Host nation highlights - March 2016
Following defeat in the war against Prussia in 1866, Bavarian ruler King Ludwig II lost his power to command troops in times of conflict. Ludwig dreamed of his own kingdom and began constructing Neuschwanstein, a structure so grand that it inspired Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty theme park castles.
Of 200 planned rooms, only 14 were completed before Ludwig’s death in 1886. Finished apartments include a two-story throne room, lavish royal bedroom, indoor cave and grand Singers’ Hall.
Neuschwanstein’s spires rise among the trees of the snow-capped Bavarian Alps. For postcard-worthy photos of Neuschwanstein, venture to Marienbrücke across the Pöllat gorge and waterfall. Bridge renovation should be finished by May 2016.
The castle is open daily. Half-hour guided tours can be booked at the ticket office in Hohenschwangau or online.
Schwangau is located on Germany’s Romantic Road and is less than two kilometers from Neuschwanstein and King Ludwig II’s childhood home of Hohenschwangau. The best way to enjoy all that Schwangau has to offer is by venturing into the great outdoors. Head to the one of the area’s alpine coasters (rodelbahns), hike the well-marked mountain trails, or try paddle boarding at the nearby Alpsee lake.
If the weather makes you want to stay inside, visit Königliche Kristall-Therme, a complex offering thermal baths, saunas, spa treatments and a gourmet restaurant.
Event: Easter Markets
Every year, towns across Germany host colorful markets showcasing millions of eggs decorated by local artists. Steady hands are needed to paint, etch and stencil on these small, delicate canvases. Prices depend on the complexity of the egg masterpiece. And if you fancy a personalized egg, just ask one of the artists — if he can’t create your vision, he probably knows someone who can.
Some of the most prominent markets in Germany include the medieval Easter market in Wolfenbuettel, located two hours north of Frankfurt; the International Easter Market and Easter Egg Fair in Mannheim; and Nuremberg’s 80-booth market.
Phrase: Grüß Gott
This phrase is a shortened version of “May God greet you,” and is used as a term of endearment, to show respect, and to greet each other. It is frequently heard in Bavaria.