Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Post 18: Neuschwanstein!

Guest Blogger, Amanda from Seattle. So one of the things that has been at the top of my bucket list is a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.  Just everything about the castle fascinates. It was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. The stories of its construction by Mad King Ludwig. It is built upon the ruins of two older castles and the decor is based on Wagner operas. Ludwig's mysterious death and the fact that the government opened the castle for tourists only 6 weeks after his death. The castle was never completed and Ludwig only lived in it 172 days before his death. The story is so fantastic and sad.

It is about a 2 hour train ride from Munich and many flight attendants do it as a day trip from the Munich layover.  But that is a very tight schedule because you have to go immediately when you arrive to Munich and you have to make sure that you get the last train back to Munich in the evening. I have always thought that the best way would be to go down and spend the night in Fussen, so that I could leisurely enjoy my time at the castle. 

On the Train to Fussen
So this is exactly what Ryan and I planned to do. I looked at tickets for the castle and everything online was SOLD OUT. It is June and just on the edge of the busiest season. Every website says that July and August are the busy season!! But surely they reserve some walk up tickets and perhaps there are no shows and a stand-by list? Ryan asks if I want to go to Fussen even if I cannot get into the castle and I say, "Of course!" Just the view of the exterior is fabulous and the hiking opportunities in the area will make the trip worth it.

Downtown Fussen
So we leave Munich bright and early. The train ride down was fun and we got to see a lot of the countryside. We arrived in Fussen a little too early to check into our hostel, so we decided to sit in a cafe and kill some time and make our plan on how to see the castle. There is a ticket office right at the train station and so we asked there about tickets. The girl said that they were all sold out for today, but that they probably would have tickets available in the morning. So, check back with them in the morning. I thought this was a good idea. There were sure to be no shows for the first tours in the morning. So tentatively, we planned to just walk around and hike to the castle today just to see the outside, and then early in the morning try to get stand-by tickets to the castle. Then whenever we were done, we would leave and head back to Munich.

We got a map! Now to plan our attack

Crossing the river Lech, we think the color is from glacial runoff
So by the afternoon, we got to check into our hostel and drop off our bags. Now we could hike up to the castle. It is approximately 5 km from Fussen out to the castle and there are many buses that take the tourists out there. You can also rent bikes and there is a paved bike trail that goes there. So it was very easy to walk out to the castle. During the winter, people cross country ski along these trails too.

That is the castle in the distance!

The Romantic Road ends here! 
Once we arrive at the area for the castle, we are still not done! There is a ticket booth, cafes and gift shops and some hotels too and buses and horse drawn carriages that will take you further up the mountain to the castle.
We stop in the ticket office to ask a question. There are no lines now, but they have all the little ropes to mark off the area like at Disneyland or the Airport. We skip all that and just walk up to the counter. I forget now what I asked the girl, but she answered and I walked away. As we were leaving, Ryan asked me if I asked her about tickets today or for tomorrow.  I had not thought about that, but we were here, so why not? So we returned to the counter and asked if there were tickets to see the castle.

Yes, she says, we have some for 4:55pm. (it was now 4pm) This was one of the last tours of the day. Many people could not do this tour,  because if you did, you missed the last train back to Munich, So only people that came up in cars or with some other type of tour could do the last tours of the day and still make it back to Munich the same day.
So we immediately put down our money and bought the tour tickets, we even had some time to go to the Mary's Bridge (best views of the castle) before we had to be at the doors to do our tour! 

You can ride up to the castle in style
Of course, Ryan wants to hike up to the castle and this is where we part ways. I was already tired from the 5km trek and I wanted to take the bus up to the castle. So we planned to meet at the Mary's Bridge. I had to stand in line to get on the bus. An entire busload of Japanese tourists were ahead of me and I had to wait for a second bus before I finally got on and was on my way. When I stepped off at Mary's Bridge, Ryan had just arrived as well from his walk, so it was perfect timing.

The Older Castle Hohenschwangau

The view from the bridge
We had to keep a close watch on the time now as we did not want to miss our tour of the interior of the castle. We enjoyed the views, there were lots of folks hang gliding off of the ridge in the distance and we watched as they floated around and then landed in the valley below. Next, we walked over to the castle itself to figure out where we were supposed to be at 4:55pm.  No bags were allowed inside the castle, so Ryan would have to check his backpack in a locker before we could enter. The man who was in charge there warned Ryan that they close only a few minutes after the last tour finishes, so he would need to come back and claim his bag immediately after the tour.

Most folks come up via a bus

View of the bridge from the castle

The views from the castle are fabulous
The tour inside the castle is short, only about 30-35 minutes and you really don't see too much because the castle was unfinished. For example, there is no throne in the throne room. The building was begun in 1868 and Ludwig died in 1886. One of the best things was a video that showed how the building was designed and the construction progressed. When we came out of the video, we noticed that the cafe inside the castle was closed and the gift shop was trying to close and that is when we remembered that we needed to get back out to the front where Ryan had checked his bag before that guy closed up shop!!

Looking back towards Hohenschwangau

Ryan got there just in time and the gentleman closed and locked the doors behind him as he left! We walked back down to the ticket center area. I wanted to take the horse and carriage, but they were also done for the day.  Ryan would join me on the bus ride back to Fussen. I crashed in the hostel and Ryan did a little more exploring around the village of Fussen before he also retired for the evening.


Mary said...

What a great trip! I was surprised to see how tall and narrow the castle appears. I forget Sleeping Beauty's Castle is "inspired" by that castle and not a duplicate!

Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

When I was there, one of the members of our group was allowed to play his bugle in the throne room. It sounded great!

FYI, we were travelling with our community band - hence the bugle.

Anonymous said...

We were lucky to find a letterbox just across the scenic bridge when we were there a few years ago. The overall scenery in that area is beautiful.

di and her guy

ArtGekko said...

SchloƟ Neuschwanstein was one of my favorite stops the one time I was in Europe. Everything about it was fascinating. So glad it worked out for you to see something you'd wanted to for so long. :)

Anonymous said...

I took the horse drawn carriage ride but I felt so sorry for the horses; it was a steep climb and the horses were dripping with sweat at the top. I don't this there wa a bus option when I was there (May 1999).