Germany Tourism, Day Four: Disney Castles and Mushrooms

We set out after the bestbreakfast ever (not open for discussion) to visit the very castle after which the Walt Disney modeled the DisneyWorld castle.

How exciting!

I was going to get to go inside a real-life castle set on a rugged mountainside in Bavaria! Doesn’t it feel magical, just reading that? I'm probably going to see a unicorn!

In 1869, King Ludwig II began construction on this romanticized medieval-throwback after his father died and freed up some excessive amounts of money.

Oddly, he built it not a mile away from his father’s castle, where he spent his summers as a child. Called Neuschwanstein (meaning New Swan Stone), it is inspired by Richard Wagner’s medieval-themed operas.

A quick glance will explain why Ludwig II is often referred to as “The Fairy Tale King;” his eccentric desire for an authentic medieval castle led to an architectural feat that was almost flamboyant in its expression of all things fantastical and medieval.

In fact, it was not an architect that designed the castle, but a theater designer! So perfect did everything have to be that it took 17 years to complete the damn thing. Additionally, the man thoroughly ran himself into the ground with debt simply to possess something that looked like the castles from 400 years before his own time.
german caslte
So, um...this is what we ended up seeing of the castle.
Yes, this is a picture of a poster.

Who did he think he was? A king or something?

And then, by some cruel twist of fate, Ludwig mysteriously drowned less than a year after moving in.

Visit this page for a pictorial tour of the inside, and this one for general information about the castle.

You want even MORE?! Check out The Castles of King Ludwig or Neuschwanstein (Opus 33).

But here’s the thing. Sometimes, when things are built over 100 years ago, they eventually need reconstruction. So where we expected to see a breathtaking castle, we instead saw opaque scaffolding around something that was very b . . . presumably the castle we had just driven three hours to visit.

Oh, and the waiting time to take the tour inside the castle? A sun-drenched four hours.

Why, Gods of Tourism? Whyyyy!?

(Implicit lesson: ALWAYS call ahead to make sure the piece of history you're visiting will actually be visible, and check the wait time)

With thin smiles, we decided to visit his dad’s castle, which had a waiting time of only an hour. Ugh. His dad’s castle? Is this gonna be like black and white television to color? Tapes to cds? Faxes to e-mails!?
german castle
Looking up at Hoheenschmangau, Ludwig's dad's castle
bavarian castle
Hohenschwangau, you're cool too. Don't let them tell you otherwise.
Well, yes. Yes, I suppose it kind of is.

No offense, dads. But even a castle that is completely outshined by the cooler, younger castle a mile away is a cool enough castle in my book.

Hohenschwangau (meaning High Country of Swans), was built in 1833 in neo-gothic style by Ludwig II’s father, King Maximilian II. While it’s no Disney castle, he certainly made a good choice on location.

Visit this page for an inside-look at the castle, as pictures are not allowed to be taken by the public.

And buy your tour tickets ahead of time to avoid the absurd lines...and the heartache. Alas!
bavaria tourism
Despite a minor setback, it was a wonderful day. It’s hard to feel disappointed for long when you’re nestled in a historic Bavarian stronghold (the secluded location is mostly why it was unharmed during World War II!) and you’re surrounded by mountains that remind you of home and a crystal clear lake and…hey, enough talking. Let’s have a beer and go swimming before heading home.

To swim or not to swim?
This is what it looks like when John tries to drown me
Germany, you would have hauses of Jager
I think I'll put my castle riiiight here. Is
everybody ok with that? Just kidding, I don't
 care because I'm the king.
Oh, and did I tell you that it’s chanterelle season?

chanterelle recipe
Hey, come here often?

After a long drive home, we picked up some local chanterelles cooked them in a brown butter and garlic sauce over pasta.

Mushroom, Salami, and Brown Butter Sauce (quick style, use quantities to taste)

Saute mushrooms and a chopped dry salami of choice in oil, remove from pan once cooked. To the pan, add butter (about 4-8oz per pound of pasta, supplement less butter with cooked pasta water or broth—added at the end— for a healthier option).

When butter begins to brown, add chopped garlic and saute for about a minute. Add mushrooms. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley and parmesan and you’re golden. Serve immediately over pasta.

garlic sauce
Cooking the butter, garlic, and seasonings before adding the chanterelles and dry salami
chanterelle recipe



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  2. Yes, the Germans had the right know, my last name is Kaiser (which means emperor in German), so maybe I should find my own long-lost castle?

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