Photographs, pictures, images, travel tips and tour guide for Germany, Bavaria. Photography and Photos from Fussen, Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, Romantic Road, Lake Constance, Bodensee, and Lindau.

Pictures and Travelogue from Germany - Part II            [ >> Part I << ]

I started writing this page when the first strands of Siegfrieds Tod und Trauermarsch (Siegfried's Death and Funeral March) started wafting through the Triangles. What better way to pay homage to the obsessiveness of King Ludwig II, his eccentricity, his fantasies, and his love of music, especially of Wagner's mystical works. Paintings on stone, Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Germany

Pastures and Church, Romantic Road near Fussen, Germany Wagner was the ultimate romanticist. His masterpiece, the 20 hour long Der Ring des Nibelungen, or The Ring, is considered by many as the most influential modern opera that completely changed the way we think about music scores. Operatic tools such as lietmotifs are used even to this day in modern day film and theater music. Were it not for Ludwig, this masterpiece would never have been born.

Fussen and Schwangau, Germany

Ludwig was a geek by all means of the word. He used to sleep during the daytime and go for long rides at night. He had an obsession for building, music, and an undying love for mysteries and fairytales - which explained why Wagner's mystical and grandiose operas touched him to the core. Balcony, Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Germany

Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee, Schwangau, Germany As a child, Ludwig used to look forward to his summer holidays which were spent in the lap of the Tyrolean Alps on the German-Austrian border. The family summer home of Hohenschwangau was situated in as romantic a place as can only be found in the Tyrolean Alps. Nestled amongst the hills, the castle stood overlooking the turquoise blue Alpsee.

While going for walks with his mother in the mountainside, young Ludwig must have cultivated an immense love for the Schwangau region as well as the swans who floated sacredly in the myriad lakes around Hohenschwangau. When Ludwig was 13, he was introduced to Wagner through the medieval Swan Knight, Lohengrin. It was here, in early childhood, that the concept of Neuschwanstein must have gained a foothold in the creative process of Ludwig. The obsession with swans never faded away. Neuschwanstein (new stone swan) and his other castles are littered with swan-like imagery as well as visions from various Wagner operas. Paintings on stone, Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Germany

Neuschwanstein design, Germany Nueschwanstein is the ultimate fairy-tale castle - sometimes even known as the Disney castle as Cinderella's castle has been inspired heavily by Neuschwanstein. The court theater designer, Christian Jank, was assigned the task of conceptualizing the castle, which is probably why it has a fantasy feel. Under orders from Ludwig, the castle was supposed to have references from Wagner's Lohengrin and Tannhauser.

Design was completed in 1869. Work was started in September 1869, and continued painstakingly for 23 years. As years progressed, images from Wagner's later operas, such as Parsifal, The Ring, and Die Meistersinger von Nurnbergwere also added to the mix. Ludwig managed to stay in the castle for a grand total of 3 weeks. After Prussia's victory in the Franco-Prussian War, Ludwig was reduced to a figurehead, which lead to his seclusion and ultimate demise under mysterious circumstances, in a lake near Berg. Inside Neuschwanstein castle, near Fussen, Germany

Friday, 5th September, 2003

Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Germany Such madness had to be appreciated, and appreciated early enough in the morning, as thousands (upto 25,000) a day more were flocking to Fussen to appreciate the castle and the mythology. After our fabulous breakfast we checked out of the hotel and zipped to Schwangau which is about 3 km from Fussen. For want of time, we decided to forgo the Hohenschwangau and concentrate mainly on the Neuschwanstein.

