For this week’s Travel Tuesday, Sara from SARA SEES has selected the following prompt: “Although traveling can provide some of the best experiences/memories, it is not always fun and games. What is your worst travel experience? Or most embarrassing experience? Or biggest travel fail? Where were you and what happened?”
Since I wrote about my embarrassing freak out at the Eiffel Tower on A Compass Rose earlier during my co-host, I decided to write about a travel experience that wasn’t quite a “fail” but definitely didn’t live up to the hype (in my opinion). I’m not sure if it was because I visited Neuschwanstein Castle towards the end of the trip (after places like Rothenburg and Hallstatt) or because it was freezing cold and rainy that day and the wait was over 2 hours for the tour to begin and the only way up to the castle was by either walking or by horse carriage since the road for the buses was under construction… or it was a combination of all of the above but I left Neuschwanstein Castle pretty disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, Neuschwanstein Castle is beautiful and I would love to take my son there one day so he can see the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle (he might not care about Sleeping Beauty part) but I guess I set the castle up for failure since I came in with super high expectations. So here are some pros and cons of this iconic Bavarian Castle.
PRO | It is a gorgeous castle in the most picturesque setting. Surrounded by mountains, trees, lakes and rivers, the castle truly looks like a Disney princess should be living inside. All it is missing is a fairy godmother.
CON | The inside of the castle is nothing to write home about. The only way to see the inside of the castle is by taking the guided tour. Get ready to wait in long lines for the tickets and then wait around for your tour start time. I would try to purchase your tickets ahead of time, if possible. The inside of the castle is unfinished since Ludwig II of Bavaria died before completion, so the tour is not that long but informative.
PRO | It is a nice day trip from Munich. If you’re going to be in Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle is less than 2 hours away (by car). I left the hotel in Munich early in the morning and got back to the city in time for Springfest in the afternoon.
CON | The shady suspension bridge. We all know that shot, the castle sitting on the rugged hill with the lakes in the background, picture perfection… well you have to walk on this suspect suspension bridge to get that shot. The picture of the bridge below was the farthest I went on that bad boy. So I guess technically, this is only a con for anyone afraid of heights.
PRO | It is really pretty… oh wait, did I already say that?
CON | It’s not even “old”. One of the things I love most about Europe is the history that comes with it. Most Americans will know this poem, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Well, Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869 (completed in 1892 unfinished). To put that into perspective, the White House was built in 1792 (completed in 1800). Our White House was built almost 100 years BEFORE Neuschwanstein Castle. During the guided tour, I learned that Ludwig II was a huge fan of the medieval time period, and designed the castle after certain features, rooms, even operas he loved. He even copied a couple of rooms from Wartburg, another German castle in Eisenach. Ludwig II even had a telephone inside this medieval looking castle, a telephone!
PRO | You can knock out 2 castles with 1 trip. Across the way is Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood residence of Ludwig II and was built by his father, Maximillian II of Bavaria (Maximllian is such a cool name). You can purchase combo tickets that include both castles but I opted to do just Neuschwanstein due to time and weather. When walking to/from the suspension bridge, you get a pretty awesome view of Hohenschwangau Castle so you can snap pictures of the exterior there.
CON | I never had that “wow moment”. After the drive, I could see the castle in the distance. As I got closer and closer, all I kept on thinking was “That’s it?”. While the castle is plenty big (I’m no castle snob), I was just expecting something… larger? This is what happens when you have this image in your head of what you think the castle will look like, be like… it’s like going into a movie and expecting it to be ah-mazing. Lesson learned.
While I did not have the most amazing time there, don’t let that stop you from visiting this photogenic castle. It is one of the most photographed castles in the world for a reason. So here I am telling you that I didn’t have a great time but go ahead and visit the castle for yourself. A paradox… just like this 19th century, medieval looking castle.