August 24th: Neuschwanstein Castle

I had booked tickets for an early tour of Neuschwanstein in an attempt to beat the rush. We had to pick them up at the ticket office at 8.20 so we rose early to cycle the 30 minute journey there.

We arrived with time to spare and locked the bikes. Luckily we didn’t have to queue because we’d made a reservation, and we were soon walking up the hill to the castle rather than taking the bus. It was getting quite busy, with lots of people milling around taking photos. The views from the top were lovely. We could see back to the lake we’d cycled from, and the bridge over the waterfall, which we’d visit later.

Like Linderhof, which we visited yesterday, Neuschwanstein is one of Ludwig II’s castles, perched on a high hill. It was started in 1869 but never finished. Ludwig was obsessed with building castles and heavily in debt. When he wouldn’t stop building, the government had him certified insane and imprisoned in another castle where he died in the lake in mysterious circumstances.

The guided tour only visited the rooms which were finished. Rooms we saw included the Throne Hall, the Singer’s Hall which had a stage, Ludwig’s bedroom and dressing room, the servants quarters and the kitchen, and even a grotto! The castle had all the mod cons of the time, including a telephone.

John and I liked the interior of Neuschwanstein better than that of Linderfhof, although Linderhof would have been cosier to spend time in and had beautiful grounds. There is less gold leaf and fewer fussy ornaments in Neuschwanstein, and the bigger rooms of the castle can take the ornate chandeliers and murals much better than the smaller Linderhof palace.

After the tour we walked up the hill to Marienbrucke, a bridge which spans the ravine and river below the castle (see pictures above). We had a beautiful view of Schloss Howenschwangau, another castle, on the way.

By now there were people everywhere. We had to shove our way through them to the far end of the narrow cantilever bridge in order to get enough space to take photos.

As it was still only 10.20, we made our escape from the crowds and went for a bike ride between a couple of the lakes. The scenery here is beautiful with lakes and green pastures set against the backdrop of the mountains.

Although storms had been forecast for the afternoon, and we could see the clouds gathering over the hills in the distance, the weather was still warm and sunny after lunch so we decided to take a pedalo out on the lake which we’re camping next to and have a swim. All in all, a fairly busy day for the last proper day of our holiday!

When I came out of the showers, the rain was falling quite heavily… I needn’t have dried myself! Back at the van John was getting everything inside. Now we are sitting watching the thunder, lightning and torrential rain with a glass of wine, glad we managed to do everything that we’d hoped too 🙂

Our journey home starts tomorrow. We will probably stay near Aachen on the German-Belgian border tomorrow night, which means we should be in Calais after lunch on Monday and have enough time to try and sort out the problem of our passports being in Italy.

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