A German Fairytale Castle and a Pitstop in Liechtenstein
We left Salzburg and headed to our next destination, Füssen, Germany, a few hours drive away. Unfortunately we hit torrential rain through a large portion of the drive so did little else that day but go straight to the hotel and dinner. The next day we were to head to Geneva, our final destination, but first we had to stop and see the castles.
The reason we'd stopped in Füssen was to visit the infamous Neuschwanstein castle, which I'm sure you've seen photos of (I know I certainly had beforehand). The castle was beautiful but we were met with disappointment because the overlook bridge where the gorgeous postcard images are taken of the castle was closed. It was also a bit of a difficult tour for me wearing my walking boot (broken foot and all) because there is really no way up to the castle without at least some steep hiking. But we made it and we toured the inside of the castle learning all about the crazy king Ludwig who commissioned it and several other projects that were never finished. We weren't allowed to take photos inside but it was strange and surreal, like something straight out of Disney World: Ludwig had been obsessed with the Medieval Age and had built his castle to recreate the times of knights and kings with god-given power. But because Ludwig was king in the 19th century, his castle had plumbing and some electricity, feeling decidedly modern and very much the mimicry that it was. Everything about the castle was meant to be an idealistic version of a Medieval fortress, based largely on the operas of Wagner. Each room was dedicated to an opera, from the paintings of Tristan and Isolde in one room, to the "Aphrodite's Grotto" created in another room. However, due to Ludwig's obscene spending and his failures as a leader, he was arrested by the court on the basis of his insanity. A few days later, while being held at Berg Castle on Lake Munich, Ludwig mysteriously turned up dead in the lake and many theories propose what happened, including an assassination or that he died trying to escape across the lake. Regardless, it seemed fairly clearly following the visit to Neuschwanstein that the king definitely had a screw or two loose...
After the visit to Neuschwanstein, we headed straight out of town and since I was the navigator (as I always am on road trips, I'm quite a good navigator if I do say so myself) I made the decision to route us through Liechtenstein because, well, why not. I figured I could check it off the list of countries I've been to and it was technically on the way to Switzerland. So we stopped for lunch in Liechtenstein, where I'd found a highly rated restaurant with a great view located at the Park Hotel Sonnenhof. It was a lovely little mountainous country and during lunch out of curiosity I googled its history, though to be fair I don't feel much wiser about why it became its own sovereign nation. It was long a buffer zone between the Habsburg Empire and the Swiss States and it just sort of continued to develop independently from what I read. The current leader is the most powerful ruling monarch in all of Europe today (powerful in the sense of his control of the state's government), although to be fair he doesn't govern over a whole lot. It's a beautiful country but it's smaller than most cities, and after lunch we drove only about five minutes before we entered Switzerland.