[I have to add a bit here about German spelling.  German, as you may know, has a few extra letters in its alphabet (all the better to make up humongous compound words with), they are the ones with the umlaut (two little dots) over the “ä”, “ö”, and “ü”, and, what I call a funny B “ß”, or as it is called a “sharp s”.   I have been bad in that I have sometimes simply dropped the umlaut.  If that were not bad enough I compounded my grammatical crime by not following the accepted procedure for keyboards without the umlaut letters, or the ß.  What I was supposed to do, in order not to mess with German minds re: pronunciation and spelling, was add an “e” after the umlaut letter.  So, “ä” becomes “ae”, etc.  The funny ß becomes “ss”. There are problems with this as not all “ae”, “oe” and “ue” are former umlaut letters.  Likewise not all “ss” were ß.  For example Füssen is actually spelled with the double “s”- no funnies substituted.  If you are really interested in this you can go on-line and delve to your heart’s content.  This bit is about the extent of my enthusiasm for the subject.   So, I have caved to my “library” conscience for detail and my spurt of grammatical rebellion is at an end.  But, all cause for rebellion is not lost – I refuse to pay money to use a toilet!]

Onwards…..

A settlement in Roman times, Füssen’s original name was Foetes or Foetibus from the Latin Fauces meaning “gorge” probably in reference to the Lech River gorge.  Füssen is situated on the banks of the Lech River which is 264 km long and a tributary of the Danube.  Unlike a number of large rivers in Germany the Lech is unnavigable due to its many gravel banks and generally feisty nature.

Hohenschwangau

Füssen was also a significant town located on the Via Claudia Augusta, an important Roman road crossing the Alps and linking the valley of the Po River in Italy with what is now modern Augsburg in southern Germany.  Begun in 15BCE and completed in 47CE, The Via Claudia Augusta has been used for centuries and since the 1990’s,
a 500 km section of it has become a popular cycling/hiking route.  We did see a part of this awesome road, but sadly did not have time to go a wandering along it.

Füssen, with a population of 14,247 (Dec. 2009), is the highest city in Bavaria, only five kilometres from the Austrian border, and splendid high, tree covered mountains abound.  Its Coat of Arms, a triskelion is a strange looking one composed of three legs.  Variations of the triskelion have been used as far back as Neolithic times. The Canadian Participaction symbol is a triskelion.

Street view from room balcony

One of the major draws to Füssen is “mad” King Ludwig II’s castle Neuschwanstein.  Neither Neuschwanstein nor Hohenschwangau (Ludwig’s boyhood castle) are located in Füssen but in the nearby town of Schwangau.  To make things somewhat more interesting (or not) Hohenschwangau Castle is in Schwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle is in Hohenschwangau a village of same name as the castle.  It gets even more
convoluted, but I don’t want to get too mind bendy.

Hohenschwangau and area

We were in Füssen because we wanted to see Neuschwanstein (means new swan stone – Ludwig was mad for swans).  I won’t go into details about Neuschwanstein or Ludwig II even though the story is quite interesting.  However, this “fairy tale” castle (one that Walt Disney modelled Disneyland castle on) was not the first that King Ludwig II commissioned/built nor was it going to be the most fantastical.  Plans for Falkenstein drawn up in 1885, show that it was going to exceed the “fairy” exuberance of Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein

Ludwig II loved the Füssen area, but spent very little time in Neuschwanstein.  When he did, weather willing, at night he would sometimes have the servants light all the candles in the castle and then go out to view what must have been a truly marvellous effect from the Marien Bridge, a favoured castle viewing vantage point then and

 

Charli attempting to get off the Marien Bridge

now.

Neuschwanstein was never completed as Ludwig died under “mysterious” circumstances in 1886.  Did he drown – no water in his lungs and he was an excellent swimmer.  Was he shot – no bullet holes.  Sounds like a cover up case of regicide to me  as he had been deposed by reason of mental incapacity, even though a doctor never examined him, just weeks before his death.  At any rate, completed or not, Neuschwanstein along with his other castles became instant tourist attractions almost
immediately after his demise.  They’ve been raking in the dough ever since.
Neuschwanstein, likely the most popular, attracts about 1.3 million people annually, with up to 6,000 visitors per day in the summer.

I had booked a three day package for two in Füssen which included a stay at a four star hotel for three nights, six meals (total), a small complimentary bottle of champagne and a selection of pastries (yummy, yummy) for each of us for the first night, and tickets to our choice of castle (Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwangau).

I booked this package all by myself directly with the hotel and it was a far better deal compared to our Oberammergau excursion.  If you get a chance to go to Füssen Hotel Kurcafe is a very fine place to stay; great food, excellent staff, very nice rooms, and a fabulous bakery on site.

Partial view of Hotel Kurcafe

It was from the reception staff that I learned about an on-line booking website which I have used several times since.  Very easy to book, booking confirmation is almost instant and best rates are guaranteed.  The site provides a brief description of the hotels and hotels are rated based on the reviews of people who have stayed there, and there is no booking fee.  Great if you want a treat or just don’t want to fuss looking for the cheapest accommodation you can find, especially for just a night or two. It is how I got a two bedroom suite with separate living room and kitchen in the Skene House Hotel – Whitehall in Aberdeen for £60/night, regularly £165/night.  Check it out:   www.booking.com

Once again we had superb meals. Here is one of our dinner menus.

Appetizer:  clear
tomato soup with vegetarian tortellini

Entree choices: Tender loin fillet of pork in mushroom cream sauce served with homemade egg noodles; or Tagliatelle “Salmone” with strips of salmon fillet in prosecco sauce; or Baked Emmentaler cheese with lingonberries and farmhouse bread.  Salad served with all the above.

Dessert: slice of Sissi cake (a chocolate confection).

Food figured as a major element in our excursions lately.  Do you know the book Eat, Pray, Love?    Well, I can say I ate my way through Germany (not quite done yet), prayed I wouldn’t gain weight (so far so good) and loved every minute of it.

On the topic of food, for some reason every time we used the stairs to get from our room to the restaurant we ended up in the kitchen.  On the last day, Charli did figure out why.  We consistently took a wrong turning through another set of doors.

Other than going to Neuschwanstein we didn’t do much except explore the town.  It was nice just to relax for three days after our travel flurry over the past few days.  Weather was even decent in that it did not rain the entire time we were there.

Charlie and water fountain pillars

I did buy some funky clothes for Charli as she had to have suitable attire to go with her stylin booties which we had purchased in Scotland.  We also went to see a movie dubbed into German, of course.  It was a dance movie, so little dialogue and lots of action – if you can call a “dance off” action.

Charli's new boots

Going to a movie in Germany was an experience I hadn’t had before, although Charli had when she was on her exchange.  In Germany (and in Scotland as I was to discover later) you reserve your theatre seat in advance or right as you purchase your ticket. There are helpful seating charts to encourage a decision. This seemed a very strange concept being accustomed as I am to the general stampede of movie seat choosing in Canada.  There is merit to the system, but in some ways it seems just one more thing that you are regulated into doing.

Water fountain statues - town square - note statue of girl reading on wall

Charli and I came away very impressed with Füssen.  The town is an easy walking size, and there is a lot on offer (swimming, hiking, biking, etc.) in the area besides the Castles.

Cheers,

Anita and Charli

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