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Füssen: A lonely prince turned swan king

A cold crisp morning adventure in the beautiful small town of Füssen. At the footsteps of the Alps. Which never ceases to amaze me. Yes, of course I broke out into “the hills are alive with the sound of music” from that very famous film of the same name. As I started my solo climb over the mountains. On my way to the magical Cinderella castle known as Neuschwanstein.

Or, the last home of the late king Ludwig. Before his untimely and mysterious death at the age of 41. Barely having finished his passion project. It’s a story full of mystery, intrigue and magic. The mystery of a prince given a crown he wasn’t quite ready for. Forever destined at being misunderstood. Only because he believed in creating his own reality, not accepting the one forced on him. (We can, as a matter of fact, debate his privilege, wealth and lucky upbringing. Perhaps at another time). An intriguing end of a life still unsolved. Captured in the magic of a castle so outrageously beautiful and detailed, not even the very best fairy godmother could have reached such a level of architectural genius.

The climb was challenging. Through the icy steps I had to take my time. Breathing in the fresh air, taking very short breaks. I was too excited to see one of my bucket list items. And, had to make the 10:45am tour I had over anxiously booked months before. Not knowing how much time it would take me to get there. Onwards the snowy path went. Meeting strangers on the way, saying “Guten morgen, sorry I don’t speak German. But have a good day!” Off I continued. I was Cinderella on my way to the castle of my dreams. Forget the glass slippers. Gimme snow, the Alps and sunny weather. Oh, and birds throwing bread at me. (I know. It’s not the first time!)

An hour and a half later. I turned the corner. Out of the mountains into a flat field of untouched white sparkly marshmallow fluff. There it was, at a distance. Peeking out through a hill of its own. I yelped. Ha, Ha! I made it. On the final stretch towards my destination. Looking confused in the struggle with my sense of direction. I hear: “something in German”. An old man with a dog. I assumed, trying to help me. “Bitte only English..” I answer. Through our muddled German/English dialogue. He says “400 meters up mountain. There castle”. “Danke, Danke!” I said, smiling widely. Almost there.

Finally reaching my destination overcoming the treacherous covid-19 obstacles (vaccine passport, PCR test, wrong kind of mask. Jesus fucking Christ! What else do you want from me?!?). I crossed the final threshold. A dream come true! I hear the fairies cheering and clapping saying welcome!

No photos are allowed inside. If I could download images from my brain to better describe the beauty of the interiors, I would. King Ludwig was obsessed with fairy tales. We would’ve gotten along splendidly. Each room depicts a legend, a myth, an archetypal challenge. His most beloved of all. The story of the Swan King. Set in the medieval times at the height of the Holy Grail fanaticism. A legend of a man who would swoop in, in a boat guided by swans. In order to save damsels in distress. He would do so. Only on one condition. You could not ask his name. If you did. His swan crew would come by to pick him up and you would never hear from him again.

Interesting isn't it? A tale about a man who desired to remain unknown. Only to be recognized by his endeavors. Is this what Ludwig wanted people to think of him? Strange enigma. King Ludwig became a total recluse. Only sledding through the villages at night. Perhaps as elusive as the swan king when parting away in the night. Legend has it that people in the neighboring village adored him (and his death is still celebrated at the lake where they found his body). His elite counterparts, not so much. What is it about creativity and how we choose to express it that makes people so afraid, angry, even resentful?

I am on a quest to redefine these terms. Creativity, purpose, self expression. I refuse to accept the reductionist point of view society has given us. We don’t have to create massive castles to prove ourselves to anyone. But hey, if you have the disposable income to do it. Go right ahead. Do what makes you tingle and dance on your tippy toes giddy with satisfaction.

Some argue that we are not all born creative. Ex-squeeze me?! I don’t need to be what you think creative is. I am a creation in itself. Made of stardust and supernovae. Given the chance to walk, talk, eat, orgasm and sing. That is creative enough for me. I know the way I choose to express myself may be different than yours and that’s ok. Creativity does not mean or is equal to creating a masterpiece. In my personal opinion. Creativity is the way YOU elect the path of your life to be like. You are the creator of your reality. Therefore by definition you are creative.

This adventure was all I hoped for. A clear demonstration of the fairy tales I have grown to adore. And call me naïve but also believe in. What is wrong with believing that there is a bit of magic everywhere? Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to board my carriage guided by unicorns whilst enjoying some Glühwein and scrumptious fried quark balls. Covered in sweet white fairy dust you humans call sugar. Off I go to the next chapter of this series! Gute Nacht.

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