Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Castles

The weather on Tuesday wasn’t any better than it was on Monday. However, we set off on our visit to Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles. We are staying about an hour away from them. We had another excellent ride on another scenic route on our way there. A characteristic of these roads is that they are wide enough for two cars but you still have to share the road with buses and big trucks!

It cost us 4.5 euros to use the top car park and I also had to buy an umbrella for 19 euros – I had reckoned on a fine day for this visit!

You can only visit the inside of the castles as part of a tour group that begins with a visit to Hohenschwangau castle followed 2 hours later by a visit to Neuschwanstein castle. The first is visible from the township and it takes about 15 minutes to climb the hill to the courtyard where you wait until your tour number comes up on the lights. We all waited in the rain but very much enjoyed the tour once it started. Built in the early 1800’s this is a really remarkable castle; used as a summer residence and hunting lodge by the royal family.

At the conclusion of the first tour we made our way on foot to Neuschwanstein castle. There were other choices including a horse drawn carriage but we decided to spare the horses which took 12 people at a time.

The walk – all up hill – took us about 25 minutes and again, we waited in the rain until our tour number came up. Unfortunately we were too quick getting there so had to wait 30 minutes. I was reluctant to buy an umbrella earlier in the day but was pleased to have done so by the time we returned to the car!

Neuschwanstein castle is definitely fairytale stuff from its setting on the hill to its uphill approach, to its architecture, to its extravagant internal decoration. King Ludwig may have come under fire from his government at the time for his extravagances and association with Richard Wagner but they will surely be giving thanks to him today because the huge numbers passing through the turnstiles will be making the cash registers ring long and loud every day the place is open!

Although it rained throughout our time there we managed to capture some fairy tale photos later in the afternoon.

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