Jason and I closed out our 2019 travel with an early winter getaway to Germany. Our trip began in Bavaria and before venturing down to the Alps, we gave ourselves a few nights to get acclimated in Munich. With a laid back and youthful vibe, lovely city park, good food (and beer!), this felt like somewhere we could easily live. We stayed in the heart of the Altstadt near Marienplatz and also visited the BMW Museum and English Garden.
On our drive from Munich to the Alps, we made a day of it and took a scenic route through Austria. A very fun stop was Ehrenberg Castle and the Highline179, which is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest Tibet style pedestrian bridge. It is 1,332 feet long and 376 feet off the ground. Luckily we aren’t afraid of heights but Jason got a bit of vertigo!
This pass was a main route for salt transport between Italy & Germany in Roman times. The locals built fortifications and a castle to control traffic and levy tolls. We had a great time hiking around the ruins.
After a fun day, we arrived in Füssen. This charming town was a recommendation from a friend (thanks Anne!). We rented an Airbnb which was on the main pedestrian street above the apothecary. It was perfect! Being here in offseason had its advantages, the streets and restaurants were wonderfully quiet.
The next day we toured King Ludwig of Bavaria’s famous castles. It was a rainy day and not ideal but we had pre-booked our tickets online before leaving since they sell out. First up was Hohenschwangau Castle, which was the official summer and hunting residence of the royal family. As a young prince, Ludwig spent many years of his adolescence here.
It was another 2 hours before our scheduled tour of Neuschwanstein Castle and after spending the morning walking and standing in the rain, we almost skipped it. I’m so glad we didn’t! It was worth the wait to learn the troubled history of this 19th-century castle and the wildly eccentric King Ludwig.
Neuschwanstein is straight from a fairytale and set in a stunning alpine location. King Ludwig loved opera and German mythology; if his castles are any indication, he would have much preferred to live in a fantasy world. He neglected his royal duties, withdrew from society and became obsessed with his outlandish construction projects. Ludwig was King for 23 years and in that time, racked up a massive amount of debt. In 1886, his extravagances and erratic behavior led the Bavarian government to depose him, and was declared mentally unfit to rule. 3 days later, the “Mad King” was found dead in a lake alongside his doctor. Was it suicide or murder? The truth remains a mystery.
At the time of Ludwig’s death, Neuschwanstein was far from complete. He slept only 11 nights in the castle. He never intended to make the palace public but six weeks after his death, it was opened to paying visitors. Due to its secluded location, Neuschwanstein survived both World Wars and until 1944, it served as a storage location for Nazi plunder that was taken from France. Today it is one of the top tourist attractions in Germany.
Here was our route, which I highly recommend!