July 13
Schwangau. Germany

Schwangau is a real world Disneyland.

The castles at Disneyland and Disney World are clearly copies of the ones in Schwangau. Bill, Kären, Karrie and I rode to Hohenschwangau, the castle built by Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria in 1832-1836 over the ruins of an earlier castle. We locked our bicycles to a tree and paid 11 DM each to tour the castle. I am sorry to report that photographs of the castle's interior are prohibited. The castle was quite ornate. I especially liked the bedroom in which holes were drilled in the ceiling to simulate stars and a servant with a kerosene lantern would move about in the attic above to light them. Much of the artwork and craft items exhibited throughout the castle were birthday gifts to the Crown Prince from his subjects and admirers.

After touring Hohenschwangau, we ate lunch and took a bus up the hill to Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig II's castle. It is probably the most ornate castle in the world and a must see for anybody visiting this part of the world. Like Ludwig's father's Hohenschwangau castle, the entry fee is 11DM for adults and cameras were prohibited. Neuschwanstein is a fantasy castle based on the Wagner operas. It is nothing short of spectacular. The King's bed alone took 4 craftsmen several years to carve. Every room was a veritable art exhibit.

Right in the village of Schwangau, this couple were harvesting grain by hand.

In the afternoon, I decided to ride to Füssen to get a new chain for my bicycle. I rode light with no camera or rain gear. When I was looking for the bike store, I saw a man walking a Klein bicycle and asked him for directions. He did not speak English, but understood what I was looking for and pointed to his broken pedal, motioning for me to follow him. Sure enough he was seeking a bike repair too. When my turn came at the bicycle store, it was obvious that I could not communicate in German, so an English-speaking mechanic was summoned. I showed him my chain and cogs. He suggested that I have the rear cogset replaced along with the chain. I agreed, but only about 1/2 hour later, he came out with my bicycle and a new chain, but no new cogs, urging me to try it out. I tried riding it, but the chain was skipping about every 3rd rotation, so I went back and requested a new cogset. Realizing that I might need more money, I headed to an ATM machine down the street. My request for another 100 DM was rejected on the apparent premise that I had already received cash on that card from an ATM that day. I tried unsuccessfully to use a different card in that machine. I then walked a couple of blocks and found another ATM, which accepted another card. When I got back to the bike store, the bike was ready again. I test rode it down the block and back and this time it skipped on the middle ring in the front. I asked the bike store to replace the middle ring and waited again. Finally, with a new chain, rear cogset and middle ring on the front, at around 6:00, I got on my way for 130 DM. By then it was about to rain. As I was racing back to camp at 18.5 mph, I rode in a hail storm, then when I got back to camp, it rained. The bicycle felt like new. I am certain in retrospect that much of my difficulty with climbs up the passes stemmed from the disrepair of my bicycle.

I had not realized that my mechanic was not performing regular preventive maintenance and I was appalled to discover so much wrong with my bicycle. The chain that failed was purchased in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada more than 10,000 miles ago. My riding companions said that I should have been replacing my chain every 2,000-3,000 miles. They said that my hubs were shot too. They suggested that a good mechanic should be on top of such things.

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