Aloe and Neosporin to doctor the luge wounds successfully in hand, the next morning we made a quick 5-minute jaunt to Schloss Hohenschwangau and Schloss Neuschwanstein. The castles of the mad King Ludwig II, his Neuschwanstein Castle serves as the inspiration for the renowned Disney logo and the centerpiece of Disneyland. Ludwig was a Bavarian king who became king at the age of 18 and died just before his 41st birthday (murdered, suicide?). He was a bit of a recluse and had several castle building projects commissioned throughout the time of his rule. Dad had, travel genius that he is, ordered our tickets a few months ago online so we were able to bypass the easily two hour line to be the second in the reserved ticket line, collect our tickets for tours of both castles, and spend some time on the shores of the scenic glacier melt lake on the grounds. The contrasting colors of the light blue of the sky, juxtaposed with the turquoise glacier melt water, edged by the various shades of green was mesmerizing.
Soon enough it was time for our tour of the first castle – Schloss Hohenschwangau. The home of King Ludwig II’s mother and father, it was the castle that Ludwig grew up in – although he didn’t care much for the castle he did like the reclusiveness of the area, inspiring him to build his own castle on the opposing hill after he became king. His parents’ castle was built in the 18th century and was incredibly modern as far as castles and the time period went. It had a central air heating system and interior passages within the walls so the servants could do their jobs without being seen. The murals that covered each inch of the walls were done in the romantic style and were evidently the mark of incredible wealth. The king and queen each had their own floor in the Schloss Hohenschwangau so the married couple could, as our tour guide said, “avoid any difficulties”. There was however, a secret spiral staircase behind a concealed wall that ran from the kings bedroom to the queens bedroom…oops!
Descending the hill back to the valley, we next took the “shortcut bus route” (dare someone to ask my parents bout that one 😉 ) up to Schloss Neuschwanstein via Mary’s Bridge. Offering incredible views of the castle, there were hundreds of people on the aging bridge. I can tell you with complete certainty was not structurally sound. We enjoyed the view for a moment and then quickly got back to safe, solid ground.
The mad King Ludwig II had Schloss Neuschwanstein built in the 19th century, however, he only lived in it for a total of 170 days and died before it was completely finished. Extraordinarily ornate, it was clear that no expense was spared – or probably even considered. For example, Ludwig liked the scene in a play where the goddess Venus meets a nymph in a cave, so he had a room built that looked exactly like a cave – the walls weren’t just painted they were textured to be cave walls – and the room was complete with a waterfall, fog machine, etc. It was incredible. His throne room was again over the top; opulent murals covered the three story high ceilings and the floor was tiled with over 2 million mosaic tiles. His bedroom had a running water sink – very modern for the time – and the unfinished parts of the castle included a spa room that looked out over the valley. Throughout the tour, there was no mention of Disney, however, it was very evident that this was the Disney castle – little girls in our tour were dressed as Cinderella, Ariel, and Sleeping Beauty. We even had a little boy parading as Shrek! 🙂
We grabbed lunch in the shadows of the castle turrets before returning to the car (for anyone visiting, go past the three parking lots directly to lot 4 – great tip we got! Same price but much closer to the castles).
It was only mid-afternoon so we decided to cross back into Austria and then back to Germany to visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A traditional Bavarian village, it is the original on which Leavenworth was modeled. It was fun to stroll through town, get some ice cream, and check out their Beer Shampoo displays (still Christmas shopping, Graham family…). Back to our B&B in Fussen, we looked for some dinner and went to bed – getting ready to rise early the next day to begin our journey in Switzerland!