Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Day 3 in Germany

Day three plans were quite simple. Tour the Neuschwanstein Schloss - the 19th century Bavarian castle - the creation of mad king Ludwig. Better known as the Disney inspiration castle, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.

What draws visitors to the castle is its location. It literally hangs between 2 mountains, scary and an engineering marvel compared to the construction situations in the 1800's. Another aspect is owner, the mad king. King Ludwing II, was crowned the King at the age of 18 when he was still the shy dreamer. The King conceived the idea of a private retreat of solitude in the mountains, little far off from his family castle - Schloss Hohenschwangau.

Adding more mystique to the whole castle is fact that the King was declared insane without medical examination in the June of 1886 and his mysterious death within 3 days of being declared insane.

After a breakfast at Suzanne's consisting of amazing whole grain bread, eggs and assorted cold cuts, we took a taxi to Neuschwanstein. We first explored the old family castle - Hohenschwangau, a little one and not that impressive. And then took the laborious longer trek to Neushwanstein. Neushwanstein is only accessible by foot or a horse carriage. We decided to trek through the woods - a little longer but well-worth it. The slight drizzle and chill in the air were actually invigorating. The teal lake, the towering firs, the castle spires all added to the beauty. Something that can just be experienced.

We first made it to Marienbrücke (Marie's Bridge) over the deep Pollät Gorge. It was definitely scary being on top of a bridge built in the 1880's and of course thrown in 1000 tourists jumping around and clicking photos just like us. More photos and we made way to the castle. The castle can be viewed only by means of a guided tour and no photography inside the castle is permitted. We waited for our turn and enjoyed the tour inside the castle. It is amazing to see the amount of thought, architectural elements and ornamental decorations gone into the castle.

After we were done with the tour, we decided to trek around the castle. The wooded area around the castle has numerous trekking trails and we decided to take one of the longer routes. Most of the trails are paved partially and beyond a point most people turn back. We decided to go on and walked down to the river and then continued on. Slippery trails, rains, lack of a watch to keep track of time and absolute no knowledge of how much further we needed to go added to the pleasures of being out in crispy green forests. Suddenly we finally found ourselves back at the parking lot, wet and muddy and realized we had actually trekked all the way around the mountain.

We took the local bus back to Fussen and a shower and sleep were in order. We spent the evening walking and exploring Fussen further and shopping for souvenirs. The nutcrackers, the cow bells (yeah the DDLJ ones) and cuckoo clocks from Bavaria are very famous.

We had a long day planned for our final day in Germany!!

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