The King and His Swan, Neuschwanstein.

I hereby present you the proud swan of Neuschwanstein “New Swan Stone”, the source of inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

07/10/12 5:30PM Train en route from Innsbruck, Austria, to Bolzano, Italy.

Imagine for yourself the low rhythmic hum of a high-speed train in the background. Average lighting. Girl with glasses. Scribbling. Dark blue, spiral-bound journal, no bigger than 2 Samsung SIII phones put side to side. Pages curling from frequent flipping and pressure of damp skin.

Venice, Venice, Venice. What am I most looking forward to??

For a start, Italian food! Give diets a break. Indulge in maximal gastronomical pleasure. Please. Thank you.

Actually I’ve never thought of lasagna and canals as a pair but well they’re certainly both Italian so it wouldn’t hurt to try the most authentic of both, which also reminds me of Italian gelato! Nommm. I think the houses in general as well as the waterways between little dimly-lit alleys are also on my to-experience list.

5:50PM Bolzano Station

Small town nestled between mountains, its outskirts thriving with row upon row uponrowuponrowupon rooow of vineyards! I wonder whether Pritha’s hometown is like this. Now we’re passing rows of apple orchards! Mostly green, though some with a hint of ripe yellow swimming below the surface. I can almost taste the juicy semi-sour tartness on the tip of my tongue. Oh God so many apples. Total distance travelled to Verona from Munich: 447km. Now there’s a red cliff on my right. Looks like it would present a fun challenge to scale.

Getting ready to bike.
One building, 1 train track, and there’s your entire Füssen station. C’est joli!

THIS (I was going to sketch something in my journal but obviously forgot since I got carried away describing it) is Neuschwanstein castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, which we visited/cycled around/bought tickets for/had no time to enter/got refunded for yesterday. Renting a bike from Füssen, a small town where we got off the train yesterday, was the best idea yet. Besides allowing you to bypass fellow tourists near the castle, it provides the perfect opportunity to lose track of how far you’ve pedaled along the endless field-flanked roads of the German countryside. For me at least, it was too easy to get absorbed in the vast tranquility of the place.

Hohenschwangau: 19th century childhood home of King Ludwig II.
Size matters- love your generosity, Germany! (Me and my dad’s drinks, to clarify.)

Yes, Neuschwanstein is the same place where composer Richard Wagner held his own little corner overlooking Lake Alpees to play on the organ/clavichord(?)! We actually visited the yellow Hohenschwangau Castle next door because the Neuschwanstein was under renovation. Its exterior is more boxy, not as grand as Neuschwanstein, but once the guides tell you about the functions and features of each room in this fortress, you begin to see the elegance and design of the fortress; not an inch of its interior wall is devoid of art or painting.

There was even a glass display of bread from the 1850s with a small bowl of salt nearby to absorb moisture from the air. Everyone oohed and aahed about how this century old bread has kept, and I quickly thought you could just as easily have left a McDonald’s burger there and it’d keep for a hundred years without the aid of dehumidifiers.Sorry, no pictures allowed inside the castle, but did you really go on WordPress to see pictures of old bread?

In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t manage to get a decent photo of Neuschwanstein since it was covered by ugly scaffolds, so here’s the link again for what this beauty REALLY looks like. As the internet later educated me, the reason Neuschwanstein (“New Swan Stone” in German) castle has become such an iconic tourist wonderland in Europe – a landmark more instantly recognizable than instant noodles – is that its fairytalesque construction lent Disney the inspiration for its Sleeping Beauty castle. Ahhhh. I see the glint of recognition in your eye: so that’s where the Disney logo came from. “Mad” King Ludwig (who knows if he were mad), born 1845, dedicated it to pay homage to neo-romantic architecture and the operas of his fave composer, Mr Wagner.

Too bad the honoured musician had died before he ever set eyes on the completed palace, which, although huge and ornate, is in fact two thirds unfinished after 23 years of construction labour. Can you imagine? Princess Aurora might not have gained the title of “Sleeping Beauty” at all had she been dithering around the real thing- she would have been too disoriented in the giant building for sparing time to find the teency spinning wheel.

The peace, quiet, and beauty of Füssen is endless!
Take a break from cycling. Get off the bike. Leap across some streams.
That feeling of zooming through total stillness? Priceless!
Such places do not fail to humble its visitors.

There was also something suspicious about this king’s death, as he and his doctor were found waist-high in the lake roughly 5 hours after they announced that they were going for a walk on the evening of 1886. What started off as a destination for solitary retreat was turned into a public legacy less than 3 months after these deaths. And the tourists, like the 50 million before me, kept coming, generating enough income to make Bavaria the richest state in Germany.

Funny how this entire carriage has emptied except for our own family and an Australian family in front.

Are we there yet? I’m dying to share my first impressions of Venice with you!

A bevy of family pride swims toward me. Okay, not gonna restrain myself any longer: LOOK AT THOSE CUTE LITTLE CYGNETS!!!!!!
Babies. Babies everywhere.

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