Friday, July 17, 2009

Mad King Ludwig Lived Here


Funny how I have low expectations for places I know to be touristy and high expectations for places I've never heard of.

I meant to blog about Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau before but never got around to it. We were pleasantly surprised upon arriving in Hohenschwangau by the fact that there weren't nearly as many tourists as we thought. The service in our hotel was very courteous and dinner (trout with parsley potatoes) was excellent. We had a perfect view of Neuschwanstein floating in a patch of fog at sunset.

While some visitors opt to take the horse-drawn carriage up the hill, I recommend doing the 20-minute hike by foot unless you are medically unable to do so. The horse carriage doesn't drop you off the front door of the castle. You have to walk another ten minutes after getting off. Also, it takes much longer to wait for the carriage then it does to just walk up the hill.

We arrived in the early afternoon on a Sunday and had pre-ordered our castle tickets through the hotel. Because we delayed by a traffic jam on our way to Hohenschwangau, we asked the hotel to change our pre-assigned tickets to the castle from 3pm to 5:45pm, the last time-slot for the day, and they were kind enough to take care of it for us.

Order tickets a day in advance of your arrival and you should be fine. Also, I recommend to see Hohenschwangau castle before Neuschwanstein. Hohenschwangau is more complete and detailed in its presentation and it paints a whole picture of King Ludwig of Bavaria and his family. If you are fairly fluent, request the German tour as 95% of tourists are from elsewhere and lines for the German-speaking visitors are much shorter. Once you arrive at the castle entry point, your ticket number will appear on an electronic display for your time-slot and you file in the appropriate line.

See Neuschwanstein castle from another angle by taking the path to the left of the exit and walking to the Marienbrücke, a bridge suspended almost 300 feet above the Pöllat waterfall. Also worthwile doing is the paddleboat (5 Euros for 30 min.) or canoe rental on the Alpsee nearby.

Now I can say - been there, done that and liked it.

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