When we decided to move to Europe, we made a wish list of places we wanted to visit while we were here. At the top of my list was Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps. It was “Mad King Ludwig’s” castle, and the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. It was a large part of our motivation for planning this trip to Bavaria and Tirol in the first place.
We went to see it today! And it was truly beautiful. It fits with its surroundings so perfectly, and is absolutely a romantic inspiration. It is nestled high on the mountainside and surrounded by golden-green foliage. The air was cool and crisp today, and perfect for a walk in the woods. It was exactly what I’d imagined it would be.
We had reserved our tickets for an English tour ahead of time. When we arrived, the signs weren’t particularly clear, but we figured it out (parking lot 3 is closest to the ticket office, but that isn’t where we parked). I’d heard that they’re very strict about arrival times for the tour, so we were feeling a bit rushed as we made our way up the mountain. Strollers aren’t allowed in the castle, so we left ours in the car, but since we didn’t want to exhaust the boys by hiking up the mountain before the tour, we opted to take the bus up the hill. (The buses only run every 20 minutes, but we were lucky and got one at just the right time.)
I’d heard that the views from Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) are fantastic, but the bridge was closed, so we had to skip that. That turned out to be for the best, though, because even though the bus dropped us off with 25 minutes to spare, after stopping for a few pictures, we almost didn’t make it — it was a surprisingly long walk from the bus stop.
The tour itself was pretty unsatisfying. The castle is beautiful, and very interesting, but the tour is rushed, done by audio guide, and the tour guide (more like a chaperone) was completely disinterested and uninvolved. Trying to do the tour, with the audio guide in one hand and a child in the other, while climbing tons of stairs and trying to keep the kids from touching anything was a disaster. It wasn’t worth the effort.
The views from the castle grounds, and of the castle itself, though, were fantastic. The boys were mostly bored (a little post-tour ice cream helped) but we all enjoyed the walk back down the mountain through the lovely autumn woods.
We had a good day, and we got to experience a beautiful castle. I’m very glad we went, but next time I’d certainly skip the tour.