Today was set aside for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the two castles in the alps above the German town Fussen. King Ludwig II, otherwise known as “Mad King Ludwig”, had them built on top of ruins of previous castles. Ludwig grew up in one of those castles and enjoyed the Medieval architecture, so that was the style in which he built Neuschwanstein. It also famous for being the “Disney Castle.”
I did not purchase tickets ahead of time, as I wasn’t sure how busy it would be and I didn’t want to be locked down to a certain time. So I just took the advice of the American couple yesterday and got on an early train to Fussen. My rail pass included this journey (and man, I can get used to first class rail travel, let me tell you! After Poland I realized how much better first class is, as my rail pass was not valid in Poland, so I traveled second class.) though I knew I would have to take a bus up to the castle. (Or walk. 30-40 minutes. Uphill. Um, no. Not with these aching feet!) So I got off of the train and followed the crowd to the bus. Paid my fare and when it dropped us off, I got in line for a ticket. The line wasn’t too bad and, at 11:25am, I got to purchase my ticket. Only to learn that the next available tour was at 1:25pm. WHAT? I have to wait 2 hours?!?! I was less than pleased.
So I killed time by walking around and getting something to eat. Then there was another bus to take us up to the castle, as the first bus only took us to the “base camp.”. Oh and this bus? Costs more money. So dumb. And it didn’t even take us all the way. I was not impressed. Even though my foot was feeling better today (I massaged the hell out of it last night and took two Naproxen at bed instead of one.), but I didn’t want to push it. I first went to the bridge where you could get a spectacular view of the castle and the mountains and a waterfall. It was lovely. I could’ve stood there all day on that hanging bridge, if it weren’t constantly filled with rude, pushy tourists.
But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t late for the tour, so I made the hike in to the Castle. It was mostly downhill, so I was dreading leaving! But the Castle was very beautiful up close (and in case you’re wondering, castles are totally different than palaces to me… palaces almost seem a dime a dozen, but castles are pretty awesome). I went in on the tour (no photos, of course) and was shocked to learn that it was only a 30 minutes tour. Excuse me? I went thought all of THAT for a 30 minute tour?!?! I don’t know that I would’ve even gone inside (and paid the 12 euro) had I known that. It was a lovely castle and some of the rooms blew me away. But I still don’t know if it was worth it.
So the deal with Ludwig was that he was obsessed with Richard Wagner, so this castle was a tribute to both Wagner and the Medieval period. Unfortunately, Ludwig never got to see it completed. It had been under construction for 17 years and he died before it was completed. So it is still not completed to this day (which is, apparently, why the tours are only 30 minutes long). Remarkably, the castle was opened as a tourist attraction 6 weeks after his death in 1886. His death is a mystery to this day. Although once a King of Bavaria, shortly into his reign Bavaria was overtaken by the Prussians and eventually into the German Empire. So he hid away in his castles and had them built with his own money, taking out loads of debts. When collectors tried to make good on the debts, he was declared insane and he was subsequently arrested and brought to another castle, which lie on the shores of a lake. The next night, Ludwig and the doctor who declared him insane left for a walk with no other attendants and were found dead in the lake. There are a number of theories on his death, including suicide by drowning (even though he was in shallow water and was a strong swimmer), murder, and accidental (hypothermia). The doctor was murdered, as his body showed signs of blunt force trauma and strangulation. Some think Ludwig killed him and tried to escape…