This was one of the biggies. The trip that I knew was going to be the most challenging – one that I might not even be able to complete. But, I scheduled it anyway. I even sacrificed more time in the Black Forest and Munich, two of the main reasons I went to Germany in the first place, to make this trip. And, spoiler alert, it was a grand success and so freaking worth it!
Prior to this trip, I did about 8 months of research. I’m one of those people. I have to be, otherwise I may run into a situation that isn’t successful … and well the theme of this month long vacation was that of National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I know I’m a Clark W. Griswold, and I have come to embrace it. So as far as Neuschwanstein was concerned, I had all of the information I needed… or so I thought I did. I knew I wasn’t going to tour the castle, as everyone agrees the tours are too rushed and too limited. I knew that getting to Marienbrucke, or Mary’s Bridge, was my goal and that it was a very long and tedious up hill walk. Like a mile and a half – all up very steep hills. I was determined. This WAS happening, be damned my fluff!
So, I got up early and had a nice protein filled breakfast and we did the drive from Meersburg out to Neuschwanstein. This is definitely one area in Germany that is not flat. As you get close, the excitement builds because you can see one of the smaller castles up on a hilltop, and it is beautiful. Now, had I been fluent in German I may have found the area easy to navigate, but lets just say, “Thank goodness for GPS and international data plans”! I basically drove the town until I came to what felt like the end of the road and paid for a parking spot. This lot is at the bottom of one of the very steep hills I had planned on hoofing up. Then, there it was… a ticket booth selling bus rides to Marienbrucke.
Now, this information was not anywhere I looked when researching the castle or the bridge. So, for a few Euro I caught a lift up 90% of the dreaded hill. Keep in mind, it is busy here, so you will be in line for this ticket anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and that doesn’t guarantee you a seat on the bus. Personally, I had to stand for the very rough ride, so I held on for dear life along with half the people on the bus in my situation. Once they drop you off, you’re not quite at the top but the walk is totally doable. There is no time constraint so do it at your own pace. The final hill is steep and winding and there are benches along the way for breaks. You CAN do it, and it’ll be so worth it.
I was filled with some crazy adrenaline … and had heard about how busy the bridge got and how difficult it was to gain a good spot at the bridge for pictures, so I actually booked it up the final hill. It’s like when someones baby is caught under a car and a mother is able to lift the 2 ton car. That’s what traveling is like for me at these times. I find it in me and my inner Wonder Woman is unleashed. Rawr.
All of the warnings about the bridge being busy are true, however, it’s like the ocean tides and you just need to be patient for low tide. This castle, folks… has effing wow factor to the max. Thanks be to the Mad King who built it in this gorgeous valley, because it is a thing of beauty and magnificence. I had my selfie stick and started to snap pictures over everyone’s head of just the castle. These pictures turned out lovely and in focus, but zero of my selfies with the castle were in focus. I looked great in all of them, haha, but the castle was always just out of focus. So, I’d not recommend a selfie stick for this photo op. Ask a willing stranger for a picture and offer to take theirs.
You can opt to walk back down the whole hills or pay another couple Euro to get a ride to the bottom. I’d waited so long for a good spot on the bridge, that I was overdue for a toilet stop and too the bus back down. Be prepared for gift shops galore selling everything imaginable Neuschwanstein Castle. Cold drinks and snacks were easy to procure.
Don’t let me stop you from actually touring these castles. I had barely tacked on this stop in our itinerary and was already sacrificing other things just for the bridge, so if you have the time and the inclination please do tour them. For me, it’s just another trip in the future maybe.
Neuschwanstein Mary’s Bridge with bus – 3-4