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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Neuschwanstein Castle

At around 8.30am, we drove to our next destination for the day, Neuschwanstein Castle.

Again, we were happy for the good weather. It's truly incredibly unbelievable that we were given 4 good days consecutively. Weather forecast sucks a big time.


The entry road heading to the castle site, I felt like a princess already.

From far, we can see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle standing on a hill top.


In the small towns of Schwangau and Füssen, a cottage tourist industry was built to handle the thousands of visitors daily. This is in fact, a tourist village.



The tourist village was set away from the towns so that the downtowns themselves didn't get overrun, allowing there to be a whole village built complete with huge restaurants and fast food imbisses, souvenir stores, and a massive ticketing center for the visitors.



After buying the ticket, we didn't walk straight to the Neuschwanstein Castle, but to the nearby Hohenschwangau castle, which serve as a secondary castle in the village. Husband said we should visit the less 'magnificent' castle before the more 'magnificent' castle, in order to keep a high mood all the time.
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Simply saying, his theory is we should start from the low (expectation) to high (expectation).


Hohenschwangau Castle is a 19th century castle in southern Germany. It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.
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Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia and their two sons Ludwig (the later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) and Otto (the later King Otto I of Bavaria). The young princes spent many years of their adolescence here.


King Maximilian died in 1864 and his son Ludwig succeeded to the throne, moving into his father's room in the castle. As Ludwig never married, his mother Marie was able to continue living on her floor.

King Ludwig enjoyed living in Hohenschwangau, especially after 1869 when the building of his own castle, Neuschwanstein, began only a stone's throw from his parental home. After Ludwig's death in 1886 Queen Marie was the castle's only resident until she in turn died in 1889.

Walking up to the Hohenschwangau Castle. The staircase is not too long nor steep, piece of cake for all of us.



This castle had surprised me, it looks very modern. Isn't castle suppose to look very old and spooky, like the castles in England? Ok, I must clear the stereotype perception about castles.



The black swan fountain...


and the lions fountain. A weird combination.


The way the tickets worked was noteworthy. Anyone visiting for a quick dash up to the castles will be disappointed. Both castles require guided tours, and the tours are assigned (one could not pick and choose the time).
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Tours began every five minutes with certain tours being conducted in English and special tours available in certain other languages. On average, the assigned tour would begin about one to two hours after the time of the ticket purchased. While that sounded like a lot of time, in fact it wasn't. Getting to the castle could take the whole time.




Our tour was scheduled at 10.15 am, still have 20 minutes to go.


While waiting, there was nothing much to do at the courtyard except taking photos here and there...


So much time there that I could set my camera to auto shot mode...and took pictures for ourselves to kill time.



The 4 of us, in one fine day (22-July-09).



While waiting, this lady suddenly approached me and asked if we were coming from Singapore. Then we started a conversation. She used to be a Vietnam refugee, married a Switzerland man 22 years ago, and since then live in that country until today. She and her husband is blessed with a handsome son. Coincidentally, her surname is same like my husband and the boys.



When our time came, we walked over to the other side of the castle, and waited there for another 10 min.




While waiting, I went to the souvenir shop for a look. There is nothing special that capture my attention except this mock up kitchen. Well, the kitchen is nothing too special too, except it is very large, compared to my kitchen.



Ok, the captain called now. It's time to go.


Soon when we entered the castle, we need to wait there for another 5 min again, before the tour guide came to greet us. Gee...the familiar feelings are back, I felt like I were back to HK. Every where we go, there is a queue to line up for.


Anyway, I was hoping our tour guide would be someone as handsome as this chap. Well, I was disappointed not too long later.


Ok, finally we were leaded to go in to the 1st room in the castle. Of course, everything inside the castle are priceless antiques. The visitors are not allowed to touch anything. Also, photography and video recording is strictly prohibited.



Anyway, I risk-my-life to snap a few photos when the condition was safe to do so (hehe...).


