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Lost & Found – The Neuschwanstein Castle Hike

Do you believe in miracles?

I do.

I’m not talking about the “He came back from the dead” sort of miracle, but everyday, simple wonders.

Here’s one that I experienced first hand.


During my time in Germany, where I attended University, I was one of the founding members of the Hiking Club (later called the Outdoors Club) – hard to imagine if you see me today. One of our first hikes was to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in the region of Bavaria.

Germany has long been an essential stop for hiking enthusiasts. With a pretty vibrant and varied topography, hiking is a favourite pastime of the locals. As a result, there are a number of trails that can be found throughout the country most of which are usually well marked.

Neuschwanstein Castle, besides having historical importance in German history is known more for the fact that the now universally identifiable Disney Castle is inspired from it. One look at a photograph of both and the similarities are evident.


After an early morning two hour drive from our college – situated in the small town of Schwäbisch Gmünd some 40 odd minutes from Stuttgart – we reached the base of the mountain that hosts the castle. At this point, as in life, we had a choice; either we could take the “recommended” hiking path or in the words of the great Robert Frost – which is now also the mantra for most travellers – we could take “the one less travelled by”.

In all the excitement and filled with over-confidence we made the amateurish mistake of choosing the latter, which apparently turned out to be the more difficult of the two paths.

It’s pertinent to mention here that there were only four of us on the hike. Three staff members from the University, with me being the only student (remember the “early morning” part I mentioned above, we had a lot of dropouts at the last minute).

Since this was at the beginning of our time in Germany, neither one of us knew any German besides the very basic “Sprechen sie Englisch?” (Do you speak English?).

The average time it takes to hike up to the castle is a little less than an hour and a half. Being first timers and using more of a “doggy” path than a proper hiking trail, we estimated it would take us a couple of hours maximum to reach the top.

The initial hike – with the steep incline – was the challenging bit. It lasted about half an hour, but eventually, things got better, and although the air was thinning, the sights kept us going towards the summit.

Events took a different turn when after having hiked for close to two hours, we eventually came to the conclusion that we were lost. Taking turns with the map we all tried to prove our expertise, but the truth was quite simple; we had no clue where to go.

With no real path or fellow hikers in sight, the thought of going back down the way we came up became more of a reality. That is until…


…we came across a shepherd.

Sitting quietly, in an open patch, in the middle of nowhere, was a man staring back at us with the same look of confusion that we had while checking the map. There was hope.

Our joy didn’t last long once we all suddenly realised that none of us knew enough German to explain to the gentleman that we were lost and on our way up to the castle. Moreover, we were deep enough into the thick of the “jungle” and too much on the incline that pointing would not have helped, as the castle was at present out of sight.

Thus began our lame attempts at trying to explain our situation using hand gestures and extremely poor and broken German. After about five minutes of us trying to explain – which to him must have looked like all of us were collectively having a fit – he very plainly asked, in perfect, non-accented English, “Are you lost?”.


In the little panic we were going through, it seems none of us bothered to ask the shepherd the only German we knew, “Sprechen sie Englisch?”. The initial shock of hearing English slowly turned into surprise which ultimately led to much-needed relief.

We were then guided onto a path which was even thinner than the one we had been on. He suggested that the views were worth it and going back down would mean us having to forego the hike altogether.

Hence keeping that in mind, we advanced on what I like to refer to as the “poodle” path. Although we had our doubts about the new route, the shepherd informed us that it was perfectly safe. Another 45 odd minutes later we finally made it to our destination. The poodle path was safe enough, but narrowed down at times to get the heart pumping especially when we had to cross boulders in the way – a couple of feet to the side would mean a fall of cinematic proportions.


Even though it has been more than a decade, I still sometimes wonder about this day. Choosing a challenging route, getting lost, and eventually find a man, in the middle of nowhere, waiting to guide us. Memory fails me, and although I remember him being a shepherd, I don’t remember seeing any livestock around. I don’t even remember if we went inside the Castle. We must have. I hope.

This meeting has probably been one of the most surreal ones I have had while travelling.  I obviously recommend that if you are ever in Germany, you make it a point to hike, here, there, anywhere really.

If you visit the Neuschwanstein Castle for the very first time, stick to the designated path, the one that everyone is using. If you do wander off and get lost, hope and pray for small miracles, and for the shepherd, who speaks perfect English, to find you and guide you when you get lost.


  • arv!
    Posted 6 September, 16 at 9:13 PM

    20 years is a long time, good to read about your hiking experiences. you’re not into hiking anymore?

    • Raghav Modi
      Posted 6 September, 16 at 9:15 PM

      Thanks and yeah time flies. As for hiking, too many responsibilities – work, kids – and been somewhat out of shape. However I don’t shy away from walking and this summer we did a lot of walking and semi-hiking all over Switzerland.

      • arv!
        Posted 6 September, 16 at 9:39 PM

        Lovely Raghav! I understand about responsibility part! 🙂

  • Indrani
    Posted 19 November, 16 at 3:13 PM

    Whoa! What an adventure! I do believe it was a miracle!
    You are a blessed soul!
    I went in 2011 and there were proper roads, it never occurred to me that I could hike up there.

