'I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself'

Trip Start Nov 18, 2013
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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We were awoken by a blood curdling scream. Well, Joanna was, I sleep through it like a log. Apparently one of our roommates had a bad dream, but it was just about time for us to get up anyway. 6.10am. Ergh.

We quietly got ready for our Neuschwanstein Castle day trip. When we arrived down in the breakfast hall, there was the usual array of food, plus boiled eggs and jam donuts! We were both excited, and also a bit annoyed they run out by the time we're usually eating breakfast. How many goodies have we missed out on by getting up at a normal time in other hostels? I looked over and saw a man hoarding 4 eggs…and that’s why there’s usually none left for us!

At Hauptbahnhof station we ran to the end platform and jumped on the correct train in the nick of time! Triumphantly, we found seats and settled in for the 2 hour trip, but the triumph was short-lived, as the ticket lady kicked us off twenty minutes in. Apparently the Bavarian ticket we had purchased was only valid from 9am onwards. It was 8.30am…but German rigidity won out…and we were left stranded on a frosty platform in a small unknown town (apparently Geltendorf). I was angry, so I walked off steam and watched the sun rise.

To kill an hour, we found a bakery and drank hot chocolate and coffee. We felt this was the best solution to tackle the problem.

When the next train finally came, we sat opposite two Chinese men. Close to our end stop, they decided to strike up a conversation, and practically thought they could be our best friends from then on in. The whole day we said 'Okay goodbye, have a nice trip,’ and then they would pop up again! In the castle, in the café, on the platform! They even wanted to take our picture but we said no thanks.

Our train stopped at Fussen and we caught a bus to the small village of Hohenschwangau. We elbowed our way to the front to buy tickets to Neuschwanstein; after that refusing to pay for a horse and carriage, and starting our on-foot climb to the top.

Joanna and I caught glimpses of the view through the fur trees, but were so impressed when we reached the top. A wide, white expanse lay out in front of us surrounded by mountains and woodland. The castle is very grand, yet inviting.

Our 12.55pm tour was with 60 other people! The tour guide rushed us through the ornate rooms. We weren’t allowed to take photos but I subtlety (or not to subtlety) took a few after she’d left the room. Joanna and I thought the castle was pretty over the top but very beautiful. I loved all the colours, the intricate details and the views of the mountains out every window. I would have really liked longer to look at everything without other people crowding around.

Most of the wall paintings are scenes from Richard Wagner’s plays. I recognised some from the Nibelung Saga and Tristian and Isolde. One thing Joanna and I thought was hilarious, was that Ludwig had an actual ‘man cave’. We walked from his bedroom into an artificial cave! It was so unexpected and cool! Apparently it was based on the idea of the Hörselberg in the Tannhäuser saga?

A bit of background about the palace: it was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, as a homage to Wagner. Unfortunately the castle was never finished, because Ludwig met an untimely and mysterious death (at age 41), after being declared ‘insane’ the day before. He had also run into debt by means of extensive borrowing (because he make the castle so ornate!). I can’t begin to imagine how spectacular it would have been completed. The palace was also the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle!

I think Ludwig and I would have been friends had we lived in the same century, because we are both tall, we both like dessert and are both a bit crazy. I also love one of his famous quotes: ‘I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others.’

We wanted to walk to St. Mary’s lookout bridge but it was barricaded off because of the heavy snow and ice. We asked the information desk girl at the castle if we could get there another way. She told us to walk all the way to the bottom of the mountain, and back up an adjacent path. It was such a long way, but we knew the view would be worth it. The new uphill path was so slippery! We’d take one step forward and slide back half (our legs really felt it the next day!). We made ‘Stan the Snowman’ on our way up.

At the top, we realised people had just jumped the barricade at the castle. If we’d done this, we wouldn’t have had to walk up the slippery slope! Dang it. We were fools for following the rules, and we shall never do it again! Follow the rules that is…
The hard slog was worth it though, because the sun came out and the view from the bridge was amazing.

Back in the centre of Hohenschwangau, Joanna and I shared a curry kransky whilst waiting for the bus. It was pretty much just a plain kransky with curry powder sprinkled on it. How innovative.

We met two Aussie girls in bus line, called Roxie and Erin. We talked with them about home, travelling and Kath and Kim. It was good fun to reminisce about that jem of Australian television! When we had to change trains halfway, we all sprinted from one train to the other (literally 4 metres across the platform) to make sure we got four seats together, it was hilarious and everyone probably thought we were loopy.

Once back in Munich, Joanna and I shared (more) kransky and some classic spätzle. Also, how could we leave Germany without trying the massive marshmallow balls and Manner chocolate wafers? We thought all the fatty food was warranted after being out for 12 hours and hiking in the cold today!

We ran into our Russian roommates at the train station, and were able to walk home together, having some good chats. They joined us in the common room back at the hostel too, and Svetlana showed us her salsa performance.
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