On Monday, September 26, we left Rothenburg ob der Tauber early and rode the train to Füssen, the city at the end (or beginning?) of the Romantic Road. We stayed at a small hostel called House LA. This hostel didn't impress us nearly as much as the first one, but it was clean and comfortable.
We explored the picturesque St. Sebastian Cemetery.
Füssen at sunset: a sea of red tile roof tops surrounded by majestic mountain peaks.
On Tuesday, September 27, we took a day trip just outside Füssen to see the famous castles of King Ludwig II: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm was the king of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. He is sometimes called "Mad King Ludwig" because he was deposed on grounds of mental incapacity, although it's not clear if he was truly insane or just eccentric.
After having breakfast in a coffee shop, we hopped on a packed bus to the castles. Hundreds of people from all over the world converge here every day to tour these castles (up to 6,000 a day in the summer!). It felt a little like going to a theme park. There's nothing in the area immediately around the castles except some souvenir shops and restaurants catering to crowds of tourists. From the bus stop, it's just a short walk up the hill to the ticket counter where we purchased a combo ticket to see both castles. Then we wandered around for about half and hour waiting for our tour time.
We toured Hohenschwangau first. This is where King Ludwig grew up, and it's still decorated and furnished like it was at that time. We enjoyed our tour of this castle best. The group was smaller and it proceeded at a slower pace, so you had a better opportunity to see everything. It was also longer (45 minutes) and included much more information about Ludwig. While it was technically just the royal family's summer home, Ludwig spent most of his childhood here. Knowing that people had resided in this castle and that there was real history in the walls made it feel like we were seeing something special.
After our castle tours, we climbed the hill to Mary's bridge for an impressive aerial view of Neuschwanstein.
|Mary's bridge - yeah, it's high up there!|
|Walking out onto the bridge - a little scary!|
|Looking down from Mary's bridge - yikes!|
|The view from Mary's bridge - totally worth it!!!|
From Mary's Bridge, there's a path you can take to hike up the mountain even higher. We were feeling adventurous, so we went for it. It was quite the workout climbing those steep switchback trails, but we were rewarded with incredible views! We sat for awhile at the top enjoying the scenery.
We hiked back down to Mary's Bridge, then returned to the bus stop via Pollat Gorge. It's 15 minutes longer than walking down the road but well worth the detour! The path follows a stream as it winds its way through the mountain valley, forming beautiful little waterfalls along the way. Steel walkways built into the rock side allow you to walk very close to the water.
|People had some fun with rocks!|
|Looking back at Mary's Bridge|