A Bavarian King’s Castle

I chose this particular bus tour for one reason: it included a tour of Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale home of King Ludwig II. It might look familiar — Walt Disney used it as his model for the castle at his theme parks. It's not the oldest castle in the world (it was built in the late 19th century) or the grandest (only a handful of rooms were completed before Ludwig died and construction halted), but it certainly has one of the most spectacular settings. Situated high in the Bavarian Alps, surrounded by forest and overlooking a deep gorge, the place has to be seen to be believed.

The interior is basically a shrine to Wagner, the famous composer who was also a close friend of the king (can you say bromance?) Each room has elaborate paintwork depicting various scenes from Wagner's operas. There's a throne room portraying the king as one step below God, a ballroom with a stage for musicians to perform, and even a manmade cave (an actual man-cave!) No wonder his contemporaries thought the guy was mad.

After the castle tour we had what the guide called a “light lunch”: beer, bread, bratwurst and sauerkraut, along with mashed potatoes and fruit salad. That “light” lunch had half the group passed out on the bus as we headed into Austria. Good times.

Tomorrow we explore Salzburg…