Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 32: The Alps and our Castle

The scenery is so nice. I have said this before, but I adore the winding roads through the forests, farms, and foothills. KP and I listened to some old school Eminem on her IPod to keep ourselves entertained when the winding roads because too familiar, but even then there would be nice surprises here and there along the way. We had left the guesthouse we were staying at, and not long after we left came upon Neuschwanstein castle. My first impression was that it wasn't as high up as I thought it would be, but then I remembered that we were already at a very high altitude. So high, in fact, that we saw quite a few hang gliders!

The castle looked great! We had to take a horse and buggy, though, because it was stifling hot outside and we were already sweating from the torrential heat. We met a nice family from New York there, and realized that a lot of the Americans we came across have been New Yorkers. We talked the entire way up, and it was quite enjoyable to sit on the carriage while being brought up to the mountain side where Neuschwanstien is. when we thought about it, we figured it wouldn't be too different from how other travellers would approach the castle back in the olde days.

Once we got to the castle we waited another 45 minutes for our tour to start, and so kind of just mulled around till then. We learned that King Ludwig, the one responsible for buildings this castle as well as the one we saw at Chimsee, never finished constructing this one either! When he died his mysterious death, all construction on all his castles was put to a halt. They also say he ran out of money -- mayhaps that had something to do with it. They say he was shot, but there must be some speculation that he committed suicide as well. The only catch with that was he was a very religious man.
Regardless of the castle's history, it is easy to see why they call it the Disney castle!! The spires and actual facade look very much like the castle from Sleeping Beauty, which is also the trademark castle for Disney's logo and Disneyland. Chateau d’Usse was the castle that inspired the original author of Sleeping Beauty (Charles Perrault), but it is said that Neuschwanstein is the castle that inspired Walt Disney himself. And the murals inside the castle only help support that idea! Some of them look like they are straight from a Disney movie -- curling tree branches, squirrels, sunny glades -- everything. Aside from that, the illustrative style of the other murals was also something I found very appealing. This particular castle was dedicated to the composer Richard Wagner, of whom it is said Ludwig had a very special relationship.

Unfortunately we left a bit later than we intended, and thus it was 6PM by the time we left the area to delve into the depths of the Alps. Our destination this time was Italy. Of course it takes a number of hours to drive through the Alps -- we can't go as the crow flies! So just before dark, we stopped at a castle alongside the road to make sure we were going in the right direction. It was castle Fernsteinsee. It turns out we had been going in the right direction -- in fact, we were right along the ancient road that the Romans took to reach Germany. Beautiful! But the place we ended up staying for the night contributed to the beauty ten fold. We are now staying in a castle in the heart of the Alps. We took the suite attached to the tower, and it was really one of the best experiences we had by far... and it was hundreds of years old! Dating back to before the 16th century, in fact.

It's very rustic and beautiful. The castle itself is attached to a newer hotel building and the suites are labelled for famous people in history who had a connection to the castle. Our suite is one of the best, and is the Herzog Sigmund room. It's located in the spire and entire first floor of the old stone building, and once you get past the massive doors, you enter a well furnished and amazingly charming room. The chairs and furniture are all hand made and painted, and remind me of the playhouse at my cousins' farm that we played in as small children. The smell is also familiar - very old, and woody.

All the furniture is antique, but thankfully it's been wired for electricity. for dinner, we went to the adjacent restaurant and enjoyed a delicious meal! KP and I had pork medallions and it was the best pork I'd ever had. I didn't know pork could taste like steak! And the mushroom sauce and small dumplings alongside it were just amazing. Absolutely one of the best dinners from the entire trip.
When it was pitch black out, KP and I wound our way down the stone stairwell and through the large wooden doors. We intended to go stargazing!

Wine in one hand, we went down the old road towards the bridge. Unfortunately we had a very unnerving encounter with something -- our imagination? Or perhaps a Vampire, or Werewolf? When we were outside the castle walls in our effort to stargaze, we approached the edge of the wood near the waterfall and I had the strangest feeling. You know that sensation when you are petting an animal, but pull your hand back right before it's about to bite you? I had that feeling as soon as I was close enough to the blackness of the forest, and heard a few snapping sounds. I turned on a dime and said to KP 'let's get out of here". At a brisk pace we shot back to the castle, and I'm pretty sure KP was about to pee her pants (she said so afterwards). Later I stuck my head outside the walls and heard the strangest hooting noise. Perhaps whatever was out there was sticking around, regretting it didn't take its chance to snatch us? Or maybe it was the alcohol playing tricks on us? Regardless, stargazing atop the castle hill was indeed something I'll remember. We also saw a lot of fireflies that night! Or should I say fairies? They seemed to really enjoy it just outside the light of the castle courtyard.

Having had our little experience in the woods, KP and I continued our stargazing from the terrace and went to bed once it got too cloudy to peer at the lights in the night sky. Oddly enough, though, there was one light that never stopped -- a constant flash as if from lightning, but with no sound. It continued throughout the entire night.

1 comment:

  1. Just so you know one of your friends is a big creep.