King of the Hill, for a day or two

We all know a (wo)man’s home is her (his) castle. Talk about trying to be gender neutral here… anyway you know what we mean right? But how would one like to really own a real castle? Not the ones that Kings of ode can dream up and build in reality, but buy one. Not the one in the featured image, unfortunately.

Some months back, we read this article that suggests that for a princely (heheh) sum of £46, one can become a joint-holder of an abandoned French Fortress in the Dordogne region. Yep, you can become one of 10,000 folks that will be able lay claim on a stake in this relic of noble past. A minor ‘Princelet’ perhaps? Maybe we need to update our exciting business opportunity!

But the point today is this : do these folks really understand what they are getting into?

In our little red dot we have properties from a bygone era, from before the 1960s. Pre-war houses they call them and they are conserved. Well some of them anyway. To buy them meant to ensure that they are preserved externally with no cosmetic amendments. Sure you can turn the inside into what you wish, but it remains a responsibility of the owner to manage the conservation. Overall, that costs a fair chunk of change… actually those who bought in early have reaped the rewards (darn why did we not join our friends?). Will the new greater fools rushing in be able to count on the same?

There are many outstanding structures in the world today. Especially in Europe and Asia. Should the State own them all and conserve them at public cost, or would private citizens coming together to fund conservation be the answer?

A tale of zwei schlossen

Some people write about two cities. We write about two castles.

For one of the privileges of living in Europe is the proximity one is to such numerous fortifications, some of which can just be around the corner from where one lives. Ok. So we exaggerate about these sights being “op de hoek” as the Dutch say.

Today we want to compare two sites.

Of the many that we’ve visited in Germany, we were not more struck by the contrast then these two. Both started out as fortifications, and served those purposes well. But one came to glamour while the other languished. What could have been the deciding factor that led to such different outcomes? Read all about the comparison here.

Which castle would you prefer?

Did you read the story? If you did, we hope you’d be inspired to be the castle that you wish to be, whatever the circumstances. Sometimes life does not deal the best set of cards to one. It’s how you play your hand over a period of time that ultimately determines if you can form a royal flush. But don’t be flushed just because you did not have a full house. Because having it straight is wonderful too as is having three of a kind. Of course if nothing else then two pairs could be consolation.

We could not even form two pairs when we first started.

Do you enjoy castle ‘collecting’? We do, and surely made the most of the opportunities afforded to us when we lived in Holland. And with that we conclude our series on Germany. Now we’d move over to Italy next, but as you know we’ve just come back two months ago from the land of the prophets. Time to share the journalogs next.

Look out for them soon!

Visiting Suan’s castles

Yeah. The name sounds like her castle. Because Neuschwanstein literally means the New Swan stone castle. Or will someone correct us?

Castles.

There is a saying about ‘building castles in the air’. And in this part of Germany where there once was a Kingdom called Bavaria, a certain King in the 19th century certainly built more than that. For his dreams actually turned reality, though it cost the country a lot of money. Some say he had lost his mind. Others believe he had passion (made possible) heheh… take that STPB!

Of course there is more than this one inspiration for Walt Disney. For the same King also commissioned works on quite a few others too. Bavaria and its capital Munich is literally dotted with beautiful palatial castles that one needs to more than visit. We say that because it was truly a pleasure to do so. Read here all about what we found.

And it is also in Bavaria that Suan met with her long time penpal. Imagine that. Writing and sending written letters in an age of the internet. She might be one of the few these days since our postal service ‘complains’ about falling mail volume and having to look for alternate revenue streams. And so that we can continue to receive dividends too… which btw has been falling…

An old saying goes: the pen is mightier than the sword. Really?

Do you still write on paper or is it all typing away as you read this post now? Do you even remember how to use a pen?

Paying your dues on the Rhine

The Rhine river is famous not only because of the beautiful scenic views, but also for the numerous castles along it. Why did they build the castles? Collect money lah! Some red dotter might say. Like the gantries of our electronic road pricing system, these castles seemed to have sprung up all over along the river.

Ok, so these castles are no mere gantries with scanners that deduct a fee from your cash card. They are formidable and they tower over you as you cruise along the river. This was how we felt as we drove along the Rhine in the hunt for yet more castles…

So how far off was our red dotter response to why the castles were built?

Unfortunately, it is a spot on answer. For in medieval times the river was a main highway. And along it flowed goods and people. Trade and commerce. Too easy a prey to give up on for the powerful. Look, it was easy money. Wanna pass through? Well pony up a couple of gold coins buddy. Otherwise expect a shower – of arrows coming your way…

Today we don’t have to cough up precious coins for the opportunity to drive through. And that helps us in our hunt for yet more castles to be put under our belt.

Read all about our road trip here, as we share with you how many “gantries” we visited. Today we have the equivalent of the river Rhine in many places. Yes they are not exactly the same – but since someone built them, they have to recoup the costs no? So it seems not much have changed… don’t know what we are referring to? Wanna find out?

Castles & Forts of Holland

Basically flat and in many cases under water, Holland is probably not known for having strategic fortresses or castles like its larger neighbours. France have their Chateaux. Germany has its many ‘schlossen’ and castles all along the Rhine.

Stroll in the gardens of a palace that feels or looks errily like Versailles, but is not as the Dutch will remind you. They built the palace after the war with Louis XIV!

Imagine how the baliffs of the day might have run the dungeons in the gut the castles. These are just some of the sights that we thoroughly enjoyed while we lived it up in Holland. If you have similar experiences, do share them with us!

So don’t be surprised that Holland boasts of some of the finest preserved pieces of medieval heritage.