Cycle Tour Tour in the Alps 2013
Dag 8: Schwangau
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Added on 25 Aug 2013
on 31 Aug 2020
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by Ottocolor on 18 Nov 2013
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Schwangau, Bayern, DE (786 m NHN)
Schwangau, Bayern, DE (786 m NHN)
06 Aug 2013
Very hot and sunny during day time. In the evening a heavy thunderstorm with downpour.
Münchner Straße 151
Easy day on excellent bike path to Schwangau, fairly good car road to Hohenschwangau, steeply up to the castle along with many pedestrians, good bike paht to Füssen, in the traffic there, then bike path except a stretch on the main road, back to the camp ground.
Rest day at the camping site with a visit at Neuschwanstein Castle, a trip to a bike shop in Fussen and resting on the camp ground in the evening.
Today I woke up quite early because of a baby crying in one of our neighbouring tents which stood closely down here at the lake. Well, it was a rest day and the day would not be so strenuous. Furthermore, I was pleased that our Israeli tent neighbour might be closer to the screaming child and also be awakened. Well, private life in a tent IS a problem. The first one I greeted as I came out of the tent was a swan. It lay up the tent and quacked in the grass. This was the tame swan Fridolin, whom we would see many times while we were there. After a trip to the equally huge and luxurious bathrooms in several floors in order to urinate, throw some water in my face, put the lenses in my eyes and a comb through the hair, of which my only morning toilette consists, I cycled (because of the relatively large distances on the camp site) to the reception in order to ask for a camping store. I had not spotted one in the dark of last night. But of course, they had one. Well, there's probably going to be a long line, I thought, and was right, but the store was just so well organized. German, at its best. Two separate queues for each bakery girl, swift service, a large selection of bread and groceries, prompt payment and out of the fold. That's how to make money in a camping store. And the customers are satisfied. So was Simon when I went down to rouse him. He obviously had not heard the screaming child in the morning. But he was not grumpy, and came a little later to the same place where we had eaten dinner in order to tuck into his breakfast. His morning toilette is almost non-existent, so he comes quite quickly, mind you, when he is awake.
After breakfast I inquired at the reception about our planned visit to the castle Neuschwanstien. It is nothing less than Germany's most visited sightseen object, indeed one of the world's most visited places at all, so it seemed a bit prohibitive to think we were going up there today. The weather was actually most to just flat out on the beach and let the sun bake our bellies. But the castle was a chance I didn't want to miss. I was told that I could only get in on a guided tour, which is booked in advance in a central ticket house along with the other castle nearby, Hohenschwangau. Well, that sounded all right, but what I should have done was to book a guided tour for us on the Internet. I could probably easily have done it on a spare computer, but did not. Instead I let the soul dangle down on the beach and in the lake. It was great to just relax without any chores. And the swan was so funny. He swam around between all the bathing people, and you could even play with him and make him eat out of your hand. Simon was totally captivated by this swan. He was called Fridolin, and later he called this camp site Fridolin camping. At one time, the swan climbed up on an air mattress in the shallows and found himself being pushed out on the lake by a floating child. It looked so comical, and I regret I did not take a picture of this.
Keeping in mind the perfect weather and the tourist season's peak, I thought we should go to Hohenschwangau to get us a ticket for the tour of the castle. Simon was in for it, so we took our packed lunches and rolled there on a very nice bike route into Schwangau. Here it ended and we followed then a small road to Hohenschwangau, the village with the two castles.
There were not very many cars on the road, so my hope that there would not be so many tourists who wished to enter the castle along with us, rose. The large car park was well filled, so maybe we were just a little late again? That assumption proved to be correct when we arrived at the ticket booth, where we placed the bikes up a hedge. The queue was as long as a bad year. Closest to the ticket booth, there was a covered terrace where the queue process in zigzag as in airports. Where this started was a sign that told me that here was an hour's queue. So it was not worse. However, the queue went on outside as a single queue of people well further behind, and there was no shade, so the waiting tourists had to stand in the baking sunshine. A little disheartened Simon and I joined the queue. This was going to take a long time. In addition, an officer from Bayerische Schloss Verwaltung, which is the authority that manages the castle, came down to us and told us that we could not be sure, if there were any tickets left when we finally reached the ticket booth. Just then a German man asked me if I wanted to buy his ticket. His wife was ill, so I could buy hers. It was a guided tour in German, which began at 4pm. Unfortunately, he had only one ticket. Simon was also more hooked on a tour in English, but maybe they were sold out before we could even buy one. Now Simon and I agreed that I should buy the German's ticket and then split up and hope that there would be one ticket to an English tour left. As said we did, and after about an hour in the queue, which now seemed to move a bit faster forward, I bought a ticket for a guided tour in English at 6.30pm for Simon. Both of us were very pleased with the deal. Since there was plenty of time till my tour was to start, we bought cold drinks, took our lunch boxes from the bikes and sat down to eat in the grass on the slope above the ticket office. Very unexpectedly the grass turned out to be too wet to sit in. Where the heck did that water come from? It had to come out of the ground, so we chose a place above the wall to eat. From here we also had an excellent view of the second castle named Hohenschwangau. It was built by King Maximilian I of Bavaria in 1837. Here grew his son Louis II up. He was born at Nymphenburg in Munich, as we had learned there. At that time there were only two dilapidated ruins in the place where he quickly began to dream of building a feudal castle in true medieval style, it was to become Neuschwanstein. Hohenschwangau is also a big attraction, but not in the style of the fairytale castle on the mountain ridge up behind us. More than 1.3 million visitors annually, representing over 3,500 on average per. Evenly distributed throughout the year. But today it was peak season, so I guess about twice as many through the tills today. But now we both had a ticket, indeed for two different tours, but the German degree of organization and Simons independent character should ensure that everything went smooth. So we said goodbye to each other after lunch. He rode back to the campsite to enjoy himself with Fridolin and his book,while I rode up to the castle immediately.
