Today I probably did the most walking so far. Actually, about half of that was hiking and some of it on real rugged terrain, ok that part was more like bouldering.
I started the day heading towards "Mad" King Ludwig's ornate Neuschwanstein Castle, but once I caught my first glimpse of the castle I made a detour to see if I could get a better photo of it. Well, that brought me over to the Tegelberg Gondola so I decided to head up to the top to see if I could get a better shot of the castle from there or on the hike down. The route I was hoping to hike down back towards the castle was discouraged by the girl selling tickets and the route she suggested didn't look all that interesting, so I bought a two way ticket just in case.
Once I got to the top I had a quick look around near the gondola then I thought I would give my original route down a try, knowing that it's usually easier to go up that it is to go down (yes, that's true). The scenery deteriorated along with the trail and it looked like it could be a while before I got anywhere near a photo opportunity for the castle, so I turned around and headed back to the top after about a half hour or so.
I decided I wasn't going to bother with the route the girl at the ticket counter suggested, so that meant I could spend some time exploring the top before heading back down on the gondola. I stayed up at the top for a few hours because the scenery was awesome. Then after some intensive hiking and a quick beer stop, it was time to head back down to explore the castle.
It was starting to get late by the time I made it the to ticket office for the castle tours, so I was expecting there to be a line up and was already planning to come back tomorrow. To my surprise, there was no line up at the ticket window and I was able to get on a tour that started in 90 minutes. Down around the ticket office there is nothing more than shops and restaurants trying to get you to spend money. There is also Ludwig's parents castle that was also available for touring, but I wasn't interested in that so I started the climb to the castle. The climb was supposed to be 40 minutes, but it took me more like 20. That meant I had time to check out some of the other attractions near the castle before my tour.
The castle tour was ok. The inside of the castle is interesting and our English tour guide did a good, but I was surprised how small the castle was and hence the tour. You are not allowed to take any photos inside the castle. Based how hard they seem to be trying to get people to spent money I'm sure the no pictures rule is to prevent others from making money on the castle or to prevent photos from inside castle discouraging people from visiting it. As bad as this may sound, I'm glad I got to see the castle. I used to buy calendars with castle pictures in them and always wanted to visit some of them, including the Neuschwanstein Castle. And, even though I didn't get any pictures of the inside, I did get some from the outside that are very similar what was in those calendars. Those good pictures came from a hike I did up behind the castle after the tour.
After that last hike it was time to call it a day, so I headed to hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.
I believe I mentioned yesterday that Fussen is a small place. So, I don't think I can get away without showing at least one picture of a tractor. There are a bunch of them, many different shapes and sizes, passing along one road or another all day long just like this one.
That's the massive cable used by the gondola to do the 2800 foot climb to the top. Note that there is only one tower along the route and that is up very near to the top.
It's not a bad view of the castle from here, however the lighting is not good. I think one would have to be here very early in the morning for a good shot.
Here comes the gondola I'm going to ride to the top.
That guy is helping to load a couple hang gliders. More on that later.
Ok, a little bit more about the hand gliders. One of the big users of the gondola are folks hang gliding and para sailing from the top of the mountain. Here we see a para sailor about to take off near the gondola station at the top.
And, he's gone.
Here's the trail I tried taking down the mountain. What we see here is just over a foot wide, maybe two, before it slopes away rather quickly.
There was some interesting scenery for a while, but it didn't last long and I ended up on a boring but challenging trail on the side of the hill with no view.
That's the place I'll stop at for a beer later. But first I need to hike to the big cross that's on that peak to the right of the very top this building.
That's the gondola station at the top of the mountain, with a restaurant to the left. The beer stop is the farthest building to the left and down the hill a little bit.
That's Fussen off in the distance to my right.
Here's the gondola station again, but this time from on top that peak with the cross on it.
Here the view to the west of the cross. The picture of me above was taken on that wide trail just to the right and below center of this picture.
Me sitting next to the cross.
And, a full shot of the cross. This peak is about 700 feet higher than the upper gondola station.
A few para sailors and a hang glider. The most I counted in the air at one time was 12.
Another shot showing the cross and this time some of the terrain around it. To get to the cross you climb that steep slope on the left, which is the most challenging part. It's definitely like bouldering.
This should give you some idea how busy it is with those hand gliders and para sailors. The hang gliders have to hang their gear on the side of the gondola to get to the top, whereas the para sailors just have big back packs about 3 to 4 times the size of mine which they bring inside the gondola.
This guy zoomed by a couple times while I was having a beer.
This is just one of the many musical groups in the area. No, I don't have the wrong picture. All the cattle in the area have large bells hanging around there necks and they are not an animal to keep still for very long, so the various little herds in the area all sound like Glockenspiels. Well, at least one that is badly out of tune or in much need of repair,
Here's a shot of the Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge.
This is Mary's Bridge. It spans the Pollat Gorge just to the south of the castle.
One of my better shots of the castle.
The above shot was take from way up on that slope in the left of this picture. Actually, it may be even a bit further up the slope.