Schloss Neuschwanstein

Our carriage ride through a leafy path towards the castle was very pleasant and relaxing. Apart from a steady rhythm of the hoove kicking the tarmac and occasional murmuring by our fellow passengers, there was hardly any sound which reminded us the hustle and bustle we went through prior to the ride.
We alighted the carriage at where the road bulged out so a carriage could manoeuvre, and headed for a waiting area adjacent to a direct approach to the castle. The waiting area was equipped with benches, some of them were under the roof, electric noticeboards and a small kiosk for souvenirs and refreshments.

A view over the parapet…

We had another 40 minutes to kill before our tour began so we started to read guide books, a short biography of Ludwig II and a book about the interior of the castle, together.

Eventually, “16:45” was displayed on the electric notice board, and we proceeded to the entrance.

Unfortunately, the main entrance was undergoing a major restoration work and it was completely hidden beneath scaffolding…

The work was very much needed for the castle to stay on this windswept cliff. However, it did spoil the view very much, therefore, I didn’t take many pictures of the castle’s exterior.

Photographing the inside of the castle was strictly forbidden, therefore, again I have no image to show here.

After going through automated ticketing gates with revolving bars and walking through a small courtyard, we entered an assembly point by the main entrance. In there, a small handheld audio device was distributed to each of us by the staff and we were herded up by a castle tour guide. Our tour guide was a very (very) handsome German guy and he spoke English with a slight German accent. He explained how the handheld device worked – it amplified the sound of his commentary which he would make through a small microphone so everyone in the group, no matter how far they were, would be able to hear it if the device was held close to one’s ear. He also warned us that strenuous stair-climbing would await us before we were treated with the extravaganza of Ludwig II’s medeaval fantasy. He explained it was because we were on level 2 and we were to skip entire level 3 before reaching to level 4 on which most of the highlights of the tour were located.

The stair-climbing he mentioned was certainly tough. Please heed my advice, anyone who may be thinking about visiting the castle. You must visit before being too OLD! Even though my mum managed to negotiate them with a walking stick and a handrail, it was a bit of an ordeal for her. Did the king himself climbed those steps? He must have done because it was the main staircase. Didn’t he find it a bit cumbersome? Maybe he didn’t have to move between different floors as often as his servants had to?

I didn’t count the steps but it felt like the stair would never end. Then, we arrived at level 4, the king’s floor. The first room we were ushered in was the throne room. The ceiling was high and it had a huge steel chandelier which resemble a crown. Symbolically, a space allocated for Ludwig’s throne was left empty because the king died before the castle was completed. What kind of chair would have been installed if the project was not abandoned, mum and I mused. Would it resemble the one in Westminster Abbey, a simple dark wooden one in gothic style? Or a bejewelled one which would compliment an opulent decor of the throne room?

Has any of the readers watched a documentary “The Fairytale Castles of King Ludwig II with Dan Cruickshank” which was aired on BBC4 during last May? The programme gave a fascinating insight into the king’s tragic circumstance and his motivation for building those fanciful castles. Obviously, the main problem was that Ludwig did not have the cunning and stomach to survive the turbulent period which swallowed up not only him and his kingdom but also the rest of Europe and beyond.

Even if he managed to stay alive until the castle was completed and the throne was installed, what sort of life would he have led? Would he be still very alone and melancholic? And what caused his death by Lake Starnberg?

His and Dr.Gudden’s death by the lake was shrouded in mystery, and it has been a subject of speculation and fascination ever since. Was he bumped or did he jump?

After the throne room, we were led to Ludwig’s dining room, followed by his bedroom. The rooms were dark, and if I may say so, gloomy. It was undeniable that a mood of melancholy was hanging in the air.

And, had I ever been any castle which had an indoor grotto? Never! It was until I visited Neuschwanstein, of course. Between his living room and study, there was a small grotto made from plaster and paint. The grotto was dark and felt slightly damp like the real one. Why he decided to have a man made grotto in there, I had no idea. I should have asked my guide, Mr.Adonis…

All in all the castle was beautiful. It was like a jewel box. One of a kind. Still, I found it hollow and tragic through and through. Poor Ludwig II, a powerless puppet king living in fantasy in self imposed exile. Probably, the castle was Ludwig’s oversized bravado against the outside world which was ruthless and ungratifying?

He never imagined that his beloved castle was to become one of the most well-known tourist attraction…

We left the castle and headed for a pick up point of horse carriage.

Hello there. Good to see you guys again…

Descending was a lot easier for the horses. The driver made sure the carriage wouldn’t roll too fast by applying a foot brake time to time…

Join a carriage ride with us!

