May 16 – Nice Castle, Nicer Views

Today was the last day of scheduled programming. We drove south for about two hours to visit Neuschwanstein, a castle built and formerly inhabited by King Ludwig II. But our first stop was about a twenty-minute drive away. It was a Bavarian breakfast in a small village. We were probably the only Americans there. We ate traditional Bavarian sausage, wiesswurst, German pretzels, and drank sparking apple juice. I only had one sausage because removing the plastic casing around it is a skill that I struggled with. However, I did have about three pretzels so I was pretty full.

Sausage and Pretzels at the Bavarian Breakfast

Next, we drove about an hour and a half to a church called Wieskirche. The church was very colorful. I liked how it had lots of natural light coming through the unstained glass window. A lot of the other churches we saw were very dark, which I did not like as much. It was probably the most aesthetically pleasing church I’ve seen on the trip. However, inside of the church it was freezing. I tried not to let this distract from my enjoyment. The area around the church was farmland aside from a few buildings. I wondered if the church was used by people in the area or mainly a tourist attraction.

Wieskirche Church

We got back on the bus and drove to Neuschwanstein. Apparently the castle is the most famous tourist attraction in Germany, but I don’t think I had ever heard of it. We could see the castle as we were driving up. It looked beautiful. After a lunch of eating premade sandwiches while standing in a parking lot filled with tour buses, it was time to walk up the long hill to the castle. The hill was a long hike. It was comparable to climbing the steps at Ulm. When we got the top, there were two great views. On one side was a valley of farmland, with small roads and houses. The other side was a mountainside, with green trees and a waterfall at the bottom. Unfortunately, it was a little bit cloudy, so the views were probably less than their best.

We took a short tour of the castle. I learned the King Ludwig only lived in it for 172 days, and never actually completed it, which is why we skipped the second floor on our tour. And as Dr. Feick taught us, King Ludwig mysteriously drowned in a nearby lake along with his doctor. A lot of the rooms were under construction and the tour was very crowded. The art on the walls of the finished rooms was beautiful but seemed far too new to be authentic. Overall, the castle was a very touristy. Hardly anything about it seemed original, especially since we had to walk through two gift shops to leave after the tour was over.

We walked to a bridge that had an amazing view of the castle and its surroundings. The bridge was pretty narrow.  Taking group pictures on it required some maneuvering.

The picture that took some maneuvering

On the way back, we stopped in the small village of Fusson, for some quick ice cream and a short walk. I felt bad about asking the ice cream shop to break a 50 euro bill for 1.50 euro ice cream. It was a nice reward for all the day’s walking and hiking.

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