During Covid and in the aftermath of a locked down world we were very spoilt wherever we travelled – empty beaches, deserted city streets, quiet parks and if and when museums, galleries or other tourist spots were open, they were usually deserted.
Fast forward to 2023 and it’s been a shock to find ourselves in the midst of large crowds when visiting some places of interest – even though it’s winter.
One such place was the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle – the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle built by the eccentric King Ludwig ll of Bavaria and only completed after his death in 1886.
Naively I had expected just a trickle of visitors and was quite shocked to see hordes of people milling around the car parks below the castle.
There are only two ways to get to the castle – horse and carriage or your own two legs. We had expected to walk up and straight in to the castle but the timings were carefully managed and you are only allowed to go round the castle on a guided tour.
As there was a steep 30-40 minute walk up to the castle and – judging by the crowds – bookings would have probably only been available later that morning, we decided to keep going as we had planned to cross over the border to Austria that day and had quite a long journey ahead.
On the next hill top sits another magnificent looking castle – Schloss Hohenschwangau – a 19th Century palace built by the father of King Ludwig ll, King Maximilian ll.
We bypassed that one too and set off for Austria on our way to Montenegro.
The drive to Austria was really stunning – we were surrounded by snowy vistas, looming mountains and wooded hillsides.
By late afternoon we were over the border with the glorious Austrian alps towering up ahead of us.
Before long we were slowly climbing up into the alpine slopes and we began to see chair lifts and car parks full of people and skis.
Then we started to see ski runs with tiny figures zooming down at high speed.
Gradually it started to get darker and we realised we had to find somewhere to stay the night. The first place we found looked chock full of camper vans and after we had filled out copious forms we found our the charge was 56 Euros for the night!
We weren’t too happy about sharing a campsite with a lot of excited people having apres ski fun and paying 56 Euros for that pleasure was not appealing!
We found another possible spot about an hour’s drive away and were very pleased to arrive at the Plakenhof Hotel which had a fabulous little site to one side of it.
It was highly organised and fully automated so very easy for us. We just pressed a button a plastic keycard popped out and the traffic bollards lowered to let us in the campgrounds.
There was nobody else there so we could park anywhere, plug our electricity in and we ended up having a very peaceful night.
The next day we were able to fill up with water and discharge our grey and black water. Everything was charged to the keycard we collected on our way in – I think it all came to 20 Euros which was very good value for a quiet and peaceful night!
The only drawback was that we had to retrace our steps for about 40 minutes but the scenery was so fabulous that we didn’t care at all.
By mid afternoon we were crossing the border into Italy and heading to Trieste taking the hairpin bends down the mountainside very carefully!
At the bottom of the mountain there was a toll booth which like many of the toll booths in Europe (but especially in Italy) were impossible to use in a camper-van. There were two slots that you could use to pay – one for ordinary saloon cars and one for trucks – neither of which can be used easily by a camper-van!
The drive along the seafront approaching Trieste was glorious- it felt so great to be by the sea again and the sun was just going down as we arrived bathing the scene in a beautiful golden glow.
Unfortunately half of Italy appeared to have visited Trieste that day and we were crawling along in a traffic queue for about half an hour.
The parking spot for camper-vans was closed but fortunately we were able to park in the road leading up to the parking spot close to the rather grand port office.
Just 30 minutes from Trieste we crossed another border the next morning – this time into Slovenia. We were edging ever closer to our final destination- Montenegro!
2 thoughts on “Shock crowds at iconic castle”
Lovely to see the snowy Alps and for me to see and reminisce about the coach journey with my friend Chris, through “ Yugoslavia “ to Skopelos in the early 70s. Trieste looks sooo different,
Love Sally and George x🥰x
Hi Sally and George, glad the blog brought back good memories of Sally’s travels through what was once Yugoslavia. Such beautiful scenery! We have just spent two weeks in England but sadly didn’t have time to visit many people as we have so many family members to catch up with. Now with Hannah and Pieter for Easter xx