I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated – the big updates somehow intimidate me and I shy away from writing them. So, in tradition long-held, I instead wait a long time, then write about something totally different.
On my day off in Munich (they didn’t fly us to Oslo early but kept us in Munich late), I spent a day in Bavaria in almost identical fashion to the way it was spent almost seventeen years ago. This time, rather than 30 irresponsible high school kids, I was with 6 other irresponsible roadies. We went (by subway, train, bus and horse-drawn carriage) to Neuschwanstein castle, the name of which I’d long forgotten, since back in 1994, we always called it Crazy Ludwig’s Castle.
On this day, however, we were visiting on the 125th anniversary of the man’s death (by mysterious circumstances – he was found dead in a lake with no water in his lungs and having had a history of strong swimming – they called it drowning anyway), which was coincidence and nothing else. I remembered the outside of the castle, not the inside, but that’s probably because they didn’t let us take pictures inside the castle either time. Dumb rule no matter where it is enforced. Makes the place forgettable.
Much more musing after the break.
Now with full gallery – only YEARS delayed!
I made the other roadies accompany my to the bridge that crosses the river that comes tumbling out of the mountain just next to the castle, which was a nice walk, really. The picture above (and below) is from a vantage point just above and across that very bridge, which was, of course, jammed with tourists. It was a bank holiday (no idea if that and Crazy Ludwig’s death day were related), so there were plenty of people about.
Inside, we took a tour (the only way you were allowed in), and saw things like the kings armchair toilet (a water-flush model, very modern for the late 1800’s) and some electrical toggles that acted as servant-calls. Interesting stuff. Kind of reminded me of Hearst stuff, actually, which may have been the same era. I haven’t looked it up. They had only finished the first and third floors when construction stopped (they laid down their tools and quit the day the man died, opening the castle to tourists a scant six weeks postmortem), so the tour took us over the first and third, the latter of which was given over to a mini opera hall dedicated (like so much else inside) to Wagner’s performances.
The castle is very much a fanciful re-construction of what they thought castles looked like, rather than anything that real castles did look like, of course. I love old castles and the idea of pre-gunpowder fortifications, so it’s really interesting seeing these romanticized versions built with all the comforts of home (windows, many floors and rooms, kitchens, etc.) from their eras. Its situation was amazing, though, with the view stretching out over the flood plane on three sides, the fourth hard against the looming cliffs above. Would have been a tough castle to overcome pre-gunpowder, even without a wall, moat or anything else besides the hillside location and closed gates.
We were out for more than eleven hours once you figured in the crazy Chinese meal we ate back in town. The train itself was 2 hours in each direction, what with the stops and all. An easy day trip, but no time for anything else that day, that’s for sure.
Anyway, I wish I could go back over my photos and notes from Europe ’94 because it’d be great to compare and contrast my feelings about both trips. One interesting thing I noted while out here again was the sense of disquiet that was with me on both trips. In High School, it wasn’t loneliness, exactly, but there was definitely a disconnect in Munich. Can’t say if it’s the place or not, since disquiet bordering on loneliness is pretty much a constant thing for me on tour now. I remember sitting by the bomb craters (which I didn’t manage to find this time out) and feeling the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. Of course, that was high school, the era of grunge, for christ’s sake, so malaise was pretty much ubiquitous.
Now I’m in Helsinki, which is less shockingly, scandalously expensive than Oslo (is there any place more expensive?), and more of a proper city, to boot, although it still has the European feel that permeates these places and keeps them from seeming too much in today’s world.