Neuschwanstein is about 100km north of Munich, and is known as the “fairy-tale castle” because, well, it was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late nineteenth century with this in mind. Walt Disney even based his Sleeping Beauty castle off of it, so obviously this was something to check out.
Getting to Neuschwanstein involves a two hour train ride to the town of Fussen, then a short bus ride up to the castle. And it was here I did what was my most stupid action whilst traveling- the train was set to leave at 9:50 but somehow my mind decided this meant 9:40, the time the train on the opposite platform was leaving. I stepped on just as the doors closed and the train left the station, only to have me realize platform 26 wasn’t the same as 27 and oh my God why am I on this train?!
Minor panic ensued, as trains from Munich’s central station go all over Europe and for all I knew I could be halfway to Stuttgart before it even stopped (I confess my main worry was the huge embarrassment of explaining this to a train conductor). Luckily it was a local, stopping in a few minutes two stops up on the S-bahn (local train line), so I jumped on a train for the short ride back to the central station. I wasn’t too optimistic about catching the train I was supposed to be on- Germany’s one of those “set your watch to the trains” countries- but I was back with two minutes to spare so I proceeded to run like hell. I was despondent upon seeing the giant clock reading “9:52” until I noticed something on the departures board- my train was five minutes late! Providence! I jumped onto the train in a panting wreck with a minute to spare, vowing to triple-check my train tickets from now on.
Anyway, the scenery on the train ride itself was somewhat uninspiring-
That and the window was obviously dirty. The most noteworthy thing though is that white stuff blanketing the ground which I hadn’t really seen since January but was plentiful around Neuschwanstein. There was even a perpetual snow shower while I was there, giving the entire place a great sugar-coated feel to it.
The castle from the bottom of the hill where the bus drops you off. This is the south-east corner of Germany and I have to say I liked it- the mountains are about 2000m high, and due to the snow I felt like I was in the American West ready to go skiing. Except there were castles! They definitely add to the scenery, and I concluded we really should build one or two well-perched ones at home. You could pay for it within a few years if you open it to tourism if these ones are any example.
Most people don’t know this but there are actually two castles in the area, this yellow one being Hohenschwangau Castle built in the early 19th century by King Maximilian II, father of Ludwig II who built the prettier castle on top of the next hill. Frankly I found this palace lovely enough that I would be quite satisfied with it, but apparently I lack vision.
A close-up view of Hohenschwangau (you can’t take any pictures inside any of the castles, unfortunately), which really reminds me of the Lego castles I used to build as a kid. It should be noted that interestingly enough this castle is still owned by the Duke of Bavaria- Neuschwanstein is owned by the state- who apparently lives in another palace and is not interested in providing rentals on this one. He’s also 75 years old and has no kids, so that method of living there won’t work either!
Anyway, a cozy bratwurst lunch later I tackled the half hour walk up to Neuschwanstein, with an impressive final result-
There were, understandably, a lot more tourists up here, to the point where there were about 50 people in my tour group. Another one of those places that must be terrible in the summer… As for the tour itself, trust me, even if I have no photographic evidence to back it up the inside is beyond splendid. Everything is gilded gold or painted frescoes of various fairy tales and most of the floors have mosaics. My favorite, though, has got to be the fact that Ludwig II ordered an artificial cave be made between his living room and his reading room. The fact that one needs a cave inside a castle frankly never occurred to me, but that’s probably because I’m lacking vision.
And before anyone asks, yes, the train ride back to Munich was uneventful. Fussen thankfully only has one train platform.