only imagine how beautiful they would be now that it is Spring or later in the summer and the foliage fills out.


After the palace, we ended up finding an amazing vegan and vegetarian restaurant, Burgerheart Wurzburg (one of my companions is vegetarian so we were loooking for interesting food that she could have too) to grab a bite at and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Every this was amazing but definitely ask which burgers are made in house – there is at least one that isn’t and if you are hitting a trendy vegan place, why’d you want to buy something that was frozen and shipped?

Then we were off on our shopping trip.

If I had been able to spend the whole day, I would have loved to climb up to the fortress. Apparently, this is a fairly quick hike but it is cool and has great views.

Who knows, now that the garden should be in bloom and Ryan is getting more used to traveling with me, we can hit the palace again and add in the fortress. I will never knock second visits to truly magnificent places!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Half a Day in Wurzburg

Rainy Dresden: The trip that almost didn’t happen

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Dresden, Germany. December 2018.

We made it! And yes, that excitement was exactly how I felt as we drove into Dresden.

Why? Well, this was a trip that honestly almost didn’t happen. I had a scratchy throat a few days before but it wasn’t terrible so I still was pushing to go – we really hadn’t done anything all of November so I was restless. But the morning of I was very scratchy, I felt like I had really deep tonsil nodes, and my throat had a very particular Strep look.

Yep. We went to the med center and after hours of waiting, my doctor said it was a minor infection and I was at the tail end of it. I was told to keep drinking some warm water and honey, rest when I can and avoid staying outside for longer than three or four hours at a time if it was cold. But then he said the magic words: “but if you can handle that, there is no reason you shouldn’t go. that isn’t that far away.”

Best. Doctor. Ever. I almost cried I was so happy. Yes, we left well after noon and would have to skip one of the quick day trips I’d planned on taking onto Dresden, but I had doctor’s approval to go.


I’ll be honest, Dresden doesn’t really make most people’s ‘must see’ lists when touring Germany, and it really doesn’t make most peoples lists for the wider European vacation. With all the history found in Germany, this bombed-out city just doesn’t have the same draw — literally ‘new town’ is older than ‘old town’ because of how completely decimated the city was during World War II.

Because this was the first German excursion for Ryan and me – really our first adventure as a married couple since we both moved here separately – we chose Dresden because of an inside joke started in high school. We had a marriage project and our fake son was named Dresdyn (yes, I know it’s spelled differently; it’s a family thing). Almost a decade later and now married, how were we ever supposed to resist?

We road tripped north to Dresden and the weather was already starting to act up – we are pretty sure we ended up driving through the literal eye of the storm – you know, like the eye of a tornado, clear in the center but all around us was ugly gray and fog. That should have been our warning: It rained pretty much the whole time we were there but seeing as it was the end of December and therefore, winter, this shouldn’t have been disappointing or unforeseen.

Still, I made us get up early and head out…. apparently so early that nothing was open for hours after stepping out in the wet and cold. While this made Ryan confused and laugh, I loved being out that early.

I loved walking around Dresden and looking at all the architecture – nice since, again, we couldn’t go in anywhere for a little while. Just wandering around was my favorite thing to do and means it’s what we did pretty much our whole visit. I am not sure I relaxed or stayed inside as much as my doctor had wanted, however, I did go inside more than I would have normally so I think I did a fair job of following orders!

As I said, ‘new town’ was technically built before ‘old town,’ but looking at the architecture you wouldn’t know it. Like a lot of Germany, the Baroque style is very clear but I always forget the slightly older, almost gothic-looking style of the buildings that get worked into the style.

One of the places we did choose to pay for was the Frauenkirche and the Climb to the Dome – a platform that gives you amazing views of the city around you. This is a bit of a climb with a small elevator ride, a few staircases, but mostly a steep but steadily sloping circular walkway that leads up to the 67-meter high platform. It’s a tough climb (Children under 6 years old are apparently not allowed because it is too difficult), but I loved that you are circling the dome and getting views out of the building as well as the frescos and seating within the church. We were well timed and on our way down we watched a procession heading down the center aisle as an event was in progress.

