I was nervous about going back into Germany. After how roughly it treated us the first time around, who knew if it would be the same in the small town of Fussen. We took a train from Salzburg to Munich, and then from Munich to Fussen, and arrived around 2pm. We rented bikes right outside the train station. Riding the bikes was a bit different this time, though, because we were both wearing our huge travel backpacks. One shift and you could lose your entire balance! We made sure that our backpacks were on as tightly as possible and rode over to the first place that we were hoping to stay at, the LA House. There was nobody there to check us in, so we called the number listed by the phone as the directions left told us to, and after becoming very confused, decided to try to find the local youth hostel instead. Unfortunately the reception desk at the youth hostel was closed as well, but there were lockers that we could leave our backpacks in so that we could ride over to the castles.
We rode for nearly 30 minutes before arriving at the town just below the castles. Fussen is famous for being home to two castles, but we only had time to see one: the Neuschwanstein Castle. We took the bus up to the top (once again, this castle was on a hill…. Common theme here?). This was the first city in a while where I really felt like a tourist. There were English speakers everywhere, and it was a little strange. We accepted that fact and took the 30 minute tour through the castle, which King Ludwig had begun to build right before his death at the age of 18. Only 1/3 of the castle was completed, and that was the part that we toured. Work stopped after the king was found face down in a nearby lake – nobody knows exactly what happened. Apparently he was crazy! The parts of the castle that we saw were extremely luxurious and beautiful. There were swans everywhere – hence the “schwan” part of the name of the castle – because they were the king’s favorite animal and also a symbol of royalty in the area. We eventually found ourselves outside and once again were greeted by beautiful views of the mountains and lakes nearby. Jed decided to trek over to a bridge with even more views, but I waited near the castle to let my ankle rest and take a break in general. Once he came back we started walking to where the busses pick people up to go back to the bottom of the hill, but apparently we missed the last bus (darnit, Germany!). We slowly meandered down the hill back to the little city, found our bikes, and stopped for dinner at a traditional German restaurant – YUM. German food almost makes up for the German transportation system.
We hopped on our trusty bikes and stopped on the way to spin around in a field and sing the Sound of Music. Either we were going crazy or we were… well, I think we were going crazy. After our short sing-along break, we continued on our way. I had the feeling that we were about to get lost, so we pulled over to a gas station to ask for directions. The attendant told us kindly that we were going the wrong way (of course) so we turned around and headed the other direction, following the signs that said Fussen – great idea, right?! We easily found our way back into the city, which was surprisingly lively around 10pm for such a small town. After we got our rooms at the hostel and put our things up, we rode our bikes back into the city to join the party. We parked our bikes in the middle of the city and wandered around for a bit, before seeing two 20-something-year-old guys smoking outside of a place called “The Club.” It looked divey as could be, so we headed right in!
The bar was small; it was made up of one U-shaped bar in the middle of the room, and nothing else. Jed and I sat down and realized that we were definitely the only Americans, or tourists, in sight. It was a nice feeling! Two German men next to us clinked their glasses with ours (“Prost!”) and tried to ask us a few questions, but with our terribly lacking German skills, it was hard to hold any type of conversation. Later we found ourselves sitting next to other people, who spoke a little bit more English. He kept apologizing for his English, but I kept telling him that it was way better than my German! Over the course of our 2 hours at the bar, I decided that Germans definitely party the hardest and craziest. These teens were falling over each other, breaking glasses on the ground, and spilling everywhere. It really was hilarious. After an entertaining night at the bar, we walked back to our bikes and rode to the hostel (without getting lost!). I passed out after yet again another long day.
Germany definitely made up for our last visit this time around. Fussen was charming, easy to get around, and had lovely weather. The castle was awesome, the food was delicious, and the people were crazy. I really enjoyed Fussen overall!
pictures: (1) view of the lake and Hohenschwangau Castle, which we didn’t have time to visit (2) me at the entrance of the Neuschwanstein Castle (3) me and the fields nearby (4) picturesque view (5) view of the Neuschwanstein Castle from a nearby bridge