(If nothing else, that phrase should guarantee that I have at least a few readers, though they'll all be NSA interns going cross-eyed reading endless things like this, I guess. Like a Top Secret slush pile. I hope those poor people get free eye exams and coffee.)
Anywho, I write books, as you may have noticed from all the stuff about books on this website... and in those books, much of the time, people live in castles, because that's just how I roll. In real life, where I do not remotely live in a castle, or in a country that even has castles, for that matter, I seldom get to see what they look like. Which is why, o reader, my once-a-year vacations tend to involve them in big, possibly-scarily-obsessive ways.
Thank frak my partner, who is patient beyond measure with the weirdness that is living with a writer, also finds them cool.
Last year we went to England, spent four amazing days wandering around London in a daze of goofy joy, and then... spent four days driving basically the entire coast of Cornwall, stopping at every castle we could shoehorn into that wildly ambitious schedule. We climbed small mountains. We hiked into ruins. We ran up very large hills (one of the things we didn't think about, being American and not so much with the castles, is that they built them on hills. Big hills. And nobody's installed an escalator since.), and sometimes made it in the gate 15 minutes before closing just so we could race through barbicans and baileys and barracks and keeps, peering out of arrow loops and hooting like drunk owls at the feel of time-smoothed stones under our hands.
...Okay, so a lot of that hooting may have been me. I geek out just a wee bit about castles. Particularly ruins of castles.
Anyway, we could barely move at the end of this experience. That was a lot of climbing. So this year, after saving up for, oh, ever, we went to a different part of Europe. We spent four amazing days wandering around Prague in a daze of maybe-a-bit-more-worldly-but-still-pretty-goofy joy, and then, having learned a thing or two about scheduling, we...
Took a bus to Nuremburg, Germany, and spent four days driving from there to the tip of Austria and back up to Munich, on a route the sole purpose of which was to bring us within walking (climbing, hiking, sweating, staggering, wheezingly breathless walking) distance of 6 castles and 3 walled towns.
I can still barely move. But look:
This is Erhenberg, which is in (well: above, really) Reutte, Austria. You can't see it from this pic, but it's at the top of a 4 kilometer climb, which is what Austrians call "a bit of a hike" and Americans call "wait, seriously? that's straight up." It was built in 1290. 1290. And if you can hike to it, you can climb all the hell over it. Between the glorious medieval ruins and the Sound Of Music scenery, I was in heaven.
And the best part? I write about these, so I get to call this research.