We also managed to time this – surprisingly – with the end of one of Dresden’s Christmas Markets. Now, this was not our first Christmas Markets; I think we’d been to 4 or 5 in 2018 alone, so we more or less knew what we were getting into. The adventure is always getting one of the mugs that have the correct year to add to our growing collection.

I just love Christmas Markets and honestly can’t wait for the Easter Markets to start. German Markets feel much less ‘produced’ than those I found in London. That isn’t to say that you don’t have to watch your spending – especially a few drinks in! – after all, they are markets, but they really feel much more like local markets rather than tiny carnivals that are more flash than substance.

The last things we did was cross the river to try to find some of the cool street art that I have seen in posts about new time. Unfortunately, this is when it really started to rain more and the wind picked up. Ryan was also a little skeptical about the look on that side of the river – it was much more urban and with no clear path where to go to see what I wanted. In the end, we walked along the river and then crossed back into old town with nothing much gained.

Still, I really did love Dresden and it was amazing learning how differently Ryan and I travel when we haven’t planned things out very specifically. I’d love to go back and see everything when it isn’t all gray and gloomy, but that may be the Californian in me!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

 

Rainy Dresden: The trip that almost didn’t happen

One Sappy Travel Goal

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Ryan and I in junior year of high school. May 2008.

Have you ever had one place that you absolutely have to make it to? I don’t mean a normal bucket list, appears on every travel wish list on the internet, kind of location, but a place that for a single, deeply personal (or maybe even a little crazy) reason you are almost embarrassed to tell the average person about because it feels a little silly – maybe even intimate?

While I have done this for random locals on bigger trips – we went to the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris on one of my last trips specifically because the outside was featured in my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie – I have to confess a place that I would be willing to make a trip completely about, but not because I’ve heard about how amazing it is; instead for an intimately personal reason:

Dresden, Germany.

Never heard of it? Well, it isn’t one of the biggest stops when thinking about a European or even just a German vacation, however, this city has a very special place in my heart and I have never even visited it – YET!

While I have read through the Rick Steves’ version of this town and all it’s amazing history and art scene (another two big ‘yea, I can make that work’ marks in my book), these aren’t part of my reasoning. Instead, it all goes back to my senior year of high school, a marriage project, and having to name our fake baby: Dresdyn Pheonix.

Now, all these years later, I am marrying my old project partner who I fought with for hours over a silly made-up baby name and who is going to be living in Germany for the next three years – with all of these events lining up how am I supposed to miss out on Dresden, Germany?

While everything about the city calls for me to visit, it’s not about the place any more, it’s about what that place means to me in context with all the things and choices that led here. And that’s what I love about travel: inspiration can come to you from anywhere and everywhere as long as you choose to embrace the craziness of this messy life.

I don’t know when we will go to this city, but for my own silly, embarrassing, sweet, sentimental reasons, I will make it to Dresden and I will have a partner by my side who is going to make the trip worth it – a person who knows exactly what that town means and can be just as sentimental and in love with it as I am.

And isn’t that what traveling is all about?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

One Sappy Travel Goal

Germany’s Christmas Markets

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German Christmas Market. December, 2017.

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen! We are still in the 12 days of Christmas, right? so not to late for all of this! Also I am extremely excited to announce another guest blogger – whose work I will probably have a lot of fun commentating – My Fiance, Ryan, who I have been discussing a whole lot lately…. which he now is very aware of as I just gave him access to this site….. Yep. Hi, babe!

Anyway, he’ll be going into more details on his life and I hope you guys enjoy and get to hear from him a bit more – partners are fun!

As the aforementioned fiancé living abroad in Germany, I am finally joining Taylor here on Leave-on-the-Wind as a guest blogger. Seeing as I will be spending 3 years as a Soldier in a foreign country, I figured it would be fun to support my fiancé’s blog with some OCONUS (Outside Contiguous United States) views. I get to experience Germany and Europe as a whole for the first time; while I have lived in a couple states and deployed twice to the Middle East, I haven’t spent much time in foreign countries that are not war zones.

I arrived in Germany a little over a month ago, disappointed to have missed Oktoberfest (The real one since we did manage the LA equivalent!), but excited for the next big holiday group event: The Christmas Markets.

