Saturday, June 28, 2008

Castles in the Air

Today we embarked on a castles adventure. We drove to a little town called Hohenschwangau that hosts 2 castles. The drive was interesting. I had asked directions at the hotel desk, but my rental car has a built in navigation system, so we entered our destination, and followed the machine. I got concerned when it directed us right past the entrance to A95 which is what the hotel desk clerk told me to take, but I figured it was just taking us on an alternate route. We drove quite a while, and I knew the castles were in the Alps, but we weren't seeing any mountains. At some point we stopped at a gas station and bought a map, but we couldn't find where we were on the map. So I went back inside, and with a few remembered words of German, asked "Wo sind wir?" (where are we) That was a mistake, because the gas station cashier began to answer me in rapid German that I couldn't catch a word of. I slowed her down with some English questions, and she showed me on the map where we were, and where we were going. It turns out the nav system was right after all, and we didn't have much farther to go. We saw some really nice scenic views while driving there.

Scenic views enroute to Hohenschwangau

We arrived at Hohenschwangau and bought tickets to visit both of the castles. The first castle, Schloss Hohenschwangau, is the older one, and was about a 15-20 minute walk up the mountainside. Once you arrive at the castle courtyard, you wait for your tour number to come up and they take you on a guided tour inside. The yellow colored castle was the home of the Bavarian King Maximilian II, along with his wife Marie, and sons Ludwig and Otto.

Schloss Hohenschwangau

View from the courtyard.

After the Schloss Hohenschwangau tour, we walked back down to the town, and started up the walk to Neuschwanstein castle. Schloss Neuschwanstein was built by Maximilian's son Ludwig after he became King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig was a big fan of Richard Wagner, and dedicated the castle to him. There are 3 options for getting to the castle, Bus, horse drawn carriage, or walk. The bus and horse carriage both only get you close to the castle, but you must still walk some distance to get to the castle entrance. We opted to walk the whole way. The walk (hike) takes about 45 minutes, and is up a rather steep mountainside. But its worth going up to see the castle, it is really impressive.

We're getting up there HOW?

When you arrive, you once again wait in the courtyard for your tour number, and are then taken on a guided tour of the inside. There are some beautiful rooms and furnishings inside, but the most beautiful part are the views through the windows of the surrounding mountains and countryside. After we toured the castle we stopped at a small cafe within the castle and had a small bite to eat.
View from Schloss Neuschwanstein

The view would be breathtaking, if you had any breath left after the walk up.

Lunch in the castle, just like Disney

Near the castle is a bridge called Marianbrücke, named for Ludwig's mother Marie. It is about another 10 minute walk (uphill) to get there, but it is worth it for the magnificent view of Schloss Neuschwanstein it offers.

View from Marianbrüke

After walking back down (more difficult than it sounds) we set the nav system to take us to the town of Garmisch. It guided us along a very scenic route, but must have had an error in its program because it took us to a road that definitely was not going to bring us to Garmisch. So we reset for Munich, and returned to the hotel.

It was late, when we got back, but we wanted to try and have dinner in the rotating tower restaurant at the Munich Olympic Park, so we headed over there. When we got to the tower restaurant they told us the kitchen was already closed, so we stayed for a drink in the bar, and headed back to the hotel, hoping we could still get something to eat there. The hotel kitchen was closed too, so dinner tonight was a bag of pretzels Janet had left over from her flight. I'm looking forward to breakfast. :)

1 comment:

Mary said...

Isn't Nueschwanstien in a beautiful setting. Probably should have opted for the horse carriage to go up.