We had to set the alarm for 5:15 this morning. Getting up was brutal for all of us. We had to catch a 6:51 train in order to make our tour time at Neuschwanstein Castle.
We could have taken a tour with a company and gotten up a bit later. The cost would have been much higher, and we would not have been able to do the Tegelberg Luge and cable car rides to which we've all been looking forward for a while. Like anything else, when you are a tourist you pay a pretty penny for convenience.
We grabbed a few muffins and some of the worst coffee I've ever put in my mouth before hopping on a regional train. Lori and I swore we wouldn't hit a Starbucks on this trip, but this city's coffee is really trying my patience. We had an hour ride before switching trains, and then another hour to Fuessen.
As we got nearer to our destination, we could see the rocky peaks of the Alps getting closer.
All of our trains and busses for the day were covered by a Bayern Ticket, just like yesterday's excursion to Salzburg. It only cost us 26 Euro for the family. (For comparison, most of the tours we saw were more than 40 Euro per person, and did not include admission to the castles.)
When we arrived in Fuessen, the #78 bus was waiting to take us to Hohenscwangau, where the castle ticket center was located. It was a short 10 minute very crowded bus ride.
The walk from the bus to the ticket center was about 5 minutes. We had no problems and no wait getting our tickets, since I had reserved them yesterday. The line for tickets without reservations was only 20 minutes since it was only 9:15. When we walked by later, at 12:30, that line was hours long.
After getting our tickets for a 10:55 tour, we walked about 100 yards uphill to the bus that takes you to the bridge above the castle. It saves you about a 45 minute steep uphill hike. We were lucky enough to share the bus with about 70 Japanese Middle Schoolers. It was insanely packed and uncomfortable. If you are wondering, Middle School students act the same no matter what country they are from.
The view from the bridge was incredible.
We walked about 10 minutes down the path to the entrance to Neuschwanstein. There were more great views. We had to wait for our tour number, 435, to be called.
Tour numbers were posted near turnstiles. Your ticket only works while your number is on the board, so we didn't wander far. When 435 lit up, we went inside.
All of us really enjoyed the tour. It was only about a half hour, which was perfect - short enough that the kids didn't lose interest. The fake cave that "Mad" King Ludwig built near his bedroom was pretty cool. No pictures were allowed in the castle.
After the tour we took a horse drawn carriage back down the hill. They only cost 3 Euro on the way down, as opposed to 6 Euro on the way up. Bus up and carriage down is definitely the cheapest and least strenuous plan.
At the bottom of the hill we ate lunch at a counter service place. We shared roasted chicken, potato salad, and Currywurst. Everything was good. Abby liked the Currywurst, but Michael didn't. It was my first time trying it, and I loved it.
When we finished lunch, we got on the #73 bus, which took us to the Tegelbergbahn (Tegelberg Gondola) and sommerrodelbahn (luge ride). We bought a family ticket, which gave us one ride on each.
We rode to the top of the mountain on the Tegelbergbahn first. It was awesome! We could see dozens of hang gliders soaring past our gondola.
At the top we walked over to where the hang gliders were launching themselves off the mountain.
We walked around a bit, enjoying the views. I was a bit jealous of all the hikers. Bavaria is an awesome place to hike.
On the ride back down we stood on the other side of the gondola so that we had a view of the castles.
At the bottom we got in line for the luge. I was shocked that there was almost no wait, despite the parking lot being packed. The luge was a lot of fun, and faster than I anticipated.
We had about 40 minutes before we had to catch the bus to the Fuessen train station, so the kids played in the playground next to the luge. It was filled with great equipment. There were very few other English speakers. The kids loved it, and Abby made a friend who spoke very little English. They communicated with hand signals and broken phrases, but had a great time together.
We caught a 3:28 bus to the train station, and a 4:04 train back to Munich. We were all exhausted. I fell asleep on the bus, and Michael fell asleep on the train.
We grabbed salads and fruit for a quick dinner in the train station, and then went back to the room to clean up, relax, and go to bed early.
Tomorrow we plan on doing a walking tour of Munich, and having a nice relaxed day enjoying the city. It's our last day in Germany before moving on to Paris. All of us agree that we love Bavaria, and that we wish we had more time here.
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