Neuschwanstein, Füssen and Augsburg

Goldener Saal
St. Lurch and Afra
The fairy tale continues as we drive to Neuschwanstein castle. Despite the fact that King Ludwig II died at age 40 under dubious conditions after being found guilty of insanity and bankrupting Bavaria in the late 1800s, setting the path for a centralized state, his crazy vision brings more money via tourism than any other feature in Germany. The Disney Cinderella castle is based on this beautiful and iconic schloß. Say what you want, but this guy had style. Truly, this is a beautiful, brilliant creation. But as they say, there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Located on the Romantic Road, the castle overlooks a beautiful waterfall with two lakes, his grandfather's castle (where he grew-up) and is nestled in the gracious Alps. It really is a not-to-miss location. I think it's best to walk the visitor road up to the castle, circuitously building the anticipation. I will leave it to you to see the interior, so many details and frivolity.  

 As a child I remember the tours being packed with people, so much so, I only remember the basement kitchen from my memories. The rest was very hard to see at my reduced stature. However, they have improved the system, with personalized audio tours, creating better flow and therefore allowing for thinner groups. 

   I met the Konstein-side of relatives here and they treated myself and my children like royalty. We ended up at a cafe overlooking the Alpsee, our group was so big they put us into a private dining area. Lemon tiramisu, mochiato, short, it was magical.

    After leaving the dream of Prince Otto, we went to Füssen. This is the small town which serves the Castle. Honestly, I found it dirty and undesirable. It surprised me because this is the primary location for hotel rooms that serve Neuschwanstein. Many "auslanders" (outlanders, migrants) seem to congregate with apparently very little to do but watch tourist's shop. It was my least favorite of all the places I visited in Germany.  

   Our last day full day with my relatives, my hostess took us to Augsburg. Despite my other two times in Bavaria, this is my first time in the town of many churches. Both my brother and a very close friend spent time here, drinking a lot of beer and speaking German. This is a city of 250K people, it was completely flatten during the war and has a very long history of wealth. Located at the annex of two rivers, the location is as old as the Roman occupation.  

   We visited the Fuggeri, this is the earliest known example of low-income, social housing (1300s). Even to this day, it is maintained in a trust by the Fugger family. This family started with a trading company and worked up to being Papal bankers and have maintained their wealth ever since. Inside you can see an example of primitive housing from it's original establishment, another mondern day flat and a small air-raid bunker/museum. Across the whole city, the Febraury 25, 1954 Augsburg bombing lasted only 9 minutes but took 30 years to properly rebuild. Many of the large cities leveled by RAF and USAAF in Germany were rebuilt in identical fashion to the original buildings. The style is in cinder block and stucco with lines and lines of red tiled roofs. At first, I thought it seemed so unusual that everything looked so cohesive considering the 1000s of years in history; but, in truth, it's because it was all restored at the same era in history, post WWII. 

After, we visited the Rathaus (city/county buildings), this too was left as only a shell after the bombing, but it was restored completely to its original state, down to the Goldener Saal room. A great room with rococo paintings and gold reliefs, often used for classical music concerts and other gala events. This city was bombed due to it's wealth and manufacturing. The Allies wished to hamstring the war machine and the banking system, but hey, it worked.     

Finally, you cannot visit Augsburg without stepping into at least one church...considering there are upwards of 50 churches, or so I was told. There is a Protestant church that did not have enough money to restore it's original gothic condition and decided to go for stuccoed-white, flying-buttressed and classic mid-century modern Euopean style. However, they did resurrect the original marble statues and other artifacts from the rubble and relocated them in a clean design. But, no city-visit is complete in Germany without a stroll through a supreme gothic cathedral. The final stop: Schöne Gruße, St. Ulrich & Afra. 
St. Ulrich
Goldener Saal
St. Ulrich