Robert Fehilly travels to Munich in the next instalment of his inter-rail diary.
After six long, uncomfortable hours we finally arrived in München Hauptbahnhof. We scurried off and were, luckily without much toil, able to secure ourselves accommodation for two nights which we booked in the nearby tourist office. With shelter no longer an issue, we were free to breathe the air of the German culture once again.
Munich is a lovely city and its loveliness was, at least for the two of us, expressed through Marienplatz. Dominated by the Neues Rathaus, the plaza emanates a sort of chaste, virginal beauty and the golden statue of Mary on the Marian column in the centre of the square complements the scene wonderfully.
Battalions of pretty crimson poppies stood at attention along the windowsills as the sun’s rays gently caressed the silently candescent bricks and glimmering windows. As I stood and was bathed in the twilight shimmer, everything adopted a washed-out saffron appearance. Few times had I felt as calm, internally, than those few minutes I spent existing there and then.
The following day saw us visit the two famous local royal castles Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. The exhilaration of this excursion was twofold, for it included some of the finest, most breathtaking phenomena I have so far experienced from both the natural and civilised spheres. A written account of the aesthetic charm of this serene alpine spot will fail miserably compared to the sensual experience of actually being there, but I will try my best.
The chlorophyll-smothered peaks grow firm out of the ground. Pine trees line the bodies of the mountains, the highest crannies of which still retain the pearl kisses of a snowy winter. Flecks of white bleed into glaucous rocky bodies, which in turn bleed into far vaster viridescent oceans of pine, spruce, fir and oak.
Dotted at the bottom are tiny cerulean basins, glassy underneath the great azure dome above. The vibrancy of the scene is immense, and throbs with the invisible activity of a trillion microscopic wriggles. All is still and yet all is in perpetual cyclic motion. If I could forever preserve a snapshot of life on Earth, the beauty of Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot,’ it would be this. For those interested in the natural world—for me a cosmic panacea—then I highly recommend Walden by H.D. Thoreau.
The castles, however fundamentally different to the brilliant natural canvas, were almost equally as charming as their emerald and sapphire surroundings. Linderhof, though small, is immaculately carved. The cream façade is adorned with small statues; robed Greek angels and cherubs, standing elegantly underneath the central apex on which Atlas painfully and eternally hoists a grand globe into which has been carved the twelve astrological symbols.
Like Sisyphus, this Atlas is forever condemned to the torture of painful labour—but one would find it difficult to concentrate on such trivial matters in this sacred place.
Neuschwanstein is the fairy tale castle and the blueprint of the Disney palace. It sits atop a great crag overlooking the castle Hohenschwangau and village Oberammergau. From this lofty vantage point one can plainly see the navy-gray cloak worn by the surrounding mountains; objects have a habit of doing that when they are exceptionally far away.
The regal appearance of the castle is delightfully enhanced by the round towers that randomly decorate its stone skin. The winds gain unusual force this high up, and the castle exhaled onto me a royal, fresh vapour. Though it bankrupted his subjects, Ludwig II truly left something remarkable to the inheritors of the planet.
It was as though a god, from some faraway plane on the firmament, had decided to build a base of operations from which to inject beauty and benignity into the world. I urge anybody who may be considering a visit to this place to act on your consideration, for paltry words only provide an incomplete account of the real spirit of the scene.
The final limb of our journey would see us venture into Italy.
• €14.61 = food + drink
• €49 = royal castles tour
• €63.50 = two nights’ accommodation
• €7.99 = 2GB SD camera card
Total = €135.10
• €3.90 = food + drink
Total = €3.90