Giddy Up Europe

Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Vatican, Monaco, Spain...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Neuschwanstein, the Disney Castle

First of all, if you're reading, hi Mrs. Collins!

On June 17, we hit up Burg Guttenberg and Bad Wimpfen to check out a knights' castle and got a tour from one of the owners who lives there now. It was pretty cool, considering she was like a baroness and all. It was much smaller than many of the other kings' castles that we have seen, but they had some cool knights' armor and the book with the smallest print in the world. Among a library of several thousand rare books, ownership of some of the surrounding springs and forest, and the castle itself, I'd say the baroness is doing fine. At Bad Wimpfen - a very small town - we basically walked around and were temporarily 'lost in Europe' for a couple hours.

Here's some life-size authentic mounted knight armor. Knights were trained to ride horses since they were about seven years old so they would be able to stay on a horse during battle. At 40 kg (about 88 lbs.), a knight's armor would make it difficult for him to get up if he was knocked off his horse and he would probably be killed by an enemy.

Here's a close up view of actual armor.

But here's what we almost missed. This book has the smallest print in the world. The picture is fuzzy because I was zooming in so much. The book is that blue speck inside the lensed casing and next to my fingernail. It contains the Lord's Prayer written in seven languages. Who knew history was so cute! But I mean that in a really masculine way. Belch.

We were so bored in Bad Wimpfen that we started taking pictures of döner ads. A döner generally can have either lamb or beef and is a Turkish invention. The shops are as many as Starbucks in America due to the massive Turkish immigrant population. The meat is on a spit and is proportional to the person as shown. They basically shave the mean off and put it into a falafel pita and add some veggies. It's so bad and looks gross to start, but tastes really good. Besides McDonald's and the occasional local wurst stand (which are turning into döner shops more and more), döners are Germany's fast food.

Another ad. If franchised properly, a 'Döner Menu' could totally take over in the United States. Or they should just have a Dönerstag Spezial (Donnerstag ist 'Thursday' auf Deutsch).

Sunday Jon, Allison, Brad, Jesus, and I took a regional-bahn about five hours each way to Füssen right along the Austrian border to see the famous Neuschwanstein castle. The castle was started by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1869. At 40, the king died and after 17 years of construction, work on the castle was stopped, though only one-third of it was completed. It is amazing, sits on a mountain, and was constructed in the Romanesque style with a Byzantine throne room. The Disney castles are supposed to be modeled after this one. When there are low-lying clouds or fog, it looks like a castle above the clouds. It's gorgeous inside, though we could only visit a couple rooms. No cameras or photos allowed.

Here's the view from when you walk in through the castle gates.

Naturally we needed to take a jump picture with me, Jesus, Allison, and Brad. This is our levitation picture. Freaky deaky.

We turned around and took one facing the other side. Jesus apparantly likes the levitation thing.

And this is an example of what always happens. Jon is the resident photographer of jump pictures and is a little trigger happy. "One, two, oh crap, it just went off."

From the castle, you can see the Marienbrücke, or the St. Mary's Bridge. It overlooks the whole area and is right over the waterfall, so we decided to hike up there after the brief tour of the castle.

This is what you see. There was such a nice cool breeze flowing through the mountains across the bridge on a really hot day. In the background you can make out two awesome lakes and down below, the water is crystal clear. There were dozens of hang gliders and parasailers jumping off the nearby mountains and catching drafts. Definitely a badass castle. Sweet rooms inside and running water in the king's bedroom.

To cool off, we hiked down to the bottom of the waterfall and I had some water. Well, not really, but a random dude took either a photo or video of me trying to get this picture right. But we did step around in the brook, which was cold like ice water, clear, and fast.

Well back to reality and Stuttgart. Brad had his first ever shot at a bar called Oblomow. It was tequila. The first of eight. No stops on the tequila train.

In other news, here's a picture of Jon being artzy at Killesberg Park at Stuttgart. I mean, really, when is he ever going to have another chance to have a flower behind his ear? Is he rimming that bottle?

Here's one of Steph about ten days before at the castle gardens at Ludwigsburg. Black and white photos are hot.

Yesterday, my cross-cultural class was held at one of our professor's house in Vaihingen. We had coffee, juice, cake, fruit, and pretzyls while we sat outside for a little garden party. Afterwards, his daughter (on the right) held a violin recital for us and they turned on the sprinklers to cool off. Carin and Joy were all about it.

Meanwhile, others broke out some German Scrabble and all hell broke loose. Watch the umlauts!

The frontyard and backyard were awesome. There was a wild strawberry tree, a cherry tree, and tons of other blooming bushes and plants. Very nice even compared to other German gardens. Our professor also taut us some German songs. The first was the "Schwäbische Anthem" which started out like this:

1. Auf de schwäbsche Eisebahne gibt's gar viele Haltstatione, Schtuegert, Ulm und Biberach, Mekkebeure, Durlesback.

Ref.: Rulla, rulla, rullala, rulla, rulla, rullala, Schuegert, Ulm und Biberach, Mekkebeure, Durlesbach.

The second is called "Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus" from the Comedian Harmonists back in the 20's. Holla if ya hear me.


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