“Pinch me!! Am I dreaming?!”
No, I wasn’t dreaming. Neither was I the sleeping beauty and (sadly) I definitely didn’t have a Prince standing outside my bedroom to wake me up with a kiss… But believe me, when the grandiose Neuschwanstein Castle appeared in the distance, the last thing I thought was the kiss of the Prince…
An authentic fairytale Castle stood upon the hill, protected by the mountain behind it and surrounded by trees that were a mix of winter and shy summer colors. When I say authentic, I mean the actual inspiration for the Walt Disney movie the Sleeping Beauty, with the tall thin windows, round towers and pointy black roofs just like I remembered it.
For a while I stood just there, admiring its beauty from afar, almost renitent to walk closer in case the Castle wouldn’t look so magical from its grounds.
That morning I had originally planed to get on the earliest available bus to beat the crowds. But the weather was so lovely and the birds were literally singing, so when the bus stopped to let the half a dozen people in, I walked away! A sudden urge to take it easy and enjoy the weather re-directed me to the pedestrian path that would lead me 1 hour later to this wonderful sight.
Before entering the castle, I had some time to explore the surroundings and look for different perspectives of the Castle. Following the path that leads to the back, I crossed, without stopping, the touristy-busy Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), where the view was great but I knew I could find better. So across the bridge, uphill, I found the spot that not many know exists. And there I had a viewpoint just for myself.
The castle looked even more impressive from the viewpoint and the magic didn’t dissipate! The outside looks finished, but the inside never was. There are a total of 200 rooms and halls, of which only 15 have been complete. So the inside visit was the quickest 30 minutes of the day and sadly, photography wasn’t allowed!
King Ludwig II of Bavaria never finished the castle because he was declared insane for spending all his money building extravagant castles. After only 11 sleeps at Neuschwanstein Castle, he was forcedly admitted into a Mental Health Hospice in Munich where he died the day after he arrived, together with his Psychiatrist, under mysterious circumstances.
To get back to Fussën and fulfill my all-day craving for icecream, I walked back a different (and longer) path that took me right into the woods. Feeling happy and accomplished I sat in the colorful streets of Fussën devouring the 2 ice-cream balls as happy as Cinderella was when she found her crystal shoe.
A LITTLE GUIDE TO NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE
HOW TO GET THERE?
It is located just outside the quaint town of Fussën, southwest of Bavaria. Hourly trains depart from München Hbf (Munich’s main station) everyday, and the journey takes just over one hour to Fussën.
From Fussën train station, there are two buses that run frequently: number 73 or 78. Get off at Hohenschwangau / Alpseestraße stop.
At the bottom of the Castle hill is the ticket office. Tickets are for the inside of the castle only; outside is free to roam around. When buying the tickets you will be allocated a time slot. The lady behind the counter informed me that walking up to the main entrance takes about 40 minutes and she advised me to take the horse carriage or the shuttle bus. I obviously decided to walk and it actually took me 20. Ha! I imagine I am not the slowest paced hiker, but I wasn’t rushing at all. Plus the semi-steep walk is enjoyable right through the forest.
WHERE TO STAY?
No, you don’t have to spend a night here as it is possible to visit the castle and return to Munich same day with an early start. However, I found Fussën a place worth spending some time exploring. The colorful streets with lots of little cafes and restaurants with on street seating and nice river walks, make Fussën a rather relaxing town.
So here are some recommendations for all budgets: