We traveled for a taste of Germany and Austria at Christmas time. First stop: Neuschwanstein Castle. We hopped in our rental car at Munich airport (always rent a car) and drove straight there. I was surprised by how small this castle looked way up high on the side of the mountain. You always see pictures of the castle looking down from above! 

We parked our car, took note of the chilly change in temperature, and started walking up to Ludwig II of Bavaria’s childhood summer retreat, Hohenschwangau Castle first (bought combo tickets to both castles). The exterior’s warm hues matched our sunny afternoon.

The inside of the first castle (no pictures allowed, sorry!) taught us a little about Ludwig, who spent much of his childhood here. It is currently full of gifts received–each displaying one if not many coats of arms. As a boy he became familiar with ruins of an old castle while on his summer excursions. When he took his father’s place, he used his own funds and extensive borrowing (no public funds) to demolish the old castle and build Neuschwanstein in it’s place.

We finished up the tour (the first one the guide had given in English-she did a great job!) and headed back down the hill. Daddy and James decided to hike up the mountain to Neuschwanstein. The girls opted to ride up the mountain by horse carriage. Since our tickets had specific times, and we were not able to advance in the horse line unless I was willing to have Claire ride on the horseman’s lap…we opted instead for the bus. We made it up just in time! These tourist attractions are run so well! Even though there are large masses of people coming to see the castles, each person has a five minute time window to enter and tours of the large castle are given by a clear narration through headphones.

We ran down the hill from the bus stop and made it just in time!

The inside of the castle (sorry, again, no pictures allowed) was amazing! The throne room! Very interesting room to have in a castle for the king alone. The wooden carvings in his room were carved so intricately. To imagine the ballroom with all its candles lit for the king alone. The grotto next to the king’s bed chamber looked like you were right inside a cave. He was rather religious and spent much time alone.

So this is what the castle could look like at winter time.

Since we squoze in this trip on our first day and took a later tour, these were our end-of-day pictures from the viewing bridge where amazing pictures are taken! Ha! Do this one early in the day.

The kids were great sports to walk down the mountain in the dark. Not their favorite part of the trip! Felt fortunate a few other tourists were descending with us-otherwise it would have been a bit creepy!

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