DAYS 5 & 6 (OF 19)
5 minutes from Fussen, we get to our hotel, Hotel Müller, right in between the 2 castles in Schwangau. Couldn’t be in a better location! Hohenschwangau to the rear of the hotel, and views of Neuschwanstein from the front of hotel.
Not only is Hotel Müller perfectly located to visit the castles, but the hotel itself, is absolutely gorgeous. The hotel has this old-world feel, they offer free parking (as opposed to an average of 25 € at pretty much every other place we’ve stayed at), the rooms are fairly large, however, no air-conditioning, and the restaurant serves up a great breakfast. Best of all they offer a service to pick up your castle tickets. We booked online ahead of time, but you still have to line up to pick up the actual tickets, which looked like an absolute nightmare. 8 am on the day of our tour, the tickets were waiting for us at the front desk.
A lot smaller than Fussen, the town of Schwangau is basically a tourist mecca for those coming to see the fairy tale castle, Neuschwanstein, the less famous neighbouring castle of Hohenschwangau, the Museum of the Bavarian Kings and the Alspee (lake). Restaurants and stores are only open during castle hours (9 am – 5:30 pm), so thank goodness lively Fussen is just a 5-minute drive away.
YOU'VE GOTTA SEE...
First, I gotta thank Lori for giving me a crash course on how to properly pronounce certain German words and phrases! Seems for years I’ve been completely butchering the names of these castles. Also, (and I’m half-Asian, so I’m allowed to say this) the entire castle area is full of Asian tourists. I mean, you could almost rename Schwangau, China-town, or Korea-town, or Filipino-town or Vietnamese-town, etc.
Tickets: You can only visit the inside on a guided tour. You definitely MUST book tickets in advance for this. As I said above, even though you book online, yes you do bypass the insane ticket purchase line up (could be anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours in line!), but you must still get in the pick-up line (a little less insane, but still takes approx. 30 minute wait) to grab the actual tickets. The Swan Ticket is your best bet - 30 € per person gives you admission to both castles and the museum.
Getting up there: Not included in your admission ticket, you gotta get up to this thing somehow. Options are:
Bus shuttle: the stop is in front of the Schlosshotel Lisl, going up: 1.80 € , going down: 1.00 €, both ways: 2.60 €, it stops at the Marienbrücke bridge, which is above the castle, so you have to walk downhill about 8 minutes to the castle entrance for your tour.
Horse-drawn-carriage: the stop is front of Hotel Müller, going up: 6.00 €, going down: 3.00 €, it stops below the castle, and you have to walk uphill about 10 minutes to the entrance.
Walking: is your last option …. free. Depending on your pace, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 40 minutes.
Since the both lines for the bus and the carriage were packed, and you need to be up at the entrance at the time it says on your ticket, we ended walking up the damn mountain….. at a fairly fast pace…..because we were running late. You know what you get for hauling ass up a steep incline to an elevation of 3300 ft in about 15 minutes? Blurry friggin' vision. I swear I thought I was going blind for a bit there.
The Tour: A lot of reviews say don’t bother going inside, but it really is something to see. Despite the fact that it’s not a “real” castle, built rather late in the game (ground breaking was in 1868 and it was basically built based Mad King Ludwig’s imagination and infatuation with Richard Wagner), the tour itself was very informative and it’s still quite something to see. Note: no photos or videos allowed inside the castle.
Marienbrücke Bridge: If you didn’t take the bus that stops at the bridge, you must take the time to walk up to it after your tour (about 8 minutes uphill from the castle). This is THE photo spot. It’s a wooden bridge that’s about 3 people wide, so it gets super crowded - especially when dinkettes decide to go on there with strollers and block the entire path! If you’re afraid of heights, this is not the spot for you, and the wooden planks that move with every step, definitely does not help. If you’re not afraid of heights, then have a look down at the stream and waterfalls way down below.
Tour times are spaced out enough that you have plenty of time to get to Hohenschwangau after your tour at Neuschwanstein. The walk up to this schloss is a breeze compared to the other one. It only takes about 8 minutes to walk - no choice but to walk, there’s no carriage or bus service to this one. Again, you can only view the inside with a guided tour, and again very informative. No photos/videos allowed, but in this schloss, which was the summer residence of the Bavarian Royal Family, you kind of get a feel for how `not-quite-right-in-the-head’ Ludwig was.
MUSEUM OF THE BAVARIAN KINGS
Honestly, after the 2 schloss’s and walking all day, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a museum. But…..we did it anyway. It’s located right beside the Alpsee and it follows the history of all the Bavarian kings. There’s no entrance time on this one, it’s valid for the full day until closing. It’s got a bunch of knick-knacks from the former Royal Family, like an impressive royal cloak of King Ludwig II.
One of the largest natural lakes in the area, it’s absolutely beautiful lake, with wild swans swimming about, and the Alps in the background. You can rent boats (canoes and peddle-boats) to wander about the lake even more.
YOU'VE GOTTA EAT...
So, we ate our dinners in Fussen since all the restos were closed by 5pm, but we did have a lunch-snack at Restaurant Kainz. We just wanted something small to share, and ordered the omelette with apple sauce (can’t remember what it’s called in German) because it sounded interesting. It was amazing! I believe it was egg, flour, raisins and baking soda, so it was fluffy, sprinkled with icing sugar with fresh home-made apple sauce for dipping.