As the castle is perched on a mountain ridge, the road went steeply upwards. It was full of pedestrians walking on their way up or down, but it was still easy to overtake them and ride slowly in first gear. There was still more than three quarters till my tour started, so why rush up? Above us the canopy closed, so it was pleasant to ride in the shade. And people crowded the place. On my way down I had to take care, not to run anyone down. There were also horse-drawn carriages on the road, and a stretch I rode behind one. Horse and iron horse sometimes even together. But it was still a relief to park the bike in the sharp corner right up at Neuschwanstein's gatehouse. Here I caught my breath and enjoyed the incredible view across the countryside to the northeast of the lakes, the large Forggensee and our smaller Bannwaldsee in front to the right. Then came the German man, I had bought the ticket of over and began to talk. He was a fan of Borussia Monchengladbach, but had nevertheless asked me, who was in my Bavaria-shirt. I thought it was funny, but down here in Bavaria, he probably felt on away ground. He was to attend the match between the two clubs later in the week, which was the first match of this year's Bundesliga season. This match Simon and I were going to watch when we got to Bregenz on Lake Constance. Then we obviously talked about the great time of the Danes in his club in the seventies, when all my classmates back then supported Gladbach, while I went off the rails and supported Bayern. We followed the guided tour of the castle togehter until it was over.
It began with ingesting the ticket barcode and then we waited in the courtyard for the guide to appear. We had passed the gatehouse, which gleamed in red bricks on the exterior while it was bright yellow on the inside. We were now in the lower courtyard and looked up at the large square castle tower. It was only half finished and was clad in scaffolding, when King Ludwig II, the castle builder, died in 1886. Several other buildings of the castle had also not been finished by then. Some of them were completed later in simpler form than planned by the king, other parts of the castle were never completed. In 2008 the news popped up that the Bavarian castle management had decided to complete the castle as planned by King Ludwig, but that turned out to be a Fool's Day joke.
In a way this joke fits well into the story of the castle, because it is very much about appearance and imagination and not so much about being. And the semblance of a fairy-tale can also be felt in the castle. It is really built as an illusion, namely the desire to create a medieval knight's castle in the romantic stream of the 19th century. Historicism is the style, ie a quest to restore historic looks. This style doen't care much about individual historical styles, but juxtaposes them in order to fit one's own ideas (eclecticism). At that point, Neuschwanstein is a peak, which has often been copied, the best known is Walt Disney's Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty Castle, which has its origin here. No wonder that so many Americans come to see it.
But our group consisted mostly of Germans, since the guide spoke neatly standard German. First stop was the castle's vaulted lobby, where the only depiction of the king in the castle is: a small bronze bust. He built it as his private residence and less for representation, and not at all to the public. It cost a lot of money, but the king paid it out of his own pocket until it was empty. He had simultaneously started on or had completed other projects like Linderhof castle and, quite plush, Herrenchiemsee, a grand palace in the style of Versailles, Schönbrunn and Nymphenburg, ie symbols of the absolute power's pomp and circumstance. It was clear that he could not afford so many castles within a few years (Ludwig II was king only for 22 years). And he had plans for many more castles such as a Byzantine palace in the vicinity. All plans remained in the king's dream world. At Neuschwanstein only the half-built buildings were completed in order to take admission from the public for visiting the castle. In this way, the Bavarian royal family of the Witttelsbacher's paid a part of the king's debts. Shortly before his death the sum had grown to such a large sum that the king was incapacitated and made to abdicate. It happened two days before his death, when he was driven from Neuschwanstein, which after the king's palace had been completed in 1884 had been his favourite residence, to the small castle of Berg by Lake Starnberg not far from Munich. Here he two days later was found drowned in very shallow water. It is clear that such a mysterious death of a prominent person gave rise to the wildest theories about the cause of death. But it is a fact that Louis had severe depressions in his mature years (he was only 40 years). In this way he fits in well with the mood of decline and decay that marked the end of the 19th century, not least in the literature with the fin de siècle movement.
