Today we took a day trip from Munich to travel to Fussen.
We got breakfast (pretzels, chocolate pastries, rolls, yogurt, and milk) from the grocery store near our hotel and then hurried to the train station to catch the 8:53am train. Well, we didn’t hurry enough, because we barely missed our train. Its platform was on the opposite side of the station from where we came in, but if we had done any one thing differently (started running quicker, skipped the yogurt at the grocery store, ect) we would have made it. By missing our train, we had to wait one hour for the next train to Fussen, meaning we would arrive around noon.
We spent the time in the train station eating our breakfast, getting information about return trains, and considering options for tomorrow (our final full day in Europe). The 9:55am train was on an older model train, and was completely packed (people were standing and sitting in the areas between cars). At this point, we were kinda feeling glad for missing our train, so that we could sit for the two-hour trip (since if we had ran onto the train at the last minute, we almost certainly would not have found two seats). Our car in particular was loud, as we had a few very loud groups around us (the Italians were especially obnoxious, speaking/arguing? the whole way at around 110 decibels…). The ride to Fussen (no transfer, about 10 stops) took two hours.
Once in Fussen, we were planning to head to a bike rental place a mile away, but saw an ad for bike rentals at the end of the train station (for the same price of €10 per day) and opted for that instead. What a deal we got! These were excellent, light-weight bikes. We then biked a lovely 3 miles to the town of Hohenschwangau. Here we bought tickets for a castle tour of Hohenschwangau Castle. The map indicated that the tough hike up to the castle should take 20 minutes, but we easily made it in 10 – leaving us time to look around the outside of the castles before our tour. We went on the 1:25pm tour (tour #165, €12 each) of the castle. The 35 minute tour was disappointing, and we would not recommend it. The tour guide acted bored – like she was reading a script, and we felt like we were being herded through the castle right behind the tour ahead of us. The castle itself was nice enough, but nothing really special.
After seeing Hohenschwangau Castle, we walked past Alpsee (a pretty lake Katie liked) and stopped at Villa Jagerhaus for a self serve lunch. We had one weissbier, two bratwurst with rolls, and a small pretzel. It wasn’t a great lunch, especially for the price, but it was decent and gave us energy to keep exploring. In hindsight, we would have brought a picnic and sat at the Alpsee overlook. 🙂
After lunch we made the climb up to Neuschwanstein Castle. The map indicated a 55 minute climb, but we completed it in 30. We saw the outside of the castle but did not tour inside, as we had read that the reviews for this castles tours were even worse than those for Hohenschwangau Castle. Indeed, everyone seems to agree that seeing the outside of Neuschwanstein is all you need to do. We then climbed to Marienbruche (Mary’s Bridge), which has great overviews of Neuschwanstein Castle and the gorge below. Then we took a hike back to Hohenschwangau via a hiking trail going through the gorge. This was an amazing hike, including many waterfalls, a part including metal walkways suspended against a cliff over the river, and an interesting water diversion system. It only took about 30 minutes, but it was an awesome hike.
We unlocked our bikes, and began the ride back to Fussen. We made a detour to ride by Schloss Bullachberg (an Amazing Race pitstop: season 3, leg 7). We also rode on some different bike paths, one of which included a ride by a group of cows that got pretty excited (agitated?) when we stopped on the bike path near their fence. We were also treated to some really pretty views of both castles and the mountains all around. We returned our bikes (which were by far the best bikes we’ve rented this trip – they rode great, had multiple speeds (21 for JT, 7 for Katie), and were really light) just before 6pm, as the bike shop closed at 6pm.
All in all, we would strongly recommend Fussen, especially for those who are into hiking or biking. However, we would recommend that you don’t pay to go on tours into the castles.
We got on the 6:05pm train, which arrived in Munich just after 8pm. We took the S-bahn over to Marienplatz, as we thought we might want to eat at the Hofbrauhaus (a massive, old, touristy beer garden). We walked through the Hofbrauhaus, but it was so hot inside and smoky outside that we just decided to eat at a more authentic beer garden just down the street. JT got a mixed grill plate with sauerkraut and Katie got a traditional Bavarian cheese dish. Both were tasty and filling.