We returned in a daze, sometime in the afternoon, still caught up in the magic of the day’s experiences. What a day it had been, the sights that we had seen had far exceeded imagination or expectations. We were totally bewitched. Who could go through the halls of that lofty castle, look out over the countryside, taking in the little villages, the forests, the clear, still, blue green lakes, walk through what certainly were enchanted woods, inhabited by faerie folk and stay untouched.
It had been a day of epic proportions, the day when I was finally able to visit the place I had dreamed of seeing as a child, ever since I had seen a picture in a magazine, of a castle perched high on a mountain and wondered how it had been built. How lucky I was, to be able to share it and its wonder, with my daughters. I could see that this exquisite experience transcended generations and the enchantment captured us all.
The Village of Schwangau, Alpsee and the Mountains Beyond
Landscape seen from one side of the Castle, with Forggensee in the distance
The mountains around Alpsee, with a tiny glimpse of the Alpsee nestled below them
The Castle of HohenSchwangau, Schwangau Village, Alpsee and the mountains behind it, seen from Neuschwanstein Castle
Mariensbrucke The Bridge from where one can see the best view of the castle. Unfortunately we could not go there
After lunch we returned to our hotel but I and my elder daughter were full of restless energy and ready for more adventures. It had been cloudy for awhile, when we were at the castle and had rained a little too but it was clear in Fussen, the town we were staying in, which was ten kilometres away. We decided to discover the lake we had seen from the castle, Forggensee. It was just a short distance away from our hotel. We had barely crossed the street, when we came upon some tents. There, laid on a table was every kind of delight from France. Lavender oils and soaps, Savon the Marseilles, honey from Provence and olives from I forget where.
There were other tents too but we barely noticed them. Lavender soaps and I have a history and a loving relationship. Its fragrance is not just in my present but wafts in my cherished, childhood memories. My father, who grew up in colonial India used Yardley Lavender soap. Later it was not available in India, but when he went to work abroad, he always returned with cakes of lavender soap. The fragrance of lavender crossed the generation gap and tied our childhoods together.
After my marriage too there were always cakes of lavender soap in my home, though I had never seen or smelt the real thing till we went to Africa. There I found a lavender plant in the garden of the resort we stayed in and fell in love all over again. I put some flowers in my jacket pocket and was delighted that they held the fragrance even after drying out. The lavender stayed with me for a long time.
When I saw pictures of lavender fields, I dreamt of walking among them and simply gulping down the heady aroma. It has not happened yet though, hopefully it will someday. The lavender soap at this small stall smelt of the real thing, I just had to buy some and the honey and a little bag of olives, which were quite expensive. The lady only spoke French though and all we had was a rusty, schoolgirl version of the language. Nevertheless, we were surprised at being able to communicate with her. Of course a lot of gesticulating and smiles also helped and we made a connection and were able to actually strike a rapport.
We moved on and after walking a little came upon an unexpected sight. We could actually see the castle in the distance and sighing in pleasure we sat down on a bench that was probably placed on the pavements for tourists like us. Once more the enchantment began its work on us and we sat there, mother and daughter, talking about it in mellow tones.
A close-up of the side of the Castle visible from the Town of Fussen, 10 km away.
I opened my little bag of olives and started eating them. they were delicious. One slippery fella landed on the pavement and I thought I would pick it up later.
Just then a group of what seemed to be local residents out on a walk, arrived with a beautiful dog. The dog ran towards us and then it just had to discover that fallen olive. Its curiosity seemed aroused and it began sniffing it and before I could say a word, the olive was in its mouth. I was aghast, images of the poor thing choking on the olive flashed across my mind. Perhaps even a newspaper headline “Murderous tourist kills innocent dog, with an olive!!!” I would be on the news, dog lovers everywhere would hate me. It is funny how many weird things can flash across a mind in a few seconds.
Fortunately I somehow managed to communicate the situation to its owners who spoke only German, and showed them my now almost empty, bag of olives and said their dog seemed to have swallowed one. One of them put his hand in the dog’s mouth and got the offending olive out. Another connection was made and we were all full of smiles as they walked away.
It looked strangely dark. I looked behind and was shocked to see that a huge dark cloud had appeared most unexpectedly and was blotting out the sky behind us. Neither of us liked its threatening looks. Luckily we had not walked much and the hotel was just a few minutes away. Hoping to out walk the storm we started walking back hurriedly. we were too late though, in a few minutes we were drenched. It’s funny about getting wet, one tries their best to get out of it but once caught up in it and soaked to the skin one can, if not chilled, just accept it and try to enjoy it, so that is what we did.
It grew very windy too and when we reached the lavender stall we saw that the tent was almost blowing off and was held down by its valiant owner, whose husband had gone for help. We stayed with her and helped her hold the tent. The rain by then was pounding down on all of us and the wind whipping around. After a while we were able to leave her and the tent in safe hands and return to our hotel.
It seemed a fitting end to an exceptional day, anything else would have been too tame.