Most major cities in Germany have their own Christmas Markets as well as some of the smaller towns but they are proportionally smaller versions. My first taste of the markets was in my local town of Ansbach, where a small market took place in a walking shopping district.

My friends told me it was a tragedy to attend any Christmas Market and not have some festive glühwein, a traditional Christmas beverage most commonly made from a boiled red wine mixed with various spices. I gladly purchased a glass, which instantly started warming me up on that windy, cold day that I have come to recognize as the common daily weather.

It’s taste was compelling, to say the least.

I have never fancied wines much – always feeling forced to enjoy them when offered a glass – but something about the glühwein really resonated with me. Whether that was because of the added spices, or the warmth it provided, I cannot say, but I know I went back for quite a few more cups of it.

Throughout this drinking process, I also discovered an interesting sales mechanism that seemed particular to the markets. Every glühwein seller will charge extra for the mug they provide the drink in, but if you later return the mug, you receive a deposit back or you may forego the deposit and keep the glass. Naturally I kept my first one as a souvenir of my first market. (Check out the pictures below!)

We wandered the market, making small purchases and enjoying the time with friends, as I practiced my meager German. I had come to think of this small, lightly crowded market with just a couple dozen stalls as being the standard of a Christmas Market.

Boy, was I wrong.

The next weekend, I had the opportunity to travel about an hour away to Nuremburg with a coworker, her husband, and their 9-year-old son.

Making our way into the market, I was floored by how many people I was seeing already – this market must be huge: it was. It had hundreds of stalls and thousands of people were milling around.

Most of the time, the market was a crushing crowd, as people pushed left and right to get through – certainly not for those who don’t do well in crowds, but if you can brave the ruckus, you are rewarded with stalls selling all kinds of goods; from handmade candles, to Christmas ornaments, to pastries, pretzels, and sweets. The smells of all the foods cooking was overwhelming, and I wanted a little bit of everything. I stand by my decision to start of with a pretzel and a glühwein and slowly try random pastries and other foods picked at random.

As we walked, we started in on a maze of stalls that seemed organized to lead you in a line from stall to stall as if in a brightly colored labyrinth. My group lost me more than once as I would get distracted by a beautiful bauble, a delicious smelling bag of tea, or the plethora of hanging Christmas tree ornaments. Finding them again, we would start back down the path again, seemingly wanting to buy everything they had to sell. (I talked about this way back when I was living in London; pace yourself and set a budget!)

In the end, not counting food and drinks consumed as we roamed, I managed to buy two ornaments for me and Taylor, a big bag of caramel apple black tea (which smells as sweet as its namesake), and a bag of fruit flavored sweets for my friend’s son. After hours of walking around, we spent some time listening to the band that was on a little stage in front of what looked to be a cathedral, and then called it a night.

Honestly, this introduction to a little bit of German culture and a wonderful evening out was just what I needed to help integrate me better into the place I plan to live, and I was glad to have the chance at some (very poor) German interactions as I butchered their otherwise beautiful language.

Thank God for Google Translate.

I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did and, again, welcome, Ry (as both a reader and writer)! So until next time around,

This is Ryan, writing for Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Germany’s Christmas Markets

Looking Forward: Germany.

So it turns out that my best friend from high school who I’ve been spending almost all my time (that I’m not working) with while he visits SoCal will be moving out to Germany later this year and he’ll be staying for another 3. In that time, I will definitely be heading out there for at least one visit and while I need more research once I pick out the exact when.

Yes, I have been to Germany briefly in my WWII adventures with mom and Bex but the more that I research the more that I feel the urge to jump on a plane as soon as possible.

From my last experience with Germany, I’m already convinced it’s the land of fairy tales. Looking through Pintrest, I’m convinced more and more. Wile I am nowhere near finished (and I should probably take those I’ll inevitably travel with into consideration) a few broad ideas are definitely on my list.

First up, Burg Eltz Castle. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful castles in Germany but Burg Eltz has a totally different feel – based on the pictures that is. If you are here in April to November, you’ll be able to take a castle tour, but if not, everything I’ve read indicates great views and hikes that will still be worth the visit (Don’t forget to bring good shoes!).

