Travel Journal

Of Food and Fairytale Castles

There seems to be an unspoken rivalry amongst hotels to garner the reputation for the best breakfast in Germany. Well, if I had a vote, our hotel in Fussen wins, We hadn't planned on paying the extra Euros, but when I saw the table of food laid out like a work of art, with every kind of breakfast item imaginable, I could not walk away.  Presentation is everything!

Schnitzel and potatoes--on every menu
Schnitzel and potatoes--on every menu

The food in Germany is predictable, with a lot of "fleisch" and "brot". Breakfast is no exception, but the first meal of the day also includes fruits and vegetables, so for us, it became our main meal. And, although at the beginning of  the trip we subscribed to the "eat like the locals and eat local food" concept, we are happily deviating from this to ethnic options--Italian, Thai and most recently, Spanish tapas. After all, Germany is a multicultural country!

Beautiful mountain setting for fairy tale castles
Beautiful mountain setting for fairy tale castles

Before heading to Munich later in the day, we took the bus to visit Mad King Ludwigs fairytale castle Neuschwanstein and the nearby Hohenschwangau. Of all  the touristy things to do in Germany, this is right at the top of the list. But what we were going to see was the stuff of fairy tales and movies. The castle was used in movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, several movies about Ludwig, a video game called "The Beast Within" and was the model for the Sleeping Beauty castle in Disneyland. How could we not make a pilgrimage there...

 The setting in  the mountains is stunning. We wandered nearby the lake, then walked up the shady road to the Hohenschwangau castle entrance. We had a scheduled tour time for both castles and were required to be at the entrance at the exact time. 

Two of  the 1.5 million tourists who visit the castles each year
Two of the 1.5 million tourists who visit the castles each year

Both castles provide a well-organized, informative but short tour. There were some very impressive displays in both, but in hindsight, its the setting, the history and above all, the views, both to and from the castles that make the visit worthy.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) became king at a young age but never showed interest in the affairs of the country. Instead he began the construction of his dream castle next to his family's summer castle in Schwangau. Because he spent all the state's money on his venture and avoided all political decisions, he was deemed insane by his cabinet. One night he and his psychologist were visiting a nearby town. The bodies of both men were found "drowned" by the edge of a lake, but the autopsy showed no water in the lungs and most of the bodies were out of  the water. To this day, the death of the king remains a mystery. A story made for movies, for sure...

 Back in Fussen, car-less ,and with a cold beer in our bellies, we were ready to move on to the big city of Munich.

The postcard shot of Neuschanstein castle taken from the
The postcard shot of Neuschanstein castle taken from the Marian Bridge