Archive for August 19th, 2008

As seen from the neighboring mountains.

As seen from the neighboring mountains.

They called him mad. The Mad King Ludwig the Second. He wanted a castle, not just any old castle of stone and drafts, but a castle from the works of Wagner. I do not believe that this was really the mad part, the mad part was what he wanted in the castle. He wanted a new fangled telephone. He demanded a battery powered bell system to call the servants. Sure maybe the indoor plaster cave might have been a bit much. Or the hidden doors in his bedroom. Alright, so he was a bit mad by the standards of his day (the crazy 1870’s) but at least he had a vision.

So did the local chamber of commerce. Eight weeks after his death his glorious unfinished castle was open for tourism. They also had some smart people working there, the entire inside of the castle is copyrighted. No photos are allowed inside the castle, the outside if fair game, but take one inside and have a free trip to the base of the castle.

The castle is an hour or two out of Munich by train, I lucked out and had a clear blue sky with snow on the ground, much better then lovely brown shrubbery. Anyway I arranged to arrive early since the entrance to the castle is limited. Tickets are assigned entry times and I did not want a three hour gap between getting the ticket and arriving at the castle. The interior is seen with a quick guided tour, in english or german, of most of the completed rooms. Large parts of the castle are unfinished due to the Kings death. It was all very impressive and idealized. The castle would never survive a good solid siege.

After the tour I walked up to a popular bridge to see the castle on its good side, everyone else was also there. Since no one was actually going fully across the bridge I did. I suppose there is an identifiable path when it is not covered in snow, I mostly guessed at times. A group of two or maybe three people walked up the path earlier and I could literally follow in their footprints. Their footprints made me think they were better equipped for walking in snow then myself. Low cut shoes (albeit waterproof ones) and jeans are not the best combination for foot thick snow.

I would say I made it about 2/3 of the way up to the top of the mountain before hunger kicked in. I never saw those in front of me but I did see a few people hang glide down to the valley floor. I made it down with only slipping a few times near ledges and a couple more not near ledges. It is remarkably hard to walk downhill in a foot of snow when the only footprints are those heading up hill. I don’t have much experience with snow.

There is another castle near Neuschwanstein, starts with an H, instead of going there I went to the nearby town of Füssen to walk around. There was a market of some sort going on at the edge (or maybe center) of town, flea or farmers I could not tell. I was able to buy cheap nail clippers since mine were not allowed on Ryanair, and toothpaste, that one is also important to have freshly stocked. I meandered some more and inevitably got lost. I was not planning on exploring Füssen so there was no detailed map in my possession. I was asked if I was lost, but in German, I suppose I don’t really stand out in some of these european countries. The guy who asked me did speak English and was able to help me find my way to the local waterfalls.

More important then the waterfalls was a sign. The sign said “Austria 700 Meters” except, well, you know, in German. I had to do it. I had to walk to Austria. I hoped for a thick white line painted between the countries to demarcate the two, or maybe a change in scenery, at least a sign. Nothing. The only clue was the placement (on the german side) of the Worlds Largest Wheelbarrow. I guess to remind the incoming Austrians that Germany is in fact better at making bigger wheelbarrows. It could have held a lot of watermelons.

The rest of the day was spent wandering back to the train station with the goal of eventually reaching Munich. I am pretty sure I made it.

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