Extreme European Adventure: Neuschwanstein Castle (June 21, 2014)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle. The brainchild of the crazy King Ludwig II, this castle is magnificent! But before I keep throwing in adjectives to describe the wonder of this architectural masterpiece...I should talk about how we got there from Munich.

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrucke
We knew we'd have to attempt to beat the hordes of tourists since this tends to be "the thing to do", and it was a Saturday to boot. We knew we needed to make an early morning of it, and we'd need to pack some food.

The night before we bought apples and stuff to make sandwiches. While Kris was showering, I made our sandwiches and washed two small apples each. We brought gallon sized ziplock bags from home, so we have kept two clean specifically for food. We grabbed some granola bars and our water bottles and headed out. Making lunch by buying semmel (or rolls), sandwich meat, cheese, and keeping the same tube of mustard with us is proving to be a pretty inexpensive way to eat.

After making a quick transfer from the U Bahn by our hotel to the main Muenchen HBF station, we caught a 6:53 am train heading toward Kempten. We got off at the Buchloe stop at 7:38 am and got on a train heading toward Fuessen at 7:49 am. At Fuessen, we crossed the road to the bus stop and got on Regional Bus #78 heading to Hohenschwangau at 9:05 am. We were in Hohenschwangau by 9:13 am. The return bus fare was 2.40 Euro per person. The rest of the ride was covered by our Eurail pass.
Bavarian countryside

Germany solar farm

Once you arrive in the town, you need to buy your tickets for Neuschwanstein. You can't buy them at the castle, so don't head up the road yet. You can also visit another castle called Hohenschwangau (the same as the town) as well if you want, but we opted for Neuschwanstein solely.
Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle
Lake in Hohenschwangau 

Lake in Hohenschwangau 

Now I'd read over and over again that you need to catch a bus in the town to take you to Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge - best views of the castle) so that you'd just have a 15 minute walk downhill instead of 40 minute walk uphill. The line for the bus was ridiculous. The line for a horse drawn carriage was also long and would still require a 15 minute walk uphill, so Kris and I hoofed it uphill for this 40 minute walk. We must be super speedy, because the hike uphill only took us around 25 minutes.

Seriously, unless you have small children or a physical reason not to walk up that hill...give yourself time to take the 40 (or less) minute walk. It's actually nice. A tad steep in some places, but a nice naturewalk nonetheless.

The views awaiting you at the top make it worthwhile. We felt rewarded for our trouble. And, honestly, we would likely have missed our tour standing in that bus line. It seems like only one bus runs, and the line was packed at 9:30 am. (I suspect entire tour groups coming to Neuschwanstein get dropped off in that line.)

While waiting for our tour to start, we soaked in the views and ate an apple. Relaxing way to spend a bit of time.

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photos inside of Neuschwanstein. I don't know if you could actually capture something so bold and unique in its scope anyway.  (Kris did sneak one of the kitchen area.)

Kitchen in Neuschwanstein Castle

King Ludwig II stayed at his dream castle very little before being arrested for being criminally insane. Seriously - they declared him crazy, and he mysteriously died the next day at the age of 40-something. Nobody knew what happened...or so they say.

The second floor of Neuschwanstein was never finished, but the castle was opened to the public as a museum only 6 weeks after King Ludwig's death so it contains all of the original furnishings, paintings, and everything as it has stood since 1886! For a brief history with some photos, you could visit http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/history.htm.

This crazy king was looking to create his fantasy retreat. Most of the entire palace was inspired by the operas of Wagner.

The palace was also quite advanced for its time. From their own website, "The rooms of the [Palace], the royal residence, were fitted with hot air central heating. Running water was available on every floor and the kitchen had both hot and cold water. The toilets had an automatic flushing system.

The king used an electric bell system to summon his servants and adjutants. On the third and fourth floors there were even telephones."

It is one remarkable piece of art disguised as castle.

The floors, doors, walls, ceilings, and furniture are carved or painted or engraved with patterns. The artwork is vivid and detailed. There is a goose theme, and these giant geese are in the rooms often having purpose you would never expect - one was a room humidifier, many are door handles, there are geese sewn into the drapery, etc.

By my standard, the rooms are a little too busy, but I am impressed with the amazing detail and true level of craftsmanship. We just don't make homes like this...not that I've ever seen. I've never seen another place like it - inside or out.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was the area of the house that is inspired by a Wagner opera that takes place in a grotto/cave. They actually built a few rooms to look like a cave! They are landscaped retreats - dark without being dank. King Ludwig's insanity must have been more of a type of artistic brilliance. He was an artist with an unlimited amount of money. Scary combo.

Neuschwanstein is definitely worth the trip.

After touring the castle, we walked the 15 minutes uphill to Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge) for photos. I was scared to go on the bridge. I'm not at all afraid of heights, but there has to be a weight limit for a bridge, right? How many people can squeeze on that bridge and it remain structurally sound? It was packed with people. We pushed ourselves in and through though.
Marienbrucke from afar

Crowds on Marienbrucke 
View of Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrucke

Kristy and view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrucke 

Kris and view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Marienbrucke 

View from Marienbrucke 
View down on Marienbrucke

We walked back down the hill into town and passed the ticket line. I believe it was sometime around 2:30 pm, and the ticket line was swarming with people. Our wait was about 10 people. This line filled up the inside and required a ton of ropes outside. The motto being - get there early or buy reserved tickets online before you come. (You have to do that at least a full 48 hours in advance.) Just waiting to get your ticket at this time seemed like an hour wait.

Neuschwanstein Castle 

We took the bus back to Fuessen, train back to Buchloe, train back to Munich HBF, and U-Bahn back to our hotel. We picked up dinner provisions from the market before trekking upstairs.

Kris cooked while we sort of followed Germany vs. Ghana in the World Cup match. It was a draw, and luckily not an incredibly long night of blaring foghorns.

So many photos to look through. We had another day with extremely great weather.

2 Responses
  1. B Says:

    GORGEOUS!!!!! But what what did Kris try today at the market? LOL!!! Amazing amazing pics!!!

  2. Dad Says:

    So glad you guys are having fun. You look absolutely beautiful. The scenery is wonderful.