For part two of our weekend Autobahn adventure, we headed south on the A8 toward Füssen, home of two of King Ludwig’s infamous castles, Schlöss Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Tour books tend to compare visiting the castles to a Disneyland trip, with exploitation of the tourists taken to the extreme however, it’s practically a real version of Cinderella’s castle. And we’re in Germany. We had to see it.
Besides, with a setting like this, how could it not be a good day?
My first thought upon arrival though was, “the tour books are definitely right.” While I’m sure the town of Füssen is plenty wonderful, most people (including us) pass right on through on their way to the castles. Once on site, you realize you’re barely in Germany anymore as most shop and road signs are written in English and there’s hardly a local to be found. But honestly, the whole experience was kind of ridiculously fun. We were lucky to have a gorgeous autumn day, reserved tickets (no waiting in line!) and a picnic lunch packed so we were as prepared as possible for the hordes. (And hordes there were. Bus after bus after bus, and we’re not even in high season right now!)
First stop was the Hohenschwangau tour. From what I remember, this was Ludwig’s father’s castle and Ludwig spent most of his time here while waiting for Neuschwanstein to finish (which it never fully was).
When you pick up your tickets, you get a barcode and a number/entry time. Once your number is on the display, you have 10 minutes or so to scan through the turnstiles before they move onto the next tour and you’re out of luck. At our appointed time, we joined a group of 25 or so fellow English speakers and made our way through the castle. As the point is to maximize the number of visitors, the tours are interesting but certainly speedy. We lagged toward the back of the group just to try and get a better view of the decor, but we still were rushed from point to point.
The interior and furnishings are in quite good shape and we were able to see several of the bedrooms, the main dining hall and some of the office type rooms. Plus we got to see a pretty sweet gift given to either King Ludwig or his father…some bread and salt from the Volga Germans before they immigrated to Russia. Hooray for ancestors!
We finished up our first tour by wandering by the Alpsee (I assume translates to Alpine Lake) and admiring the very spoiled swans begging for bread. With the number of hiking trails surrounding the castles and lake, it looks like this would be a great place to visit even if you didn’t want to see the royal homes up close. But we were on a time schedule and had only an hour to make it up to Neuschwanstein for tour number two…
(Sidenote: With the multiple hours of German class/studying/general immersion per day, I’m pretty sure my already rusty writing skills are quickly deteriorating. So my apologies for all run-on/disconnected/generally confusing paragraphs or thoughts. And please just assume if something is spelled wrong in English, it’s actually just spelled correctly in Deutsch. Even if that’s totally not true 🙂 )