Schwangau - When getting up early is worth it!

We love watching sunsets and sunrises, so since our hotel was so close to the Neuschwanstein castle we thought we might try our luck on Sunday morning. The sky was rather clear and we put on our warm clothes against the cold...

Arriving in the first morning light.
But then we had to find out that the sun rises behind this big mountain! There was nothing to see but a few pink clouds.
Well, "nothing to see" might not be the right expression here though :-)
Whereas there are high mountains behind the castle, to the front you can see the plains of the Allgäu in the mist.
There was nothing to hear but the sound of cow bells.
There! The first rays of the sun are touching the mountain tops!
Since we had already gotten up early to be there by 7:15, we took the opportunity to stay a while and watch while the sky and clouds slowly changed their colors. It was such a pretty sight!
A short walk through the forest brings you to the Marienbrücke (Mary bridge) that spans over a very deep valley.
View from the bridge? Worth it all the way!
Looking up the valley
That little red dot there on the bridge, that's me. I am afraid of hights and this bridge was far too high for my tastes. That's what a boyfriend is for - I told him to walk over and take some pictures for me like this awesome panoramic view.
Thanks, boyfriend!
Walking back, another wonderful view over to Hohenschwangau in the Autumn fog.

At 8 AM the doors were opened to the castle so we could walk into the court. Best thing about it: We were the only people, as the official guided tours through the castle only started later (you can't visit the castles here individually).
Inside the empty court.
The backside of the entrance. This was the first part of the castle that was built. Maybe that explains the different color.
Finally we were really hungry and walked down to the hotel for breakfast. This is it - really close by!
With new strength we were ready for the "official" castle visit. The hotel gives out vouchers that allow its guests to get entrance tickets to Neuschwanstein (and other attractions) faster and even with a discount! I congratulated myself again for booking our room there.

View into the valley from the castle's court. In the center you can see the bridge to which we had been before. See how high up it is?
Like the day before, photography was not allowed inside. There are some pictures on the castle's website that might make you want to visit too!
Anyway, here are two photos from that website to give you an idea. It's also worth noting that of all the dozens of rooms only 15 were finished before king Ludwig II died. But those were splendid!

Sometimes we didn't have too much time to look at all the details but the guided groups here have to move fast because there's another group just 5 minutes afterwards. This is after all one of the world's top tourist attractions. And for a good reason too!

I took a chance and photographed in the cafeteria - one of the half-finished rooms. It's quite interesting too because it shows how the painting process worked.
And of course it's great to have a look out on the balcony there.
Can't decide which picture to choose? Just post them all!

After the extensive visits to the castle we opted for a walk around the lake nearby for a bit of contrast.
High up over the lake...
...and by the shore

There, very far away: two castles on the hills and some hotels and restaurants by the lake.
It took us about 1,5 hours to walk around the entire lake, mostly because of all the photo stops.
By the time we got back we were ready for a late lunch.

Looking up from the parking lot for the last time...
We drove into Füssen, the nearby city. It has a lovely old town center which is worth a visit as well.
The city hall.
Now THAT's how you paint a church!
This interior decoration is very typical to many churches in Bavaria.
Oh, the catholics and their morbid obsession with violent deaths...
A monastery
And another castle? Of course! This one has most of its decoration painted on. We could have visited the inside and gone up the tower - but by this time I was really exhausted from all the hours of walking and just wanted to sit in the car for a while.
So we drove home which took about 3 hours. It's really not that far if we ever want to come back - and also motivation to seek out other attractions within a few hours distance. You really don't always have to fly to far-off countries to find amazing things to see and experience!