Monday, August 17, 2009

Road Trip - Neuschwanstein Castle (Germany, Bavaria)

Did you know that the Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration behind the creation of the Walt Disney logo? After hearing about it all these years, I finally had the opportunity to set foot in this dream castle.

The road trip began in the early hours of a beautiful morning and although the drive was long, the motivation remained strong. Along the way, to fuel the itching mouths, we stopped en route for a break of coffee and strawberry yoghurt cake. Disappointingly, the cake did not taste as good as it look. The strawberries could have been fresher and the crust could have been crispier.

By mid afternoon, we arrived at the destination and was shocked to find the snaking queue at the ticketing counters. It took us another 45 minutes before we finally purchased the ticket for a guided tour in the castle. Lunch was a quick affair of frankfurters and soon, we were again queuing for the horse ride up the castle which, by the way, was not included in the castle ticket. Nevertheless, the horse ride would have to be one of the highlights for the entire castle visit.

After alighting from the coach, we had to walk another 15 minutes or so to the castle entrance. Then, it's another queue for the guided tour into the castle. Perhaps it's the fantasy theme built up by Disney movies or the massive throng of tourists coupled with long queues that upped my anticipation and expectation of the castle. At the end of the approximately 30 minutes tour, we were reasonably disappointed. Firstly, the interior furnishings were not as grand as we thought it to be and more importantly, the tour group was really massive with many jostling to hear the guide who merely gave a summarized summary of the castle in a heavily German accented English (without the use of an amplifier!).
After exiting the castle, we made our way to a nearby bridge - Marienbr├╝cke. According to the recommendation on the official website, the bridge is said to have a nice view of the castle. that I would have to agree as it was the other highlight of this trip. It was quite windy with a small waterfall gushing beneath the bridge. Photography of the castle would really be great from this viewpoint if not for the ongoing construction of the castle's exterior.

For those who are planning a trip there, I do have some advices:
(1) Buy one of those pocket-sized, cheap castle pictorial guidebook and bring it along to the guided tour. It definitely gave me more insight into the furnishings within the castle compared to the guided tour.

(2) Buy the combo ticket to visit the nearby Hohenschwangau as well. This was the castle where King Lugwig II grew up. With Neuschwanstein, he only spent less than 2 weeks before he was 'diagnosed' of mental instability and stripped of his title as King of Bavaria.

(3) Purchase a copy of the life of the "Mad" King Ludwig II, it might just change your perception of whether he's as "mad" as legend made it to be... :)

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