Teaspoons are great for adding a touch of sugar to your teacup or for shoveling sticky toffee pudding and green tea ice cream into your mouth. Did you know that teaspoons are also capable of holding up castles? Ok, not real castles, but tiny replicas do well on them.
One of the most architecturally astounding buildings in Germany and a draw to hundreds of thousands of visitors annually is the Neuschwanstein Castle in the state of Bavaria. I had the grand pleasure of visiting this magnificent edifice. The most astounding thing I learned about it is that it’s unfinished. You tour around the finished parts and suddenly find yourself looking out over the scenery while standing in an unfinished hallway.
A few facts about the castle: It was designed by King Ludwig II of the then-independent state of Bavaria (before it became part of Germany); Ludwig wanted to be an architect, not a king, and was very much into the fairy tales and legends of the country; he was patron to the composer Wagner and financed the writing of Wagner’s “ring series” operas based on those tales; the castle is unfinished because the people of Bavaria stopped Ludwig before the country’s treasury was totally empty; Ludwig was locked up in the castle next door where he was raised (Hohenschwangau) and was later found drowned in the nearby lake; Disney used Neuschwanstein as the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle in their animated movie from 1959.
One final fact: They sell tiny miniatures of the castle in the gift shop there. The one I couldn’t resist buying is small enough to fit on a teaspoon. Just don’t dump it into your teacup and start stirring. The result will not be what you’re expecting.
That tiny castle has kept me company during many a tea moment — that and a bit of Tannhäuser create an interesting tea time mood. I can almost imagine being back at the real castle, clouds swirling around like a London fog (a real “pea souper,” as they call it), imagining the workers hauling materials on their backs or in small carts up the steep incline of the mountain where the castle sits, hearing the voice of the tour guide going through her litany for yet another group of tourists, and crowding into the gift shop later to spend our money on glossy tour books and other items. Of course, we had stopped at a restaurant when returning to the town below (Fűssen) and warmed up with hot tea and a variety of regional dishes. Touring fairy castles really works up a thirst and an appetite!
Even my tea moments here with just the tiny replica seem to stir my appetite for those special German foods washed down with a good, strong cuppa black tea. I just have to be careful not to stir in that castle on my teaspoon!
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