Deutschland – Füssen

My mother and brother had arrived. Over their jetlag and acclimated to living in Germany, I wanted to show them a good time over the weekend. They had a stated preference for outdoors and nature rather than cityscapes, so Fussen was a natural choice for us. Nestled in the foothills of the alps, Fussen has several famous castles and lots of great hiking trails. We drove there on Saturday morning to get started with our sightseeing. The drive over was boring, taking a bit over two hours. Traffic was heavy enough that I didn’t get to have too much fun on the autobahn. When we arrived we went straight for the castles – paid for parking, and went to find the line for tickets. We waited maybe 30-45 minutes in line, after which we were pretty hungry, so we ventured down the hill to get a quick bite to eat. My mom and brother got a taste of their first schnitzel, and I opted for a sausage dish. Given that we were in a tourist mecca, I wasn’t upset with the price or quality.

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Neuschwanstein from below

After lunch we caught a bus to the top of the hillside where you can enter the castle. A short walk later took us to the entrance just before our entry time. We wandered around to get some pictures and came back to the entrance to find that they were calling the tour after ours to queue for entry. I was worried that we had to catch up to our tour group and consequently hurried through the first few passages. Eventually we discovered that we had not been left behind and made it in time for the start of our tour.

The tour guide took us through a few of the decadent rooms. Not all of the castle was finished as the “Mad King” Ludwig II died prior to its completion under mysterious circumstances. The castle featured an artificial indoor cave, an ornate Byzantine-style throne room, and lavish living quarters. The castle interior was interesting to see albeit not that historic. I preferred the views we got outside of the castle. Perched on the side of a rolling hill, the castle overlooks serene farmland lying below. The castle served as the inspiration for the Disney castle. The clean looking stone, high tower, and strong walls are reminiscent of a classic fortification. The exterior is beautiful, and the surrounding countryside even more so.

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The view from the castle balcony
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Photo credit to my mom

We walked up the Marienbrucke (a small bridge with a good viewpoint), took a few pictures, and moved past to clime up the hill for an even better vantage point. My mother was not too pleased with the bridge, which had wooden planks which were flexing a bit under the weight of all the tourists. The hillside afforded a great lookout, I thoroughly enjoyed the quick climb to the top. My mom seemed happy with solid ground under her feet, so we hung out there for awhile.

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Marienbrucke

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My mom got more comfortable on the bridge eventually!

Eventually we left and opted to descend on foot rather than catch the bus down. We found ourselves immersed in a dense wood, following a service road down the hillside. At the bottom we decided to check out another nearby castle which had been visible from above, right next to the visitor center. We didn’t pay to enter this one but got to check out the exterior and see some views from its courtyard.

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Our descent

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Perhaps the nicest views of all came from the last area we visited near the castles, the large lake that Neuschwanstein overlooks. We went down to the shore and walked around the pristine crystal-blue waters, reflecting the hilly landscape which enveloped us. We stayed here until the first traces of evening were setting in.

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Lakeside views

After our outdoor exploration, we drove into Fussen and checked into our small hotel. The host was super friendly and it felt like we were the only guests there. We took a few minutes to clean up and walked into the downtown area to find dinner. After some time we found a place serving German food. Jon and I got pork-shoulder – always a solid choice in Germany by the way – and thoroughly enjoyed it. The portion was large which suited me just fine, as I had been feeling peckish after the hikes we had done. We continued to walk around town well after sunset. We got some gelato and saw some traditional Bavarian dress in the shop windows. After some time we made it back to the hotel and turned in to go to sleep.

The next morning we enjoyed a good breakfast. The host had laid out a table for us in advance, and the food was buffet-style. While the selection wasn’t massive, everything was fresh and tasty. Jon didn’t get up early enough to catch breakfast; he definitely missed out although he claimed not to be a ‘breakfast guy’. While people were getting ready in the morning I plotted out a quick series of hikes for us to check out before we had to get back to Stuttgart. The first of these left right from our hotel, so after we dropped off keys for the hotel we set off that way.

The walk took us across the river past a manmade waterfall with a series of cascades. The waterfall itself paled in comparison to the nearby landscape; the blue river carved through a small rocky canyon and through a nearby valley, creating a picturesque scene. The river wasn’t our end destination however, so we didn’t linger too long as we had further to hike.

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Our next destination was a hilltop overlooking the town and the lake we had been to yesterday. The climb up took us 20-30 minutes and took us right past a series of outdoor monuments to be used as Stations of the Cross. My mom liked the religious aspect for our hike despite the fact that I had just chosen it for the view. At the top, you could see for miles (kilometers!), the countryside stretched before you in the direction of Fussen, and behind you lay the foothills of the alps and pristine lakes.

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Overlooking Fussen

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We stayed up there for more than a few minutes but there was one last place I wanted to take them before we drove home – another lake which was supposed to have a great view. We walked down the hill and drove 15 minutes to the lakeshore, where we were treated to the following spectacular view:

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We ended up doing a full lap of the lake. The highlight for my mom and brother was probably our brief foray into Austria. The border ran within a few hundred meters of our walk, so we took a short detour (~10 minutes) so that they could walk there a bit. The mountains framed everything nicely. Perfect weather, beautiful views, and relaxed walking. That’s how I’ll remember Fussen.

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Our brief foray into Austria

We had to leave before it got too late. My mom and brother booked a flight to Mallorca, a getaway island in Spain. They had found cheap flights and I had a work conference which would have been boring for them, so I took them to the airport around 2PM. On the drive home I found out that my car maxes out around 200kph on flat ground. My mom was not amused although I’m happy to report they made their flight with plenty of time to spare.

I really enjoyed my time in Fussen, and my family did too. They had had a taste of the alps and wanted more. While they were away Chelsea helped me coordinate a trip with them for the following weekend, but you’ll have to wait until next time to hear about it.. Until then,

Best wishes and safe travels everyone,

– Ben

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