The half a mile climb towards the castle was done in the comfort of a bus. From the spot where the bus dropped us, to Marienbruecke, is a 3-4 minute climb. From the castle to the Marienbruecke is a 10 minute steep climb. So, being the lazy sloths we were, we visited the bridge first. On our way down from the castle, we utilized the services of a horse-drawn carriage, which was way more fun for Rachna, than for me. Throughout the trip, though, both of us kept feeling bad about how mistreated the poor animal was, dragging our builky load down the hill. Musical Theater Neuschwanstein, across the Forggensee, Germany

Neuschwanstein from Marienbruecke, Schwangau, Germany Marienbruecke is a bridge perched high up above a 45m waterfall, spanning the deep and narrow Pollat gorge. This bridge provides uncomparable views of Neuschwanstein, and is the spot from where most of the amateur Neuschwanstein pictures (read, like mine) are taken from. The professionals either climb the nearby cliffs or utilize a hang-gliding setup. The castle is a 8-10 minute steep downward walk from Marienbruecke, and we reached just in time for our tour slot.

The entire tour lasted 30-35 minutes, after which, in true Universal Studios styles, we were shown the way to the gift shop, where Rachna and I promptly tested the universal applicability of the mighty credit card. Having completed the Fussen pilgrimage, we decided to drive a bit upstream on the Romantic Road, and explore some towns which we had to skip a day earlier due to the autobahn mishap. Neuschwanstein, Schwangau, Germany

Belief - a common sight all across the German and Austrian landscape We had heard good things about Rottenbuch, as being a very scenic and idyllic village in the Bavarian countryside. So we decided to drive up till Rottenbuch and back, covering whatever little we could of the Romantic Road, before we headed out towards Switzerland.

Views from inside Neuschwanstein.
Inside Neuschwanstein castle, near Fussen, Germany From inside Neuschwanstein castle, near Fussen, Germany

Details on pillar, Neuschwanstein, Schwangau, Germany Alpsee and the Bavarian Alps, from Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Germany

The experience was very pleasant and soothing. The Bavarian countryside seemed especially groomed and decked up to our senses. At this time of the year, the rolling hills were fluorescent green, and the rooftops were a freshly coated vermilion. Nowhere else in our foggy memories had we ever experienced entire towns, over hundreds of miles of countryside, so well maintained. By the time we completed our loop back to Schwangau it was 4 pm, and the soft sunlight caressed the last views of the dreamy castles that we would have in a long time, maybe never ever. Rottenbuch, Germany, near the Romantic Road

View of Neuschwanstein castle from the Romantic Road, near Fussen, Germany We stopped to fill up on gas before heading out west. It was at this gas station that I had the most interesting conversation of my life. For some unknown reason, these 2 German gentlemen decided that it would be informative to find out where this Desi was coming from, where was he headed, and what was he really doing here. The only problem is that I knew as much German as they knew English - zilch.

He proceeded to ask me, in fluent German as to where I had landed, which, after much flapping of the hands, I understood, and proceeded to answer with one word - Frankfurt. There was another flurry of German words and much pointing towards Neuschwanstein, at which point I just nodded my head, which seemed to satisfy them. And then there was the killer piece. For the next 5 minutes (and no it wasn't impatience on my part counting the seconds), they probably asked me the same question repeatedly. Initially, the question sounded like a small phrase. Sensing my inability to understand the question, the gentleman elaborated further and further, while all I kept saying was that I don't understand German. All I picked up was Frankfurt, Fussen and the rough shape of an airplane that he made with his palms. Rottenbuch near the Romantic Road, Germany

Overflow from Lake Constance, Lindau, Germany We decided to call it quits after 6 or 7 tries, at which point I gave him the universal "bye" gesture and hopped into the car. All was forgotten, and we were well on our way nearing Lucerne, the next day, when the realization suddenly struck me - the poor soul was probably interested in how I traversed the distance till Fussen, having flown into Frankfurt!

Over the past 3 days we had been blessed with bright uninhibited sunlight. Reading one of the guidebooks gave us the impression that it rains one out of every three days in this region during summer. The sunlight was so overpowering, that I made the now infamous remark - "That statement is complete gibberish. Look at the sun.. we have had nothing but bright sunlight for 3 days already. Statistically, it should have rained by now". Alley, Lindau, Germany

Near Lindau Harbor, near Lake Constance, Germany And it did. Not that day, but every day for the remaining days of our trip. By the time we took the ramp to A7, and then Highway 12 towards Lindau, dark, ominous, mood-spoiling clouds were fogging our outlook for the trip. Soon we had left Bavaria behind, and were in the neighboring state of Baden-Wurttemberg. Suddenly all the vermilion rooftops were gone. Windows were empty, and didn't dangle the characteristic Bavarian flower basket on the window sill. The whole region appeared a bit more rustic, a bit more natural. As we approached Lake Constance, the surroundings had changed considerably. Towns were becoming busier, there were fewer rolling hills and pastures. It was becoming more European in a way that our imagination had conjured up. It was 6:00pm by the time we hit the outskirts of Lindau.

