7 May 2018
Today started well, as the Toddler woke at a reasonably time, and we enjoyed a leisurely and peaceful breakfast at the edge of the lake. Well, would you believe it, as mentioned in yesterday’s blog, we left the campsite on our bikes, later than planned, as we set off in search of Neuschwanstein Castle – the fairytale castle built for King Ludwig II, set in the hills near Fussen. I honestly don’t know what takes us so long to get ready in the mornings!!
I was a bit anxious about cycling, as I haven’t really ridden my bike properly since September, but I needn’t have worried. The roads here are fantastically set up for cyclists, most with a huge separate cycle path, running adjacent to the main road. They were really a joy to cycle along. And the scenery… oh, the scenery! I wish I had the vocabulary to describe it with the grandeur it deserves. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Meadows full of buttercups and dandelion clocks, tractors mowing the fields, so there was that delicious grassy scent in the air, and then the Alps, still snowy on the peaks, looking ridiculously majestic, and frankly, awesome.
We reached Hohenschwangen in about an hour and a half. This is the little town at the foot of the castle’s hill, where you have to buy tickets for your visit. It was a long queue, and it took some time to finally select our tour – the next audio guide was at 15:40, so we had about two hours to kill before we needed to be at the top of the hill. We ate our slightly warm sandwiches and then took the horse and carriage trip up, as it felt only right that we should take advantage of it! Our horses, Gaby and Reiche, were massively strong, pulling about twelve adults up a steep road, before dropping us near the castle entrance.
The tour itself was uneventful, although Cornelia absolutely loved having her own audio guide – a small handheld device, not dissimilar to a long dictaphone. She was hilarious, every so often repeating the words very loudly and enthusiastically, much to my amusement, and to the horror of some of the other tourists! The outside of the castle is as impressive as the photos suggest, and the inside is a bit peculiar. King Ludwig II had an obsession with Wagner, and the hundreds of murals depict various stories that Wagner had composed. Ludwig was declared mad, removed from the throne, and died shortly thereafter, in somewhat suspicious circumstances. The place is jammed-packed with tourists, but the atmosphere was generally pleasant and not too “in your face”. We made the obligatory touristy purchases (fridge magnet, postcard, castle snowglobe) before heading back to the campsite on a different route. This was just as enjoyable as our ride out, and Cornelia took full advantage of her bike seat by falling fast asleep. There were some hairy moments for me when the good cycle path turned into gravelly tracks. Not great for my handsome roadbike! I managed not to skid and fall off, or swear. I know, I know. I’ve changed already.
Once “home”, I tried some full-on multi-tasking, and ended up completely burning the spaghetti that I was cooking for a very tired toddler’s tea. She had a shower with me, and then I did the bedtime story too, so there were plenty of tears and cuddles, before I was able to gobble some popcorn and neck some beer. These late nights are troublesome!