Stepping off the train in Füssen, the visitor is greeted by the epic geography of the Ammergau Alps. This little village is on the tourist radar because of exactly one thing: the 19th-centruy hilltop castle Neuschwanstein. This is the quintessential fairytale castle of children. A well-organized tourist infrastructure has developed in Hohenschwangau and Füssen as a result.
We had no luck finding an Airbnb here, so we chose to stay at a B&B instead. A beautiful cross made up of words is on the wall in the lobby. I wanted to learn more about that cross.
“Is that Aramaic?”
The man behind the counter opened his eyes wide with surprise.
“How do you know that?”
I explained to him that I have a passion for languages. It’s fun to trace the history of a word or phrase back to its origin. Aramaic was the “lingua franca” of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. It is also the language Jesus spoke. From looking at the cross in their lobby, I just assumed that Aramaic was the language those words were written in. Not exactly.
The man explained that the language was in fact Syriac. Syriac is a dialect sometimes called “Eastern Aramaic” and Jesus spoke “Western Aramaic.” They are both dialects of the larger language group. He also explained that the content of the words was the Lord’s Prayer. One amazing fact about the prayer Jesus taught his Apostles is that in the original language it rhymes beautifully. We had a very nice conversation with the family, marveled again at the beautiful cross on the wall, and headed up to our room.
The next day we got up and made our way to Neuschwanstein Castle. They don’t let you take photos inside, because they have a huge gift shop where they want you to buy them instead! You are allowed to take photos of the outside and surroundings. At the base of the castle are some shops and restaurants. There is also a horse-drawn carriage that will take you up the mountain to the castle, or you can choose to walk. No way we were going to walk!
To our surprise, we were not accosted by an ocean of tourists. There was many other people, but at no point during our visit was it over-crowded. Toward the end of the guide, you get to stroll out on a balcony. A mesmerizing view of the Alpsee lake and mountainous terrain hypnotizes all who walk past. Everyone wears out their cameras and phones here.
Unsure what to do after the Castle tour, we decided to walk towards the Tegelbergbahn lift. In between were cows grazing the fields. A nice little trail ran through the plains around a winding creek. Around the bend we heard a symphony of bells from the grazing cows along with the watery sounds of the bubbling rivers in the foothills. We sat for a few minutes and just watched the scene. At that time, the weather shifted. Is it going to rain? A kind of fog fell in. The low clouds rushed over the top of the peaks but it remained sunny below on the ground.
Forty five minutes later it started to rain. We took cover at the base of the lift inside the building. The staff warned us that there would be no view at the top but we decided to go up anyway. Arrival on top came with a cold blast of arctic air. No Whoops – we were out of place up there without cold weather attire. A nice restaurant and indoor lounge made it essential to grab a hot cup of chocolate.
Last, we wandered around the town of Füssen itself. We didn’t expect too much from Füssen but it was a blast. Not sure if it was the time of year, but we certainly didn’t get the impression that the place was crawling with too many people. Go check out Füssen, you will love it!