Füssen, Southern Germany, was the first place I really encountered snow. I can honestly say that driving around a bend and finding yourself amidst a true winter wonderland is the most levitating feeling. A new kind of adrenaline kicks in, and not only do you not feel the ice cold air, but you willingly stick your bare hands into the layers of snow that are on every visible surface. It is an environment of pureness, and child-like enthusiasm, where you laugh when you get a fistful of snow in your face, and you cry at having to get back into the warmth of your car.
The purpose of my visit to Füssen was to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, made famous in the opening scenes Walt Disney's movies. I have always dreamed of visiting this castle, and when the opportunity arose to see it in the snow there was no way I could turn it down.
The first, and possibly most memorable moment of my time in Füssen was a coffee stop alongside the Alpsee, a lake adjacent to Hohenschwangau Castle. I had brought some coffee beans from the local coffee shop (run by Paul Myburgh) specifically for this occasion. Jack, being fully kitted out with a portable gas burner and coffee filter, opted to make our cups of fresh South African coffee. I don't think I have ever enjoyed a cup of coffee so much in my life - the warmth of the coffee, combined with the pavlova cake, while standing amidst snowflakes falling into my mug was surreal.
After our glorious snow coffee we finally made our way up to the Neuschwanstein Castle. For those of you travelling here with a car, you are able to drive to the castle and park next to the Biergarten. Otherwise there is a horse drawn cart that takes people up, it is 6 euros for a return ticket. A second pointer is to check the time of your tour before walking up the last section of the mountain, as you are only allowed access to the castle at the start of your tour's designated time. If you get there early, the Biergarten has great meal options, with spectacular views of the valley.
The castle itself is an alchemist's dream. All the various rooms are filled with symbolism far beyond any textbook you will encounter at university. With my background in classical studies I was able to notice the various mythological scenes, such as the abduction of Persephone, in the many rooms of King Ludwig II's castle.
To end off the perfect day we went for dinner at Madame Plüsch. It is an award winning restaurant in the town of Füssen, about a five minute drive away from Neuschwanstein. The restaurant is below ground level, and reminded me of a scene from The Hobbit. The food and atmosphere was divine, and I would definitely recommend an evening meal there.
This tiny village along the Romantic Road in Bavaria is truly a real-life fairytale, and one that cannot be missed.