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Monday 23 March 2015

One day to see Schloss Hohenschwangau, Marienbrücke, Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Fussen, Germany and local eats! Part 1

 After eating lots of tasty food and drinking delicious beer in Augsburg, we headed out early to start driving to Nuremurg and then Rothenburg (which I skipped blogging on as I messed up the order of the pics on our trip - will blog about them soon!) and then into the Alps, where my fiancé was hoping to see the Eagle's Nest - Hitler's alpine mountain retreat during WWII in Berchtesgaden.  Unfortunately, from all the fog we could see on the mountain tops, the locals told us it'd e pretty dangerous to head up there and to head there the next morning if the day dawned clear.  Before driving into the Schwangau area of Fussen to see the castles they have up on the mountains, we headed into a small town of Fussen, and we stopped in an indoor farmer's market as well as a butcher's to pick up some local eats before driving up into Schwangau area of Fussen to join the throngs of tourists and sightseers.
At the local butchers -  Metzgerei Ebrb Kukn, they were one of the few places that were open super early, and we were stopped we stopped in!

 A lovely lady pointed out which items didn't require cooking and we could nosh on for breakfast

and we gladly had a very hearty breakfast of roast wild boar (locally hunted, butchered and roasted in house). The crackling was divine and the pork lightly seasoned and moist.. and sauerkraut which added a bit of tang and acidity to the plate. Yum!

plus the local version of Leberkäse - also made in house. Generous in portion, moist and savory.

We picked up a few more tasty goodies from the indoor farmers market or Markthalle or Fussen Feuerhaus!

We noticed Fussen was really pet friendly, where folks take their furry friends on trails, into parts of the castles (where its allowed).. we loved this "pet parking" spot just outside of the Fussen Feuerhaus building!

We were the first to bite into a freshly baked hot hot hot out of the oven pretzel! Mmm!

And snacked on a delicious German traditional cookie (forgot to take a picture of the name) - its two light butter cookies with a Nutella like chocolate hazelnut paste inside and then dipped and drizzled in chocolate. Nom!

Fueled up, we started driving into the mountains, all shrouded in low lying fog.

After a short wait at a cattle crossing - the scarcity of grazing land means the cattle are usually drinking alpine mountain water, and graze on mountain greenery, yielding amazing high fat milk that makes possibly the best butter and cheeses I've ever tasted! I initially thought the butter was at type of cheese as most folks eat blocks of butter (like cheese!) and when it tastes so fantastic, it makes sense.

Being crazy, we decided to purchase combined tour tickets for both the Schloss Hohenschwangau (small yellow stoned castle King Ludwig II would watch the construction of his precious Castle Neuschwanstein from, aptly named "High Swan County Palace" as well as Castle Neuschwanstein (named “New Swan Castle” referencing of “the Swan Knight” one of Wagner’s characters).  Tourist tip: try to get tickets a few hours apart as while the tours itself were about an hour each, .it takes a while to hike (yes, transportation is not included) up to Schloss Hohenschwangau and there's a bus you can take partially to Castle Neuschwanstein from town. And you must buy the tour tickets in town, you can not buy tour tickets after you hike up to the castles.

If you cut it too close, you'll miss one or both of your tours.  From town, it takes about 30min (brisk) to 60min (leisurely) hike up to Schloss Hohenschwangau. We cheated and paid for a horse drawn carriage (make sure you get on close to when its all full or you'll be waiting an hour, because until the carriage is full you're not going anywhere) to head up to Schloss Hohenschwangau.

The tour of the castle goes through why there are swans everywhere, the coat of arms and knights featured here and there as a family of knights was responsible for the construction of the original medieval fortress.

... and some neat historical items, a secret passageway from the king's bedroom to the queen's bedroom, but the main highlight of Schloss Hohenschwangau? Its view.  From its vantage point, you get a great view of the surrounding town, as well as the Alpsee, an ice cold lake beside the castle (we hiked down to the lake to have a looky after the tour)

King Ludwig II himself once wrote "the view from up above is enchanting, especially the view from the Marienbrücke of the castle, which will far outshine the Wartburg for all its acknowledged merits of location, architectural splendour and magnificent paintings”

And of course, a good view of  Neuschwanstein Castle as it was being constructed. It was originally built as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner, but the the king slowly became obsessed over it and bankrupted his country in the process.

After the tour of Neuschwanstein Castle, we hiked back to town and took a bus and hike a short way to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), a bridge which spans the Pöllat Gorge.

It was said this bridge was built so the queen could have her fill of nature without being out in it, but the king certainly spent a lot of time on the bridge admiring Neuschwanstein Castle as it continued being built from the “Jugend” lookout point.

We then hiked a few minutes downhill (there's no cars or buses allowed as its a protected area) to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Indoor photos were not allowed - the castle was never fully completed, although it comes with the usual bedrooms, massive dining/entertaining halls, and oddly a damp, cave like grotto room (this was when most historians either say the king was losing his mind, or was very very eccentric.

Then it was a fun hike uphill back to the bus in a rainy drizzle and then to Fussen proper so we could eat dinner! (Part 2!)

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