02.06.2014 - 02.06.2014
June 2nd, 2014
Fairy tales really do come true. At least, that is how Nicole and I feel today. We are headed to Neuschwanstein Castle (hereto further referred to as "castle" or "the castle" because I am not typing that over and over), we are together, we are married, and we get to share this experience. It doesn't get any better than this.
We woke up and headed to the tour office that is located in the Munich Central Station. We were in a bit of a panic because we were only 10 minutes early and terrified the group was going to leave with out us. Silly us. Jeff, our very English tour guide, gathered us all together for a quick head count and then an escort to our train. Our group of 24 all grabbed a train compartment to ourselves. It was here that Nicole and I made a seemingly innocent choice on where to sit. Little did we know another highlight of our trip was upon us. Across from us sat two ladies who looked like they were best friends. In fact, they are best friends. All we knew was that they had the most excellent Australian accents, and we were going to be sitting across from them for the two hour trip.
Our guide was very happy to have us all in the same compartment and started with some housekeeping items before giving us some background on where we were headed for the day. I find this history stuff fascinating, especially when I am about to live it. The story is of King Maximilian, King Ludwig, and the Prussians. You really should look it and read about it. After 20 minutes or so, Jeff left us all to chat with each other. We struck up a conversation with the two ladies across from us. They were indeed best friends and from Australia. Jenny, fair skinned, blond hair and a very sweet demeanor, and her friend Damita, olive skinned, dark hair and equally as sweet were our new travel mates. Jenny told us that she had now been to 46 countries, most of which she traveled to in the last ten years. Of course this made me ask about a hundred questions. Completely intriguing. As the conversation continued and deepened, Nicole and I both were becoming very fond of Damita and Jenny. Jenny is married with two sons, both in their 20s I think I remember and Damita is also married with 4 children, ages ranging from 18 to 24. I hope I remembered that correctly. Their husbands must be super awesome because these two ladies get to enjoy each other and travel together. Very neat. The other thing that I would share is that Jenny showed us a playing card with a picture of the castle on it, that she had kept since she was in high school! She had that card and kept it and today was the day! She had it all planned. How she was going to hold the card up and have her picture taken as this life long desire was finally coming to be. Nicole and I thought this was so cool and we get to witness it! By the time we made it to our destination, the four of us were fast friends. How amazing and we haven't even seen the castle yet!
We emptied the train at a town called Fussen, where we then caught a bus to the little village that is below the castle. When we made it to the little village we all grabbed some German fast food from Michael's cholesterol shack. Jeff had warned us that Michael was a big guy and for us not to be afraid. He was the most ripped dude I had seen in Germany. I have no idea how this guy got so buff living in a little town. From here we did some touring of the little village narrated by Jeff with more history of the area and King Ludwig. It's funny how pictures make you imagine an area in the world, and the sharp contrast to how it really is. Everything is always much bigger, more vast, than pictures allow you to imagine. You don't think about the mountains across the lake that are Austria. You don't see the open fields at the base of the mountain stretching as far as you can see, and you don't include the entire mountain you are about to climb, until you climb it. Speaking of, it's a pretty darn good climb. I think it took the whole group near or after 20 minutes to get to the top of where we were heading. When we arrived, the castle was not in view and the anticipation is starting to tingle. Smartly, the guide had us go first to the bridge that spans the gorge behind the castle. We hiked up about a minute more, on to the bridge and then WHAM! Neuschwanstein Castle in all its glory. And I do mean glory. Striking, beautiful, magnificent, awe inspiring, and incredible. This castle is only worthy of naked eye inspection. Pictures are amazing, but multiply that times 10 to know what it feels like to be on this bridge, wind whipping around you, the Austrian mountains in the distances and this incredible structure right in front of you. It does not impact you the same WAY that the Coliseum in Rome does. The Coliseum is so ancient and amazing. But, I would say that this impacts me with the same INTENSITY as the Coliseum. One of my new most favorite places in the world. Jenny and Damita were thoroughly enjoying themselves as well! Jenny finally got her picture i front of the castle with her playing card. They took pictures of us, we took picture of them, and we all shared this special experience. We were only able to be there for 15 minutes before we had to head back down to our tour guide and make it to the entrance for our tour of the interior.
I wasn't sure what to expect on the inside. Nicole and I had made it a point not to look up pictures before so that we could be surprised. Jeff had told us that the castle was not finished before Kind Ludwig died, and therefore some of the rooms we not finished. I had very little expectations. Mostly figured it would be a stone cold interior. Jeff did not join us because the castle has its own tour guides. We had a very nice looking, young German man that sounded just like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am not kidding. (Anna of Eva, if you are reading this,this is the accent you both cringed about with German people) The interior was as elaborate as any cathedral I have yet seen. This man Ludwig, I do believe, was a man after my own heart. He build this castle out of a need to live his own fairy tales. Every wall had a painting of an ancient story or fairy tale. The throne room had the most massive and detailed chandelier, weighing in at over 2000 lbs if I remember correctly. It could have been kilograms. Jewels and gold, murals and paintings of battles, and huge marble steps up to the pedestal. Just incredible. The halls had stone dragons and suits of armor. Everywhere was carpeted or paneled in dark woods. His bed has carvings on it that took something like 4 years to complete with 10 or more carpenters working on it. He had hidden panel doors. He had couches and indoor plumbing! And true to his fairy tales, he even had built his own indoor stone grotto. It's a shame I can relate to wanting to build something like this considering in his time, Ludwig was considered mad. If you were to ask me whether or not you should visit the Coliseum in Rome, or come to this castle, I may have to flip a coin to answer you. Once the tour was over we found we had about an hour left. Our options were to hike into the gorge with Jeff or do our own thing. Since our time on the bridge was so short, Nicole and I hoofed it back up the hill to the bridge. Best. Decision. Ever. At the other side of the bridge is the mountain on which there are trails to even more breathtaking views of the castle. Strictly speaking, these areas were advisably off limits. We didn't care! We are in Germany looking at the most amazing thing ever! We completely enjoyed ourselves and the sites. This hike has been a great memory.
After we hiked back down the hill, we met back up with Jenny and Damita to chat about our day and begin the 3 hour longer journey back. At the train station we exchanged information with the two and the four of us sauntered through the station chatting and laughing. Damita and Jenny both made us promise to visit them in Australia. They insisted we must and we made the promise! I can't believe the day we had. Meeting these two amazing ladies and getting to see the the fairy tale castle come to life has made this day a strong entry to the top highlights of our trip.
That last sentence seems like a fitting ending to our day right? Yeah, it should have been. But we still had to back to our apartment, gather our bags, get back to the station and catch a train to Memmingen. Our B&B host offered to pick us up from the station in Memmingen once we arrived. Thank goodness he offered. We only had one or two hitches on the trip there. I a frantic rush i left my cost on the train when we had to switch trains, and we also loaded on r wrong train. A stranger saved us just before we missed the connection and we finally made it to Memmingen after 11pm. A full day for sure.