Just as promised, we were off and away bright and early to try and beat the hoards descending upon Germany’s Neuschwanstein castle. Of course, nothing is quite that simple…
Having spent time employed as a driver delivering items to resorts across France, Italy and the Swiss Alps, Will had advised against taking a foray into Switzerland. He’d experienced, though thankfully not first hand, vehicles being searched to such an extreme that they were practically dismantled. We’d decided better safe than sorry- especially since it wasn’t our car! Our SatNav, however, had other ideas…
Despite the fact that we’d set of from Germany, and were heading to somewhere else in Germany, the quickest- if not most direct- route was via a secondary country (Europe is ridiculous!) and before we knew it we were heading straight for the Swiss border! Thankfully we weren’t looking our usual shifty selves and we sailed straight through, but not before spotting other cars that had been pulled over.
Switzerland, from what we could tell, is mainly made up from flags (they’re everywhere!) and roundabouts- we got into double figures, even in our short stint in the country!
To say we’d failed to beat the crowds is a major understatement and we got stuck in a lot of tourist traffic, particularly when passing through the small towns that surround the castle, and just before the parking. By the time we got there I think we were all fairly close to giving up, but as a big ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ fan (the external shots of the palace were filmed here), I pushed us on. Besides… “we’d come this far” (this became the true motto of our trip, and I’m fairly sure this is the day it originated from).
Thrilled to have finally arrived and got parked up, we began our climb of the hills that Schloss Neuschwanstein sits atop. I have to say, I’m so glad the heatwave that followed us around Europe from that evening onwards didn’t hit us at this point as the climb was good exercise! For those who don’t fancy or aren’t capable of the uphill trek, you can pay extra to either get either a romantic horse and carriage or basic bus-ride up and back down again.
Apart from the fact that the castle is set in gorgeous natural surroundings, the views from it of Bavaria are absolutely stunning!
We then headed for Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge) as recommended by Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring and were hit by a tremendous queue! Sadly, this was not the “hidden gem” that I’d inferred from what I’d read, but a major tourist spot…
The queue was slow to move and when we eventually got to the front we were faced with an overcrowded and rickety bridge that did nothing to relieve Will’s acrophobia and is my mum’s- who suffers from Gephyrophobia- worst nightmare.
The wait and the sheer terror of the bridge did lead to some gorgeous shots of the castle- the view is beautiful. Plus, we got to hear the most pessimistic traveller ever in the form of an American woman exiting the bridge as we were finally getting to it who pouted “well THAT wasn’t worth the wait”.
This was the view. What do you think? Worth it? I’d love to go back in Winter when it was less busy and we’d ideally see some snow, making it all the more magical :).
We grabbed a delicious, warm, giant pretzel for the walk down, returned to the car and headed off towards Lake Garda…