Thursday, September 19, 2013

Neuschwanstein Castle

I'm a California Girl. Specifically, a Southern California born girl. This means two things. One, I'm a Beach Baby and two, I am a Disney Girl. Seriously. The joke in my family is that if you look close enough at my blood you will notice that the platelets are Mickey Ears. Seriously a Disney Girl. So from about the age of 5 (although I'm sure I was told earlier than that and just don't remember) I knew that there was a REAL Sleeping Beauty's Castle out there in the world somewhere. So, from the age of 5, Neuschwanstein Castle was #1 on my Bucket List. 

If you are not familiar with the phrase "Bucket List" (and I found out recently that not everyone outside of the USA knows that phrase) it means "Things to Do/See before I "kick the bucket"" or, to do/see before I die. So Neuschwanstein Castle was the first thing, the longest desired thing, on my Bucket List. The chance to go see it was just so amazing I couldn't even wrap my head around it!
 As with most "real life" experiences when you travel, what I got was SO much more than I could ever have dreamed an adult or a 5 year old! First of all just look at the scenery around the Castle! The green of the countryside, the amazing Alps, it's all just too picturesque to be believed! (click on the photo to see the full sized version of it!)
 So these were the types of views we enjoyed as we made our way out to one of the 3 Castles built by Good King Ludwig II. I have now added his other two castles to my Bucket List!
 One of the "extras" about our visit was the story of King Ludwig II and his wacky family. You pass through this little town at the bottom of the hill and get your first glimpse of the type of architecture that lies ahead!
 It looks like a typical little German town but it has a very impressive history and reputation when it comes to King Ludwig II. His father died, after a very brief illness, leaving Ludwig II to be King at the age of 18. His older brother wanted nothing to do with the family business and the shy younger brother ended up stuck with the job. The people of Bavaria were overjoyed because their new King decided to use his money for "pretty" things. Needless to say, this didn't thrill the government and high society. He started burning through money as fast as he could to create his Fairy Tale Castles.
 This was our first view of Neuschwanstein. Sitting high up on a hilltop over the small little village of Hohenschwangau below. The little village has a lot to do with the story of King Ludwig II as well. More on that later.
 The village is very small but picturesque. I would love to come back and stay at Jagerhaus someday!
 Ok, yes, I'm SUCH a tourist! I completely loved the names on the sign in front of the Inn. The Sound of Music. I was in love!
Hohenschwangau is named after the Castle in the village where King Ludwig II grew up. It was here that he fill in love with the area and dreamed of building another castle of his very own that was bigger, better and even more beautiful than the one he grew up in. On our tour we didn't have enough time to tour Hohenschwangau but I think we all wanted to do so! Yup, added to the Bucket List.
 This is also where you have to make the decision to take the walk up to the castle or to take the carriage. Knowing that the carriage only takes you up so far and then you walk we decided we wanted the best of both styles and took the carriage up.
 As it was in Salzburg, we found out that the horses that pull the carriages are doted upon. Because they are right in town with the tourists they are doted upon by both their caretakers and the tourists!
 We were loaded up onto the carriage and I got to sit in the front seat! You can see the Inn on the left and Hohenschwangau on the right.

 You can see three things in this photo. One, there were people who chose to walk up the incline, two, we definitely were smart NOT to walk up the incline, and three, it was totally absolutely gorgeous!
 Visiting in the Spring meant that everything was very, very green. That "it almost hurts your eyes to look at it" green. Beautiful!
 And then you get off the carriages because the rest of the way up to the castle is too steep to make the animals pull us lazy humans up the rest of the way. Did I mention it was steep? Very Steep. About a mile of Steep. I took advantage of the gorgeous views of the forest to stop, admire it and then take a photo before moving on.
 There is a stop in the middle of the trek up. Unfortunately we were there too early and they were not open yet but the building was very pretty!
Another building at the "stop" reminded us that Neuschwanstein means New Swan Stone. Or the new Swan Castle. Ludwig's improvement on his childhood home.

This weekend I'll take you up to the Castle so you can get an idea of the size and scope of it. But here is a little background. 

King Ludwig II wasn't popular with the powers-that-be at the time. He was spending money at an alarming rate. Money that others felt was theirs, not his, to spend. To top it off, Ludwig was single. Permanently single. You see, Ludwig was in love with Richard Wagner, the Opera composer. The romance with Wagner as well as the influence of his Opera's helped to shape Neuschwanstein into the Fairy Tale Castle that it is. Homosexuality was legal in Germany then and thus not something that they could use against Ludwig but that didn't stop them from trying to find something against him to push him out of power. Finally, after he broke off a forced engagement, they declared him "Mad" King Ludwig II and sought to imprison him.

This is where the story gets good. The soldiers sent to arrest him stopped in the town at a pub first. They let the story leak out that they were on their way to arrest the villagers treasured King and they sent word up the hill to the village of Hohenschwangau. Those villagers surrounded the castle so the soldiers couldn't get through. It only delayed the process for a few days butit did show the King how much is subjects adored him.

And who wouldn't adore a King that built such beautiful places, hired and paid the locals very well to build it, threw great parties for everyone and was such a generous, loving man? The people who wanted to be in charge of the government and the money, that's who. They arrested him and set him up with a "Dr" to oversee him and somehow they both ended up dead the very next morning in a pond. It's a murder mystery but I think the Dr. tried to kill Ludwig and Ludwig was stronger than the Doc figured and took him down too. I'm hoping it was that way anyway. 

Hope you can come back this weekend to see more of the castle and learn more about it's romantic history! See you then!

In the meantime you can get daily photos of beautiful places on my Instagram account! Just follow shutterbugtraveler there.


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