Sunday, April 26, 2009

Munich - Day 4 - Castle Tour

Friday, 19th December, 2009

Today was our castle tour day. We were taking a bus to two castles in Southwest Bavaria - Schloss Linderhof and Schloss Neuschwanstein (some good pictures shown at those links).

Both of these castles were built by King Ludwig II, with Schloss Linderhof being built in 1869 in an area where Ludwig II used to go hunting. Schloss Neuschwanstein is more famously known as the Sleeping Beauty castle when Walt Disney saw the castle and ‘borrowed’ the design and construction also started in 1869.

The bus tour guide had been doing this tour for over 30 years and still managed to keep it fresh. He had a naughty gruff persona and liked to be a bit rude (all for laughs of course).

Other people on the bus that stood out were the three Americans (mum, daughter and Dave) all dressed in huge fur coats. The daughter reminded us of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In fact, Dave seemed to be the only normal one of the three of them but was often being told what to do by his step-daughter.

As you will be able to tell from these photos, there was a little snow and this was fun.

Both the castles were spectacular - Sha's favourite was Schloss Linderhof. Unfortunately, you weren't allowed to take photos inside, so all we can say is that they were both amazing and as with every tourist attraction in the world, you always exit through a gift shop.

Sha outside Schloss Linderhof

The castle

The grounds

In summer the fountain is working and it looks even more impressive

Linderhof up close

As I have mentioned in previous posts, sometimes the photos don't seem to do things justice. Here is the Linderhof official website, which has a few more photos and more on the history of the castle.

And here's a youtube video of Schloss Linderhof

Once we had taken in Schloss Linderhof, we went to the village
Oberammergau where a passion play takes place every 10 years. A passion play is a telling of the death of Jesus and the entire village is involved to some degree. In 1633 the region was being ravaged by the bubonic plague so the residents of Oberammergau made a vow that if God spared them, they would perform a passion play every 10 years. The death rate subsided in the space of a couple of months and they’re still performing the play even now, with the next performance being in 2010.

While taking in Oberammergau, we took a look at a couple of gift shops which contained cuckoo clocks, wood carvings and carved crystals (the region is well known for wood carving). Oddly enough, there was also a lot of religious iconography. Oberammergau also has some brightly coloured buildings with murals, which illustrate various fairy tales and religious scenes. All up, a very cool village with a lot of history.

Yep, Oberammergau is where we are!

Is that Joseph?

Correct me if it's not!

A gift shop

Another moose...

...this one seems a bit wooden

King of the beasts

A magnificent mountain

Notice the cross at the top - imagine getting that up there!

From Oberammergau we headed to our final stop, a village at the bottom of the mountain that Schloss Neuschwanstein was on.

We were told that we had just over an hour to kill before our entry time to the castle so we headed to a hotel for lunch. I had some Bavarian white sausage
with bun and mustard, served in a bowl of hot water (the sausage, not the bun!) while Sha had soup and bread. Lunch was served to us by a well dressed waiter with incredibly strong body which only added to the authenticity of the alpine village. Hey, the sausage was fine and that's what is important!

After lunch, we went for a little wander and looked at the lake where King Ludwig II 'drowned' under very suspicious circumstances.

The lake

Later, we found out that this wasn't where he drowned at all and the lake where this happened was somewhere completely different.

Kind Ludwig II was a very flamboyant King who didn't really take his duties that seriously and was more focussed on building castles and having a damn good time. He is known as the fairy tale king for good reason and left a lot of the running of the country to others which seemed to fit with his schedule slightly better.

As it got closer to entry time, we made our way up the steep path to the castle. For a more traditional approach (and a few Euro), you could take a horse and cart up to the top. As we preferred the 15 minute walk, we passed on this.

Horse and cart up the mountain

Schloss Hohenschwangau

This castle wasn't on the tour but is in the village at the bottom of Schloss Neuschwanstein

A distant view

Sha loves her fire hydrants

Schloss Neuschwanstein isn't fully completed and it's a little sad to see something so magnificent when it is only one third finished. Apart from being a tourist attraction it isn't used for anything else, although it was once used for staging a Wagner concert. Ludwig II was a big Wagner fan and at one point considered abdicating and following him into exile.

Getting closer

Inside the courtyard

A bedroom (from a postcard)

As we were leaving

Here are some more
photos from outside and here are some inside (via a flickr search). Well worth checking out, especially the ones inside.

We had been warned about being back at the bus on time and if we were late, we would be left behind. We were also told that taking the horse and cart up to the castle was fine - but in NO CIRCUMSTANCES were we to take it back down. They ran infrequently and there was a risk of missing the bus. If we missed the bus, the taxi fare back to Munich would be over €100 (over $230NZ) and it would be cheaper to stay the night in a local hotel and come back on the tour bus the following day.

On the way back down, we had decided to stop for some mulled wine and this was nearly our undoing. We had to canter down the path clutching our vino, being careful not to spill any. When we got to the bus with a few minutes to spare, we hid our souvenir cups to ensure the tour guide didn't hassle us. Luckily, the Veruca Salt family were the last ones back and got suitably chastised by the tour guide (always good to have someone else running later than yourself!)

While heading back to Munich, we were allowed a wee snooze and upon our arrival, we paid a tip for the in-flight entertainment. Sha and I were both impressed that the tour guide had been doing this trip 3-4 times a week and therefore over 4000 times in the last 30 years. Personally, that sort of repetition would do my head in, but good on him for sticking with a job he enjoys.

Once we got back to Wombats, we decided to head out to one last Christmas market in Munich. This time, it was a medieval one. The medieval market had people dressed in costume, was selling things like swords and armour, food and Christmas gifts.

Night ice skating

Pretty lights

Sha with a medieval sausage

Looks a little burnt, but still tasty



Giant metal man

I think it is Maximilian II of Bavaria

Intriguing poster

Peter Fox and his monkeys

Music Video...

This is bizarre but quite cool - just need to learn German!

After the wander around, we went for dinner (Italian) and popped in on the Wombats bar to see some live music and claim our free beer. I'm guessing that most of the bands were in their early start out phase.

The thing that really got to us in the bar was the amount of smoke. As you are allowed to smoke in bars, everyone seemed to be and the fug was overpowering. We managed to stay for one small beer, a few songs from a solo artist and then had to get out. As Wombats is a backpackers, the majority of people were a little younger and the bar reminded me of a school disco. But with beer.
Oh well, off to bed for us oldies. Tomorrow we fly to London!


C&G said...

After your request "correct me if I'm wrong", yes dear friend, unfortunately you're wrong. That's not Joseph on the mule, but it symbolises Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (a week before Easter Sunday).

Again a lovely tale of your trip. We're impressed that you young bunch are so interested in ancient overseas' culture.

Keep up the good work.

Foo said...

I am always learning something new! Thank you for letting me know :-)

We both find the ancient culture fascinating as we haven't (until now) been exposed to much of it.