Friday, June 05, 2009

Schloss Nueschwanstein

We had one of those magical days which just hits the spot; we wanted to see Schloss Neuschwanstein which is unlike any other castle thus far and probably in the world. It is more of a tribute to Wagner than a castle and wasn't even designed by an architect but a stage set designer. Obviously he had some help from engineers because it hasn't yet fallen down.

On our way there mabel (the GPS) took us on one of her routes and we ended up driving down very small country roads that we would never normally have tried to go down so we've coined a term for this: 'mabelism' meaning to veer off the beaten path but nevertheless to arrive at one's destination.

Dodging the oncoming traffic on such a narrow road was interesting and I was certain that a couple of times we were going to get a glancing blow the oncoming car. When we stopped to take the photograph above I watched a fiat uno coming and he seemed to be going awfully fast, this was confirmed as his tires squealed and scrabbled for traction as he hurtled past.

Our first view of the schloss was the one below from the restaurant at which we had lunch. I had 'Spatzle nudlen' with cheese and fried onion which sounded, and was, pretty good. Caron had a sweet omelette which was more like a thick pancake cut up into blocks and was really what we would class as a dessert although it was on the main menu. We ended up sharing my main course as the savoury and Caron's main course as the dessert which worked out pretty well.

The only way to get into the castle is to take a guided tour but at 9EUR it was pretty cheap by most guided tour standards. Ludwig II, who built the place, was obviously a bit touched and more than a little taken with Wagner. What else would explain having one of the rooms leading from his bedroom decorated like a cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites. Each room had some Wagnerian or religious connection in the frescoes and decoration and the overall design together made it look and feel like some fairy tale enchanted castle. How is this for a view to wake up to in the morning!

Once we had finished the tour we walked up and around the back to a bridge which spanned the stream that flows below the castle but Caron refused to go onto the bridge citing vertigo and I must admit that having some of the planking flexing under one's weight wasn't the most reassuring.

Walking back down the hill it was really steep, so much so that one had to be a little careful that one didn't lose one's footing and land on one's backside. Coming the other way, up the hill, were a small but steady stream of mountain bikers so I just had to try this hill to see how bad it really was. It's bad! It didn't take long to climb (about 10-15 minutes) but some sections were really, really steep and near the end I could feel my spatzle's coming up to say hello but fortunately I ran out of hill before it could get all the way up and out. Going down the hill was a blast but a couple of corners had me skidding both wheels to slow down enough to take the corner.

The drive home to Lindau was just magnificent; this part of Germany is really and I mean really beautiful. There are cycling paths all over the place and it was wonderful to see whole families out riding. Sometimes, when there isn't space, the cycle path is on the side of the road but there are concrete bollards which the bicycles can get around but which cars can't to protect their space from encroaching cars. This is something that could definitely be done in South Africa and it shouldn't even be that expensive to implement. There was also a noticeable lack of fences and where there were cattle the farmers use a single or double strand of electrified fencing which they move from field to field as the cows move. The lack of fencing does wonders to the landscape.

We noticed several houses that are taking solar power seriously and have all but covered their roofs with photovoltaic cells as well as solar water heating.

This happened to be a shop but interestingly, there were snow arrestors installed over the photovoltaic cells to stop the snow falling off which would also stop the cells working. Strange!

Arriving back home we had a light supper as we watched family after family arrive on their bicycles and set up camp for the night. There is a pair of girls near us in a tent which looks too small for one person let alone both of them and that is in good weather! It is what Rob and I used to call a -5 tent; only when it is absolutely freezing can the people actually fit into it. It's like magic that at -5 an extra person can actually fit into a tent.

No comments: