Friday, September 27, 2013

Neuschwanstein Castle: The Inside

So the title of this post is a bit misleading. I was actually only able to sneak a few photos from the actual inside of the castle because you are not really allowed to take photos, even without flash, inside the castle. I was, however, allowed to photograph from the inside out. So I'll present lots of gorgeous views but not as much of the inside as I would have liked to have shared. 
First of all you are already overwhelmed by the grandeur of this place just standing in front of it. The Fairy Tale Turrets at the entrance have already swept your imagination to a place where Knights and Ladies are now walking with you. You just can't help yourself!
 You get a number when you buy a ticket and then you just reference the sign with the red numbers for your ticket number or group number to appear before entering. This is your first glimpse of the inner courtyard as well.
 It is almost impossible to not be overwhelmed when you first see this from the inside. Hidden by the very tall walls outside you really can't see the beautiful courtyard at all from there.
I love the castle within a castle on the front of the castle! The grand paintings of the Knight on his Steed and the religious painting on the other side is a definite indication that you have entered the Fairy Tale.
 If you look to the left you will see a man walking down the grand staircase. This gives you an idea of how large it is. Unfortunately it was SO crowded in the courtyard I was not able to get a full panoramic view of the courtyard...I pretty much just saw heads. So, on those rare moments when I found an opening, I took detail photos instead.
 This is one of my favorite detail photos. The arched windows, the scallop curves on the stairs and window frames echoing the turrets adds such a romantic flare to the courtyard.
 From the courtyard you can see the waterfall that was part of King Ludwig II's view each day. Actually the waterfall has a lot to do with why he picked this location. He would hike up to the waterfall from the castle below and look down upon the hilltop where he finally built Neuschwanstein. It just seemed like the perfect location, filled with all of the views of his beloved countryside, to build his dream castle upon.
 The details were very important to him when he was building. Little pieces here and there all help make up a very romantic and flamboyant look to his Fairy Tale Castle.
 We entered and began our climb up. You can only go so far up and there are a lot of stairs so if you have any problems walking stairs you may want to take them very slowly. The guides are happy to let you take your time. 
If you power your way up the stairs you will miss the beautiful views. From one of the windows was this view of the terrace, the turret and the courtyard below. Remember the salmon colored entryway? The gold marble is what covers the other, inner courtyard, side of that same wall.
 Each window provided different views and there were always more details from each level. Notice the statue on the inner wall and the gargoyle on the outer wall. 
 Make sure to look out of each and every window including this amazing view of the lake in the valley below.
And not all of the windows were patterned the same way with the lead. Some of them had a very different pattern from the usual crosshatch design.
 You can even see Hohenschwangau from Neuschwanstein's windows.
 From one of the clear glass windows you get this amazing view of both the lake and of Hohenschwangau Castle.
Thanks to a long lens I was able to zoom in and was delighted by the huge swan that sits atop Hohenschwangau Castle. (click on the photo to see the larger version) I, personally, don't think it looks like much like a swan but they did.
 Some of the window views were very grand indeed. This one took my breath away.
 I did sneak a few from the inside. They are crooked because I couldn't actually see what I was shooting but you get to see the paintings on the walls in this photo. All of the artwork, and it was grand artwork, museum quality murals and carvings and engravings, depicted different fairy tales from books and from Operas. King Ludwig II was in love with Wagner, the opera composer, and so many of the paintings were of the fairy tales in Wagner's Operas.
 This is a hallway. Yup, just a hallway. To imagine someone walking these gold enlayed ceilings and giving them no more consideration than we do our own hallways just floors me. 
 But the views are panoramic. I took three images and they all overlap for one complete panoramic view from one of the balconies at the castle. So here is left....
 This is center...
 This is right. 
You get the whole panoramic view from this balcony. Just so amazing and beautiful!
This was the last view of the Castle from the valley floor. One of my favorite photos from this trip. In fact, it's my wallpaper on my computer. The Alps behind, the Castle in the middle and the blooming with Spring flowers valley floor below just combines for such a romantic view of this Fairy Tale Castle. (click on the photos for the larger version and better view)

