Do you know the feeling when you come out of an airport exhausted, simultaneously dragging and cursing the mountain of luggage, and your scrutinizing eyes finally rest on a familiar face in the sea of people? When the ears turn red, the vision blurs and the heart skips a beat? When you forget all about the marathon flight, the long delay, the years of separation, and instead just grin from ear to ear?
It was right after my higher secondary exam when Baba brought home our first personal computer. The brother and myself were thrilled beyond words and we spent every waking moment exploring it. Be it late into the night, in the middle of a working day, or right before an exam, there was no way we two could be un-glued from the computer. Besides computer games, one of our most-favorite pastime was browsing through numerous wallpaper websites and changing the desktop wallpaper everyday. However, there was this one particular wallpaper that we both adored, and hence stayed on the desktop much longer than usual. It was a picture of an old castle, in the middle of snow-clad mountains, that looked straight out of a fairy-tale. We had stumbled upon it randomly one day and therefore had no clue of its whereabouts. But it was enough to make a teen-aged me realise what love at first sight meant!
It has been a decade since then. I have grown from a starry-eyed teen to a (pseudo)mature woman, have traveled extensively, lived some of my dreams, and experienced personal and professional growth. But in all these years, never did I come across the sight that had made me go weak in the knees years ago. Until recently, when I finally experienced my Cinderella moment and realized that it was totally (with as much stress on the word as possible) worth the wait.
Neuschwanstein Castle. That's what it is called. Built in the nineteenth century under Ludwig II of Bavaria, the enormous neo-Romanesque style castle is located in the hills above the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Germany. It can be reached within an hour from Munich and therefore serves as a perfect weekend getaway for tourists. The Hohenschwangau village, located close to the small town of Füssen, is set at the foot of the breathtakingly beautiful Bavarian Alps (German Alps). The most efficient form of transportation to reach the castle from the village is walking through the dense green forests, although there are a number of transportation options available. The castle itself is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe, drawing more than 1.3 million people each year. In fact many of Disney's movies have implicitly showcased the castle as the epitome of romance, and rightly so. There are not many accommodation options, especially if you are a poor PhD student or a budget traveler, and therefore it is advisable to plan the trip in advance. The official website of the castle also provides detailed information on how to reach, opening and closing hours, transport facilities and other practicalities, which makes the trip hassle-free even for a non-German-speaking solo female traveler.
Itinerary aside, the rest is nothing but pure magic! All you need to do is sit on an imaginary time-machine and helplessly fall in love, all over again :)
|View from outside|
|Rotate you head ninety degrees and this is the view you'll get :D|
|The castle entrance.|
|Look behind, and this is the view that meets the eyes.|
|And this! (I visited the castle twice in two days, |
hence the mismatch in the color of the sky :D)
|From the inside|
|Tourists, queuing up for the guided tours.|
|The panorama from the castle. If this is not breathtaking, what is?|
|The Neuschwanstein from the Marienbrucke. *gasp*|
|Up close, and dreamy!|
Not only is the castle stunning beyond words, the entire Hohenschwangau village presents mind-numbing panoramic views of the snow-covered Alps and the Alpsee and Schwansee lakes. Hohenschwangau itself boasts a royal castle of its own and a museum of the Bavarian kings that are worth a visit.
|The Hohenschwangau Castle|
|The Museum of the Bavarian Kings, located just beside the Alpsee lake.|
|The lake Alpsee. Relaxing on a bench by the lake, icecream in |
hand, and a clear sunny day- ingredients that recipes of perfection
are made of.
|And then, all of a sudden, this! Happiness, doubled.|
|The Lech river just at the border of Austria.|
|The river-beach, captured through the lens of its sole admirer :)|
A place this beautiful is bound to take the breath away and leave one speechless. However, nothing in the world prepares you for the sight when you get up in the morning, look out the hostel window and suddenly catch a glimpse of the fairy-tale castle, radiating in the fresh morning light! Surreal? That's the word.