We set aside day three in Munich to explore some of the surrounding area. We’d set aside time to explore, but come Friday morning we didn’t actually know what we were going to do (this has been and likely will be a theme of the trip, but it’s worked out so far).
It came down to Salzburg or Neuschwanstein Castle. Salzburg was the easy option–the trains there were frequent and we knew it would be moderately interesting. Still, being in Munich and then going to Vienna aftwards, we knew it wouldn’t really be all that different than cities we were already seeing. On the other hand, Neuschwanstein was the more interesting option, but more complicated logistically. You had to take two-hour train to the city of Fussen, then take a bus up to another town, then get tickets for the castle, and then hike up to the castle. This was all complicated by the fact that same-day tickets weren’t guaranteed, so we could get there an then not get to see the castle at all! We decided, though, it was a risk we were willing to take.
If you’re not familiar with the castle, it’s pretty spectacular.
It was the inspiration for the Disney castle, built by King Ludwig II. Unfortunately, though, he died before a lot of the castle was completed (this is a recurring theme with ambitious castles we’ve come to find). The people also disliked him for the extravagant building projects (along with the “Fairy Tale King” he was also called the “Mad King”). He died a mysterious death, drowning in the lake near the castle. A lot of intrigue and mystery surrounds the castle and the king who had it built.
We left an hour to get to the train station, but by the time we got there we were tight for time, and made the train to Fussen with only a few minutes to spare. After an unexpected transfer to a bus because of train problems, we made it to Fussen, and then waited another 45 minutes to catch the bus up to the town. Thankfully, we made it up to the town and they still had tickets available! It was drizzling for most of the day, which likely kept some of the other tourists away.
The scenery in the town below Neuschwanstein was beautiful.
We weren’t allowed to take photos in the castle itself, but the decoration was really remarkable–the result of 17 years of work without money as an object. Still, the tour was much shorter than any of us expected. When they say only a few rooms were completed they mean that. And those rooms were amazing, but we were still left wondering what the remaining portions of the castle contained.
It started to pour on our way down from the castle, but we were able to make it back to Munich without too many problems.
We finished off the night with beer and pork at a cozy restaurant near our place.