While Berlin and Munich are amazing cities, there are little towns straight out of fairy tales that are dying to be explored. As with most of these kinds of sights, you may need a car to get to them but, when there’s a will right? Also, as a personal joke, I want to visit the city of Dresden. This is a cultural center and filled with natural features from the river to parks and forests.

Finally, Germany is a country that is really well traversed so, essentially, without much work, there is probably a plan already out there on the internet waiting for you to discover it. Try searching road trips through Germany and you’ll probably find some great guides with more than a few hidden gems.

Even though this trip is a long way off, researching is making me more and more excited at the prospect. If you have any other suggestions – which may include where to take a bestie who is less travel savy (as a civilian at least) than I – leave them in the comments!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Looking Forward: Germany.

My favorite places (Part 2)

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Austria, 2015.

Last week, I started my run down memory lane covering much of my older travels, but this week I’m looking at much of my 2015 trip. These locations are more recent but, during them, we explored much less making less choices over what I could revisit. Still, everywhere we hit on that crazy month in 2015 was amazing so I’d truly want to do it all over and over again.

1. Switzerland

We really only hit one thing in Switzerland: Jungfrau or Top of the World.  When we went everything was shrouded in fog but we had such a fantastic time playing aroundin the snow. Because of the weather, they had to shutdown a good chucnk of the outdoor activities and I’d love to explore more and get to take pictures with much less fog.

2. Austria

Austria and Germany are a bit of a blur since we tended to stay along the borders of both and past between them on almost every tour we took, but when it comes to Austria, I would love to revisit the Mirabell Gardens. This is where they filmed parts of Do-Re-Mi in The Sound of Music but there is so much more to the gardens than that. When we explored last time, The rain was starting up which was fun but also made the adventure shorter lived than I would have liked. Plus the movie reference gives you a great excuse to stomp, dance, and sing your heart out throughout the greenery.

3. Germany

Germany is a tricky spot for me but what I loved most were the many stops within the Balvarian Mountains. Whether on break along its giant lake views or venturing through King Ludwig II’s castles, they left so much more to explore. On a trip that I explore alone instead of on tours, these mountains and all their sites might take up the bulk of my time.

4. Netherlands

The Zansee Schans was the perfect stop in the Netherlands that I would visit again and again. Yes, it is touristy but the cheese room alone haunts my dreams! seriously, read the post and go, go, go!

5. Belgium

Just like every other stop along this trip, out time in Bruges was short but so much fun. It was one more city sitting along the channels and exploring them more would definitely be on my list of must do’s. I loved siting in the middle isle, straddling the center bench and watching the city pass me by.



Yes, these were quick but, again, so was the time I got to spend in each of these places. Next time I will be looking over my last 4 countries which I have been lucky enough to visit over and over again – a very different but equally daunting challenge.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

My favorite places (Part 2)

Castles, castles, castles…

… and I feel like a princess.

Neuschwanstein Castle. Balvrian Mountains, Germany. June 2015.
Neuschwanstein Castle. Balvrian Mountains, Germany. June 2015.

We went from our hard day out to a day of hard climbs and more Disney views—which basically means we shipped out of Munich on our last day in Germany to go explore the Bavarian Mountains and two of King Ludwig II’s castles, Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.

We took a ten and a half hour tour (who’s itinerary you can see here) in order to see more areas than we originally had planned if we’d stuck to our self planned, single day trip. However, this tour was bigger than all of our other excursions, which meant it was a lot less intimate and much more rigorously scheduled.

But here’s some background to the man and his castles:

King Ludwig is known as the fairytale king, but not because his kingdom was fairytale happy when he was in power, but because he was a king in love with fairy-stories. And because of this love, he basically went bankrupt trying to build the castles he imagined and designed.

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Linderhof Castle, Germany. June 2015.

The first visit on the tour is to Linderhof Castle—a French rococo-style castle inspired by France’s Versailles, surrounded by immaculately manicured gardens. Because that is another thing that our boy Ludwig loved: French royalty, especially King Louis IX, a king with absolute power who ruled his kingdom the way Ludwig wanted but was never able to do.

There is really nothing much to say except that Ludwig was a Fanboy (major capital “F” here) to an extent all other fans wish they could be.

