Nicole and I woke kind of early and took a train to the city of Füssen where King Ludwig II’s childhood palace, Hohenschwangau, and his later castle, Neuschwanstein, were located. To visit Füssen, we took all manner of transportation: a subway to central Munich, a train to Füssen, a bus to Hohenschwangau, and finally a short walk to the palace and castle.
Arriving in Füssen
We booked our tours for the palace and castle for the day and waited for our scheduled tour time. Schloss Hohenschwangau, the palace, and Neuschwanstein, the castle, are available by tour only. You book your ticket for a scheduled tour time and then wait until that time to visit the two sites.
Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau
Before our number was called we visited a local beer hall and had another pretzel and beer before starting our tours. Up first was Schloss Hohenschwangau, or “swan palace on a high place”. King Ludwig II grew up in this palace. It was one of several residences occupied by the Bavarian Royal family. However, this palace was not enough for Ludwig, he desired a palace of his own creation, something gaudy and filled with swan motifs. Enter Neuschwanstein.
After Hohenschwangau, Nicole and I made our way up the steep hill to Neuschwanstein, the castle King Ludwig had constructed. It doesn’t look that much like actual European castles, but it does look a lot like fairytale castles from classic literature and parables. That’s because it was built well after every other castle in Europe. In fact Neuschwanstein was built around the same time as the Eiffel Tower. The castle even had a state of the art, for the time, kitchen. Unfortunately for King Ludwig, he spent almost no time in his fairytale castle. He lived there less than a year before he died. Ludwig was declared unfit to rule shortly after the castle was completed and several weeks later found drowned in a lake along with his psychiatrist. No one is certain what happened, but foul play was not ruled out. Less than six weeks after Ludwig’s death Neuschwanstein was opened to the public for tours and has been a profitable tourist attraction ever since.
Returning to Munich and General German Musings
We spent about an hour on our tour looking around the castle before eventually making our way back down and taking a train back to Munich. It had been a full and exciting day. We saw a palace, a castle, and we even got a chance to see the Bavarian countryside. The countryside itself is fantastic. The little cities we passed through were so clean. Even areas that you assume would be dirty such as the back of a supermarket or a small gas station were spotless. I tried to actually look for litter or trash and couldn’t find any. It was remarkable. Bavaria really embraced solar power as well. Dozens of businesses, and houses as well, had solar panels installed on their roofs.
Back in Munich, I managed to make it to about 10 before finally falling asleep. Jet lag was proving a hindrance to any chance of seeing Germany nightlife.