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Adventures in Bavaria...Part 2

After that, it's off to the main attraction - Neuschwanstein Castle! The castle was originally intended to be a private refuge for the reclusive king, and in an ironic twist, it became one of the country's most popular tourist attractions, visited by over a million people a year.

We were dropped in town at the bottom of the mountain. From there, you have two options for making your way up: you can take a horse drawn carriage ride to the top (which takes quite a while), or you can take a shuttle bus up for about one Euro each way, which we opted to do. One advantage with taking the shuttle bus is that it drops you off at an intersection at the top of the mountain, where you can either trek to the suspension bridge, or start the hike towards the castle. If you're planning on hitting up the suspension bridge, trust me when I say that this is the way to go. The horse and carriage drops you off on the complete opposite of the mountain, and if you're on a tour, chances are you won't have enough time to do both.

As soon as we disembarked from the bus, we decided to head to the suspension bridge since we were so close. If you're looking for on of those magnificent pictures that you see when you Google Neuschwanstein, this is the only way that you can get them-by braving the suspension bridge from hell. Why do I call it that? Because when it's loaded with people-like it was when we were there, the wooden bridge begins to bow. But since I didn't trek all this way for nothing, I was going to get my picture, whether I fell to death or not.

the view from the suspension bridge looking down....
the money shot!
 Does this castle look familiar? It should-it's the inspiration behind Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disney World. Make sure you have on comfortable shoes for the day, because it's a good hike to get to the actual castle itself, with some slippery spots and steep hills. Again, there's an interior tour that you have the option to purchase, but it takes so long to get up and back that it doesn't leave time to do anything else-at least on this particular tour anyway. Make sure to allow yourself at least an hour to get down from the mountain to make your ride back. The buses fill, and you may have to wait for a few shuttles before you make it onto one.

King Ludwig died before it was anywhere near completed. Though he never wanted the castle accessible to the public, it was open for visits only six weeks after he died to pay off the construction debts. During World War II, the SS actually considered blowing up the entire thing to prevent it (and it's valuable artwork) from falling into the enemy's hands. Thankfully, the war ended before they were able to do so.

If you have time to kill in Munich, it's worth the trip out to see these two amazing castles. And if you're crazy like we are, there's also the opportunity to go gliding over Neuschwanstein in the warmer summer months. (side note: can we go back to Germany this summer please?)

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