Probably the highlight of my time in Germany during my fall break was my visit to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The Castle is situated on a large hill overlooking the small village of Hohenschwangau in southwestern Bavaria. It was built by King Ludwig II in the 19th century to serve as his home.
We started our journey early in the morning and after a quick pretzel breakfast at Munich’s main train station, we boarded a train bound for Fussen. After a 2 hour train ride through the German countryside, we arrived at the small town and made our way to the tourist center where our group somehow managed to buy the last four tickets they had for a tour of the inside of the castle. Our tickets secured, we decided to get a small lunch (and more pretzels) at a nearby cafe. After our meal, we boarded a bus bound for the village Hohenschwangau, where the castle is located. A short drive later and we found ourselves staring up a tree-covered hill at the most beautiful castle that I’ve ever seen. The only problem was that we still needed to get to it. Not wanting to pony up the cash to hire one of the horse-drawn buggies to take us to the top, we fastened our scarves and hats and began the trek up the hillside. We still had a little bit of time until our tour started when we reached the top, which we spent admiring both the castle and the views of the village below. Unfortunately, they were renovating the gate house of the castle, so the front was covered in scaffolding. Once it was time for our tour, we stepped through the turnstiles, made our way up a spiral staircase and down a hallway, grabbed our audio guides, and began our tour through the grand and whimsical brainchild of King Ludwig II. Unfortunately we could not take picture of the inside of the castle, but believe me when I say it was just as beautiful as the outside. Without a doubt, the highlight was the throne room. I had been slightly underwhelmed by the throne room in Buckingham palace, but the one in Neuschwanstein was another beast entirely. The entire room was a soft golden color, there was ornate religious art on the floor and ceiling, a large chandelier, and windows with views of both the Alps in the distance and the village below. It was truly breathtaking and I could have stayed in that room for long time.
While the castle was beautiful, the tour itself was very quick (20-30 mins) and was underwhelming. According to my friend who had been on the tour before, they had shortened it and replaced actual tour guides with the handheld audio tour guides. After leaving the castle, we made our way along the hill to a narrow bridge spanning a waterfall, which gave probably the best view of the castle that you can get. After spending some time admiring it and taking pictures, we made our way down the side of the hill, and eventually found a bus to take us back to the train station at Fussen. However, when we got there we were told that there was no train and we were ushered onto several waiting buses. They didn’t tell us where the busses were going, but they did end up dropping us off at the next nearest train station where we eventually made our way back to Munich.
The next day was my last day in Munich, and I spent in mostly on my own. I took the time to walk around the inner part of the city, see the sights one last time, and buy souvenirs. Since I was on my own, it was a perfect opportunity to practice my German one more time by ordering food, buying gifts, and telling people that I did not in fact work in the sporting goods store that I was shopping in. After a nice and relaxing last day in Munich, I met my friend one last time, boarded a train for the airport and waited to board my flight to my next destination….Rome….