So, Lee is gone on a business trip for a couple of weeks, and that means I'm watching a bunch of stuff in the evenings that I know he wouldn't be interested in. Last night, I watched a couple episodes of Doctor Who, ending with Blink, which is one of the flat-out creepiest episodes ever because the heroine is getting chased by scary, toothy angel statues who only move when she's not looking (and, if you watch it carefully, you'll notice that they don't move when the camera is looking at them either, which somehow just ups the creep factor that little bit higher). So I watched that and creeped myself out, and then decided it was time to head upstairs and climb in bed with a book. I go to turn on the light in the bedroom and POP. Stupid circuit breaker, all the lights upstairs go out. I try not to think about how the angels shorted out the lights in the episode as they stalked their prey. So I managed to get downstairs in the inky blackness and turn on a light down there (different circuit) and then I had to go in the SPIDER-INFESTED garage to flip the circuit.
Creepy angel statues, no lights and then spiders? Yeah, that was fun. I shouldn't watch creepy things when I'm the only one at home (Sadie and Vader would be useless with the Weeping Angels and they're generally useless with spiders too)...which is why I've only ever watched about three episodes of Criminal Minds. I love murder mystery shows, but that one is just too creep-tastic. Anyway, I obviously survived both the angel statues and the spiders since it's now daytime and I'm sitting here typing this.
You probably skipped all the blah-blah and went straight for the castle pictures anyway.
Our last full day in Germany, we drove like an hour or something to Schwangau to visit two castles, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Obviously, the inhabitants of the area have long had a thing for swans. Fun factoid: Neuschwanstein was the first castle I ever visited outside of a Disney park; Dad took me to Germany with him on a business trip when I was 21. Second fun factoid: Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland was directly inspired by Neuschwanstein, so it's still got a Disney connection.
These two pics are of Neuschwanstein as taken from Hohenschwangau. Neuschwanstein was built by Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria (though one of our tour guides is of the opinion that he wasn't mad, he was just really, really, REALLY good at spending money and the family needed a reason to depose him, so they went with "he's bonkers") while Hohenschwangau was built by Ludwig's dad, Maximilian II. We got tickets to go see both, and we started with Hohenschwangau.
We got to the first castle a little bit early, so we took some pics of the cool lion fountain while we waited.
Hohenschwangau is mustard yellow, and it wasn't even built in the 1970s.
Of course, they won't let you take pictures inside either of the castles because they want you to buy their postcards and books, but this one was painted on the outside of the castle. I told you they had a thing for swans? I tried to get Lee to play Spot the Swan with me inside the castles but he wouldn't do it. They're everywhere though; most of the rooms have them in murals, carved into the woodwork, on plumbing and light fixtures, etc. Oh, and the dining room had this giant mural of a battle scene, but there was no blood whatsoever, so our guide says everyone just keeled over at the same time from heart attacks, including the horses. I don't think I'd want a battle scene painted in my dining room anyway, blood or no blood.
Heyyy not a bad shot, Lee! He doesn't think it's anything special, but I quite like it.
Both the castles are situated on adjacent hills, so you have to climb up a steep hill to get to whichever one you start at, then back down and through Schwangau, and then up another steep hill to get to the other one. So above you can see Hohenschwangau as taken from the town. They have horse-drawn carts to take you up the mountains to the castles, but I always feel sorry for the horses having to haul fat lazy tourists up the mountain.
We had lunch at a beer garden in the village before we tackled the taller, steeper hill to get to Neuschwanstein. And because of how it's situated on the mountain, it's hard to get a really good shot of the front of the castle: a.) the sun was behind it and b.) if you back up enough to get the whole castle in your camera's view finder, you're standing in midair like Wile E. Coyote. (The first couple pictures I posted are actually the back of the castle.)
But here's the back of the front of the castle, which makes no sense bwahahahaaa. The front of the castle is a facade and just inside it is a courtyard, so here's the back of the facade if that makes any more sense.
And there's us in the courtyard : ) As I said before, I'd been to Neuschwanstein before (we didn't get to tour Hohenschwangau the first time around), but I only remembered bits and pieces of it, like this ornate sink where the faucet was shaped like a swan. The castle is pretty large, but the tour doesn't really take you to a lot of it, and part of that is because it was never finished. First of all, as I said before, Ludwig was really good at spending money, so much that he pretty much bankrupted the kingdom, and so his family took his crown (and his checkbook) away from him. Not too long after that, Ludwig and his psychiatrist died under mysterious circumstances at Linderhof Palace, the only building project that Ludwig actually completed. He still had a ways to go on Neuschwanstein and had already drawn up plans for *another* castle when he died. So now of course there are lots of conspiracy theories that Ludwig got whacked for whatever reason (I mean, he was already deposed, so whoever-it-was couldn't have been after his crown) or else his drowning was accidental; no one really knows. After his death, he still owed quite a lot of money to quite a few people, so the family gave Neuschwanstein and Linderhof to the government of Bavaria to pay off his debts; Hohenschwangau still belongs to Ludwig's family. Neuschwanstein opened to tourists within a couple of years of Ludwig's death, and it was never finished.
After we toured the castle, we discovered a trail off behind the castle that leads to this bridge with a great view of both castles but mostly Neuschwanstein. It's over a gorge or something, and Ludwig had a new bridge put over the spot for views of his pretty castle.
Gorgeous scenery. Hey, if I lived in Germany, maybe I'd be skinny--I don't get along with most German food. Now, if I lived in Italy, you'd soon have to roll me around Violet Beauregard-style because YUM Italian food. (But not fish.) Anyway, we took dozens of pictures from the bridge and probably one of these will make it into the 2014 calendar for our parental units.
I couldn't decide which one I liked best when I had these printed off; I need to take a look at the prints side-by-side to choose.
That's all for now, toodles!
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