Saturday, May 1, 2010

Neuschwanstein Schloss

By Chuck

Camping Brunnen, 6 km. from the castle.

Busy Campground with our tenting friends, right

Today we visited the fairy castle of mad King Ludwig II; as you may know, this is reputed to be the model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Neuschwanstein itself is apparently modeled on the best elements of other castles of Ludwig’s acquaintance. Its style is that of a medieval castle; but, it is only as old, approximately, as the Eiffel Tower. It was begun in 1869 and construction halted on the day of his death in 1886. Six weeks later it was opened to the public as a museum.


For me, the weirdest part of the whole idea behind the castle was that it was dedicated to Wagner and his music—many of the painted room motifs were scenes from Wagnerian operas.

The next weird thing that struck me was his death. He was declared mentally incompetent to rule and removed from his castle—in which he had lived only half a year. Two days later, he was found dead at a lake in Munich; it is unclear to this day whether the king was murdered or committed suicide.

Ludwig assumed the throne of Bavaria at the age of 18. But, he apparently had no real power; his options were to be a pawn of either Prussia or Austria. He seemed to have little interest in politics, in any case, and spent much of his time reading and hanging out with artists, poets and composers. He died, tragically, at 40.

Water Spout

We enjoyed the hike up from the parking lot to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) to get a wonderful view of the castle from this spectacular vantage point.

Hike to top

Castle view from Mary's Bridge, near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.

Lake view

We did not bother visiting his childhood home, Hohenschwangau, nearby and below Neuschwanstein. By this time, we had determined to depart Tourism Central for something more us: Homer! I am glad we went: The castle was impressive; the crowd control was refreshing; the 30 minute tour was professional. But, the parking (for Homer) was €7—more than the admission to many sites—and the castle tour was €9 each. We had given enough for one site in one day; we did not even have our recovery cappuccino. Ironically, the very castles which were said to be causing the king’s financial ruin—and contributed to his ouster—have today become extremely profitable tourist attractions for the Bavarian state.

Hohenschwangau Schloss, Ludwig's boyhood home

Once again, Claire’s marvelous planning paid off. We were back in Homer after driving back, eating lunch, washing dishes and opening up the computer. Only then did the rain commence. I guess the 10,000 joys and sorrows of life really do balance themselves out.

Last night, we walked around the campground. It is quite sizeable; but, it is crowded, without hedges or other breaks between pitches. We, for example, have the guests from the camper in front of us looking into our front window until we put up the shades—for insulation and for privacy. We encountered an American couple traveling around Europe for 3 months as a break from school in Madrid. They travel by train and bus, mostly, sleeping in either hostels or campgrounds. They were taken aback at Claire’s weather report of rain for the next week. (She did not even mention that the temperature would drop significantly for a few days.) Just after we left them, the rain started, turning into a deluge.

We worried about our young American backpackers this morning. We wondered how they made it through the night, as they were not sure the tent was waterproof. It turns out they did fine. Upon returning to the campsite, we wondered about them, again: Since they had to walk to the castle, and left after we did—we offered them a ride; but, they wanted to have breakfast first—we hoped they made it back before the rain hit.

Morning view from campground

A neurotic is a man who builds a castle in the air. A psychotic is the man who lives in it. A psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent. ~ Jerome Lawrence


Pat in Santa Cruz said...

I'm really enjoying Germany through your eyes. I noticed that the homes in Market Square look like the ones in Bruges. And out in the country it reminds me of France. Some of the mountains remind me of Spain. I enjoyed seeing the building with the shell as I've been to Santiago de Compostella. And, in addition to the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasyland and Germany sure have a lot in common! Looks like you may be encountering more folks (as in your campground) as summer approaches. I've been away most of this week. So fun to catch up with you!

Chuck and Claire said...

You are so good at noticing the small details. Chuck was saying the same thing about the countryside in Germany reminding him of France. You're right about Bruges too. We are definitely seeing more people but this place attracts a lot of tourists. We're heading off to a sleepy little town south of Salzburg tomorrow.

Elisabetta said...

"A dream is a wish .. your heart makes. When.. you're fast .. asleep.."

Drive slowly, watch out for dwarves crossing road in magical forest!

tanialil said...

Wow! These pictures..the castles are just amazing. They truly look like they're right out of fairy tales.

Oh..and by the way, you clearly are not an opera buff if you find dedicating rooms to Wagner weird. Wagner opera's were pure genius. I'm a fan. I'll be seeing his 4-opera ring cycle in LA this June.

Looking forward to more stunning pictures of your travels.

Karin said...

Gruss Grott!
I must say, I love your view of the mountains as seen from your campground! Here, the sun is shining on the Med...but I would trade you places, even if it is raining where you are! Bavaria spells enchantment and magic to me.

Karin on Paros

Diane said...

I have only been to Germany once in 1975 and saw Mad Ludwig's castle on that trip. I found this part of Germany to be enchanting, especially loved the Bavarian cows with big bells on their necks. I wonder if more than 30 years later, the cows still wear those bells . . .