Our tour guide is a very cool middle-age man, he speaks in very cool tunes too. He perfectly match the portraits we saw in the castle : man or woman, young or old, none was smiling.
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BTW, the picture above is King Lugwig's father, King Maximilian II, who built this castle.


Most of the rooms are very spectacular, especially the paintings on the wall. In the eyes of a layman (like me), every paintings in the rooms are so beautiful, like created by Michael Langero, OK.

Vincent was actually trying to decipher the paintings on the wall. In one room, I think he has cracked the story behind the painting. Amazing.



The cool guide said the only thing we can take photo of is the scene out from the castle's window.


As we promised the boys on the day before, we hired a horse carriage to carry us to the hill foot.



They were so thrilled. We have to remind them to keep their voices low so as not to scare the horses.



The charge for descending the hill is cheaper, €2 for each adult, and €1.5 for each child.



What's more, nobody shared that carriage with us at that time. So, it was like our private carriage. And it only cost us €7, super worth it !


Our next appointment time to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle up there was 12.55 pm, another 30 minutes to go. Too bad the horse carriage will take around 40 min to reach the base of Neuschwanstein Castle, otherwise, we would have continued to hire these horses.



My little princes.



Ok, so we got off here, and let the boys bid farewell to the horses that have served us very well.



There were three different ways to get to the top. The cheapest but slowest way was to walk, but that was quite a climb. The distance from the ticket counter to the castle was a little over a mile, we reckoned, at a fairly moderate angle. Those in good physical condition would have little difficulty.
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There were 2 means of transportation available for those not who is not willing or without sufficient time to do the walk. The popular way is by horse carriage, the other way is by a bus, which made runs up and down every ten minutes. However, the bus stop did not go to the castle itself, but to the base.


We took the faster way, which is by bus. The time was nearly 12.45 when we reached the base of the castle. There is still a fair ways to go to reach the castle. So, we really was in a hurry to catch our appointment. So, photography along the road was strictly prohibited by the captain.





It took us around 15 minutes to finally walked up to the castle, non stop.




The one-and-the-only road that lead us to the palace. So, no worries we will get lost.





The entrance to the castle.



Ok, finally we were there. The time was sligthly over appointment. Luckily our turn haven't come yet, still have 2 groups ahead of us. Whew...still have some time to go to the toilet to release the water pressure.



We waited in the inner courtyard for our turn for the tour. The time was printed on the ticket. After 15 more minutes, our number came up on the indicators and we went inside.



The Neuschwanstein Castle is one most visited castles in Germany and one of the most popular tourist destination in Europe. The castle is located in Bavaria, near the town of Fussen. It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as the "Fairytale King", or "Mad-King Ludwing".


Neuschwanstein is a castle of the paradox. It was built in the 19th century in Bavaria, in a time when castles no longer had strategical and defensive purposes.


While Neuschwanstein's look is that of a medieval castle, it was equiped inside with state of the art technology at that time. For example on every floor of the castle there were toilets with automatic flushing system, as well as an air heating system for the whole castle.





Neuschwanstein Castle was near completion when, in 1886, the King was declared insane by a State Commission under Dr Von Gudden and arrested at the palace. The King could hardly control himself as he asked von Gudden, "How can you declare me insane? You have not yet examined me!"
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Taken to Castle Berg, he was found on June 13, 1886, drowned in shallow water in Lake Starnberg, along with von Gudden, the psychiatrist who certified him. The exact circumstances of his and von Gudden's deaths remain unexplained. It is generally thought that Ludwig's deposition was brought about by the Wittelsbachs in response to his extravagance with the dynasty's private funds in projects such as Neuschwanstein.
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King Ludwig did not allow visitors to go to his castles, but after his death in 1886 the castle was opened to the public (in part due to the need to pay off the debts Ludwig incurred financing its construction). Since that time, over 50 million people have visited the Neuschwanstein Castle. About 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6000 per day in the summer time.

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Now I know how crowded this place is.



