Another simple day, in that I only did one thing involving touring, but that one thing was a doozy! Before you go any further, though, look at the new picture atop this page. Not only did I take it, but that castle is where I spent my day!
The castle is called Neuschwanstein and it’s located about 2 hours south-west of Munich by train just outside of a little town called Fussen. I met up with a tour group and we headed out around 10am this morning. I immediately fell asleep on the train and would still be there if some nice Australian bloke hadn’t woke me up.Got off the train, onto a bus and towards the Castle drop off point. After a quick snack we started walking. Our first resting point was beautiful lake Hopfensee (and here are some pictures of said lake – since I’ve been accused of not telling what the various pictures are).
Next, as we headed up towards Schloss Neuschwanstein, we got a view of The Yellow Castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau, which was built by King Ludwig’s Dad. Ludwig himself became King when he was 18 and immediately decided he was a huge fan of Richard Wagner and wanted to build a fairy-tale castle in homage to him. This was Neuschwanstein.
So anyway, We head up the hill towards the castle. It was a long walk, about a half hour and our first stop was Marianbrucke (Marian Bridge) which overlooks the place. It also provides great photo ops of the surrounding countryside which pretty much defines “picturesque.”
If the castle looks familiar, there are two reasons for that. The first is it was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The second, and probably larger, reason is it was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.
Inside, they wouldn’t let us take pictures, but when you see what he did, you can understand why the called him mad! The decorations are outrageous! Only a small portion of the castle was completed before Ludwig’s mysterious death (officially, it’s a suicide, but they really have no idea what happened to him – lots of political intrigue though) and of that, an even smaller portion was decorated and livable! But he did make sure he had his fake underground grotto and a music hall big enough for an NHL sized rink.
There were swan motifs everywhere! The swan is the official heraldic symbol of the area as well as Ludwig’s favorite animal so he put it everywhere. It’s in the walls, on the chandeliers, even the sinks are golden swans which spit water.
Oh, and I should also say a quick world about our tour guide inside the castle (different from the guide who took us there and brought us back). Inside it was a young boy, about 18 or 19, who walked slowly, as if he were still getting used to his legs. His eyes glanced nervously sideways at every sound and his hands were never comfortable , always flat at his sides. But the best…the absolute best…was his voice. He spoke in a closed jaw accent you haven’t heard outside of a bad WWII movie and he was the evil Nazi. Everything was soft “s” sounds “v” for “w.” It was great! I can’t do it justice here, but trust me, not since Peter Sellers have you heard a German accent this stereotypical!