After the lobby the guided tour continued along a long hallway with stained glass windows. Several of them were open, and the view was so breathtaking that one wanted to remain standing, but we had to follow the guide who made good speed. It was probably necessary in order not to be overtaken by the next guide with his tail of tourists. We ended up in the so-called singers' hall. It was completed exactly after the king's ideas, and it's right out of a scene in a Richard Wagner opera. Wagner too was very interested in the Middle Ages, so it does not surprise that Ludwig II also loved Wagner and supported him throughout his life. The most impressive object in the singer's hall is the large chandelier, which is designed as a medieval ring chandelier, as they are still hang in great German middle age churches, for example, in Aachen and Bamberg. Also the Romanesque arches, which are everywhere in the castle are meant to make it seem Romanesque and medieval. The next part was King Ludwig's private chambers. Here I remember the lavishly decorated bed in neo-Gothic style with many filigree woodcarvings. Basically we were not allowed to take photographs on the guided tour, but I did it anyway, because it did not seem as if the guide at all came up with what we tourists were doing. At one point, he took leave of us, and we wer asked to go down the stairs ourselves and find the exit. On the way I passed the castle cafe, where I refreshed myself with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Afterwards I was in the cinema and watched a film about the King and the castle. What I best remember are all the King's plans, which was not carried out. He must have been deeply manic. But he left all of Bavaria and the rest of us a true fairy-tale castle, accounting for Germany's biggest tourist attraction. Well done, old Ludwig! And his successors in the house of Wittelsbach are certainly proud of their tragic hero. And it must fairly be said that in 1902 the whole of his debt was paid back to the Bavarian government, which now scores many million in gate receipts annually on all his castles. I guess, there is something left when the bills for the operation, maintenance and taxes are paid. I stood a long time and admired the view from the cafe to the south and west. Here is the ravine that runs just below the castle and above it spans the Mill Bridge. Here many tourists were standing looking, for the prospect of the castle's formidable from there. To the west there was the lake of Alpsee and Hohenschwangau castle. Behind it was a far view into the Lech Valley in Austria, the direction Simon and I would ride the next day.
Now it was time to find my way to Fussen, if I would buy a tire for my bike in time. I had first find a bicycle shop. So after a brief look into the castle's bookstore I went outside and looked at the upper courtyard. There was meant to be built a chapel here with a high round tower, called Bergfried in German. But since they had not started with the construction of it by the king's death, it was cancelled. This also applies to a large palace garden to the west with a huge terrace and a so-called knight's bath, probably the most luxurious bathroom anyone has ever planned. So I went out through the gatehouse and found my bike locked in the corner. There were still many pedestrians on the road, so it was a bit of a slalom ride down the mountain. I would have liked to walk the path to the bridge over the gorge, but my priorities were different now.
I soon found the bike path into Fussen and crossed the river Lech, which we were to cycle along the day after. I wanted to find the tourist information in the town square and ask them where there were bike shops. They could luckily help me, and even more fortunate was it that I came just in time to buy a tire before the store closed. It was a little out of the Kemptener Strasse, ie the opposite direction. Now I had better show up at the campground again and see how Simon made.
It took a little longer than expected to go back to the campsite, as the traffic was intense and the bike path along the main road B17 tended to shift roadside, so I was often forced to stand and wait a long time for a gap in the endless stream of cars. So the bird, Simon not Fridolin, had flown when I arrived at the tent. His guided tour of Neuschwanstein started at 6:30pm and he clearly didn't want to be late for it. The first thing I did at the campground was to buy two cans of ravioli in tomato sauce for dinner plus drinks, beer and cola. Those would do for supper today. Then I wanted to change my bicycle tyre down at the tent, while Fridolin constantly grubbed around me. As I struggled with the bike, I heard thunder and the sky looked threatening. I thought of Simon, who was out and had not taken any waterproof clothing. Of course not, because it had been a beautiful summer day so far. I could figure out that he must be heading back now and hoped for him, he would make it. I also would like to be done with the bike before it splashed, and certainly, we both just made it in time before a thunder storm of another world came down. It grew very dark, even though the clock was not more than a little over eight. The gates of heaven really opened. But Simon and I crawled into the tent and made everything ready to heat the ravioli-cans on the cookers in the tent awning. We left it open in order to follow the elements. But as the tent stood in a low place compared to the space around it, we got a lot of water into the awning. It was actually completely flooded, and the cooking equipment had to be placed on plastic bags as not to 'drown'. It was a bit of a challenge not to get water into the tent or dirty it with mud or tomato sauce from the awning, but we managed and we enjoyed ourselves brilliantly, lying on our bellies slurping pasta with brown bread and drinking weissbier and cola. When we were finished, the rain had stopped and we went for a walk up to the restaurant to do the dishes. They had ' threatened ' with a party up there, but because of the rain it was moved indoors into their large banquet hall. This camp site had indeed everything. But the mood was rather dull, the music and sound rather bad, so Simon and I vanished again quickly to enjoy ourselves down in the tent. And so the day ended.