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.
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.
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