 

 

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Is this for real?!

Ok, this knitwear, which I came across at Liberty the other day, has been troubling me for sometimes…

I mean, what can I say, apart from ‘Is this for real?!’

Let me guess from where the designer got his/her inspiration from…

Maybe a dinner lady?

Don’t tell me that the knitwear is an epitome of functionality. This is absurd!

Who pays money for this sort of expensive nonsense?

I garantee you this vest/cape/whatever is dead easy to make by ourselves – if anyone likes knitwear with zero-warmth or a non flattering silhouette.

I don’t mind if kids are making this kind of garments for fun and play. But I do mind if a big name brand like Tomorrowland and a well-respected retailer like Liberty decide to sell something as ridiculous as this with a premium price.

I thought I was going to let this encounter pass but I just couldn’t let it go before blogging about it because it was insulting to all fashion lovers, including consumers and creators.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

“Covfefe”@Angel Passage

Is he trying to make history? By inventing a new word? Or a chubby index finger of his baby fist simply mistyped?

Hi, Mr.Covfefe!

It was rather fitting to find that fake-tanned face amongst a jumble of vintage clutter. I wish if I had my own Room 101 and put him in there forever for good…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Twinkle on Kensington Church Street

Ouch! I poked my eye with my finger accidentally as I was hastely applying eyeshadow over my left eyelid. I knew nothing good would come out if things were done in a hurry. However, I was way behind the time and panicking! Ohhhh, I’m gonna be late!! I kept on muttering the same phrase over and over, like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. The appointment with my hairstylist was at 1pm, and I was running late. If I didn’t hit the pavement in 15 minutes, I wouldn’t be able make it on time. Of course, I could go with my face make-up free. But then I would have nothing else but my bare face to stare at in the mirror for a couple of hours. The thought of it made me shudder. Ugh…

Anyway, Bella and I were on Kensington Church Street last Thursday. The weather was exceptionally mild and pleasant, and we were in the mood for a long walk.

Kensington Church Street, which connects High Street Kensington and Notting Hill Gate, is well known for expensive antique shops. The thoroughfare is lined with shop windows in which one can gape at amazing treasures and relics from the past…

Ahhh, it’s like visiting V&A and British Museum…

My girl Bella was not into antique, apparently…

Cuddle me! Carry me! I’m not interested in old stuff.

Oh Bella, you’re so disrespectful.

She doesn’t give a damn, evidently.

Some shops didn’t weather the post-Brexit climate very well. I saw gutted shop interiors, and it made me sad…

Once upon a time, I used to come to the street three times a week in order to help out a shop which sold vintage prints. Being an art student, I was very good at cutting cardboards for framing, so I was in their basement studio, wielding a Stanley knife and sticking prints with special glue. During my lunch break, I usually sauntered towards Notting Hill Gate and gazed into the shop windows along the street. There were two particular shops I was fascinated with but never dared to enter.

They were Mrs Crick’s Chandelier Shop and Denton Antiques. Today, they are still very much in business and I am very happy for them!

The shop mistress of the print shop was a spinster and a tough taskmaster who was not into small talk. During our rare moment of chatting, I mentioned about how I was taken by the beauty of the chandeliers and my desire of owning one one day…

She looked at me with amazement at first and asked me if I knew how much they costed. Those shops never displayed any ticket so I had no idea how extraordinarily expensive they were.
‘I think you will change your mind if you are told how dearly just one crystal from those chandeliers costs.’ She left me very red faced.

She could have corrected my ignorance a little more kindly, I reflected on as I gazed at the crystals…

I used to wonder who would buy such an opulent light fixture like this for their home. Industry tycoons? Arab royalties? The crystals twinkled behind the window pane right in front of me. But the monetary distance between us seemed to be a light year away.

Now decades later, I live in a flat with ceiling height high enough to hang a proper chandelier. Do I fancy one now? I look around and ponder. Probably not. Our decor won’t go with it, and Hubbie will never agree to have one as he hates any period style older than the 50’s.

By the way, another fixture of Kensington Church Street is The Churchill Arms

I love this pub. They are one of those old-fashioned English pubs with great decor. They also serve delicious Thai food and welcome dogs – very important!

Ok, Bella. Our next destination is Kensington Gardens. Allons-y!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

They’ve been framed

This is one of the images of Sonya and Glenn of Echobelly captured by Hubbie last last weekend

The image depicts the magic of Echobelly well. Their music is so deep and sensual. I can hardly wait to visit their gig again!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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