Next week I'm going to start covering our first trip to Italy which includes Lake Como, the Italian Riviera including the Cinque Terra, Pisa, Milan and Venice. Hope you can come back then. In the meantime you can get daily photos of beautiful places on Instagram. Just follow shutterbugtraveler there!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Neuschwanstein Castle: First Looks

We got off of the carriage at a point almost all the way up the mountain but still had about a mile to walk up the steep path. About halfway we got our first glimpse of the Castle.
To say I was enthralled is an understatement. Now, honestly, we were both winded and really wanted the break in our steep uphill walk but the castle is truly amazing from this vantage point.

 It has everything you could possibly wish for in a romantic Fairy Tale Castle. Different types of Turrets were just one of the features that I fell head over heels in love for here at Neuschwanstein.
 I wasn't prepared for how steep the walls would be. We had been to palaces and other castles and while their walls were tall they were nothing like the walls for this castle.
 You can see by how tiny the people are in this photo just how tall those walls actually were. It would seem like an impossible idea to scale these walls.
 But the romantic details are what remind you that this was built to be a Fairy Tale Castle, not just a fortress.
 On the tallest turret is this Knight on his Steed slaying a Dragon. It is just one of the romantic details.
 But even the simplest of windows had beautiful details added. The view was very important to Ludwig II so there were big windows on each side of the castle on all levels to allow him to see that view out.
 Yup, found a lion! Grand and guarding the tallest building peak, this lion is magnificent!
 Set out on a cliff with a stone moat surrounding it, the Castle is stunning. Truly breathtaking.
The entrance to the castle, set against the Alps, is covered in the salmon colored stone. The wide balcony and courtyard at the entrance allows you beautiful views of the forest below. There is an overlook area below the castle with a gift shop/cafe and you can grab a seat and rest while gazing at the castle or the valley floor below. After dreaming about seeing this for so many years I couldn't believe I was actually standing from this view point and seeing the castle of my dreams. 

Friday I'll take you inside that entrance! That is where the Fairy Tale actually begins! Until then you can get more photos of beautiful places on Instagram. Just follow shutterbugtraveler there!

See you on Friday!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Neuschwanstein Castle

I'm a California Girl. Specifically, a Southern California born girl. This means two things. One, I'm a Beach Baby and two, I am a Disney Girl. Seriously. The joke in my family is that if you look close enough at my blood you will notice that the platelets are Mickey Ears. Seriously a Disney Girl. So from about the age of 5 (although I'm sure I was told earlier than that and just don't remember) I knew that there was a REAL Sleeping Beauty's Castle out there in the world somewhere. So, from the age of 5, Neuschwanstein Castle was #1 on my Bucket List. 

