Henry Poon's Blog

Neuschwanstein Castle

Day 186

Since we never got to go to Neuschwanstein because of that rainy day, we went yesterday because it was so sunny.  We all woke up super early to take the 7:17 train out of Stuttgart and I ended up sleeping for most of the journey (sleeping at 1 the night before didn’t help).

Four and a half hours and 3 train transfers later, we arrived in the town of Füssen, and from there we took a bus to Hohenschwangau.  All of these German towns had a really old style of architecture – even older than the ones I see around Stuttgart.  It’s almost as if Band of Brothers used these houses for filming their show.

On the train to Füssen, we could already see that pretty much most people on board were tourists all heading to the same place.  It seemed as if the sole purpose of this town is for tourism, despite its rich history.  The nearby municipalities of Schwangau and Hohenschwangau were the same too.  Tourists were everywhere, and taking photos of everything (myself included).  From Hohenschwangau, we could already look up the hill to see a glimpse of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Bavarian Alps.

We could also see the less popular castle, Hohenschwangau Castle from Hohenschwangau.  By itself, that castle looked really great, but when put beside Neuschwanstein, it just doesn’t compare.

We went to the ticket center to hopefully get tickets for the tour of the inside, and when we reached the ticket counter after 40 minutes of waiting, we found out all the tours we wanted were full.  We even tried to get tours in languages we didn’t know like French because we just wanted to see the inside, but those were full too.  The only ones left were too late in the evening for us to go since it would conflict with our train back.  We had no choice but to only see the outside. 

From the base of the mountain, we proceeded on foot and arrived at the gate of the castle after about 10-15 minutes. For once, the attraction we went to visit wasn’t under some kind of maintenance. Since I had walked up to the castle a lot faster than the rest of my group, I went ahead and went inside to the castle courtyard.

The castle courtyard also had a spectacular view of the surrounding area.  Looking further up the mountain, I could see a lot of parachuters slowly drifting down.  Those people probably had a better view of the castle than everyone else on the ground.  When I went back to the castle gate, I found that the rest of the group still hadn’t caught up yet and I probably spent almost 30 minutes up there.  I had no idea what took them so long, but it turned out that they walked really slow and made a lot of random stops.  After meeting up with them, we walked along the forest trail to the Marienbrücke, and that was where we arrived at the location where all the iconic photos of the castle were taken.  According to Wiki, this castle was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Before taking any pictures of the castle, we had to fight through the rather large crowd of tourists that also wanted to take these iconic shots for themselves (I can’t say that I wasn’t one of them).  Eventually, I got on and enjoyed the view of the castle and the surrounding area.

After crossing the bridge, I climbed up a hill to get an even better view and that’s when I stumbled on a cross placed on the edge of the cliff.  Apparently, someone had died here and it was probably from falling off the mountain or something.  That made me feel a bit uneasy, since falling off was definitely in the realm of possibility.

From the bridge, we saw that people were down in the gorge and it seemed like a nice place so we took the trail down as well.  On the way down, we passed by a waterfall and two my friends decided that they’d go swimming in it.  The water looked super cold too.  Regardless, they climbed down and started swimming in there in just their underwear.  Some of the tourists walking by were kind of shocked to see that.  Some weren’t very impressed, but others found it amusing.  A funny thing about that was that people didn’t take any pictures of the waterfall because the two swimmers would be ruining the picture.  They swam in there for about 10 minutes before getting back out and once they did, we continued down to the bottom of the gorge.  The water at the bottom was so amazingly clear and looked so clean.  It was reminiscent of the time I went to Banff National Park when I was 10.

Along the shore, people had stacked stones together to build towers and they were scattered everywhere.  I tried building my own, but I failed quite epically.

It was soon time for us to leave for our train back to Stuttgart so we continued following the trail down the mountain.  The path down went along the creek where the water flowed down the mountain and that was quite nice to see.  The way the water crashed down looked kind of like white water rafting, except that there wasn’t enough space for it.

Eventually, the trail led back into town near a residential area.  The houses here too looked really old.  More architectural styles that Band of Brothers probably used.

After about 15 minutes of walking, we ended up back in Hohenschwangau.  From there, we took the train back.  At the train station, I saw the largest mass of people ever waiting for a train.  Pretty much all of these people were tourists too. 

Needless to say, it wasn’t very comfortable on that train.  All the seats had been taken up and most people had to stand in the aisles and that wasn’t great at all.  I ended up standing in the train for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  The train didn’t have air conditioning either, so here we all were, getting blasted by the sun without any ventilation for all the warm bodies in the train.  The loud drunk people and the screaming little kids didn’t make it better either.

After getting off that train to wait for our connecting train in Buchloe, we went to go buy some food at a local cafe.  While buying our food, we chatted with the owner for a little bit and it turned out that he used to work in Vancouver and lived on Robson Street.  Small world.  Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a hurry so we had to just buy our food and go.  Originally, the 20 minutes we had would have been sufficient for buying food, but the guy (not the guy we chatted with, but someone else) trying to give us our bill took the longest time ever doing it.  He literally stood at the cash register and stared out into space as if he didn’t know how to do his job.  Then he’d press a few buttons on the register (wrong buttons), and the machine just gave an unhappy beeping noise.  I had never seen anybody work so slow before.  It’s almost as if he worked with zero efficiency.  Even worse was that he forgot my order too.  My friends ended up sharing their food with me (I was really hungry).  After getting our food, we sprinted back to the train station and caught our train.  On the train back, I ended up sleeping since I was so tired from walking around all day (and was probably still under the effects of sleep deprivation from the night before too).

After my nap, I ended up taking random photos of the countryside and playing cards with the others until we reached Stuttgart again.  It was a nice trip, but it is a shame that we never got to visit the inside of the castle.

More photos here

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