The bizarre wooden castle “Schachenhaus” sits atop an Alpine mountain peak in the German state of Bavaria, a lesser-known but by no means less surreal figment of King Ludwig II’s imagination (famous for Neuschwanstein, aka Disney’s Cinderella castle). Unlike Ludwig’s other “fairytale” castles, you can only get to this gem via a hellish 5-hour hike, though i will admit it is well worth it (plus, there is an unbelievably cute and interesting “Alpine botanical garden” beside it). The inside of Schachenhaus is decorated in a playful mix of rustic Rococco wooden chandliers and Moorish style (as imagined by 19th Century Bavarians). It’s strange to think that I almost didn’t make it to this treasure, thanks to the terse, non-creditcard-accepting folk running the lodge beside it (not to mention their scary, lederhosen-clad, sun-burned, wood-chopping son). Thank goodness for Roland and Marco, the two jolly Germans determined to save my vacation and improve my rather low opinion of the German disposition with their disarming mix of friendliness, kindness, and beer (which they generously offered after catching a glimpse of this drawing).