We said 'auf wiedersehen' to Austria and headed back to Germany. I was very excited to see the famous castles of Mad King Ludwig.
King Ludwig the Second was king of Bavaria from 1864 until 1886. He built unbelievably lavish castles, was crazy, obsessed with swans, and died in mysterious circumstances - all of which made him fun and fascinating for our family to learn about!
Our first stop was the beautiful Schloss Linderhof, the only commissioned palace that the crazy King actually saw completed. We had a pretty good day here. All the stars aligned and the result was a sunny day without too much havoc; we didn't get kicked out of any tours ( this has happened to me more than once!), the baby didn't cry all day, and there was a fair amount of happiness going on this day.
However, one of my children ( 'ahem' Zahli ) may not look back on this day with so much fondness....
I had recently read an article on parenting about how we need to allow our children the experience of making their mistakes while they are young. This had really resonated with me as I often instinctually feel the need to step in and fix things, and I was trying to improve in this area. I want to allow my kids the chance to experience the consequences of their decisions now, when the stakes are small and not life altering yet.
Zahli often speaks about how she is interested in photography and I was happy to encourage her budding talent by giving her a camera for her last birthday. However, she was never particularly great at looking after it.
Anyway, on this day, Amira decided that she wanted to own a camera, and so she was using all her persuasive powers on Zahli to convince her to give it over to a more appreciative recipient....it wasn't working.
Meanwhile, Zahli was endevouring to use her own persuasive powers to convince me to give her money for a toy that she'd seen in the gift-shop....I wasn't giving in. She'd continually spent her pocket money as quickly as she'd got it during our travels, so she decided to strike a deal with Amira; $10 for her camera, enough for the toy. Amira readily agreed.
I, of course, saw that this was not a fair exchange. Both Ross and I tried to explain to Zahli that the camera was worth much more than $10, and that the appeal of the toy might not last very long. Zahli would not listen, and was adamant that this was her one and only heart's desire
( we can be a bit dramatic in my family, I'm sure this stems from Ross.....bahaha! ). We discussed this for a while in the morning as we walked to the castle and lined up for the tour. No matter what Ross or I said, Zahli was convinced that this was what she wanted.
We told her that she could not change her mind once she had made the deal.
We told her it was probably a bad choice.
We explained that Amira was not offering a fair deal.
.....to no avail.
Finally, we relented, and decided to let her make her own choices in this non-life threatening situation. So she made the deal and bought the toy. All was joyful.....for about half-an-hour.
After a while, Zahli realized that she had, in fact, sold her birthright for a mess of pottage. Well, maybe the stakes were not quite so high, but that was the general gist of her feelings.
But we had to move on with the day. We went on the tour through Schloss Linderhoff, and Wow oh Wow!! It was the most lavish, extravagant, and gold place that I have ever seen....that I have ever conceived of! The interior was astounding. It was simply dripping in riches. It felt like almost every surface was covered in gold filigree, gold leaf, diamond chandeliers, lush carpets, beautiful paintings, vases, and more gold, gold, gold. We were very lucky that Bo was nice and quiet and we got to hear most of the stories through the tour. I say most, because I was frequently pestered by Amira trying to tell me that this was exactly the kind of house that she would like to live in one day, hahaha!
We emerged from the tour to behold one of my favourite fountains from our trip, a beautiful rendition of King Neptune, the Sea God.
After that, we were free to explore the extensive gardens. Well, after a surreptitious nappy change near the side of the building, we were free to explore. Zahli was thoroughly miserable for a while, and I felt very tempted to undo the whole thing and give her the camera back. But I didn't, we had all been very clear about the consequences before she made her choice. Aaarrrgh, parenting! I didn't really know if I was doing the right thing, but I chose to not give in. She shed many tears and pleaded with Amira...but it was no use. the deal had been struck. While Amira was happily snapping away at all the sights, Zahli was bemoaning the loss of her 'birthright', whining that it was all unfair, and wishing that she had been wiser.
In the end, Amira started being so nice to her ( she no doubt felt guilty ), that Zahli cheered up a little.
The grounds were so incredibly beautiful. We were blessed to be there on a lovely day that wasn't too hot, and we found lots of things to amuse our kids.
Like this vine-covered tunnel....
And this man-made grotto where the King liked to pretend he was a viking or conqueror or something from one of Richard Wagner's operas!???
And some truly fantastic views!
Finally Zahli found her smile again and managed to get in a photo. Luckily her mess of pottage is not one that will last forever, I'm sure she can still pursue her love of photography one day. I'm hoping that she learnt something worthwhile that day, that is the point, after all of our whole trip; to learn together and grow as a family and individually. It wasn't just the traveling or logistical aspects that were challenging on our trip, it was often our struggle with parenting and spending so much time all together while being out of our comfort zones. Sometimes bravery comes in the form of daring to stick to something that we believe is right, or in relentlessly endevouring to promote enthusiasm for learning, being willing to face the unknown, or just trying again and again when things are hard.
I will be eternally grateful that we had this time as a family, that we faced whatever each day might throw at us together; the good, the bad, the tragic, the learning, and the brave.