Travel Dreams Come True: NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Neuschwanstein castle panoramaThere are places you dream about visiting, but when you go there, they fail to live up to the hype. There are places that in real life turn out just as postcard-perfect as you want them to be. And then, once in a great while, you encounter one of those really rare things – a place, an experience, a moment – when the reality doesn’t just live up to the fantasy, but surpasses it in every way.

Neuschwanstein.

Back in high school I had a poster of Neuschwanstein Castle on my bedroom wall. I dreamt of adventure and epic romance – here I should note that I also had a poster of Kylemore Abbey and a calendar of Prince William, upon which to draw inspiration – and Neuschwanstein was the perfect embodiment of both. I’m not sure that I ever actually believed that the castle existed in real life; as I’ve written before, Germany as a whole wasn’t a very real place in my perception of the world when I was growing up.

Then I moved on to college and started inching closer to realizing my dream of travel, which was eventually kick-started with a year abroad in France and Spain. And yet, despite now being only a few hundred miles away, Neuschwanstein stayed firmly put in that same parallel reality where I married the heir to the throne of England.

A decade later I came to Germany and booked a ticket to Neuschwanstein. And then I cried.Neuschwanstein castle 1

The most magnificent sight of the castle opens up from a rather precariously positioned footbridge over a veeeeeeery deep canyon. And it’s breathtaking. There’s no other word for it.

One of the most humbling experiences of my life took place in a crowd of tourists patiently taking two-inch steps as we all made our way onto that bridge for THAT view. There were Russians and Americans and Germans and Chinese and Indians and Arabs and Brazilians and Nigerians and every single one of them – every single one of us – made the exact same sound when finally allowed to catch a glimpse of the castle in all its glory.

The sound of awe.

You know that clichéd saying, “Beauty will save the world”? This is the kind of beauty that Dostoyevsky had in mind. Because it makes every man, woman and child from every corner of the planet, of every age, every caste and every creed pause, gasp, and bow down before something so much greater, so much more powerful, so much more incredible than any of us and all of us combined.

Neuschwanstein castle 5

Neuschwanstein, with its magnificent positioning on a cliff of an Alpine range, overlooking a pastoral valley and crystal-clear lakes, is a perfect marriage of human ingenuity and natural wonder. You want to look at it endlessly. You want to take a thousand of identical photos because even when seeing it with your own eyes you can’t quite believe it exists, and you must capture proof before it melts away like a mirage.

I don’t know what will be the next experience to take my breath away like Neuschwanstein did, nor do I care. I know that I already have got to live out my most epic fantasy, and it was even better than I imagined.Neuschwanstein lake selfie 2 Neuschwanstein lake selfie 1

NOTES ON VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN

You can find some practical information about how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle in one of my earlier posts and one by the Munich expat Allane. On top of that, here are my two biggest takeaways:

  1. Once you arrive at the town of Neuschwanstein, you’re still a bit away from the castle, which I believe is about a mile uphill. There are buses and carriages that can take you there, but if you do not have mobility issues, please try to make that path on foot. There are SO many magnificent vistas that open up along the way, and even the surrounding woods themselves are lush and beautiful, a sight onto themselves. Give yourself about an hour, and bring water, but it is so, so worth it.
  2. All the reviews that I’ve read prior to my visit about the tour of the castle itself were rather lukewarm, but I absolutely loved the interiors. No, there’s no gold dripping from the ceiling like at Linderhof, but the décor is really beautiful and unique. I already mentioned in a Munich post that I felt a weird kind of kinship with Bavaria; well, the halls of Neuschwanstein really reminded me of the halls of the Romanov boyars in medieval Moscow and of illustrations in Russian fairy tale books (photos aren’t allowed thus there aren’t any here, but once again – totally worth it).

Neuschwanstein 1Neuschwanstein 2

Neuschwanstein walk 1Neuschwanstein walk 6

Neuschwanstein walk 7 Neuschwanstein 3 Neuschwanstein 4 Neuschwanstein castle 2

Neuschwanstein view 1 Neuschwanstein view 2 Neuschwanstein lake 1So,has anyone else dreamt of visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle like me? And did it live up to YOUR expectations?Neuschwanstein lake 2

Advertisements

37 thoughts on “Travel Dreams Come True: NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

  1. I always imagined the surroundings to be so much more treacherous but they arent’t, are they? They are lovely. What a magical reminiscence, I felt my heart in my throat and I haven’t even been to Germany.

    • I think the grounds have been nicely done up, but I’ll tell you, that 40-min hike uphill in 30C+ weather with sunshine does take quite a toll and a lot of stamina. I fueled with ice-cold Riesling, naturally.

  2. I remember feeling let down by the interior, because, of course, Neuschwanstein was never finished. Mad king leapt into the lake before completion. I do wonder how he had envisaged it… if Linderhof is anything to go by…!

    • I think he was going for a totally different aesthetic here – a lot more of a nativist revival and folk influences rather than SHINY SHINY SHINY OMG MORE GOLD PLEASE! I did love all the murals and the frescoes… this place is so much more my jam. Plus I could drink all the wine in the world and stay thin just by walking “home” from the village/lake 😉

  3. That is definitely on my list – I was just talking about it with a student this morning in fact 🙂 It’s stunning. And you had the perfect weather for it as well! Lucky girl 🙂

  4. I am SOO jealous! This is one of those ‘top of the list’ kind of places for me. Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous as well! Really does the Neuschwanstein Castle justice 🙂

  5. These pics are fab. We went in April…..it was something my son and I have been DREAMING about for years…the day we got there: snow and fog! The day before and after: clear blue skies. Sometimes life is like that. I was so super disappointed, but saw everyone there still laughing and having fun. So we took the tour and enjoyed some hot chocolate. I took some pics too….me in front of the huge poster in the gift shop…ha, ha, ha….funny! Your real photos are beautiful! 🙂

    • Snow in April, for real? I guess in the mountains life runs totally differently. I imagine Neuschwanstein is magical in any weather, in any time of year.

  6. To tell you the truth, the way you describe your visit to Neuschwanstein is what I expected to feel… But I didn’t. Somehow I wasn’t impressed as much. Maybe because this castle was the last on our Europe trip and before seeing it I saw about 20 others? I guess my most epic awe moment was at Mont Saint-Michel and Neuschwanstein didn’t live up to it.

    • Oh, that’s so disappointing, but also I know EXACTLY how you feel. Actually I felt similar when I want to Mont Saint-Michel of all places, but to be fair, it was in late fall and everything was gray and drab and the trip was a bit of a logistical disaster. Here’s to more epic awe travel moments for all of us :))))

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s