One of the main reasons we headed to Munich out of all the places we could have visited in Germany was because of its proximity to the Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle is credited as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle and is hidden away in the Bavarian hills. Despite its grand appearance, the castle itself isn’t as old as you would expect as construction only started in 1869 with the purpose of becoming a retreat for Ludwig II of Bavaria and an homage to Wagner.
To reach our destination, we needed to take a two-hour train ride from Munich followed by a bus for 15 minutes and even though the castle can be seen from the town you then have to walk uphill for about 30 minutes or you can catch a horse and carriage ride up for 6€.We opted for the walk as the day we had decided to go on was abnormally sunny and almost warm for the middle of winter. Below the castle is the small town of Hohenschwangau that seemingly only exists because of the castle’s presence as it is comprises of cars parks, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. We stopped for some lunch before attempting the hike up to the castle at a very typical but very charming restaurant that had the standard Bavarian layout of sharing tables with strangers – something I actually really loved about Munich. The food was hearty, so much so I struggled to finish my mushroom dumplings but managed to save some space for some strudel and felt warmed and well prepared for the day ahead. The people who ran the restaurant were exceedingly friendly to tourists, something that had been a constant since we had arrived and definitely helped us to feel welcome.
Full of good food, we set off up the steady incline to the castle. Every twist of the road gave us a little glimpse of our destination and we found ourselves striding past people out of our impatience to reach the top. Halfway up we passed a restaurant where the smell of mulled wine and even more good food was hanging in the air as well as the overwhelmingly sweet smell of Quarkbällchen, a type of doughnut ball that we bought on our way down and made the vendor giggle at our bad pronunciation as we ordered. Around the corner from the restaurant was the castle and was it ever worth getting up at 7am for. Up close it was much more impressive, towering above us with its spires and turrets and a long sweeping path up to the entrance. To tour the inside of the castle you are advised to book tickets in advance online but when we had tried that they had sold out and decided to see if we could get tickets on the day. It turns out we could but the night before one of the hostel workers had told us that the inside was “cool but just like any other place that is old” so I was a little reluctant to pay to take a tour inside – especially as you aren’t allowed to take photos. I was more excited about what was around the castle too as living in the city gives you a craving to be close to nature and away from the sounds of mopeds.
Sadly, the castle is in the middle of some repairs right now so the entrance was obstructed by scaffolding so we didn’t spend too much time on this viewing platform and instead headed for Marienbrücke, which is a bridge that connects two mountains and gives you a spectacular view of the side of the castle that doesn’t have scaffolding on it. This required a bit more uphill climbing, that was fine. What wasn’t fine? Me. On that bridge. People were pushing each other for the best view and the planks beneath your feet wobble a lot. Despite feeling like I was on the verge of fainting I managed to enjoy the view somewhat and take some photos but both Macey and I decided to move on and hike a little further up. The path we followed was narrow and on one side was the sharp incline of the forest on the mountain and on the other was a deadly drop to the very beautiful spring below. Oh, and there was no fence. Funnily enough, this didn’t bother me at all because I trust nature more than man-made structures.
The view from further up was even better (check the feature photo of this post) and there wasn’t as many people up their vying for the same photo opportunity. It was a quiet spot and if I lived anywhere near this place I think I would try to hike up there often. It may have been cold but it was worth it for the moment of pure peace I felt. After enjoying the beauty of the scenery for a while we began to head back down the trail – well, Macey did because karma had bitten me back for making fun of people for walking down the wrong trail as I ended up on the wrong path completely. At least I am a good walker so I knew what I was doing but Macey did manage to capture my shame and bring the day to a pretty hilarious end.