opulent insanity

7/14/10   –   19:14

Today’s adventure was to the town of Füssen, two hours southwest of Munich by train. It claim to fame is being located close to Schwangau, the site of two of King Ludwig II’s ridiculous castles. King Ludwig was a fanciful character who grew up with his head inundated with Bavarian fairy tales and other fantastic images. The death of his father when Ludwig was around 19 allowed him to become king of Bavaria, at which point he wielded enough power to make his crazy castle dreams come true. He was an eccentric character, and had close relations with the composer Richard Wagner. Really close. >_>;; At some point, Ludwig, still unmarried, and mired in debt, was declared clinically insane and sent to recuperate at some other castle. He was found drowned in a lake a short time later.

All that’s left is his boyhood home, Hohenschwangau castle, and his fairy-tale castle, Neuschwanstein. You know the Cinderella castle that appears at the beginning of Disney films? Yeah. Inspired by Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein.

It’s located in a pleasant area of the Bavarian Alps and there’s a great lake nearby called the Alpensee. The temperatures threatened 100 Fahrenheit, but it was cool on the hiking trails shaded by tall trees.

The castles were pretty awesomely decorated. Kudos to whoever painted the walls in there. They’re filled with scenes from Wagnerian operas and other Bavarian epics. The chandeliers are all made of brass and silver with sparkling glass and there are swans everywhere. [The swan is a symbol of the region– Schwangau means “land of the swans”– and one of Ludwig’s favorite animals] There are gold and ivory centerpieces on every table and the furniture is all exquisitely carved out of wood. A pretty impressive display of riches, to say the least. It’s a shame we couldn’t take pictures inside the castle. No matter, I think my camera might have exploded anyway. We could, however taken pictures of the scenery outside, though. That’s what we have here.

At one of the giftshops scattered along the trail, I found my 0,25 liter jager and bought it. Germany is the land of gigantic portions of beer and laughably tiny bottles of liquor.

There was lots of hilly trekking on the way from Hohenschwangau to Neuschwanstein. The people of Bavaria, and pretty much all of Europe must have had calves of steel. S’all I gotta say about that.

So you remember that comment about people flitting in and out of our lives from last entry? Just when I say I’ll never see Ellen,Yana, Edward, and Kiara again, there they are on the way up to Neuschwanstein. They’d just finished their tour. We talked for a minute, wished each other safe travels, and they told me to go get the cheeseballs further up the hill. I took their advice and it was pretty good. I’m not sure what the name was in German, but it’s like…. cheese wrapped in sweet cornbread, deep fried, then coated in powdered sugar. It was really good and cheap.

There was also a street performer in traditional lederhosen playing an instrument called the hurdy-gurdy. Yeah. The hurdy-gurdy. I didn’t get a pic, but it’s like… I don’t even know. Look it up on wikipedia.

Exhausted from all that running around in the Bavarian hillside, I took the 2 hour, non-air-conditioned ride back to Munich and set out to search for dinner. I was really craving and wanting to try this dish called currywurst. I looked around everywhere until I saw a self-serve place that had it, finally. It’s basically a long piece of kielbasa covered in a sauce which tastes like a mix between barbecue sauce and ketchup, and then covered with a layer of curry powder. While I was eating, I saw the lady at the table next to me and she appeared to be seasoning a 2 pound portion of raw ground beef with the salt and pepper from the table. My first thought was “oh, that’s being a little stingy, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.” Then, halfway through my currywurst, I looked at her again and she was most definitely almost down shoveling the two pounds of raw ground beef into her mouth. I sort of wanted to barf in her face. Almost. I held it in, though, because that would have been a waste of good currywurst.

I sat by a fountain outside afterwards and opened up a bottle of Radler bier which is an interesting invention. It’s almost like an arnold palmer except it doesn’t taste nearly as good. It’s half beer and half lemonade. I’d say it’s what a Mike’s Hard Lemonade would taste like if it tasted more like… bread. -_- Yeah. You have to try everything once, though.

Tomorrow, I leave Munich for Köln, Germany, and finish up the day in the southern nub of the Netherlands, by Maastricht, where I’ll be staying with Gregg [remember him from the flight to Brussels?] and his family because he’s sort of the most awesome ever.

There’s really nothing I want to do in Köln except see their gigantic cathedral and then visit the Lindt chocolate factory/museum [!] More on that tomorrow.

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