So every weekend, during my internship here in Germany I try to go to a new place. I sat down and made a list of places that absolutely cannot be missed while I’m here. Obviously, Schloss Neuschwanstein was almost top of the list. I mean who hasn’t seen that picturesque castle nestled up among the hills and looking more and more beautiful with each seasonal change in its backdrop. Walt Disney himself was inspired by the place and modelled his Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland after it.
So my first weekend would be in Fussen! That’s the nearest place I could find with a hostel in it. The Bavaria City hostel. I reached Fussen midafternoon around 15:00 pm and rather than checking in, I decided to head straight to the castle itself. I wanted to do a hike around but it turns out I chose one of the worse possible times of the year to go there. There were rockslides and the hiking trails were submerged under a foot of snow so the tourism department there had closed all of them off. But I went anyway. There were too many tourists and it was almost closing time so I thought rather than going up to the castle, I would walk around it trying to get a good shot of it on my camera. I didn’t realize until I got there that you can walk all the way up to a cable car nearby which takes you up the mountain to Tegelberg. It takes about half an hour to walk till there and I would definitely recommend the walk. Why? Because this gave me the best shots and view of Neuschwanstein I would get that weekend.
Unfortunately by the time I got to the cable car station, the last car had already left. It was 16:00 and I was EXTREMELY bummed out. So I headed back to town, where I went straight to check in. It was getting pretty cold and I desperately needed to warm up. I was sharing the room with 5 other travelers. This was the first time I’ve been in a hostel so I didn’t really have the courage to talk to anyone and just smiled at them as they walked by (pretty creepy I know).
But then something awesome happened. One of the other travelers initiated a conversation with me! Her name was Chelsey and she was from the UK. We decided to head out and walk the city together and when we were moving out we found a leaflet to a nearby pub. The Bayrish Pub, a combination of both Irish and Bavarian. This place HAD to have good beer. By the way, the inner streets of Fussen are some of the nicest I’ve seen. If ever given the chance, just head out there after dark when the street lamps come on and walk till you get lost. I swear you won’t regret it.
We got to the pub and sat and chatted the hours away, when the bartender told us that the Carnival was in town that day! The Carnival is a German festival that celebrates the end of winter and the coming of spring. Chelsea and I decided to head out and we even asked two American girls, who were staying at the same hostel and had walked into the pub after us, to tag along. The Bartender’s English wasn’t so good because when we got to the other side of the river where the procession was supposed to be, it was dark and soul-less. No a single person to be seen and not a sound to be heard. I even called the bar back from the number on the leaflet but the guy could understand me even less over the phone. So instead we kept walking. The American girls decided to head back though. Chelsey and I were out till past mid-night. The city looks extremely beautiful with its warm orange glow at night and walking through its streets is an amazing experience.
The next morning the Americans, Chelsey and I woke up very early to catch the first bus out to the castle. Turns out the ticket office in the winter months, opens only at 9:00. We reached by 7:30! And it was freezing outside while we waited. I wasn’t really interested in going inside, I just wanted to see the castle in its natural setting. Chelsey was in agreement so we headed over to the carriage stand and were driven up to a castle in a horse-drawn carriage. (Yes, you can do that). Stuff of fairy tales, I know.
The castle is painfully beautiful. However, it does get severely congested by visiting tourists, even though it was the off-season. We were lucky enough to start early, but on our way back down we saw hordes of people making their way up. Visiting the castle in that much of a rush would put anyone’s mood off. Next, we warmed up, got some breakfast and headed to the lesser known but still very relevant Schloss Hohenschwangau. Honestly, this place does not get enough credit. It is a spectacularly designed place and extremely beautiful in its own way. You can walk up there from a path starting at the lake, which I must say is a stunning view to look at from the castle.
We’d heard about a waterfall near Fussen the previous day so after the castles when we got back to the city we decided to walk out and try to find it. Let me say that we got severely lost. Don’t trust those maps, that the tourism office gives you, with the small streets 😛 But we did eventually manage to find it after taking an unnecessarily long and convoluted route. They were man-made but still very pretty, set amidst a back drop of the Alps. The water was crystal clear too! Chelsey and I just sat on the banks of the river skipping rocks for a while until it was time to leave.
On the way back however, Chelsey showed me something extremely cool. She introduced me to something called Geo-Caching. Apparently strangers from all around the world hide certain object (it could be anything) in random locations around the world! And equally random strangers get a notification from an app when they’re near one and try to find it! Anyone who finds it can then add their names to the list inside the object! It has no real purpose except that it is extremely fun to do, like a treasure hunt! We passed some people poking around near a corner and she correctly guessed that they were Geo-caching! We got in on the action too and it was several minutes before Chelsey found the box! It was genuinely awesome fun.
Turns out Chelsey’s train to Munich was the same one I had to take to Kaufbauren before I switched to the one that took me home. We picked up her luggage from the hostel and headed to the station. An hour into the train ride, and we parted ways.
This was the first trip I had taken by myself alone in Europe. I’d been here two weeks and hadn’t made any real friends. I was genuinely glad to have met Chelsey and was pretty bummed that we didn’t get to hang out longer. But she made my first weekend out in Europe far more interesting than it would’ve been if I’d just sat in that hostel room and not spoken to anyone.