If you are not familiar with the phrase "Bucket List" (and I found out recently that not everyone outside of the USA knows that phrase) it means "Things to Do/See before I "kick the bucket"" or, to do/see before I die. So Neuschwanstein Castle was the first thing, the longest desired thing, on my Bucket List. The chance to go see it was just so amazing I couldn't even wrap my head around it!
 As with most "real life" experiences when you travel, what I got was SO much more than I could ever have dreamed an adult or a 5 year old! First of all just look at the scenery around the Castle! The green of the countryside, the amazing Alps, it's all just too picturesque to be believed! (click on the photo to see the full sized version of it!)
 So these were the types of views we enjoyed as we made our way out to one of the 3 Castles built by Good King Ludwig II. I have now added his other two castles to my Bucket List!
 One of the "extras" about our visit was the story of King Ludwig II and his wacky family. You pass through this little town at the bottom of the hill and get your first glimpse of the type of architecture that lies ahead!
 It looks like a typical little German town but it has a very impressive history and reputation when it comes to King Ludwig II. His father died, after a very brief illness, leaving Ludwig II to be King at the age of 18. His older brother wanted nothing to do with the family business and the shy younger brother ended up stuck with the job. The people of Bavaria were overjoyed because their new King decided to use his money for "pretty" things. Needless to say, this didn't thrill the government and high society. He started burning through money as fast as he could to create his Fairy Tale Castles.
 This was our first view of Neuschwanstein. Sitting high up on a hilltop over the small little village of Hohenschwangau below. The little village has a lot to do with the story of King Ludwig II as well. More on that later.
 The village is very small but picturesque. I would love to come back and stay at Jagerhaus someday!
 Ok, yes, I'm SUCH a tourist! I completely loved the names on the sign in front of the Inn. The Sound of Music. I was in love!
Hohenschwangau is named after the Castle in the village where King Ludwig II grew up. It was here that he fill in love with the area and dreamed of building another castle of his very own that was bigger, better and even more beautiful than the one he grew up in. On our tour we didn't have enough time to tour Hohenschwangau but I think we all wanted to do so! Yup, added to the Bucket List.
 This is also where you have to make the decision to take the walk up to the castle or to take the carriage. Knowing that the carriage only takes you up so far and then you walk we decided we wanted the best of both styles and took the carriage up.
 As it was in Salzburg, we found out that the horses that pull the carriages are doted upon. Because they are right in town with the tourists they are doted upon by both their caretakers and the tourists!
 We were loaded up onto the carriage and I got to sit in the front seat! You can see the Inn on the left and Hohenschwangau on the right.

 You can see three things in this photo. One, there were people who chose to walk up the incline, two, we definitely were smart NOT to walk up the incline, and three, it was totally absolutely gorgeous!
 Visiting in the Spring meant that everything was very, very green. That "it almost hurts your eyes to look at it" green. Beautiful!
 And then you get off the carriages because the rest of the way up to the castle is too steep to make the animals pull us lazy humans up the rest of the way. Did I mention it was steep? Very Steep. About a mile of Steep. I took advantage of the gorgeous views of the forest to stop, admire it and then take a photo before moving on.
 There is a stop in the middle of the trek up. Unfortunately we were there too early and they were not open yet but the building was very pretty!
Another building at the "stop" reminded us that Neuschwanstein means New Swan Stone. Or the new Swan Castle. Ludwig's improvement on his childhood home.

This weekend I'll take you up to the Castle so you can get an idea of the size and scope of it. But here is a little background. 

King Ludwig II wasn't popular with the powers-that-be at the time. He was spending money at an alarming rate. Money that others felt was theirs, not his, to spend. To top it off, Ludwig was single. Permanently single. You see, Ludwig was in love with Richard Wagner, the Opera composer. The romance with Wagner as well as the influence of his Opera's helped to shape Neuschwanstein into the Fairy Tale Castle that it is. Homosexuality was legal in Germany then and thus not something that they could use against Ludwig but that didn't stop them from trying to find something against him to push him out of power. Finally, after he broke off a forced engagement, they declared him "Mad" King Ludwig II and sought to imprison him.

This is where the story gets good. The soldiers sent to arrest him stopped in the town at a pub first. They let the story leak out that they were on their way to arrest the villagers treasured King and they sent word up the hill to the village of Hohenschwangau. Those villagers surrounded the castle so the soldiers couldn't get through. It only delayed the process for a few days butit did show the King how much is subjects adored him.

And who wouldn't adore a King that built such beautiful places, hired and paid the locals very well to build it, threw great parties for everyone and was such a generous, loving man? The people who wanted to be in charge of the government and the money, that's who. They arrested him and set him up with a "Dr" to oversee him and somehow they both ended up dead the very next morning in a pond. It's a murder mystery but I think the Dr. tried to kill Ludwig and Ludwig was stronger than the Doc figured and took him down too. I'm hoping it was that way anyway. 

Hope you can come back this weekend to see more of the castle and learn more about it's romantic history! See you then!

In the meantime you can get daily photos of beautiful places on my Instagram account! Just follow shutterbugtraveler there.