After touring Neuschwanstein castle in Schwangau, we head towards Linderhof castle. Linderhof is close to an hour drive from Neuschwanstein, which is why Pat and I didn’t go see it on our last trip to Germany. But I am immediately glad that we came when we approach the grounds. Crazy King Ludwig was obsessed with Louis XIV and built this castle with the intention of creating a miniature Versailles. The grounds, however, are more beautiful just because of the surrounding mountains and forests and the resulting vertical rise on either side of the castle. When we go inside for our tour, we learn that this is the smallest castle Ludwig built and the only one he actually finished. All but one room is decorated in gold leaf, all of it looking remarkably like Versailles in style. Even the statues and paintings are of French kings and court members from the time when France was a absolute monarchy. However, Ludwig must not have paid attention to French history given that he came along nearly 100 years after the French Revolution. In any case, he apparently created this castle as a little playhouse for himself where he could disappear into his fantasy that he was a real king in a time when kings had real power. I am less and less confused about why he was declared insane.
The castle is beautiful, however. Although, a horrific waste of resources considering Ludwig’s main intention was to be completely alone in it. He had his small dining table made on a platform that could be lowered into the kitchen below and completely set with his meal and then raised back into his room so that he didn’t have to see any servants at meal time. The table was barely big enough for a spread fit for a king, let alone for any guests.
Oddly, in spite of his desire to be left alone, he constructed an “opera house” in a fake cave off the garden. It is another salute to Wagner and apparently comes from the Rings. It has stalactites and stalagmites molded out of something like stucco. At the back, a pool simulates a lake and a swan-shaped gondola sits, still waiting to take the king adrift in the water where he apparently liked to listen to music. Even more oddly, it’s in this cave where the first electric lights in Germany were installed. They were even colored by putting colored plates of glass in front of them. The coup de grace is the waterfall that the tour guide turns on after giving her spiel. Water flows over fake stones and down into the pond. It’s so noisy, it would be impossible to hear music over the falls. I find myself wondering if Ludwig ever actually had a concert in this cave or if he just listened to the music in his head.
The castle is wonderful in its own way–strangely beautiful and certainly fascinating to see. The smallness of it makes it somehow more intimate and enjoyable than the real Versailles, although, I admit I haven’t been there since I was a teenager.
We return to our hotel in time for the dinner. Tonight’s soup is called “Leber Spaetzle.”. When they set a bowl in front of me, I am troubled. The “spaetzle” looks suspiciously like deer poop–nearly black and shaped in pellets. I look at Pat and ask, “What kind of soup is this?” and he replies, “It’s deer poop soup,” without cracking a smile. I laugh out loud and take a spoonful, glad I’m not the only one who thinks that’s what it looks like. I can’t give a comparison of the flavor to deer poop, having never eaten any, but I have to imagine deer poop wouldn’t taste worse provided you added salt. The saltiness got to me worse than the flavor of the liver, but neither was exactly pleasing. I gave up once I got down a respectable amount. The entree was more to my liking, but also very salty. It was a traditional German dish made of something described as pork meatloaf, but Pat told me it was like a piece of sausage shaped like a slice of ham, fried and served with an egg sunny side up on top. Had it been less salty, I might have been able to eat the whole thing, but I gave up about 7/8 of the way in.
Tonight, we are all tired and don’t sit as long over beers after dinner as we did the night before. A larger portion of the conversation is in German, as well, a sign of fatigue in my bilingual friends, I think. It’s tiring even for me to tell stories in English using vocabulary our friend are likely to know vs the casual idioms and expressions I would use with my American friends; communicating in a second language must be even more fatiguing for them. I wish I would have spent more time learning German before this trip–it’s been a couple of years since I took continuing education classes in German and I didn’t get very far. My mouth twists around many German sounds and the words come out unrecognizable. I am far more self-conscious attempting German than I ever was speaking French, Italian, Spanish, or evan Korean. But, I was younger then and I didn’t have a native speaker laughing at my pronunciation (well, except the Italians when I pronounce “penne” as “pene”, which means something entirely inappropriate for the dinner table). Oh well, I guess I will have to try again. Maybe Pat and I can start speaking German when we’re alone together if I can get him to stop laughing at me. 🙂