If you have been to Versailles, seeing the tiny palace of Linderhof will definitely have you feeling déjà vu.

The interior of the palace is basically a replica of France’s premier palace down to portraits of French royalty adorning the walls. In fact, there are very few spots where you can tell that this is Ludwig’s at all, mostly in the form of the family crest.

What makes this a fan’s dream for me, is that Ludwig was very detailed in his recreation but did not skimp on any modern convenience. My favorite was the table that could be lowered to and raised from the kitchens to quickly and efficiently get food to the king’s rooms.

The palace is surrounded by a great expanse of gardens that I would have loved to explore. However, do to the tours set up, you have no time to explore the grounds. Rather there is a swan pond you get to look at briefly on your walk to and from the palace and the fountains out front, but going up into any of the green spaces is impossible with your time limit.

While the tour is nice for travel convenience, this is one stop I wish we had had more time in and I would have visited by myself for longer, if not hindered by time limits.

Between castles, you get to stop in this tiny village, Oberammergau, for half an hour—this is not a stop for eating!—where you can wander, stretch, take a few pictures, and get an ice cream form on of the many shops. If you are on the tour, quickly head over—first stop—to the shop recommended; delicious, quality, light but large scoops for cheap.

This village is nice for a stroll as long as you eat and walk and keep an eye on your time, but what makes it fitting for this fairytale ride is painted across the town buildings: fairytale murals.

Still, this isn’t what the town is famous for: In the time of the black plague, the town prayed and made an oath that they would put on the Passion Play every 10 years if the town was spared from the sickness. The next performance is in 2020 and if you are planning to travel near that time: BEWARE! All rooms are booked way in advance—like years—and basically everything around it get crazy. However, this is something you may want to check out and, if you are interested, just do your research and no last minute planning.

The last stop is the main point of our day: Neuschwanstein Castle.

The bus gets into the town near the base of the climb at around 1:00 p.m and you have approximately four hours to explore the castle and the surrounding areas.

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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany. June 2015.

This is the castle which inspired the animator’s and designers of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle, but, for me, it is more reminiscent of the Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast. If you decide to hike up the mountain—it’s a good hike up so be prepared with proper shoes— you will get some great shots as you climb. You can also take a horse buggy or a van up. The buggy, however, doesn’t take you the whole way so you still have a bit of a climb, and the van drops you off a bit above the castle entrance so you have to walk back down to it. Both of these options cost you a little bit as well, and, after sitting on the bus all day, the climb felt nice.

If you have time before or after your tour of the castle, there is another vantage point about fifteen minutes above the castle which is spectacular.

We climbed straight to this point, but I’m going to give you the warnings and descriptions we were not told to stop anyone who can’t make it, either because of the time and/or effort to get here.

The vantage point is beautiful, there is no doubt about it, but for anyone who is sketchy about heights, big warning. The vantage point is a bridge over a river and waterfalls which—because tourists are stupid—gets a little shaky. The walkway is made of wood planks which wobble except for the center one, but this isn’t the tricky part. The problem is that people do not walk far enough out, so getting on the bridge and off again is a fight through people who are either oblivious to you or freaked about the heights and bridge shaking, but determined to push and shove for a picture but without going far enough onto the bridge.

My sister is afraid of heights but she came out with us and according to her, if you stay on the center plank and get past the nasty crowd of people, the view is worth it. But, when I say getting that far on the bridge is a fight, please, don’t take it lightly! It was insane.

If you can’t do the bridge, there is a stop along the walk to this point that is a great picture vantage point, so if you only make it here, you will be a happy photographer.

If you look around the castle courtyard, this feels more Sleeping Beauty but, if you are a fan of castles (and Disney inspiring one’s at that), the 4 hours is an amazing chance to wander along with touring the inside. We were lucky enough to have the last tour time for our tour so we were able to really explore everything.

Basically, this was a long day out with a whole lot to do but it was a great tour. If you have multiple days to dedicate to these castles, going off by yourself to each location is worth looking into to explore everything to your liking.

But, that’s all for now as we through a little more Disney into our adventure, so until next time:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Castles, castles, castles…