I never thought to keep a travel journal while traveling. It's too big of a hassle for me because I'm more interested in taking pictures and that takes up too much hand eye coordination to do a travel journal on the side. I have used the Swarm (Foresquare) app in the past to check in to all the places we visit while traveling so I would remember all the shops and restaurants, but not this time around. Working on these Germany posts though sure makes me wish I kept a journal because even though it hasn't been so long since we've been back, I'm beginning to forget what happened on each of the days we were there (because 99% of my brain power right now is all Bartles and so even when I mention Bavaria, instead of saying Bavaria I say Bartles instead -- maybe a little dog obsessed here).
On Day 4 in Germany we headed over to the town of Füssen via the Deutsche Bahn regional train service leaving the Munich Central Station (Munich Hauptbahnhof - I miss saying this word) at 7:53 am. We decided to purchase our tickets through a ticket counter because it was our first time buying tickets and you know, I already went over how confusing it was for me to get what was what with train tickets (it wasn't so confusing after a few days there).
We arrived in Füssen at 9:56 am, so it was about 2 hour ride over from Munich. From there, we took a quick bus ride over to the town of Hohenschwangau where the booth is located to purchase tickets for the King's castles.
I think Neuschwanstein (which is also the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle) is the more popular of the two (actually, I think it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe) and many people just opt to tour Neuschwanstein only, but we decided to go to both (we bought the King's Combination ticket).
Going inside the castles is only possible via a guided tour and no pictures are allowed inside. When you purchase your ticket, you are given a designated tour guide time. If you decide to view both castles, you are required to go to Hohenschwangau first then Neuschwanstein.
There was definitely a line when we went to buy our tickets but it wasn't terrible. There were a few people who reserved their tickets early and their wait time was pretty much none. I think during peak season (summer and fall) reserving tickets ahead of time would make sense, but in early December it was definitely ok not to.
The walk to Hohenschwangau was quick and not nearly as hard as the walk up to Neuschwanstein.
I'm not anyway near versed about Hohenschwangau as our guide Wolfgang (he was great!) but Hohenschwangau Castle is a 19th century palace and the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was built by his father, King Maximilian II.
After the tour, we enjoyed the scenic walk over to Neuschwanstein. The actual walk up was a different story. There are usually shuttle buses that take you up to about 15 minutes away from the castle, but they weren't running when we were there. There are horse drawn carriages as well, which were operating, but we decided to walk up the hill to the castle, which took about 40 minutes.
I usually don't have a hard time walking uphill but I think my heavy camera was just really uncomfortable and I had shoulder and back pains from carrying it around (this would happen literally the entire time in Germany and I kicked myself for not bringing my more compact Fujifilm x100t).
Yangkyu and I were also hopping around like crazy people trying to avoid stepping on horse poop. Bartles does this thing where I think his limited vision tells him that he needs to hop and jump over things (leaves, cracks in the sidewalk, flat pavement when it meets the grass, etc.). It's the cutest thing and now that I think of it, I think we both looked like we were doing the Bartles hop all the way up to the castle.
I don't think anyone else minded the horse poop though because they were all stepping on it (!!!) Then it grossed me out to no end thinking people who step on horse poop can totally be ones who stayed in our hotel room before us, and if they are the types who don't take off their shoes then we are essential sleeping in a room smeared with poop.
I know, it sounds like we're overthinking doesn't it. But really. It's kind of gross.
Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. I believe he passed away (sleeping only 11 nights in the castle) before all the sections of the castle was built. While certain parts were improvised and finished, work on certain incompleted sections came to a halt, and after his death, the castle was opened to the public.
Outside of the castle, there is a trail that leads to Mary's Bridge and it is a popular spot to take a picturesque photo of Neuschwanstein from afar. Unfortunately it was closed as a precaution because it was the winter and I guess they didn't want anyone to slip and fall off the bridge. But we still saw folks who kind of broke the rules and still stood on the bridge.
There is a cafe inside Neuschwanstein but we decided to go to a restaurant we saw on the way up to the castle. It was around 4 pm when we ate and believe it or not it was literally our first meal of the day. Our stomachs (well mainly mine) were still adjusting (I talked a little about my wonky stomach in my first post) and I just didn't have an appetite in the morning or afternoon or I was scared I would get a tummy ache. But after our tours I was so tired and hungry and ended up enjoying what felt like our first real comfort food since coming to Germany.
Afterwards, we made our way back to the town of Füssen and came across their Christmas Market. I think of all the Christmas Markets we saw (Marienplatz in Munich, Salzburg, Nuremburg, Rothenberg ob der Tauber), the one in Füssen was probably my favorite. It was smaller but the vibe gave such a friendly, local feel.
We walked around and saw people dancing, drinking, laughing, hugging and little kids dancing (mainly jumping up and down - we saw there little heads bop up and down and it was absolutely adorable) on stage to Christmas music and they had certain types of food they sold that I didn't see at other Christmas markets.
Unfortunately after about 30-40 minutes of hanging out at the Christmas market in Füssen, my stomach began to hurt and we decided to go back to Munich without tasting any of the food there. We literally waited almost an hour for the next train because we had just missed it and it just felt so excruciating to wait an hour and then wait another two hours to get to Munich before just getting myself comfortably in bed. Ah the hardships of travel for someone with a weak GI tract (sob).
Yangkyu and I thought about maybe going back to Füssen on a later date but decided to hold off on that thought since there were so many more sights to see still. Looking back, I kind of wished we could have stayed one night in this town (I also had this thought when we were in Rothenburg ob der Tauber).
The following day we went to the Dachau Concentration Camp and the experience was sobering and I couldn't leave without a dry eye. I'll share some more thoughts and pictures soon.