Neuschwanstein Travel Diary
February 18, 2018
Kiel: Sweater: Ralph Lauren (Vintage), Pants: Ralph Lauren, Shoes: Gucci, Hat: Kiel had hand-knit for him
I’m not much of a planner. I mostly create rough outlines and fill in the details as I go. For me life is so much more interesting that way. Trying to adhere to a schedule can be stressful, especially on vacation. I like to leave room for the unexpected.
Kiel and I planned a 10 day trip to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria less than two weeks before we left. We always go on a getaway for New Year’s, and the Christmas season this year (2015) was especially hectic for our company. Our friends Kat and Jeremy joined us and we rented a car to drive to each destination on our itinerary — Lucerne, Switzerland; Fusson, Germany; Munich, Germany; Halstatt, Austria; and Kitzbühel, Austria. The plan was to stay in each location for roughly two days (there was no itinerary beyond that).We were packing a lot into very little time. By now I’m used to it!
I was most excited for our stop to Fusson for its’ proximity to Neuschwanstein castle. The castle had been on my bucket list for years. Due to our very last minute planning all of the hotels in Fusson were completely booked and the closest hotel we could find near the castle was in Ettal, Germany. We booked our two night stay at the Hotel Blaue Gums. At $89 a night it was very affordable. Our room was clean and cozy but very tiny. We were hardly in our room so it wasn’t an issue for us. The town of Ettal itself was gorgeous! It’s completely surrounded by mountains on all sides and the beautiful Abbey was the focal point of the town. We had a stunning view of it from our hotel (3rd picture in this post). At night it was lovely to hear the bells from the Abbey ringing. One would think it would be annoying but it was a welcome sound.
On the first night of our stay we ate at the hotel restaurant (it wasn’t my favorite meal), and we bundled up after dinner to explore the small town and catch a closer glimpse of the Abbey. It was just as beautiful up close. Fun fact about the Abbey is that the monks have been brewing beer there since 1609. Vistors of Ettal can tour the brewery and brewery museum The brewery was closed that night but Kiel couldn’t resist trying the beer which is served across the street from the Abbey. 400 years is a long time to perfect their brew! He enjoyed every sip.
The following morning we left early to visit Neuschwanstein. The 45 minute drive to the castle from Ettal was gorgeous. We stopped several times along the way to take pictures of the mountains. On one of our stops we were parked on top of a hillside just as a fleet of air balloons decided to fly over us. At the same time this beautiful instrumental music could be heard playing in the distance. It was a magical moment that felt entirely surreal.
When we arrived to the castle I was initially disappointed. When you first drive up it is very much a tourist trap and you can hardly see the castle. There are a few different parking lots, souvenir shops, restaurants, and a ticket sales booth to neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle. In retrospect I should have expected this, it’s one of the most popular castles in the world. We parked our car and got in line to buy tickets only to find out all of the tours that day were completely booked. The lesson learned is always buy your tickets well in advance. As I mentioned the castle itself cannot be seen from the ground. The only way to get to it is to take a shuttle bus (plan ahead for this), a romantic horse drawn carriage, or plan to walk uphill on a path through the forest for 30 minutes. Make sure to wear really comfortable shoes. We walked up to the castle and the view was everything I hoped it would be — straight out of a fairytale.
I really appreciated the comfortable clothes I was wearing. We made it to the castle and bridge behind the castle for another vantage point before deciding to climb the mountains for an even better view. The pictures in this post are from our journey up the mountain. It was one of the best decisions we ever made, even if we weren’t prepared for it. Kiel was wearing loafers lol. The view from the top was absolutely stunning. We could see everything — a birds eye view of the castle, the mountain range, lake, and the land seemed endless. We climbed for what seemed like hours until we reached the top of the peak. At the point it was a little scary as it was getting steep but the trails to the top were well worn. We encountered a handful of hikers during our journey. The crowds were completely left behind at the castle and we basically had the mountain and in a way Neuschwanstein to ourselves. It was one of my favorite life experiences to date. We took our time getting down.
For dinner we decided to head to Fusson which is only 6 minutes away. I wanted to at the very least catch a glimpse of the town even if we only had a couple of hours. We spent a good portion of our time there trying to park. Almost every space was reserved for people who lived in the town. Ultimately Kiel and I got out of the car to find a good place to eat while Jeremy and Kat got the car situated. We managed to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Fusson reminded me of a village in a Disney movie. The town was still decorated for Christmas and the lights made for a romantic evening. I can’t remember where we ate that night but I did enjoy the meal. Hopefully we return there someday, two hours was not enough time.
The following morning we packed up our car to head to Munich to celebrate New Year’s (that was the plan but also a whole other story). Before we left we did manage to tour another one of King Ludwig’s castles, Linderhof Palace, right outside of Ettal. As this castle is not quite as busy we managed to get out tickets without having to buy them ahead of time. I strongly feel like everything works out the way it is meant to be — planned or unplanned.
See my post from Halstatt here.