We woke up at 7am this morning. We have a 4 hour drive to Neuschwanstein Castle and need to be there by 12:20, according to our tour reservation. We showered and packed up, skipped breakfast and hit the road.
One of the few RR crossings in Europe...this one in Germany.
Our route was supposed to take us from Switzerland, across Lichtenstein, across a corner of Austria and into southern Germany. Somehow the Google map directions and our GPS chose slightly different routes. Before I knew it, we were entering Austria without even visiting Lichtenstein. I wanted to add another country (a very tiny one at that) to our checklist.
Oh well. We had to find a gas station in Austria to buy a driving permit. Drivers must have a permit to drive on the highways. We found one that only cost e2 since we were driving a short section into Germany.
We also stopped for gas and some breakfast food at a gas station. Katrina joked, as we came out of the gas station with food, that we were truly ‘road tripping’ now.
We entered Germany. As soon as we were within about 38 km from the castle, the traffic stopped. We could see the arrival time estimation ticking away on the GPS. When we were within 15 minutes of our reservation time, Katrina called and was able to get a reservation for an hour later.
The traffic was being diverted onto country roads and it was pretty bad. It took us almost the entire extra hour before we finally arrived at the castle parking lots. We parked and headed up to the ticket office to check in. For some odd reason they want you to check in and get your tickets one hour before your reservation time, or you will miss your tour. We now had some time, so we went next door to a little grill and bought some brats and pretzels for lunch.
Coke, even under a Pepsi umbrella, its still the real thing!
We were actually going to visit two castles. The first one we visited was the Hohenschwangau castle. Standing below and across the valley from Neuschawanstein, this big yellow castle was Ludwig’s boyhood home. It was originally built in the 12th century, then ruined by Napolean. Ludwig’s father, Maximilian, rebuilt it in 1836. It’s more lived in and historic than Ludwig’s castle.
Red marble 'summer' bath.
Two fountains in the gardens surrounding the castle.
We hiked up in the blazing hot sun and took some exterior pictures while waiting for our tour time. No pictures were allowed inside the castle. We were able to see much of the castle as it was in the early 1800’s, including original furniture and fixtures. The family had a lot of money and seemed to spend it well.
After the first castle, we had about 1 ½ hours until the tour of this castle. The hike up to this castle took about 40 min, so we took our time. Thankfully most of it was shaded. When we reached the top, Katrina took some time to take photos while Brandon and I relaxed in the shade.
The second castle, Neuschwanstein, is located partway up the mountainside across the narrow valley. Ludwig dreamed of building the ultimate fairy-tale castle as a boy. He soon had the power to make his dream come true. The castle was designed by a painter first, then an architect. It has the look of a medieval castle, but it is only about as old as the Eifel Tower. Built in 1869 – 1886, it’s built in the Romantic style popular in 19th century Europe. Construction stopped with Ludwig’s early death (only a 3rd of the interior was finished), and within 6 weeks tourists were paying to go through it.
View towards Ludwig's dream castle.
Once again, there were no photos allowed inside the castle. Ludwig did a great job of designing this fairy tale castle. It is said that this castle was used as the basis for the castles at Disneyland and DisneyWorld. The architecture and the furnishings were all out of a storybook. Very elegant and beautiful. Our tour lasted about 30 min.
View from the front of the castle.
We enjoyed a nice easy walk all the way back down the mountain and to our car. We had another 1 ½ hour drive to Munich, our destination for the night.
We stopped a few kilometers down the road to get a few more pictures.
The route took us through some very green and beautiful hill and farm country. The heat disappeared a little bit. We drove with the windows open with fresh air all around.
We arrived in Munich around 9pm. Our hotel, the Royal Munchen, is located a few blocks from the old city. It is in an interesting neighborhood, a mix of fine jewelry stores, internet cafes, ethnic food, nice hotels and strip clubs.
We were tired, so we checked in and went to bed. Tomorrow we will explore Munich.
18 Week Gelati Count: 102
18 Week Wine Bottle Count: 16