We were not able to go straight inside the castle but waited for some more time in a long corridor. Boy, looking at the long queue ahead of us, I really felt like we were back to HK. Having nothing to do lining up there, I snapped the scene outside the castle from the window.


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We waited for another 10 minutes before our tour guide came to greet us. He is young, cheerful and handsome, I've forgotten all the frustration in waiting for him to come. And yes, he speaks very good English too.




Again, public photography of the interior is not permitted. But, my mind couldn't control my hands, and I did snap one photo in this room. I guess Mad King Ludwig had made me mad too, seeing how mad he built this castle. Overall, the interior decor in the castle is astonishingly ornate.
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Back to this ballroom on the fifth floor, it is one of the highlights in this caslte. The room is full with incredible display of artwork. As King Ludwig was a big fans of Richard Wagner - renowned composer, scenes from his operas were posted on murals throughout the building, especially in the bedroom.



This castle was supposed to have fulfilled King Ludwig II's dreams of self-importance and greatness, but when he died in 1886 all construction stopped with 60% of the rooms unfinished. Still, the remaining 40% were pretty awesome.



The Neuschwanstein Castle really looks like a fairytale castle, also known by several names - "Cinderella's Castle", the "Fairly Tale Castle".

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In fact, the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland was modeled after Neuschwanstein Castle. It was undoubtedly Germany's best-known and most-visited castle, and the one that most often appeared on souvenir trinkets and postcards.



Its setting was perfect for both summer and winter-oriented photos, the latter due to the way its white structure was enhanced against a lit snowy backdrop.
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Although King Ludwig is not a very good king to his people, he did, create one of the greatest architectures in the world. What can one say? Neuschwanstein has fulfilled its bill as a great castle and tourist attraction, one that it routinely draws visitors to. It is truly one of a kind.



Feeling exhausted, we took a long tea break in the castle's refreshment cafe.
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Husband had ordered my favorite dessert, applestrudel, again. This one is good too, but a bit sour.
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This plum dessert is even more sour. But still, edible...I finished it up anyway.
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Feeling recharged, we left the castle and walked to the nearby Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge, name after Queen Marie of Prussia), a bridge spanning a chasm over Pöllat Gorge. *
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Husband said this bridge was constructed precisely to offer the perfect side views of Neuschwanstein. Looking from here, I felt a bit nervous to imagine myself standing on that suspension bridge.



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On the way down to Marienbruke, we felt relax as there was no fix schedule to catch anymore.

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The scene along the road to-and-fro the Neuschwanstein Castle is very beautiful. Hohenschwangau Village on left, Schloss Hohenschwangau on right, as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle.







A musician, with his very unique instument, had captured the attention of many visitors. The songs he played is very fair tale feel too. We stood there and listen for 1 song. After that, we asked William to drop some money in his hat. He truly deserved that.


This tired angelic look, so cute...



The bridge was full of people. For a split second, I felt hesitated if it's safe to walk on the bridge. But seeing husband and the boys walked towards it without thinking, I followed too.


Neuschwanstein as seen from the Marienbrücke. No doubt, the bridge offer a perfect side view of the castle. Just that the maintenance of the outer wall has spoilt everything.



Schwangau Lake in the background, which in the summer time was a prime destination for sailors. Following the path beyond the bridge, at a distance of over two miles, bring one to a summit that permit a great frontal view of the castle. We didn't go to that summit though.






I felt very shaky standing up there, especially when the people was moving to-and-fro around me. It's so scary...So, I pushed husband and the boys to leave soon after we have seen enough of the castle from here.


We left the castle village at around 4 pm. One last look at the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle.



We thought of driving straight back to Mercure hotel, but when husband saw some cars stopped at a road ride, he pull over the car and we all got out to check the place.
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His guts feeling told him this is a short cut to the river...



He was right. Within 10 minutes, we reached the river side. The water was flowing pretty fast. Initially, we just wanted to give some time to the boy to have some fun for themselves, as the slow castle trip doesn't suit their style.