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 19 November, 16 at 10:23 PM

      The proper path was there when we went too but we thought we’d use the hiking map was a slightly more picturesque path. Who knew we’d end up getting lost. Thanks

  • Claudia Laroye
    Posted 20 November, 16 at 6:49 AM

    The road less travelled can so often be the most filled with fun and discovery. Lovely story.

  • 100cobbledroads
    Posted 20 November, 16 at 8:18 PM

    One of those misadventures that you never plan, but which make a great coffee-time story for al times to come. Love those! Never fails to make you smile..

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 20 November, 16 at 9:03 PM

      Thanks and I lived to tell it, guess that’s the important part 😂

  • mags
    Posted 21 November, 16 at 4:43 AM

    Misadventures are the best adventures. It’s so important when traveling to leave room for serendipity. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Mr Mike
    Posted 21 November, 16 at 7:36 AM

    Its so fun to look back fondly on those misadventures from years past. I’m glad the sheppard was there to help you!

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 21 November, 16 at 8:41 AM

      Thanks and yes so was I or it would have been a long walk back down.

  • Juliette | Snorkels To Snow
    Posted 21 November, 16 at 9:08 AM

    I love this story! Well, not that you got lost but how you managed to find someone in the middle of nowhere…and managed to form some kind of conversation with your limited languages! I can imagine it! I hope you did make it inside. Would love to visit.

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 21 November, 16 at 1:49 PM

      Thanks and we did go inside but only a quick look as it for more of a hiking tour rather than a visiting one

  • Holly
    Posted 21 November, 16 at 9:09 AM

    I have yet to get to Germany, but I would like to see this castle. I love the throwback pics. So nostalgic. That is cool that there was a hiking club for you to join.

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 21 November, 16 at 1:50 PM

      Thanks and it’s a beautiful country to visit. I actually founded the club 😀

  • carla
    Posted 22 November, 16 at 5:53 AM

    Thats the best part of travelling! The misadventures, the mishaps, the getting lost part. It wouldn’t be as much fun if everything went so well…

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 22 November, 16 at 8:22 AM

      So true, all these things add to the trip and to your personality too. Thanks

  • Vishal Vashisht
    Posted 22 November, 16 at 9:54 AM

    Miracles do happen. I love your enthusiasm to try something new.

  • TravelingMel
    Posted 11 February, 17 at 12:42 PM

    What an adventure. You will never forget that day, even if you forget some of the details. We didn’t get to Neuschwanstein Castle when we were even Germany. We weren’t that far away, but the public transportation schedule meant it would take a long time to get there. Maybe this summer…but we will take the designated trail!

  • Neha Verma
    Posted 11 February, 17 at 4:48 PM

    What an interesting story. I can imagine how adventurous it would have been. But you remember everything in such details. You have a sharp memory indeed.

  • gokulr27
    Posted 11 February, 17 at 9:48 PM

    It is good to see you remembering the awesome hike you had years back. It can be hard to write so accurately about something that happened a long time back. Good job.

  • gobeyondbounds
    Posted 11 February, 17 at 11:53 PM

    Student life always has so many wonderful memories isnt it? Hiking with friends and getting lost and making memories. Neuschwanstein Castle is stunningly gorgeous, we were fascinated by the amazing architecture of the castle. But what intrigued our visit the most was the story of King Ludwig, an experience to remember for life.

  • Jean
    Posted 12 February, 17 at 9:42 AM

    Ah the memories of being a student! I wish I had studied in Europe and gotten to go on adventures like this. It must have been wonderful seeing all the history

  • La Vida Viva Travel
    Posted 12 February, 17 at 9:59 AM

    Amazing that you can recall back to so long ago! I struggle to remember yesterday sometimes. But it sounds like a very special and miraculous experience indeed so perhaps one that’s quite unforgettable. Thanks for taking us on your journey!

  • Sydney Fashion Hunter
    Posted 13 February, 17 at 5:35 AM

    I’m still not a fan of he early morning even though I have long since left my student days behind so I can understand the drop outs lol. How lucky that you came across the Shepard! And he spoke perfect English! Truly a miracle when you needed it most!

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  • Wanderlust Vegans
    Posted 14 April, 17 at 3:29 AM

    What a gorgeous hike. I would love to explore here one day. Germany is such a well rounded country with a lot to offer.

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 15 April, 17 at 4:03 PM

      Definitely. Having lived there for four years I can say it has something for everyone.

  • Becky the Traveller
    Posted 18 April, 17 at 8:16 PM

    ha ha so funny, it’s interesting where our adventures take us! I do really want to see the castle so I think I will maybe do both options!!

    • Ticker Eats The World
      Posted 19 April, 17 at 11:36 AM

      Yes I think if you take the designated hiking path up then it’s easier and you can enjoy the castle too.

  • Rachelle Gordon
    Posted 18 April, 17 at 9:16 PM

    What an awesome experience! I’ve only been once and loved it!

  • Agness of a Tuk Tuk
    Posted 5 November, 17 at 12:17 AM

    The Neuschwanstein Castle seems so magical! You had a unique experience. How long did the hike last?

  • Stephanie
    Posted 9 April, 18 at 5:35 PM

    Such an interesting story! Wish something as exciting had happened to me on my trip to Neuschwanstein too.


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