Saturday, January 26, 2013

Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles

Shortly after Christmas we visited the fairy tale castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. They were amazing!! They are within walking distance of each other. . . which is what we did. . . a 30 min up-hill trek that left us exhausted, sweaty, red-faced and almost late for our tour. . .but i digress. . .

We first went to Hohenschwangau castle and since I am no history buff I have copied and pasted what Wikipedia has to say about it. .

"Hohenschwangau Castle was built on the remains of the fortress Schwangau, which was first mentioned in historical records dating from the 12th Century. A family of knights was responsible for the construction of the medieval fortress, and it served as the seat of the local government of Schwangau. In 1523, the schloss was described as having walls which were too thin to be useful for defensive purposes. After the demise of the knights in the 16th Century, the fortress changed hands several times. The decay of the fortress continued until it finally fell into ruins at the beginning of the 19th Century.

In April 1829, Crown Prince Maximilian (the later King Maximilian II of Bavaria) discovered the historic site during a walking tour and reacted enthusiastically to the beauty of the surrounding area. He acquired the ruins - then still known as Schwanstein - in 1832. In February 1833, the reconstruction of the Castle began, continuing until 1837, with additions up to 1855.

Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia, and their two sons Ludwig (the later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) and Otto (the later King Otto I of Bavaria)."

I can say that it was very beautiful inside and out! There were many fabulous "gifts" to the family on display throughout the castle. These "gifts" were such things as pure gold statues, carved ivory images, sterling silver table centerpieces intricately made, etc. Clayton stated that these gifts were "probably worth millions each!" but seemed to be diminished by the beauty and glory of the castle.

Our next stop (after the aforementioned 30 min walk) was Neuschwanstein castle. This castle was built in the 19th century for King Ludwig II who had grown up at Hohenschwangau castle. We were told that he was quite the romantic. His personal bedchamber was adorned with murals that told the story of Tristan and Isolde. This castle took over two decades to build (and was never really finished) but King Ludwig II only spent about 170 days in the castle before his untimely death. We were told that he was arrested at his home and claimed to be clinically insane due to being a recluse and spending extravagantly on his several castles. He was then found dead several months later in a lake along with this psychiatrist. Hummm . . . was it murder? Was it suicide? Apparently it is a mystery that only the royal family knows the answer to.

We were not supposed to photograph the inside of the castle, but the beauty was too great not to share. We went all "ninja" and snapped several photos without anyone being the wiser :-) This castle was also the inspiration behind Walt Disney's Cinderella castle and reminded me so much of the Beauty and the Beast castle on the inside. Anyone who knows me very well would know just how happy and excited I was during the tour of this amazing masterpiece.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

LRMC - my new place of employment

My new life here in Germany has begun as I am not settling in to my position as a Labor and Delivery nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  It has so far been a pretty great place to work!  There are definitely differences between the "civilian" hospital and the "military" hospital. . most being with charting.  I have some great co-workers and the physicians are actually pleasant!!  Imagine that! OB docs that are respectful of their fellow colleagues!  It is truly amazing to work on a unit that you are not constantly belittled by those you are working with.  I still have a lot of adjusting to do and I am sure that will take some time. . . but I am enjoying working my way into the fabric of this new position.  There are some great perks working here as well!  Not only is this the only military facility to include all three branches of military (army, navy and air force) but all wounded warriors from down range and around the world are seen here and LRMC.  It is a great honor to serve these warriors in any way possible!  We also get to meet some pretty cool people!  For the holiday visit this year I was able to meet several celebrities.  Kelly Pickler (one of the contestants in American Idol several years ago and is continuing quite successfully in her music career), Iliza Shlesinger (a comedian that recently was on "the last comic standing"), Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen (both pitchers for the Washington Nationals), and Matt Hendricks (NHL hockey player from the Washington Capitals).