A fairytale castle..

Last night was a perfect opportunity to drink heavily and chase women.

We’d unloaded at noon – a day early to comply with tachograph rules – which left a free evening and a lie-in today. However, instead of visiting Boob’s table-dance bar (complete with video cabins) near the station, I poured a nice glass of red, plumped the pillows and settled down to a romantic comedy. I know – sorry.

Only after inserting the disc did I remember that my laptop screen is cracked; watching a film, as though looking into a broken mirror, leaves rather a lot to be desired. Pah!

At the station this morning, a diesel locomotive is warming up for the two-hour trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, a splendid edifice nestling in the foothills of the Alps, near Fussen. Billed as Germany’s No.1 tourist attraction, this ethereal folly is featured in the film, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and was the inspiration for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”.

Next to my train is an odd statue. I’ve heard of gay pride, but a gay pride of lions? Hardly a fitting image to portray the macho, beer-swilling Bavarians.

Having missed out on last night’s pursuits with the boys, I join a tour in the hope of meeting some crumpet. Maxine, the tour guide, smiles as I approach, remembering me from last year.

‘Ooh, hello again,’ she says, ‘you’re from Sweden aren’t you?’ Umm. Also joining the tour are three Indians, two Mexicans, two “Septic Tanks” (Americans), and two Brazilians.

As we pull out of the station, she tells a tale of drama, intrigue and romance. It was the visionary Ludwig II (1845-86) that left such a wonderful legacy of castles in this region. He had some killer ideas envisaging flying machines, but, like most men, had commitment issues and led the life of a recluse.

Physicians pronounced him mad without physically examining him, instead relying on witnesses’ accounts of insanity. Not really cricket is it? His demise was a suspicious drowning in knee-high water despite measuring six feet tall – an unsolved mystery. And not much romance, after all. Maxine adds that he might have been a poof.

As snow thickens outside the carriage window, she tells of the castle’s swan motif, Bavarian beer purity laws, and Ludwig’s composer pal,Wagner – all of which is fascinating.

It then occurs to me that I’m choosing the history of kings and composers over loose women at night. It’s rather a rum thing, and it worries me. The next step is surely wearing tracksuit bottoms and pausing outside shop windows to look at comfortable shoes. Am I turning into Namibian? Help!..