In order to ensure each visitor has enough time to both walk up to Neuschwanstein from Hohenschwangau and to spend some money at the local restaurants, tours at Neuschwanstein are scheduled two hours after your visit at Hohenschwangau if you’re on the combination/King’s Ticket (both castles). And considering the pretty impressive uphill walk to the second castle, for most of the horde, this is probably the right amount of time. The options to make your way up the (surprisingly) steep hill to the main event include some sort of bus (with a long line and a still far-away drop off point), by foot (might as well earn that beer later) or by horse and carriage. I may not be able to say it with 100% certainty, but to me it looked like those horses were overloaded, overworked and under-rested. Not so cool.
Anyway. We walked. And had the good fortune to experience one of the more brilliant autumn days I’ve seen, with the trees just starting to turn and the temperature completely comfortable.
Once we’d arrived at the gates, we milled around with the rest of the early arrivals and waited for our number to show itself. Our fellow castle-goers ranged from regretful looking women in dirndls and heels (bet the walk was fun) to the typical senior bus tours and most everyone in between. As we’d heard the Neuschwanstein tour was even larger and more rushed than our first, we were a little apprehensive about the whole thing.
We were pretty much right. The tour consisted of >50 English speakers, one tour guide and no mics. We had approximately 3 minutes per room, maybe 7 rooms total and God Himself would probably smite you if you even considered taking pictures of the interior. (The tour guide was certainly willing to chew people out.) It was kind of intense. And the punchline? We spent as much time trying to get out of the castle/maneuvering through the gift shop(s) as we did on the tour. It was definitely amusing. However, we still had things to see, so we booked it out of the castle as fast as possible and hoofed it over to Mariensbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) for some sweet views of the fantasy castle.
The bridge spans a pretty insane canyon and offers some great view of the castle and surrounding forest. Unfortunately, I neglected to get any pictures of the people on the bridge, but go ahead and envision a long bridge with everyone gathered in the first 15 feet. I don’t know if it was a fear of heights or laziness or a desire to get their picture and leave, but most everyone would arrive at the edge of the bridge and stop. Oy. Was definitely happy we were visiting in the “shoulder” season and not midsummer because I cannot even envision the chaos. However, the views were lovely.
After taking the required pics, it was a quick jog back down the mountain in order to grab the car and head a couple kilometers over to the Tegelbergbahn luge course (which we were hoping was still open). Having survived the castle hordes, we certainly didn’t want to miss hurtling down a metal luge course in a small sled. And luckily, we had the chance (actually, I think it was 5 chances apiece?). Totally fun, definitely fast and certainly just dangerous enough to hurt yourself if you didn’t watch out. (Will have to track down the pics for it later).
So, we survived the castle. And had a good time. And possibly even found a summer alternative to the skiing adrenaline we were missing. (And to cap it off, on the way home I got my first shot on the Autobahn. And it was a helluva lot of fun…)