“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


European Vacation – Bavaria – Castles Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein

Friday, January 06, 2012

After visiting Lichtenstein, we stayed in Bavaria and visited a pair of castles built near each other – Castles Hohenschwangau (hoe-en-shvan-gow) and Neuschwanstein (noy-schvan-stine).

The hotel where we stayed (that's our little black rental Beamer on the right) was nice, but a little weird.  The owner was also a dentist so the door behind the desk led to the dentist's office and the stairs led to the hotel rooms.  

And the decor was ... well ... odd.  Let's just say the Germans don't seem to have the hangups we Americans (some of us anyway – and I like my hangups thank you very much) have about nudity.  And also ... mirrors ... in strange places.  Yeah.  Weird.

The owner suggested that we go up and see the castles in the dark as they are apparently very romantic when they are all lit up at night.  But it was cold, and raining which made it feel even more cold, so we opted to have dinner and call it a night.  And can I just say that the Germans know something about pork that we in America simply do not know?  It was fantastic.  Not fatty and tough like it is here, but tender and juicy and ... yum.  And the bed of spaetzle it was served on ... double yum.  

And the apple fritters I had for dessert?  Oh good lord.  There is nothing like them.  Every apple fritter I've seen here in the US has looked something like this.  Bits of apple baked into a cinnamon-y dough and smothered with glaze, usually a little dry – not bad, but not great either.  But the fritters I had in Bavaria looked closer to this.  Full rings of apple deep fried in a heavenly, light dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with vanilla ice cream, oh-dear-lord-I've-died-and-gone-to-heaven.

Sigh ...

Okay, enough about the food ... 

The next morning we drove up the mountain to the uber-touristy village where you could buy all things Castle Hohenschwangau or Neuschwanstein including tickets to tour them.  I may as well warn you right now – they, like most of the castles we saw, did not allow us to take photos inside the castles, so the only shots I have to show you are from outside.

Castle Hohenschwangau was restored in the 1800s by King Maximilian, after having been destroyed.  His son, King Ludwig, inherited it from his father when he became king.

The setting is just gorgeous – surrounded by mountains, a lake, the quaint village.  I had no idea how beautiful Bavaria was until we visited there.  It's really absolutely stunningly beautiful and I highly recommend vacationing there if you ever have the opportunity to do so.

Funny thing – I have never been much into garden art and statues, but this little guy (like the gnomes at Lichtenstein) just made me want to take him home and find a place in my own garden for him.

The "schwan" in Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein means "swan" and refers to an order of knights who used the swan as their symbol.  There are swans all over the castle (did you see them under the arms of the guy in the fountain statue above?), inside and out.  This one atop the castle is probably the most prominent one.

This is looking down on Hohenschwangau when we climbed up to Neuschwanstein which is situated higher up the mountain.  Is that not just one of the loveliest things you've ever seen?

When we first arrived that morning, the fog was quite heavy.  It gave even cheerful Neuschwanstein a kind of sinister appearance.

But the fog began to clear up eventually, though we still had to deal with drizzly rain.  And we still had no umbrellas, though you would think we would have learned our lesson after Versailles.  Fortunately, we were surrounded by a village where tourists could buy just about anything they might need or want – including a couple of umbrellas.

It was a very long trek up the mountain from Hohenschwangau to Neuschwanstein, so we chose the option of getting a ride half-way up and walking the rest of the way.  (My idea – the Geek was ready to walk the whole way, but I wanted to see the castle before my heart gave out on me.)

The day cleared up a bit and we got to see the castle from many different angles, all beautiful.  Castle Neuschwanstein, though built in the late 1800s, was actually modeled after an older style of castle.

It's hard to see in this photo, but under the arches are comical faces carved in stone.  This is the side of the castle you first see as you approach from the road coming up the mountain.

Here is a better view of the faces.  Apparently King Ludwig had a sense of humor.

I wish I could have taken photos of the interior of this castle.  It is truly amazing.  There are a few on the wikipedia page that will give you some idea of the grandness and extreme ornateness of the rooms inside.  It was designed as an homage to Wagner's operas, and King Ludwig did not hold back when decorating this castle.  Unfortunately, he only lived there for a few days before his untimely and mysterious death.  The castle, still unfinished, opened to tourists just weeks later.

Only a few more castles left to go.  Can you believe we did all this in just 9 days?

Labels: ,


At 1/09/2012 10:10 AM, Anonymous HolyMama! wrote:

i can't help but wonder about the oddly placed mirrors...

the foggy castle pic does look a littl eevil, but pretty at the same time.

y'all did MUCH in 9 days. i'm glad. that nine days provided lots of posts!!


Post a Comment

I'm having trouble with word verification so all comments will now go through moderation. Don't worry. I check my email often so it won't take long before your comment shows up.

<< Home