Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hohenschwangau Castle Tours

Went to Ristorante Vi Vadi at 7:30am for my breakfast. Turns out it opens at 8am during weekends. Ah, had I known, I would've woken up much earlier and gone straight to the train station. Anyway, after breakfast at McDonald's, I took the 7:52 train. Most of the other passengers are either on their way to the ski slopes or to the castles. Got off at Buchloe around 8:45am, and transferred to another train to Fussen. Arrived Fussen 10am. Waited 15 minutes for the bus, which dropped us off Hohenschwangau at 10:30am. Like I said, should've come earlier. Everybody got off the train in a hurry, and it's a mad dash (a la Amazing Race) to the ticket office through deep snow. I was first in line, yet my "King's" Ticket (€17) is scheduled for 11:50am entry to the Hohenschwangau Castle and 1:50pm entry to the Neuschwanstein Castle.

So what do I do till then? Walk around the winter wonderland until the snowstorm blows in, and I had to take cover inside a nearby souvenir store. A few other people had the same idea, so the store started to get busy and crowded. Come 11:50am, the castle entrance flashed my number and with a swipe of my ticket, I went in. Strangely enough, the guys who were behind me in the ticket queue were already there. Must've bought their tickets online. The guided tour of the castle last about half an hour. We were given an audio guide each, and every time we enter a new room, our guide would "activate" our players to play the right commentary using her controller. The neo-Gothic castle was the official summer residence of Maximilian and his wife Maria. He acquired it in 1832 and converted it to what it was today. Ludwig, who would be king, spent his childhood here. Of the many rooms in the castle, the Festaal Hall (a.k.a. Hall of Heroes and Knight) is the largest. The table in the middle of the reception room spans the whole width of the castle. The ceiling has a pink background with silver stars. The paintings on the wall illustrate the Wilkina Saga, part of the legends about Dietrich of Berne. Too bad picture-taking (or video) is not allowed within the castle, or else I would've had field day with the 14 majestic rooms.

After the tour of Schloss Hohenschwangau, I walked back down to the Ticket Centre. At the Müller Hotel, I took the horse carriage ride up to Neuschwanstein Castle. Normally I would've preferred to walk (even if it's a 40-minute uphill walk). But in the middle of a snowstorm, I'd rather pay €6, and let the horse do the horses do the walking. If you still don't know, Neuschwanstein Castle is the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty castle. Of the three castles that Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria built, this fairytale castle is the most famous. Instead of a proper architect, this castle was actually built by a theatre set designer. And it shows - look at the towers and the spires and the turrets. King Ludvig II must've been a forward-looking guy. This castle was fitted with many modcons that would be quite modern for 19th century. There was running water on all floors. Quite convenient as the spring that supplies drinking water to the castle is just 200 meters above it. There were toilets with automatic flushing on all floors. There was warm air heating system for the whole castle. There was a hot water system for the kitchen and bath. There was a phone line installed. There was a paging system, so the King can get assistance from any room within the castle.

Most notable of all the rooms is the Throne Hall. The room is two storeys high, inspired and designed in the style of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul). The huge chandelier with fake jewels is supposed to look like a Byzantine crown. The throne dais is surrounded by painting of Jesus, the twelve apostles and six kings. However, the actual throne is missing, as King Ludwig II went bankrupt at this point in time. Too bad. His bedroom is not too shabby either. The king's bed is in the neo-Gothic style with intricate carvings. It is said that 14 master carvers worked for 4.5 years on the carvings in the bedroom. A secret door leads to the toilet. The Singer's Hall is the biggest room in the whole castle, said to be patterned after the Minstrel's Hall of Wartburg Castle. The first performance in this hall was in 1933 with a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of Wagner's death.

Outside the castle, the snowstorm has stopped, leaving behind a thick layer of fresh snow. I would've liked to take a hike to Marienbruecke (Mary's Bridge), but the entrance is closed and locked. Never stopped me (and others) before. After half an hour of trudging through steep and slippery snow, I finally got to Mary's Bridge over the Pollat Gorge with a magnificent view of the Neuschwanstein Castle sitting on top of a rugged hill. Very cold and very windy. Took a few quick shots and headed back to the town centre. I've got half an hour to spare before the bus arrives at 4:40pm, so I went in the nearest restaurant I can find and had a quick late lunch - pork cutlet Vienna style with fries and salad (€9.80) and tomato soup (€3.20). Got back to Munich round 7pm already.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

Hi, nice blog & good post. You have beautifully maintained it, you must try this website which really helps to increase your traffic. hope u have a wonderful day & awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!