Thank God for Mad King Ludwig
This is the crazy fairytale castle called Neuschwanstein, in Germany, built by mad king Ludwig of Bavaria. Legend has it he hired a theater set director to design it. I learned this tonight from the wonderful writer Bill Sullivan who spoke at my place of employment. His presentation was about hiking in Europe, and he had great stories and photos of hiking paths throughout Crete, Austria, and the Alps. He also talked about Slovenia, Slovakia and the almost unheard-of country of Andorra. I've never heard of Andorra, even though it's found right between France and Spain. Hidden in the Pyranees, population 30,000.
Bill Sullivan described the many "Huttes" or well-equipped mountain hostels he stayed in along the way. Some of these places are thousands of feet in the Alps and have to be supplied by helicopter or horse, or a person willing to climb up the mountain carrying supplies. He showed one picture of a Slovenian man carrying an entire keg of beer up the mountain on his back.
He showed pictures of amazing monestaries carved out of the tops of mountains in Greece. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be up in one of those. You might feel pretty close to god, I guess. I imagine that was the whole point. In Pompei he showed pictures of a pizzeria on the side of Mt. Vesuvius, an active volcano that erupts and spits out flaming rock every five minutes. They illuminate their restaurant with candles at night so you can enjoy your volcano and beer unhindered.
Here is a fuzzy cellphone picture of Bill Sullivan and me!