Today was NOT the day to wake up with a cold, yet there it was in all it’s inglorious presence. Spending the night trying to sleep sitting up so I could breathe would only accomplish one of the 2. So sleep was minimal at best. Down for breakfast, which I ate little of and off to the bus for the 2 hour trip to Neuschwanstien.
The day itself is gorgeous, albeit somewhat chilly. At 4 degrees C, sunshine or not, there was little warmth outside. Arriving at the castle grounds we took another smaller bus up close to the top. The castle is built on a rock near the base of the Bavarian Alps so getting to it is its own excursion. Getting out of the bus we faced another 15 minute hike up nothing built hill. Paved incline true enough but not what I really wanted to face first thing. As it turns out that was just a precursor of things to come.
The views from the base of the castle are very impressive. Ludwig II may have been pronounced crazy and arrested just before his death, but he did know where to build a really nice residence. No pictures are allowed inside as the need to sell tourists highly overpriced booklets and photographs takes precedence (except in the kitchen which just seems odd).
Some today may have called him more eccentric than crazy, but in the late 1800’s crazy seemed to be the most fitting assessment. In his throne room there is a massive chandelier that is made to resemble his crown. But he never finished the castle before he died and this room never actually contained his throne.
His bedroom is large and ornate with a secret door leading to his own personal water closet. Although he had running water, central heating and one of Germany’s first telephones, the castle itself was built with a medieval appearance. He could never really grasp that, even though he was the king, it really no longer represented what it used to.
Given its name (New Swan Rock – Neuschwanstien), a nearby room contained visions of over 100 swans. A porcelain full size swan sits on display in front of a large wall mural that contains several more. The door handles are made to resemble the swan’s neck and beak. This fascination with swans started with Ludwig’s own love of the music of Richard Wagner whom he became friends with. Another room on one of the upper floors of the castle was meant to be a ballroom yet he never had people over to use it. Again, built with Wagner in mind, Wagner died before he ever had the chance to see it. Ludwig would spend hours in that room all by himself.
Another room was built as a grotto. Given that it sits about 100 feet above ground (and contained a functioning waterfall at the time), this seems a little incongruous to say the least.
When he was arrested, he demanded that the castle be torn down so no-one would be able to view it. He died 2 days later, drowned in shallow water beside the psychiatrist that was having him committed. To this day, those circumstances have never been satisfactorily explained.
Six weeks after his death, the castle was opened for public viewing and has remained so ever since.
Oh yeah…the climbing. There are no elevators or escalators. But there are over 400 steps (up and down) that the general public get to enjoy while traversing the tour of the castle. Then there is the walk down to the bus parking lot which, for some reason that now escapes me, we decided to do. Another 40 minutes of my life ripped from my body.
My legs hurt and my ass is dragging.
Back to bus and on to Oberammergau. This is a beautiful small town replete with flowers on many balconies. One of the things it is most recognized for is the Passion Play. This play depicts Christ’s last 6 hours, including the carrying of the cross through the street. It takes place only every decade on the decade so plan for 2020 if you want to go. it’s put on twice a day for several months.
Another interesting tidbit of the town is the woodworking craftsmanship that abounds. As many stores that sell these amazing works of art, each has their own splendor. But, they also know what their time and skill is worth and charge accordingly. So take lots of money.
And finally mention must be made of the paintings on the outside of many stores and residences. Aside from their beauty is the fascinating methodology of the application. The paint is applied while the plaster (which is what’s used on most of the buildings) is still wet. As the paint and plaster dry, the paint actually changes color. So in order to achieve the desired effect, the artist must be well versed in how his paints react to this process. The end result speaks directly to that talent.
All in all, the day was chilly, struggles were faced and mostly overcome, legs feel in need of replacement and the bed is definitely crying out for attendance, yet to have missed any of it would have been much worse than the discomforts.