Friday, June 15, 2012

Neuschwanstain, the Original Fairy Tale Castle

We've just about reached the end of the travelog, boys and girls.  After Verona, I headed up to Innsbruck, Austria (love)...

...and then wandered my way through the Tirol (Austrian Alps) up to Bavaria and Hohenschwangau, the site of the original fairy tale castle, Neuschwanstein, on which Walt Disney based Sleeping Beauty's castle.  My new release (Spinning Gold, coming June 18th!) is a Rumpelstiltskin reboot and I ask you, what writer of fairy tales can resist a real fairy tale castle?

Built by King Ludwig who was eventually declared mad (though we would probably just call his affinity for building castles all over Bavaria "eccentric") and died under suspicious circumstances, Neuschwanstein definitely feels like the home of someone who was extremely romantic... and somewhat disconnected from reality.  He was buddy buddy with Wagner (which I thought was pretty cool... got ridiculously excited when I saw a piano that Wagner himself had played - it was missing a full octave) and had grown up in Hohenschwangau castle (which you can see from Neuschwanstein) which was covered in murals depicting tales of knights and chivalry.  But all those murals, of famous battles and victories, not a single one of them showed a drop of blood.  The cleanest slaughter in history.  Probably not a great mindset for a king to have - that battles are noble and in no way bloody.

I wonder if the original Grimm stories came from a different part of Germany - what with the step-sisters chopping off toes to try to wedge their feet into the shoes.  Not exactly bloodless.  Or perhaps the fairy stories came from the peasant class, where they have a more realistic approach to life.  Funny that fairy tales are more realistic than King Ludwig's life. 

But really, can you expect to be connected with the common man when you grew up here:

And there are passages in the walls so you never have to see the servants?  (They could actually tend the fires without ever entering a room.)

It must have been an odd life, but fascinating to think about.  And easy to picture Cinderella in that world. Or perhaps a Swan Princess...

I had a bit of difficulty in southern Germany because, well, let's face it, I couldn't look more German if I tried - so everywhere I went in Bavaria and Tirol, people were asking me directions and coming up to me on the street to chat.  And I speak some German, and the German I do speak is with a distinctly Bavarian accent (shout out to my kick-ass teacher Frau Spencer who taught us all Bayernische Deutsch!), so everyone in Bavaria would hear me speak a few words, think I was local, and then talk really freaking fast so I could only understand about forty percent.  Then, when I asked them to speak more slowly, they looked at me like I was nuts. 

Interestingly, this was not an issue in Frankfurt - the accent was too different, I guess.  Or I looked more foreign to them?  Who knows.  Maybe they were just all drunk.  In Frankfurt not only did I see a guy biking while holding a giant beer in one hand, I also was witness to this awesomeness:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Beer Bike is a bunch of drunk German guys sitting around peddling with a bartender in the middle to keep them well lubricated.  Only in Deutschland.


Vivant said...

Wow. The travelogue has been fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

I am still trying to take in the concept of a beer bicycle bar. It should include an accordion player.

Vivi Andrews said...

Nonsense. An accordion would be ridiculous and beer bikes are Serious Business. As evidence by the guy in front yelling, "SCHNELL!" at random intervals, like an inebriated coxswain.