When visiting Bavaria (the southern region of Germany including Munich) countless people make a mandatory stop at the Neuschwanstein Castle. I can attest to the countless part when my friend Trisha and I arrived to the small town of Schwangau and saw the ticket line with hundreds of people waiting.
Luckily, I had read somewhere online to reserve tickets ahead of time. I did that and the line for the reserved tickets only had about 8 people in it - I would have looked like a pretty bad host if we spent 2 hours of a vacation waiting in a line. Instead Trisha and I were able to enjoy lunch on a patch of grass in the shadow of the Hohenschwangau Castle.
After refueling, we took a brisk walk up a fairly steep trail, leaving all of the slow hikers behind us. We were not in a hurry, but we just both tend to walk fast. We hiked right passed the castle to Mary's Bridge where apparently King Ludwig II would go in the evening to look back at his candle-lit castle.
Finally, our tour of this unfinished icon began. I will let Trisha tell her impression of the quirky tour guide. Unfortunately, this was yet another visit where pictures were "not allowed" inside so I respected the rule in knowing that I could find all online. There is a great virtual tour to check out (click on the different rooms - including his grotto/cave).
Ludwig II is often mentioned in Bavaria as being crazy or mad. After visiting a few of his "homes" I see him more as a dreamer with big ambitions. Apparently, he cleaned out the royal coffers to start building all his castles. While at the time, many probably thought he was foolish. I mean, nowadays I can't help but read news articles of how well Germany is doing during this global economic chaos because of its tradition of austerity. Ludwig II is a total contradiction to that tradition - the one who stood out and had big, crazy ideas that cost a lot of money. However, these big, crazy ideas built a timeless castle, which people will continue to visit for hundreds of years. For the small price of 10 Euros each I reckon those old coffers will be full before long.