My beautiful wife Danielle has always ranked Neuschwanstein high on her bucket list. Even before we began dating (and that was a long, long time ago folks), I remember her raving about how she wanted to visit that German castle from all the pictures. We fulfilled that childhood dream of hers on our European road trip in July.
My brilliant sister-in-law had the wisdom, foresight and organization to purchase tickets for the castle tour in advance. When we arrived in the town of Hohenschwangau, we skipped the thronging lines of people and settled in for the few hours we had to wait for our tour of the castle.
It was one of the most scenic waits of my life. The castle dominates the tiny town; we could see it from almost anywhere. The chalky limestone castle-walls stood out sharply against the mountain-blue sky. The traditional timbered houses of Hohenschwangau accentuated the stereotypically Bavarian atmosphere. The best part though, was watching Dani. Each time she looked up the mountain, her face transformed into one reminiscent of a young child on Christmas morning. She practically vibrated with enthusiasm! We wasted away a few hours by laying in the grass, shopping for Christmas ornaments, and watching bees drinking nectar from wildflowers. And explaining repeatedly to my nephews that bees are actually nice and only sting when we scare them. And also that bees drink nectar. And they make honey. And they live in houses called hives. Their response to all of these explanations? “But why?” It was fun.
The tour ended in the ornate but throneless throne room. Sadly, the royal chair that was ordered never made it to its designated place. King Ludwig died suspiciously less than a year after the construction of the top floor was completed. He only spent eleven nights in the castle he had planned, designed and obsessed over for decades. I guess the best laid plans of mice and men often do go awry! Even if Ludwig didn’t get to enjoy Neuschwanstein much, I suppose his legacy lives on through his pet-project.
We were surprised at how short the tour was, less than a half an hour. It’s a shame that only fifteen rooms out of 200 in the design are finished. I can only imagine the lavish ostentatiousness that Ludwig planned for the rest of the castle. I wish he had lived just a bit longer so I could have seen more of his lavishly inventive vision!
Although I was disappointed that our short jaunt inside the castle was over, there was a bright side. Remember how I mentioned running water earlier? Well, lets just say the bathrooms are beautifully positioned! I reaped one of the many benefits of being born a male: peeing while admiring a scenic panorama. My view from the urinal (not the view from the urinal…key difference in this context) is included in the photo below. It was a great way to conclude my visit!