Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neuschwanstein: Not for the fainthearted!

Do I strike you as a hiker?

Last week, one of my bestest friends from college, Sara, and her equally delightful husband, John, came out to visit as part of their Euro2010 trip to Switzerland and Germany. As such, they were wont to do some of the touristy things that Husband and I have put off, knowing (or at least hoping) we would have plenty of stateside visitors come our way with whom we could share those wonderfully kitschy experiences. And Sara and John did not disappoint on the kitsch factor! Well, not them personally, per se, but rather the activities done with them. Ugh, what a horrible insult, to be called kitschy. Its sounds so condescending and false. I'll have to keep that mentally filed away for a rainy day or a particularly snarky argument.

After a day or two of activities centered mainly around consumption of food and drink, which just happen to be my favorite type of activities, we decided a trip to the famous Neuschwanstein castle, the one the Cinderella castle at Disneyworld was modeled after, was in order. After a predicatably late start, we managed to arrive in the charming town at the base of the mountain on which the castle sits just in time to buy an admission and tour ticket, but NOT in time to wait in the impossibly long line to take a horse drawn carriage up the aforementioned mountain to get to the castle enterance.

No problem, right!?! We are all young and of robust health! What is hiking up a mountain, if not just one foot after the other, yes? How better to appreciate the beautiful scenery and charm of nature than to thrust ourselves straight into it's woodsy depths? How much more enjoyable the tour itself would be should we have to labor to obtain it!

These are all lies.

Ugly, ugly lies.

After what felt like days trekking up an ice-slicked mountainside riddled with massive foul piles of horse...uh...relief, we reached the half way point. Yes, just halfway! So we bought three delicious freshly made fried dough balls from a well placed vendor (ok, they were donuts, but we couldn't ignore the huge sign for DOUGH BALLS and the crude jokes that followed as we savored said...balls. Too bad they didn't have any peanuts- eh, Sara), and swallowed as much fresh air as our lungs would allow, we continued our accent. Years later we reached the top, and the view was breathtaking!

Ok, actually we didn't have much breath left to take, so the castle could have been a dollhouse on an ant hill for all it was worth, and technically it could have still qualified as breathtaking.

But, then we caught our breath and still deemed the site lovely. In truth, the castle was amazing to behold. The detail and craftsmanship was superb and the sheer enormity of the thing was inspiring. How in the world could something so massive and remote be constructed so long ago?

Oh what? Who said that? You mean, the castle was actually built in the late 1800's to replicate older authentic castles of yore by an over-indulged Bavarian king who favored Wagner operas and swan motifs? Scandalous! Sounds a bit like a dandy to me. Well, so that bit of trivia was a little disappointing to learn, but if you just pushed those facts aside, the castle was still pretty glorious, and the bits of the tour I could hear were interesting.

So that was Neuschwanstein. I'm glad to have seen it, especially with such wonderful company, but sadly have no reason to visit again, despite almost assuredly having to go back when other guests arrive. Maybe by the end of our German stay I'll be able to give the tour myself!

1 comment:

Sara said...

I take no offense to being kitschy. Well, maybe some. It does have a bit of hipster a-hole connotation to it. Ok, maybe I take a LOT of offense to being called kitschy.

I do need to correct you on one other thing: Neuschwanstein was the direct inspiration for DisneyLAND's Sleeping Beauty castle - Cinderella castle at DisneyWORLD (the far superior park, in my own vast experience) was inspired by a variety of castles, including the castle in the 1950 Disney film, Cinderella. Both castles were designed by the same man, hence the confusion.

I do hope you've caught your breath in the weeks since our sojourn - you'll be happy to know that John and I have finally gotten our heart rates back down to a comfortable pace.