We learned the hard way, that a trip to Füssen, takes more planning than luck. Because nobody likes to be disappointed on vacation, here are some tips for your trip.
Our first trip, was the day after Christmas. Some of you are probably already realizing why this became an issue. For those of you that aren’t realizing it, you aren’t alone I am in your boat. My thought process was this: In Germany tourist season is concentrated from June through Oktoberfest, just like the rest of Europe. This statement is very true, unless you are dealing with Christmas time. I did not take into account the people that come from all over the world to spend their Christmas holiday, in Germany. Hindsight is twenty/twenty after all. All the people taking winter vacations and who were here for those wonderful markets naturally stayed for the whole holiday. I don’t know what I was thinking.
When we finally arrived (more on that in number two) the line was out of the ticket office and all the way down the hill where you start seeing signs for parking. To give you an idea, I would call it at least a quarter of a mile long. No matter the line was moving quickly.
This was where disappointment landed its blow. As we are waiting in line meeting lots of nice people from back in the United States and in Japan, the staff, who actually looked a little scarred to be carrying these signs, came to inform everyone all tickets for the day had been sold. Yep a little after twelve in the afternoon and they were out of tickets for the rest of the day.
In short, too late I know:
Pay the extra €2 and reserve your tickets online!!!
You can forgo this rule, IF you are going on any day outside of all tourists periods (that means you too Christmas) and you follow rule number two.
Better Early than Late
Just after Christmas there is a mass exodus, from Germany into Austria for ski vacations. That was the first snafu to come from my lack of planning. However we would have been covered had we followed number one. Neuschwanstein, is closely located to the boarder of Austria. So close in fact, we had to temporarily switch our phones to airplane mode so we did not use the Austrian cell tower. To control the flow of traffic through the boarder crossing, stop lights are activated on the autobahn. I cannot tell you how many cars it allows to pass through the tunnels at a time, but I can tell you each red light lasts for thirteen minutes. Oh yeah we timed it. To make maters worse there had been a car accident inside one of the tunnels. That is obviously something that cannot be accounted for, those hellish stop lights though can be.
So rule number two is this: If you are traveling during a high tourist time, i.e. the day after Christmas, account for extra time. The lights itself added two and a half extra hours to our journey.
Those of you staying in Munich you are so lucky. There is a train between Munich and Füssen, then a short bus ride up the hill or a forty minute walk.
Wander the Grounds
So you’re here now with your tickets and with plenty of time, because you a) purchased your tickets in advance and b) you left four hours early instead of two. Now what?
With your extra time explore the area. There are adorable little shops and restaurants with the most delicious smells wafting from their windows. Everything here has been designed to absolute perfection. From any angle these buildings are photo ready. There is also the most picturesque lake with a charming little boat house just past all the shops. When the weather is just right, you can rent canoes and paddle the lake. Snow covered the grounds both time we went, so you could not have paid us enough to get out on that water. Even in winter though, it is the most romantic spot in the whole area.
Don’t Listen to the Haters
Before coming we had heard many things about the castles, on all ends of the spectrum. Many people were nay-sayers and said it was not worth the price of admission. I am here to tell you it is. I wish pictures had been allowed inside so you could get a small taste at all the splendor waiting for you.
The beauty of the thrown room is other worldly. So many details I really wish we had been free to wander about and get a closer look. The thrown room is unlike anything I have ever seen and I honestly believe it’s only competition would be the Vatican (I’ve never been but it’s beauty is legendary). Oh and the private bedchamber… The only way to describe the ornate detail in the carved wood and the saturated shades of blue is regal. I have tried and tried to come up with words for it but like the thrown room you have to see it for yourself to get the full effect. Worth every single Euro no doubt about it.
The only thing I have to say against the tour is the audio guide. I understand the purpose behind it, get as many people into each time slot as possible, but it really takes away from the immersion the palace places you in. Still the audio is very informative.
Walk for Heaven’s Sake
Heading up to and coming down from Neuschwanstein you have the option to walk or take a horse drawn carriage. Do yourself a favor and make one of the trips on foot. Yes you will have to be on the look out for the land mines the horses leave behind, but the scenery is spectacular. I am sure of it that Walt Disney used not only Neuschwanstein for inspiration but the grounds as well. The area is just magical and the perfect prelude to the grand reveal. I promise you will want to explore the scenery at leisurely pace once you see it for yourself.
And there you have it. The steps to getting the most from your trip to Neuschwanstein.