Yep, I wish my castle/home were made of sand. Then I wouldn´t have to have nightmares about asbestos, that we found in the floors of our new house and which can only be removed once a “real” expert makes a report. Oh, we did have a so-called expert come in before we bought, but he was a recommendation by the Estate Agent. Did you think you can trust Estate Agents in Germany? At least the big names in the business? Well I thought I could. This is Germany after all. Rules rule. Well, the first thing the lawyer said to us last Friday, “There is no such thing as a trustworthy Estate Agent.” Spang, bang and another illusion about Germany gone down the drain. The kind I cherished and this is not good.
I don´t intend to rant about this experience and how it is spoiling my adventure into remodelling my dream home (and it will be one day, despite my current heartache. If you want names, so you can avoid the same mistakes, you can send me an e-mail via the comment page.)
The story reminds me of another illusion gone. I grew up in the shadow of a rather famous ruin und zwar im Schatten der Burg Frankenstein.
No monster in sight and it seems Mary Shelley never got near the place, but she picked up the name during her travels in Germany and that is why it was so appropriate when the German-American Club Contact celebrated Halloween there for the first time.
The two towers, a little chapel and the surrounding walls are all that remain of its former glory, but a quick look across the Rhine valley reminds us why these castles were chosen as homes by the knights. Access was difficult, but they had the overview. Anybody crossing their borders was charged a toll and there were quite a few of those borders. Like pearls on a chain the castles line the Bergstraße, looking across the valley towards the Rhine.
The only thing in my early days, that I would have considered scary up there, was the restaurant – a cement monstrosity from the seventies. But then came Contact and they gave horror a good name. They designed their own posters, costumes and show and for a few days in October turned the Frankenstein into the residence of horror thrills.
We heard about it and flocked up the hill walking, by bus or in cars to be scared out of our skins, even if the sun was still high up in the skies. What a bit of paint and some acting can do. Just being touched on the shoulder made us run for cover. Of course there were the more sophisticated acts, such as Dracula who was found residing in a coffin in one of the towers. The entrance was tight and busy and yet we merrily stepped into this dark cave to see Him. The problem was he didn´t keep still. Suddenly he opened his eyes, stepped out of his tilted coffin, slowly, slowly and wandered towards us, with pale skin, slicked back hair and very elegant. He spied a pretty woman and put his arms around her. She was hysterical and wanted to run, but her husband pushed her back into Dracula`s arm and said, “Hold it while I take a picture!” ARGHHHHH…. Dracula never smiled.
Of course a lot of Americans came, but the Germans quickly caught on, the show became more elaborate and all week-ends in October were Halloween week-ends. Buses had to ship the Thrill-Hungry up the hill, because the parking near the castle was soon exhausted, and everybody was happy, being silly, having fun and making some money too for the Contact Club, for the Castle and for the Bus Drivers.
Part of the show were tapes with scary noises and of course the crowds of people were not exactly quiet. Apparently the surrounding wild-life was suffering and somebody took it upon themselves to forbid the fun for all. Of course Contact had no intention of harming the wildlife and compromises were offered, but all were refused. No way. The idea died and for a few years there was no Halloween party.
A private and commercial organization took over.
I wonder if the wildlife could tell the difference.