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Things about Neuschwanstein I Didn't Know and Other Visiting Tidbits

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Things about Neuschwanstein I Didn't Know and Other Visiting Tidbits

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Things about Neuschwanstein I Didn't Know and Other Visiting Tidbits

We did end up going to Neuschwanstein and its "sister" castle, Hohenschwangau this week. Here, the weather is piss poor, muddy and cold too...not fun holiday weather. Down in Schwangau, where these castles are located, there was still snow, it was sunny with breathtaking views and snow glistening off the castles and dusting the trees and surrounding forest...what a sight! And all only two hours from where we are stationed. It really makes me realize we should make the effort to get out more. While at the castles, I did learn a few fun facts. I'm also glad we prepped ahead and planned our journey and reserved tickets ahead of time. It made the day much more enjoyable and I can honestly say it was stress free!

We planned ahead by picking a day where it wouldn't be as crowded as usual. The ticket office phone center (yes, they do speak English) was able to help me pick the best day to visit. I also was able to reserve our tickets online for a small fee. When we arrived, I breezed past the throngs of people waiting in line and picked up our tickets....all in a timespan of 15 minutes from parking to getting on the footpath to our first stop, Schloss Hohenschwangau, the Mad King Ludwig's boyhood home.

To recap:

  • Pick a day that historically, is not as busy as others (which can be difficult at these two castles, two of the most treasured German points of interest). Yes, we had crowds but nothing like it would've been on an overloaded day. There is a new tour going thru Neuschwanstein EVERY FIVE MINUTES (who was the genius who made that run so efficiently I wonder?). Also make sure you check their website for their holiday schedule and any other special events that may draw huge crowds or close the castles.
  • Check the weather report online. We didn't mind that it would be cold, but I think we would've minded wet and cold. If you are a diehard, you may benefit though from bad weather...smaller crowds I would think. Many of the crowds on this fine December day were taking a break from their daily skiing.
  • If you have a GPS, go ahead and program it in. Also check that your car is in working order, and if it's winter, be sure you have "winter items" in your car. We made the mistake of not checking the washer fluid beforehand....ooops.
  • Follow this checklist before any major outing. You'll thank yourself later for it.
  • Pack a lunch. Most likely, you'll arrive around lunchtime, and we were able to leisurely eat while we waited for our tour time at the first castle.
They run the tours like absolute clockwork. When you reserve your tickets online, you also reserve your tour language and time you'd like to tour. The latest you can pick up your tickets before your tourtime, is one hour before, so be sure to plan enough time to drive down, get parking and walk up to the ticket center, where you pick up those tickets (and pay for them). We were running about 20 minutes behind schedule, but our reservation that we downloaded from the internet had a handy phone number you could call to change your tour times....no problem at all.

Once we arrived, we parked in one of the lower parking lots. You do pay a small fee. If you stop at the bathroom by those lots, be sure you have some Euro, as a visit costs ,50 cent a pop. Bypass all these souvenier shops. If you must have something, buy trinkets directly at either of the castle giftshops...you'll save about 10-20% off the price. I was surprised to see they didn't have any of their Christmas items on sale....at any of the stores. If you park in the upper lots closer to the castles, you'll end up paying more and have to navigate around the throngs of people who ignore you as you try to drive by them or have to contend with horses and wagons and big tour buses.

Many tourists come just to visit Neuschwanstein, so the crowds at Hohenschwangau are thin. If you buy tickets for both castles, a package deal, they route you thru Hohenschwangau first. Be prepared for lots of walking of steps and of course the road or trails up to Neuschwanstein. I don't know what the Italian family was thinking, pushing their 90 year old grandmother up to Neuschwanstein. I know each tour had tons of steps within each castle.....if you have trouble with stairs, call the ticket office and ask about wheelchair accessible tours. Perhaps there is another option for those not able to walk. I seriously hope so for poor grandma.

Yes, there were horse drawn wagons...no, not carriages...taking people up to Neuschwanstein, for a fee. Feel free to wait....a LONG TIME to get on one. We just hoofed it on our own. It's a leisurely walk along a paved road to the top. There are also numerous trails through the woods, which were all closed due to the snow and ice. Even the Marienbruecke was closed. This spot offers some fabulous views of Neuschwanstein. The buses that typically run up to Neuschwanstein were also not running, as the roads were a bit too icy going up. The walk takes about 30 minutes at a leisurely pace, and should be your first choice.

Now for a few bits of information my kids enjoyed hearing on the tours (have the kids up bully their way up front to be near the tourguide and hear what is being said):

  • King Ludwig's brother, who should have inherited the throne, Otto was his name....turned mad, ie crazy at the age of 24. Wonder if that had any bearing on what they said about Ludwig?
  • King Ludwig's mother married his father at the young age of 16. Both parents had their own floors at Hohenschwangau castle and the kids were relagated to a building just outside the main building. So much for family togetherness.
  • One of the parents' wedding gifts, from over 150 royal Bavarian families, was a battle ax and shield...how romantic and newlywed-oriented.
  • There is a loaf of bread on display under glass in Hohenschwangau that is well over 100 years old.
  • King Ludwig did have wedding plans but chickened out a few days before the event with no explanation.
  • King Ludwig's father Maximillian had a brother who became the King of Greece. This is why the Greek flag has the Bavarian colors of blue and white.
  • King Ludwig overextended his finances to a point of being heavily in debt and before the bank could gain control of all his castles and assets, the Bavarian State had him declared crazy so they instead could gain control of everything. Without this move, Neuschwanstein may not have been a public treasure.
  • The last surviving relative of Hohenschwangau died in 1912, and the next year, the first tour was conducted. Since Neuschwanstein belonged to King Ludwig and not other family members, his castle was opened up to the public much earlier.
Have you been to either of these two castles? Do you have any tips to share?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

By far, considering of course, I was only in one (due to young preschooler driving the tour folks up a wall - "we paid for this tour" and I replied "SO DID I") of the two castles. By far, Hohenschwangau was my favorite! The color was a tad odd (yellow if I remember right LOL), but the castle was just phenomenal! The fountain with the murals nearby. The stairs.
I didn't get inside of Neuschwanstein, but from DHs review, I didn't miss much honestly.
That is an absolutely beautiful part of Germany! We were at Heidelberg for over 2 years and made it to Neuschwanstein once. Wish I'd gotten back over another time.
Enjoy your time! I really enjoyed reading your comments on Ludwig's homes!

December 29, 2008 at 8:24 PM  
Anonymous Neuschwanstein said...

I visited both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, but for me Neuschwanstein is unmatchable. It is one of the most beautiful castles in the world.

March 3, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

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