At first, we just stood there and kept an eyes on the boys while they pick-and-throw the stones into the river. But gradually, we noticed the stones that they were picking are actually not something common, but beautifully polished with very unique shape and pattern on it.



We started to squat there and look for the stones that we like. And the longer we stayed there, the more addicted we get. Although we thought the one we have picked is beautiful enough, we would never know if the next stone we would pick is even more beautiful. Sigh...typical gambling effect.


When the boys saw us picking the stones, they joined the line too. End up, the four of us digging there like mad dogs.
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Normally, peple will has his/her own taste in the things he/she is looking for, right? But this William, he doesn't seem to have one for himself. Whenever he picked a stone, he would shouted from far : look, mommy, is this one beautiful or not? He had probably asked me this for 50X, damn disturbing. Didn't he see that I was busy too?



This unexpected stop-over had turned out to be one of the great unexpected experiences. We have lots of fun in picking the stone we like. If not because of the weight problem, we would want to carry all of them back to HK. End up, everyone of us have to painful select which stones we wanted to carry home, and which stones to leave it just there.


Back to the hotel, we examined the stones again. I used some of the stones to make a face.
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Ok, the mouth was picked by Vincent, he has a preference for bigger stone. The eyes and nose was picked by me, I prefer the one with unique colors, patterns or round shape. The eye browns were picked by husband, he prefer the one in long, flat shape. As for the hair, it was picked by William, with no specific categorization.




The boys used other stones to make a stone-man too. Cute.
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We did carry those heavy stones back to HK, still keep it safe at the bedroom.
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12 comments:

Fionne Chong said...

Very nice, the castles look exactly as what I learned from a fairy tale... wish I was there one fine day :)

jessylee said...

Fionne, I wish your dream will come true very soon.

Anonymous said...

MY/KS,

Really nice to see all the photos. Do let me know how I can contact you as your old contact number and email doesn't work anymore.

Sii Jing

jessylee said...

Hi Sii Jing, thanks for dropping a message here.
I have sent an email to you to update our contact number. Please check. Thanks.

Fionne Chong said...

Fren, I like your blog's new face very much ler.. nice and cool. Teach me how to do it next time :)

jessylee said...

Fionne, thanks. I like my new look too.

Actually there are many free blogger template for your selection out there.

One of the links : http://btemplates.com/
Just download the template you like and follow the instruction will do.

If you have any problem, please beep me in MSN.

Gargles said...

Hello!

This layout is very nice. simple and tasteful.

this post definitely has 1 "best picture of the year" standing out, not one can beat it, tht's the one of you and your hub. so loving, like newly dating couple. sweet!

jessylee said...

Thank you Gargles (err? not Gargies meh? you have changed name ah?)

Yeah, I like this layout too, love it at the 1st sight.

Well, we are on vacation mah, not much pressure from the surrounding, just play play only, sure look very loving lo. At home ah, sometimes he will kick me, and sometimes I will bite him wo...

Ali said...

Hi Jessie......very nice blog! Enjoyed your writing all the way. I found you blog after searching in Google about the temperature in Chimelong in December and I've found that you have been there in December last. I am planning to visit Chimelong with my family (2 adults + 1 daughter aged 12 + 1 son aged 6)this December and would like to ask you if it is a comfortable experience in terms of the weather... How cold is it during that period? Do you think it will uncomfortable, particularly for a child of 6 years old in Chimelong during December?

jessylee said...

Hi Ali,

First of all, thanks for reading my blog.

The temperature by end-Dec is normally around 14-18. I feel that this temperature is just nice for any outing.

Don't worry, the trip is not tough at all for a 6 year old child. In fact, my son who is 5 at last Dec enjoyed the trip very very much. I'm sure your son would feel the same too.

Wishing you and family a great holiday in Chimelong then.

Ali said...

Thanks Jessie. Coming from a tropical island (Mauritius in the Indian Ocean), I was a bit worried about the weather. Keep up the blog!

Anonymous said...

thank you for this! I enjoyed reading this and I hope to follow in your step with my husband and kids too!

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