Schongau: Neuschwanstein Castle

Early in the morning of our event day, we took the scenic route from Munich to Schwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle, and what a ride it was through the valleys at the bottom of the Alps and through the forests of southern Bavaria! As we got closer to Schwangau, the weather got better and better and—most important—there were no strong winds that could stop us from flying, thanks to the partly overcast sky (when the sun shines too strongly, the warming of rocks and mountains can cause air movement). So, it was a perfect day for our undertaking. We rigged the airship on a farmers’ field just below Neuschwanstein Castle and the sight of our “whale” (yes, when the airship gets inflated, it rises with its tail down and looks like a stranded whale!) inflating in front of the majestic mountain scenery surrounding King Ludwig ll’s castle was breathtaking. Thanks to the ideal flying conditions, I could ask our pilot to take off and land several times for the cameras and for the journalists who wanted a ride over the castle. Just before I had to leave for the reception at the castle, the farmer arrived and started yelling at me. I told him that, since he was away, I had asked his wife (I had, and, since I had ballooned on his field before, I thought that it would be ok to ask her). Well, he just kept on screaming that she was not his wife, rather the cleaning lady, and that he paid lots for the field to Schwangau, which would now get free publicity with N7W by using his field. This now sounded a lot like a local soap opera! So, I gave the poor fellow a nice tip and the drama ended quickly.

Time for the rest of the N7W crew to get up to the castle, just in time for the ceremony organized by the Bavarian Castle Authority. And what a spectacle they presented in honor of our stop at the fabulous dream castle! We were greeted by approximately 60 musicians and dancers who performed traditional Bavarian dances in their Lederhosen and Dirndl folk costumes. Even if it sounds kitschy, it is actually a very seductive celebration that expresses a lot of joy and happiness and you just have to clap along! We were welcomed warmly by President Egfried Hanfstaengl of the Bavarian Castle Authority and Mayor Reinhold Sontheimer, as well as by many other officials who expressed their enthusiasm for the New 7 Wonders campaign. I could assure them in my speech after the hand-over of the N7W certificate that, if enough kids in the world voted, Neuschwanstein Castle would have a real chance at becoming one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. In fact, this first global election is also the first time that children can participate in a serious voting campaign.

This hour-long celebration in the romantic courtyard of the castle ended with a moving, live performance of the two leading singers from the musical Ludwig 2 (presently playing in Füssen, near Schwangau) on the wide, sweepingmain stairs. During the whole ceremony, our New7Wonders airship cruised just meters above the fairytale towers, drawing people’s eyes time and time again up to admire it—forcing them to choose whether to gaze at it soaring or watch the dancing and singing in the courtyard!

What an afternoon it was, and what a pleasure to be warmly welcome by enthusiastic supporters of our campaign.

This perfect event let us appreciate some of the commonly held thoughts about German virtues—always being well organized, making an effort for things to be perfect, etc.

I can only say: thank you, Germany and Bavaria,for a warm and hearty welcome!

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