Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thanks, King Ludwig

Fueling our castle fetish, we had to visit Neuschwanstein (above) and Linderhof. I was prepared to be impressed, but not sufficiently. These palaces are now my favorites, over French chateau, Scottish castles, and even Versailles. Neuschwantstein is far more beautiful than the picture postcards, being designed by a theatre set designer (no wonder Disney was inspired by it). Although nowhere near being finished, the rooms are elaborate, the views are spectacular, and there is even a walk-through grotto with stalactites and stalagmites! 

Of course, you can read the travel reviews anywhere. So what's my point? Vision + beauty + implementation = awe. Yeah, maybe King L did go a bit bonkers. Maybe he wasn't a "normal" king. Maybe he did ruin Germany's independence when Prussia took over control. Maybe he did commit suicide drowning in the lake (or maybe his psychiatrist killed him). But he most definitely had vision, and that vision was beauty (not only that seen by the eye, as he was also patron to Wagner, who composed gorgeous music for him). And he did all he could to have his visions turned into reality. Probably, he wanted his reality to conform to his vision, but whatever. No matter that he was a solitary soul who didn't want to share his vision with anyone. The irony isn't lost that today Neuschwanstein has over a million visitors a year.

But I am grateful to those, like King L, who have a dream and actually follow through on it as best they are able. Further benefits include that inspired people often inspire others to go beyond their limits. At Linderhof, King L had central heating (fireplaces below sent heated air through tubes to rooms above) and his entire dining table was a hidden dumbwaiter that  lowered to the floor below so it could be laden and raised back to the king's dining room. All of this in the 1860's.

Amazing, beautiful, awe-inspiring, humbling. The closest I get to any of that is found in my best gifts to the world: M & A.

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