Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Neschwanstein Schloss

Wake up, head to breakfast, drink a terrible amount of juice and newly discovered hot chocolate, then head out to rent a car. The math that had been done told us that we needed three days. I'd like to say I never checked the math, but I think at some point I must have? It all seemed to make sense. Needless to say, we only need the car for two days. Oh well – the prices were two or three days were close enough.

We'd met a guy in the hostel who was headed for a quick two hour stop in Prague before going on to Berlin. This may seem like a wacky waste of money, until you realize that he was gifted a eurorail pass that would provide him with two free days of travel so long as no one checks his passport and realizes that the pass doesn't exactly belong to him in a literal sense. Or in any sense at all really.

Maybe we'll meet up with him in Berlin? Maybe he'll be thrown off a moving train? All possibilities seem interesting and potentially engaging.

It's strange to be in a car again. It's nice to have the ability to stop and look around the countryside. Not that we did, mind you – but we could have, and doesn't that make all the difference? I mean if your forehead is itchy, you don't need to scratch it, but put yourself in a situation where you actually can't, even if you wanted to – then you'll be able to think of nothing else.

It's worth noting that I now need to scratch my forehead. Do you? Yawn. Did that make you yawn? Strange how these things work. But without this miraculous thing Dr. Seuss' “Sleep Book” would never have existed.

Our mission for the day? Head to Neuschwanstein Schloss. It's the castle that Disney may or may not have based their castle on. It's relatively new too – younger than Canada. We made our way to the parking lot, and then began to mull around, unsure about what our next steps should be. I could feel a pressing of my bladder which I knew would ultimately compel me in one specific direction – but the toilets, they cost money. Money! But what was I to do? I bit the proverbial bullet, being careful to chew around the delicate butterfly wings, and then deposited my thirty cents allowing me access.

I found on the way out, that the exit turnstile freely moved both ways.

But – I did end up down by a lake, which was overlooked by mountains. And had I not paid my thirty cents, then I would most likely not have had the chance to appreciate the view that displayed itself before me. So there's that. Look – I just need something to justify the fact that I paid thirty euro cents admission for a washroom. Europe? Really. I mean – come on. Scam on someone else. One of these days a terrible terrible thing will transpire.

Armed rebellion! People will take to the streets. Buildings will be burned to the ground! Fires will be set ablaze, only so people can douse them with their freely flowing urine of destruction! And then – then Europe – you will understand that there is no one to blame for this but yourself! You have instigated the amber rebellion! For too long people have been too quiet! But the time to act is nigh! Freedom for the bladders! Give free urine a chance!

Thirty cents.

Next we were faced with a choice, wait forty minutes for the bus to take us up the hill to the castle, or walk up the hill which would take about forty minutes.

Look – I like travelling with people. I do. And you know what? I used to be really good at being lazy. I had a sofa chair in front of my computer for ease and comfort while streaming videos, playing ten day free trials of World of Warcraft, and doing all manner of other things that are best accompanied by a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew. But something happened. I can not wait around. I can not be inactive. And after spending all day in a car, to this point, I was no prepared to sit around, only to sit around on a bus. I took to the trail.

Stew joined me. He blazed past me, but then stopped to take pictures, and I passed him, but then he passed me. Eventually I got to the top first. Now you can say it wasn't a race, and that no one was trying to get to the top before the other, but if the words that begin every epic message board flame post (FIRST!) didn't ring through my head – well then.

[editors note: Stew claims that he was in the castle first. This is true. He feels the need to insure that all are aware of this fact. But – I'm just saying, top of the hill? First? All me. P.S. This is not propaganda of a white man trying to claim glory as Stew attempts to throw off my victory – even though we weren't racing. Nor do I consider myself the master race that Stew says I am. Apparently this has nothing to do with me winning the “race” but i in fact meant to imply non-positive meanings. G-Louse much?]

But I did not stop at the top of the castle, no. I headed off to meet Nick at the bridge where the bus lets people off. I had a sneaking suspicion that if the bus let people off at a bridge rather than at the castle itself, when I had just hiked up a paved road, well there must be something amazing about it.

And something amazing it was. Nick had just come from it, speaking of how terrifying the bridge was to stand on. But – he claimed that the view was fantastic. I would need to rush out and see. But I made him come with for moral support in case I feared falling to my death. And if you were to fear such a thing? Well, I would not hold that against you.

The bridge was a little rocky, quite high up, and the boards did indeed give way beneath your feet – but only just a little. Anyway, the second you get out to the middle of the bridge and see the castle in its natural habitat, rather than surrounded by tourists or clouded by autumn trees, well then – that's something amazing. There's seeing the castle, but unless you're on the bridge, with the warm sun making the exterior glow against a blue sky, well then you haven't actually Seen The Castle.

And blue the sky was, and warm too was the sun. It was the perfect day for this trip, and worth any monetary gripes I may have had. Making this trip to see that view, and take those pictures? Completely worth while.

However the castle didn't end with that view – no. We had purchased the nine euro tour. Which seemed like a good idea at the time, but would instead deliver us into the waiting arms of the son of some long forgotten vampire.

Our tour guide was lanky, pale, and spoke with a high pitched voice destined to send a chill down anyones spine. I at any rate was terrified. I was motioned to not say anything, lest we become a target of our undead oppressor. He gave off no reflection in the walls! This might be less shocking though, as few people reflect in walls. In fact if you do see your reflection in a wall, it's probably best to call for immediate medical attention. Someone may have laced your drink, and you – my friend – may be at risk of serious danger.

The tour went through many rooms and ended with a Multivision movie (I don't know what this means – but it was so terrible, mixing stills with construction paper sleds leading across the snow.) It was like a Monty Python sketch that never hit the punch line.

But after that we were free – and relatively unscathed by the demonic guide.

Now it was time to stock up on groceries, then hit the road once more. Off to our hostel in Nuremberg. For dinner I had a liter of ice cream, a jug of juice, a pudding, and a Duff Beer (yes, that Duff. And to be honest, it was smooth and not offensive.) I'm back! Terrible super market meals are upon me once more! The ice cream flavour? Afrikan Safari. It was basically triple chocolate. It didn't taste much like Africa or Safari to me – so I'm not sure what the Germans are up to with this one.

I ate my ice cream at one hundred and eighty kilometers an hour.

You have to understand this is all perfectly legal. There is no speed limit on the Autobahn, and we were being passed even at that speed. Terrifying, I know. For most of the journey we cruised at about one fifty, which seemed rather tame by comparison. It's strange how what seems reckless in some cases seems perfectly normal in others. I refer to this as “The Tetris Effect” but others call it by its proper name, velocitization.

The road trip was punctuated by moments of singing Hotel California, and other such hits that were played on 99.7 HitsRadio, with a whistle noise like that from Mario Kart, between every tune. No one joined in with my rocking out to Katy Perry though.

Aside from a detour that wasn't marked, and construction blocking us from our hostel, the trip was without incident. Sure we had to drive down a closed road, and over some pedestrian squares, but we made it in the end, and that's all that matters.

Mission first, safety second – that's the best advice, yeah?

Also – for those who may have missed it earlier – I got to the top of the hill first.

Even though it wasn't a race.

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