Friday, August 17, 2007

The Mad King Ludwig II and Hofbrauhaus

Today I woke up around 8 and got ready to visit Neuschwanstein castle. Debra and Vanessa weren’t sure if they wanted to go or not. Debra was complaining about the money and the fact that we would be gone 9 hours. They both eventually decided to go and we ran to the tourist office to buy tickets for the tour. It was 41 euros per person for the tour. This covered our train ride down to Füssen, the tickets for the bus ride from the city to the castle, and the entrance to the castle itself. It also saved us a few hours of standing in line waiting to buy tickets in the hot sun and got us an awesome tour guide. Radius Tours in Munich gives great tours. Their little pamphlets even say that they are recommended by Rick Steves. So we got on the train and began the two hour journey down, listening to our guide tell us about King Ludwig and his many castles and his erratic behavior. He sounded like quite an interesting guy and he sure knew how to make awesome castles. It’s too bad he died too soon to finish Neuschwanstein and work on Falkenstein. Anyway, the ride down was really scenic and when we finally got into Fussen we took a bus over to the staging area for both Howenschangau and Neuschwanstein. I got a bratwurst and some French fries and some ice cream for lunch and then our guide took us over to the lake and told us more facts about the area, the King, and the buildings. After this we began our hike up to the castle. We should have taken the bus for a few euros but we all were feeling a little adventurous and I had my hiking boots on so we decided to opt for the uphill hike. I’m out of shape. I’ll leave it at that. After the 30 minute hike up the hill to the lookout areas we went over to Mary’s Bridge and peered over the edge. I got a few snapshots before running back to solid ground while the girls posed and peered over the edge and hung out on the bridge for awhile. After the bridge we headed to the actual castle to begin our tour of the completed sections.

Our tour guide was great. He was the German Bill Hader. Looked exactly like him, sounded exactly like him but with a German accent. I was laughing the whole time but of course nobody else knew who Bill Hader was so I had nobody to share the joke with. The castle was really over the top and awesome. I don’t want to say gaudy because everything was really neat but it was pretty gaudy. The murals depicted all sorts of Richard Wagner operas and biblical stories and references to King Ludwig II as the Swan King. The castle was pretty amazing. We weaved through a number of rooms before coming to a stop at the concert hall. Only 1/3 of the castle was completed before he died so our tour was rather short which was too bad, but after the tour we wound through a number of gift shops and ended up back outside. Instead of going back down the way we came we decided instead to take a walk through one of the trails that passed by the waterfall and river behind the castle. The walk normally takes about 30 minutes but we ended up making it last 2 hours by playing around in the river and taking photos and enjoying the scenery on the way down. The whole area was really great for taking photos. Everything was so green; the sky was a deep blue with just the right cloud cover for dynamic photographs.

After the castle tour we got back to Munich and took a few hours break from the long day and got in some internet time before heading back out into the city to look for some food. The tour guide recommended a traditional Bavarian food restaurant and when we looked at the menu and realized what traditional Bavarian food was we reconsidered and walked a few blocks further to Hofbrauhaus. (Traditional Bavarian food was a lot of pig knuckle and haunch of pig and all sorts of different pieces of pig.) Hofbrauhaus is a Bavarian state-owned brewery and restaurant that’s world famous and operates a number of chain restaurants in the states. The tour guide told us that even though it was a little touristy it’s definitely worth checking out just to see the atmosphere and apparently the food was pretty good as well so we decided that would be our place. When we got there we realized just how massive the place was. The inside spanned two floors, a huge garden, and large halls full of tables and benches like in a cafeteria with tons of people inside eating and drinking and laughing and chanting and singing. We sat a few tables up from a large group of drunk Germans singing their favorite drinking song loud enough for everyone in the place to hear it and when they finished the whole place cheered and banging their glasses on the table and drank more beer. It was like a cafeteria for adults. I ordered meatballs and mashed potatoes for dinner. They brought out two of the biggest meatballs I’d ever seen (bigger than my fist) and a huge pile of mashed potatoes. Both were delicious but the meatballs were so hearty I could only eat one and a half. After we left Hofbrauhaus we headed back to the hostel and went to bed early since we had to wake up early the next morning and catch our train to Salzburg.


Gaia said...

awesome pics - as usual :)

i feel you on the walk uphill to neuschwanstein - i did it way back when, visiting a friend in germany, in december... we were ankle-deep (when not knee-deep) in snow! but the view is sooo worth it, don't you think?

so long and... keep traveling!
(will anybody get this but me?)

August 18, 2007 3:33 PM  

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