Sunday, March 19, 2017


This is Part 4 of our year-ago Europe trip. It contains two infinity times more castles than Parts 1, 2 and 3 combined.

After Dachau we had planned something a bit more whimsical - a trip down to F├╝ssen. Once again got us there with no problems, despite train track repairs and two transfers. With some positively idyllic landscape on the way, too. Fluffy clouds, rolling green hills, little farmhouses. The only way that gets more idyllic is...

Yep, there's the happy cows. This has gone from idyllic to positively picturesque. Quit it Bavaria, you're making the rest of us look bad.

After our idyllic overload, we arrived at Fussen, home of not one but two castles. Our first stop was Hohenschwangau, which goes back to the 12th century in one form or another. The interior of the castle is overwhelming - every surface is covered in historic murals and paintings. Sadly they don’t allow any photos inside the castle, because they want to sell tickets. It’s understandable – maintaining that place cannot be cheap, and they have to pay for it somehow. Still, it would've been nice to see without being shepherded from room to room in a group of 20 tourists.

After the tour I just had to check something... yep, still picturesque down there in the foothills. Nice job with the lake, as well. Keep up the good word, Bavaria.

After our first tour we had to get from Hohenschwangau over to the second castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein. Not pictured here: the several hundred foot depp valley in between. But we needed the exercise anyway.

The road up is narrow and twisting, so it's closed to cars. During the hike up the far side we ended up talking to another American couple. The guy told us about visiting the castles 20 years ago when he had been in the Air Force. Apparently that was before the castles were fully touristificated, so they would drive right up to the castle gates and camp on the lawn, then get a personal tour the next day. It's a bit of a shame - it would've been a better experience.

Schloss Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for the Disney castle. But it had a bit of a bizarre history before that. Construction was started by King Ludwig II in 1886, long after improvements in artillery had made militarily useless. He built it because, well, he just really liked castles. This one was supposed to be his private retreat, never to be opened to the public. But construction of this castle and several others had inflicted so much damage on the state finances that they were opened to paying customers within six weeks of his death. Once again we were not allowed to take photos of the interior. However, the Wikipedia article I linked earlier has a number of nice photos. The entire thing is just ridiculously detailed everywhere – at one point the project employed 20 painters full time to do the murals and interior detailing. Anyway, that’s about it for the narrative. Pretty castles, we saw them!

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