Everybody who comes to Bavaria probably goes to see at least one of King Ludwig’s dwellings, especially his fairy tale castle. We’ve checked that off our list, so today Curtis took us through the back door, first by showing us the basilica in his own town, Weingarten.
The Basilica St. Martin was amazing! Built in the 1600s, this huge cathedral was the centerpiece of a monastery cloister. While the guys discussed the amazing feats of architecture in this Renaissance style cathedral, I took a few minutes to sit in one of the pews and connect with the God we worship. He has never left us on this trip, and we continually thank him for all that we are experiencing, but I do miss going on Sundays to a worship service spoken in English. As I prayed, I couldn’t help but be distracted by a German speaking tour guide animatedly sharing her enthusiasm with a group of bored teenagers. I prayed that someday they would be able to look at things like this in awe, rather than boredom. I prayed that someday they would learn to appreciate more than video games and loud music. I don’t mean any offense by this comment because I remember being the same at their age. Suddenly, perhaps for emphasis, the tour guide turned up her volume and switched to English for just a moment. “Our ancestors are beneath our feet,” she insisted. They responded with a nervous laugh. Was she, just for a moment, shaking the same belief I had as a teenager? Death is a fantasy. I am invincible.
Next, Curtis took us to the nearby town of Meersburg. “I’ve heard there’s a castle here too,” he said. “I’ve never been there, but I’m sure it’s nothing like Neuschwanstein.” It wasn’t anything like Neuschwanstein, but I would recommend a visit to anyone in the area! First of all, they weren’t sure when it was built, but it was before 1000! Some of the outside walls were over nine feet thick, and it had a moat and drawbridge. As soon as we crossed the drawbridge, we were confronted with an ancient painted warning sign that had nothing more than an arm with the hand being cut off by an axe and dripping blood.
The Meersburg Castle was just what I imagine a castle to be during the time of knights and medieval battles. It was small, compared to Neuschwanstein, but it was so fun to see a castle that had not been renovated by a more modern tenant. We saw remnants of beautiful paintings applied directly to the walls. The floor was rough hewn rock, and the stone steps leading to higher and lower floors were so worn they were curved in the middle. It had a dungeon, into which a citizen could peer down and see the threat of his demise if he got out of line. It had ancient tapestries hanging from bare stone walls, and it also housed a collection of cannons, coats of armor, helmets, shields, cross bows, and battle axes. Bill and Curtis were in Heaven as they tried to figure out how each weapon worked, what it had been used for, and in what kind of battle it would be most useful. Listening to them, I have to admit, I enjoyed these displays too.
The living area was, I’m sure, luxurious for its time. The latrine was a stone bench with a lid over a hole that opened to…somewhere down below, and the kitchen had a sink that led to…somewhere similar. It didn’t have running water, of course, but it wasn’t far from the well that had been dug all the way to the water table of the lake nearby. The kitchen was equipped with all the modern appliances, such as a fireplace that warmed an oven, over which was a hole in the stone so you could check the color of the smoke to indicate the doneness of your most important meal of the day: Bread. There was also another fireplace, over which was a flat area of stone that today we would call a stove. There was a banquet hall, which was a long stone room with a long wooden table surrounded by benches. We estimated it could seat 20-30 people, and over it hung a chandelier made of antlers. We wandered through bedrooms, a throne room, a chapel, and more, and they even let us take pictures, which wasn’t true in the “fancier” castles.
We ended the day with a short hike around and up to another castle, where we had dinner. This was built over a different shore of the same huge lake it shared with Meersburg. At Curtis’s recommendation, I had the local steak, and it was tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Bill had the local specialty, kase spaetzel, which is the German rendition of Mac and cheese. The homemade noodles were a lot like really big risotto pieces, and the local-made cheese was delicious. Curtis had another German specialty: Veal Schnitzel. It was all delicious. We felt blessed just to be able to be with Curtis for a couple of days, but he made it even better by spoiling us rotten!