March 17, 2017
You may have heard of the Bavarian castle that inspired Walt Disney’s fairy tale castle in the animated film Sleeping Beauty. But maybe you, like many others and myself, can’t pronounce Neuschwanstein properly, so (out loud) you’ll just call it the Disney Castle.
I am so happy that I decided to book a full tour of the castle and I highly suggest doing so if you will be making a trip to Germany. The tour inside that you can do is great, but having a tour guide who takes you there and tells the story of Ludwig II is really quite worth the extra cash. I used Radius Tours and definitely suggest choosing them.
Our guide was Austin, from Texas, and he was awesome. He was funny and extremely knowledgeable about the history of the castle, the Wittelsbach dynasty, and the story of Ludwig II, also known as the mad king.
I don’t want to give too much away, because spoilers are the worst. I’ll just give you the basics.
Ludwig II gets a bad rap as the mad king. He was not insane, but he was eccentric and odd. He was forward thinking, extremely religious, a passivist, loved theatre and music, and an early adopter of technology.
He also had a tough childhood, and when the wet nurse who raised him died, he retreated into a fantasy world of fairy tales. This is what he does later in life when things get tough again, during his reign.
His father died when he was 18, so he had to become kind at a very young age. He dealt with not one but two wars during his reign. He was not someone who wanted to follow the current ways of the world, which is one of the reasons he was not favored by the politicians of the day. He wanted to avoid war, he raised minimum wage for the workers in court, he wanted to move forward with technology and dreamt of flying. In a giant gold peacock contraption over the lake.
Me and the castle, taken from the bridge that Ludwig II had built specifically for the view of the castle
He spent a bunch of money so the court cut him off, which is part of the reason Neuschwanstein castle is not finished. But it would’ve maybe gotten further if he hasn’t mysteriously drowned 3 days after the politicians who disagreed with him had him declared insane. There are still conspiracy theories about his death to this day, and in Bavaria it is a widely known issue.
Personally, after hearing the story of the mad king I do not believe this “accidental drowning” was really what occurred. I think the murder theory is much more plausible. I’ll leave it at that though, because if I say too much you won’t want to go take the tour for yourself. I highly suggest that you do because it was an amazing day.
After the tour I chatted with Austin on the way back to the bar at my hostel about how he got to move to Munich, because I may want to do the same. He gave me some tips and then he and I met the manager of my hostel and she gave me some tips as well. She, Austin and I had two rounds of shots on the house and she even gave me a free breakfast ticket and several free drink tickets.
Then Austin left to go to hang out with his friends and I chatted with a guy at the bar called Gustav, who is from Chile. He mistook me for a girl he had met at the pub quiz the night before and looked right at me and started singing Oh Canada.
He and I continued to drink at the bar, we shared a pizza, and chatted with others who would come up. The hostel bar is a great way to meet people. I actually got very drunk and after the bar closed I went up to my room. It was a long night. I will never order a mixed drink called zombie again.