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Great Times > Reflecting
Valiant Days, Valiant Knights
Remember being a kid? Most of the adults have apparently forgotten, as if they live in a different world now. Funny I started thinking of those things again shortly after my son was born. Can happen to anybody, but just happened to me...
Fantasy World. Knights, dragons, fights... all these fantasy elements not only remind us of late R.J.Dio, but also bring back childhood memories and excitement. Would the fabulous Krakow Dragon from Wawel Hill swallow up another innocent maid and then joyfully spit fire? Or was it the Lindworm of Klagenfurt, occasionally wrongly nicknamed the stone crocodile? Would we all turn to stone like the latter, full of fear, as we would see the dragon charge at us from its secret hideout? Or would we like Siegfried in the Nibelung song slay the beast just to be deceived ourselves in the most unexpected moment, as we bend down to drink a sip of water? Prince Valiant wouldn't come to the rescue this time. Maybe he lived in another century.
Sword & Marble. So we went to the knights festival on a sunny spring day and our youngest bravely went through a knights examination. We took quite some time to paint that dragon on the wooden shield with watercolors. Reward was, how else could it be, for the kids to be knighted in front of a cheering crowd. My boy did one thing different than the other kids: He didn't bend down. Maybe this is a good sign, to show backbone from early age on, and not always creep in the dust in front of self-proclaimed authorities. It was another lesson of life, if not for the kids, then at least for me. We would return for the next festival one year later with exciting wooden sword battles and crossbow shooting, which finally led to winning of a green marble as the price.
Located at the banks of the Wisla River, the statue of the legendary Wawel Dragon in Krakow would regularly spit fire, thanks to a natural gas nozzle in the mouth of its seventh head.
Sword fight at the annual knights festival. Would the bold kid with the dragon emblem on his chest prevail against the dangerous black knight? 
Swan Not Swine. "Schloss Neuschwanstein" or "NewSwanStone Castle" is not only the unfinished palace of Bavarian King Louis II, it also inspired the referring palaces in Disney-film and -land in California. The Bavarian archetype of the Cinderella Castle is most famous, even if occasionally mispronounced "NeuSwineStein" in Russia, as we learned. Financing the extraordinary architecture, the king ran out of money for equally pompous interior and so plain brass had to do for the swan shaped door knobs instead of expensive gold. They say he got mad in his last days. Maybe he was bitten by something. At least that had been our conclusion after discussing tick vaccination. 

We Are Legend. To quote my daughter's school essay about the Arthur saga and The Lord of the Rings: "It takes lots of imagination to be able to relate to someone in a world of magic; but the protagonists start off as simple people, just like us... Trust is a very important theme in these stories. Frodo relies on the Fellowship of the Ring and Arthur has his Knights of the Round Table. There are sadly often cases where jealousy leads to becoming enemies. Another reason Judas betrayed Jesus was because he was jealous of Jesus' supernatural powers... All fantasy stories draw on real myths. The border between fantasy and reality is rather thin. Fantasy is reality and neither is possible without the other."
The original Cinderella Castle: A spectacular view from Mary's Bridge in the Swan-Gau area in Southern Bavaria. Can you see the castle?
Austria's "Lionheart place": The ruins of Duernstein Castle, overseeing the Danube River, where King Richard of England was held captive at the end of the twelfth century.
Lionheart Place. Duernstein Castle, overseeing the Danube River, is well known for here the English King Richard the Lionheart had been interred in the winter time of 1192/93. The Austrian margrave Leopold held him captive after the same had insulted him by ordering for the Austrian flag to be torn down during the third Crusade. Bad luck that King Richard had to cross Austria on his way home from the Holy Land and his disguise as a pilgrim was blown. For some time he would be imprisoned at an undisclosed location  today we know it as the Lower Austrian fortress Duernstein ("Arid Stone").

New City Funding. In the meantime, King Richard's brother King John ruled England, had taxpayers hard-pressed and created the environment that brought forth the legend of Robin Hood. The Lower Austrian city of Wiener Neustadt (New Vienna City) was built from the ransom money for the English King. Back in the East Midlands of England, Robin Hood's hometown Nottingham, the capital of Nottinghamshire County near Sherwood Forest, is famous for lace making and has a reputation for beautiful women, whom one could take out to the annual Goose Fair (or an archery contest).
Modern Knights: Laser Swords in Action
California Training. One summer we would go to the West Coast of the United States. When visiting the City of Angels with kids, there is one thing that one may not miss: The Magic Kingdom. Most excitedly for our boy, there had been an officially certified training hour at Disneyland's Jedi Academy, which was followed by a most dangerous duel against Darth Maul, redneck and -face Sith from "Star Wars Episode I." We sensed great danger as well as great power, which comes with great responsibility...
Iron Enthusiasm. When I took my boy to the "Iron Man" movie (with a nice musical quote from Black Sabbath at the end), seeing his finger nail endangering excitement, I figured, it might have felt like me going to see "Flash Gordon," when being about the same age. I wonder, whether he will also remember it for a long time. A few days later, I read the weekend story in his school book, starting with the sentence "It was my best weekend ever!" Furthermore, he informed the teacher: "My father smuggled me into the cinema, by standing in line on his own and ordering two tickets..." Soon after, there came "The Incredible Hulk." His comment: "Awesome!"
Sunny California: At Disneyland it was quite funny, when Tigger grabbed the new light saber of my son, who had just completed the Jedi Academy. He surely made us smile  every time when we saw this picture!
The next page is all about a Fight one wants to win.
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