Europe: Day 9

Hohenschwangau, Germany

It’s my last day in Germany before taking off to Italy. The last few days have been amazing and will be very memorable. I’m not sure what the days to come will be like but I don’t think it will be the days in Munich.

The last place to visit is Castle Neuschwanstein, the inspiration behind the Disney castle. It is located in Hohenschwangau, just south west of Munich, about an hour and half drive along the country side.

The Germany country side seems very peaceful. There’s a farm every some odd kilometers with a bunch of brown cows roaming around grazing on grass. The landscape is hardly ever flat. There are trees on hills and the mountain in the back. I also noticed that as we passed by each town, there’s also a church. Mel tells me that every town, no matter how small has a church of some sort.

Mel has been to Neuschwanstein before but I guess this time we’re taking a different route. One that Google told me to take. We came across Echelsbacher Brücke, a bridge that goes over the Ammer river. It’s 130m long and 76m high. Just looking down from the bridge gave me slight vertigo.

After taking a few pictures, we got back into the car and carried on. We turned onto what’s known as “Romantische Strasse” which translates into “romantic road.” From the looks of things, it didn’t look very romantic, and at some parts, it didn’t smell romantic. But perhaps it’s not romantic in the same sense that most of us know it as but more towards the idea that the road was used by the Romans back in the day. The road is 400km long which starts from Würzburg and ends in Füssen, just by Schloss Neuschwanstein. It’s a somewhat picturesque road, nonetheless, with wood farms, green pastures and poppy fields.

Today, the Alps were more prominent. Just before reaching the castle, we stop off to the side of the road to take some pictures. A few other drivers did so as well. The Alps may not look very interesting from far away but when you’re driving thought them, it’s another story.

Upon arrival, we noticed that the parking lot wasn’t too busy yet. But then again, most of the visitors are arriving by bus, which are parked at another parking lot. I took the picture above from Schloss Schwangau, which is another castle in the area but not as popular as Schloss Neuschwanstein. This castle looks more like a castle for a Prince whereas Schloss Neuschwanstein is like a castle for a King.

There was a lake nearby that had a family of swans. I don’t recall the name of the lake so we’ll call it “Swan Lake” to keep with the theme. Of course, any time Mel is near water she needs to go for a swim. I didn’t plan on being so close to water as often as we were so I didn’t bother to bring any swimming shorts.

After Mel was done with swimming, we started our hike up the mountain towards the castle. It was a 40min hike to the top. I feel kind of bad because Mel was wearing slip on shoes, not ideal for hiking and we came across some terrains that were not idea for those shoes. But she managed to make it to the top without any problems.

Before heading to the castle, we visited a bridge known as Marienbrücke which gave us a nice profile view of the castle. The king sure knew how to pick the perfect spot. I mean, look at it. The castle is high enough that you get an unobstructed view of the countryside below and even the lake.

And on the other side is the view of the Alps. That’s prime real estate location in today’s world.

Looking down from the bridge is an aerial view of a waterfall. I wondered if there was a hiking trail that would take us to the waterfall but there wasn’t anything that we could see right away.

For some reason, the bridge was packed with tourist. There were no signs but I wondered what the capacity limit of the bridge was. Mel suggests that I not think about it, but I couldn’t help it because as we’re crossing the bridge, I could feel the wood floor bending. And the thing was, there were a lot of people at the one end of the bridge. It was as if they didn’t want to cross the bridge to the other side. The view from the other side was actually better because you go high up.

It would be at least another hour or so before my tour started. We just hung out on the grass for a while, in the shade where it was nice and cool… and damp apparently but it was one of those days where I could have closed my eyes and just passed out.

The tour was about an hour long, paced by the guide. At the entrance, I was given an English audio guide which would automatically activate as soon as it received a signal from the controller. The bad thing about it was that, by the time the audio guide got to a certain part, I wasn’t in the room yet because the group that I was in was a tad slow to move. The audio guide was pretty informative. I don’t have any pictures of the tour because we were not allowed to photograph anything, which sucks because some of the artwork in there was pretty amazing. A lot of the castle was very Romanesque.

Schloss Neuschwanstein was very great to see in person. You can probably spend the whole day in this area, just wondering around. A little tip, get ticket reservations. Since we didn’t read the website, we found out the hard way that tickets needs to be reserved two days in advanced. Ticket reservations allowed you to skip the long line ups. There was hardly anyone taking advantaged of reserved tickets we came. That line was completely empty. When you get closer to the front of the line, it isn’t so bad because you’re being shaded. But when you’re just joining the line, you’re out in the sun for a while. The castle is definitely worth a visit so make a day out of it if you plan on visiting.

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