Lindau and Lake Constance (Bodensee)

We weren't planning on stopping over at Lindau earlier, but the changing colors of the gathering evening clouds altered our decision. Plus, I had seen nice images of the Lindau harbor in photography books and on the Net, so we decided to give the harbor a short timeslot. Navigating to the parking lot closest to the harbor was a simple exercise, as directions pointing to the harbor and the Lake are pasted all over the city. Lindau Harbor on Lake Constance, Germany

Lindau Harbor, near Lake Constance, Germany At the parking lot I learnt that for a few Euros, you can park your car and take the ferry to any of the ports along the lake shore, party all of Friday night, and return back Saturday morning. This gem was handed over to us by the leather-jacket clad, gold chain wearing gentleman, who obviously had similar plans, and somehow got the impression that we were party animals too. Rather than immersing ourselves in deafening machine-generated pulsations that could make you skip a heartbeat, we were there to soak in the serenity of the lake.

Abiding by Murphy's Law, we had parked at the eastern-most point of the harbor. From our vantage point, Lake Constance did seem large, but not impressive. Moreover, peering as far and hard as I could, I couldn't find the distinctive pillars that define Lindau harbor. Was it on the other end of town? Was it mid-Bodensee? Luckily, another local tourist soon pointed us into the right direction. Lindau Harbor on Lake Constance, Germany

Streets of Lindau, near Lake Constance, Germany Lindau tied our nomination for the most charming town with Lucerne and Innsbruck. Cobbled streets, roadside local restaurants, colorful architecture - both old and new, and the amazing tranquility of Lake Constance. We spent a good 2 hours simply navigating the narrow alleys and streets. We spent another 30 minutes sitting in front of the harbor and staring into the depth of the landscape. But it was time to bid farewell to Germany.

The tension of performing a border crossing was looming heavily upon us. Especially because a critical decision had to be made at this juncture. Should we circle all around Lake Constance (Bodensee) and enter Switzerland from Schaffhausen in the north before continuing down to Zurich. Or should we enter Switzerland from the Austrian border town of Bregenz. Not only was the latter route shorter, it would also be much faster as we would be on the autobahn A1. Why the dilemma, Holmes? Because of the confusion over stay limits imposed by the Schenghen and Swiss visas. We were supposed to visit Germany, then Switzerland, and finally drive into Austria. Thats the kind of assinine rigidity one should be prepared for. Streets of Lindau, near Lake Constance, Germany

Streets of Lindau, near Lake Constance, Germany Even time was not on our side. It was almost 8:30pm by the time we started out from the Lindau harbor parking lot. The longer slower route would take forever, and having experienced this kind of agony just the day before, I was in no mood to even humor the slower option. I was ready to barge into Bregenz, Austria, visa or not.

We took Highway B31 back east, and made the turn onto Highway B190 towards Bregenz. Within minutes we saw a gas station like structure where people were slowing down. When it was our turn, we slowed down as well. Lo and behold, this was a visa checkpoint! They were diverting us into Switzerland right at Bregenz - which was exactly what we had hoped for. One look at the passports, and we were on our way again. It was swift, efficient, and entirely unexpected given our experiences with visa checkposts everywhere else in the world.

Once we were in Switzerland on autobahn A1 towards Zurich, I drove like a maniac, uninterrupted, till we reached our hotel near the Zurich airport. The journey had been little less painful than we had been expecting. Relieved, we decided to call it a night by 11:30pm. Church in Lindau, near Lake Constance, Germany