Sunday, August 9, 2015

Neuschwanstein (Finally!)

Almost exactly ten years ago, my brother and I took a whirlwind tour of Europe. Over the course of a month, we hit nearly 20 countries and quite a few of the world's most famous sites.

We even made it to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Germany. We visited Linderhof, one of the other castles built by King Ludwig. Yet somehow we missed the king of all castles - Neuschwanstein.

Whether or not you know the name, you've seen pictures of the place. It's the Disney Castle, the Fairy Tale Castle, the castle in all those promotional photo montages of Germany.

When I decided to travel back to the area, Neuschwanstein was at the top of my (admittedly very long) list of places I had to visit.

Ten years older and wiser too, my brother and I - in a strangely familiar echo of our last trip - headed up from northern Italy through Switzerland and Liechtenstein and into southern Germany. Of course, this time we had my nephew in tow. And we were driving, rather than riding trains. And we were staying in nice apartments rather than crappy youth hostels. And we had cell phones. And digital cameras. And laptops. And... Well, that's a subject for another blog post.

Anyways. We drove north through some of the world's most beautiful countryside into the lush and verdant (and moderately smelly) farmlands of Bavaria.

For those who don't know, I'm kind of obsessed with Germany. I've been teaching myself German for the past few years, and I harbor dreams of living and working there... Some day (in the near future?)

Suffice it to say, crossing the border into Germany for the first time in ten years was something of a spiritual experience for me. I immediately had to try out my self-taught German language skills - and quickly discovered that, while I can sometimes understand the written language, my listening comprehension skills are, well, nicht sehr gut.

Here's how most of my attempts at conversations went:

[Waiter approaches]
Me: Kartoffelkuchen und ein Glass Fanta, bitte.
Waiter: Ja, ich bin nicht wirklich Ihr Kellner. Ich kam gerade vorbei, Sie zu betrachten und lachen Sie, wie Sie versuchen, Deutsch zu sprechen.
Me: [with dazed expression on my face] Umm, sorry, I don't understand.
Waiter: [switches instantly to fluent English]

Ok, I'm digressing.


We stayed the night in a small village that smelled an awful lot like cows and that had some really lovely views of the surrounding mountains. Then, in the morning, we were off to see the wiz...

Umm, I mean... We were off to the castle(s).

Like this one:

And, of course, this one - which, sadly, I didn't get any really great pictures of. You should definitely Google it though. It's almost certainly one of the most photogenic buildings in the world:

The path up to the castle is fairly steep, but the occasional glimpses through the trees of the surrounding countryside make it worth it. (We could have taken a horse-driven carriage - which would have been fun, but kind of expensive.)

Unfortunately, you're not allowed to take pictures inside the castle. Suffice it to say it's quite nice (though unfinished) on the inside. Castles have a tendency to look cooler on the outside though, and this one wasn't really an exception. There were some grand and luxurious areas, but it just didn't seem very comfortable. 

With that said, the views were exceptional. Imagine looking out your bedroom window and seeing this:

It's been lovely, but eventually we have to head back down the mountain and back towards Italy. But first we have a little bit more time for some pictures:

A castle that is not Neuschwanstein.
So there it is - Neuschwanstein.

My future home. 


  1. One of my favorite places and vistas in the entire world. Doesn't seemed to have changed much in the 30 years since we were last there. Once you and your loverly bride get settled into your new digs, please save a little room for mom and I. By the way, did we ever tell you how much we love Deutschland?

  2. I have been there, but have never been inside. Linderhof is a much smaller and not so gorgeous castle outside but inside is beautiful. Actually rode the carriage up to Neuschwanstein and people had laundry hanging out the windows. It sure is a wonderful typical castle. Love all the beautiful pics of your future home. And of other castles and other buildings.

  3. I frequently thought about how much changes in ten years. It sure was nice to be able to communicate with family without having to make expensive calls from phone booths. And it sure was nice to stay in nice places and drive everywhere. Should we plan for another trip to southern Germany in ten more years?

  4. By the way, that last picture was taken, I believe, in Liechtenstein and not near Neuschwanstein.

  5. "Should we plan for another trip to southern Germany in ten more years?"

    Yes. And I'm absolutely looking forward to getting to Germany in my flying car and riding up the hill to the castle on a hoverboard.

    ...Assuming I don't already live in the castle at that point, of course. In which case I'll be sure to invite you all to the coolest family reunion ever

  6. Visiting Neuschwanstein is one of my favorite memories from the Crain family grand European tour of 1987 (aka Touring in the Rain)! I love your pictures and stories!