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Munich and the Royal Castles

GERMANY | Tuesday, 6 May 2014 | Views [784] | Comments [1]

We managed to survive the first afternoon in this city named after it's 4th century monks (München) but only just! I think the snow in Innsbruck was a few degrees warmer than here! But as any good tourist does on coming to a new place, they get on with the business of sightseeing come rain, sun, hail or arctic blizzard. I was here about 6 years ago and some of the landmarks were immediately familiar to me, although looking completely different without being covered in snow! The main platzen were jam-packed with weekend shoppers and the effect from relative peace and quiet on the train to chaotic noisy crowds assaulted our smooth transition into the mainstream. Buskers, musicians, gimmicky advertisers, food vendors, market owners, store sprukers, all jostled for our attention. There was even a protest demonstration to legalise marijuana marching towards us on this cold, blustery day! But after a toasted sandwich and hot coffee, a sense of normalcy filtered through the haze and settled the nerves.
After a bit of a kafuffle the next morning, getting people on the right bus for the castles tour, we headed south deep into Bavaria.  We've been looking forward to this for months - to see Neuschwanstein castle in particular, but also Linderhof Palace and the small village of Oberammergau. Renowned for being the fairytale castle of the mad king Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein was also used as the model for the Disneyland castle, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. It is only with military precision that tourists are ushered in and out in language groups of about 50 every 5 mins, that everyone can get an equal chance of seeing the place.  But it's a gruelling climb and exhausting tour by the time you complete it, so thankfully they allow some extra time to recover after you make it back! Mum did well to keep up with me the whole way, even out to the Marienbrücke bridge which was up and down more steep hills! I think it was only the hot glühwein and bockwurstsemmeln which gave us the strength to survive! Hehe.
The small village of Oberammergau gave us more time to grab a coffee and do some souvenir shopping. The place is remarkable for it's fresco artworks rendered in the plaster walls of it's buildings, and the amazing wood carvings and other Bavarian arts and crafts.
The countryside is magnificent in these parts and the Karlswald, with it's precipitous snow-capped mountains, rolling forested hills and fresh green fields, rolled out like a red carpet towards Ludwig's other castle Linderhof. In contrast to Neuschwanstein, Linderhof is small, but exuberantly decorated in the French Rococo style of Louis XV. The palace just oozes gold and glitter from every nook and crevice. I encourage everyone to read up on Ludwig II. He's an enigma who was declared mad, stripped of his kingship, and lived in a fantasy world based on the operas of Wagner. But after running the coffers dry and ending up face down in a lake with his psychiatrist, the mystery of his death has never been solved. His story would make a great movie! 
On our last day here, we thought another hop-on hop-off tour was a good way to see some sights that we couldn't walk to. But first we had to sort out some tickets to and from Prague, our next stop, because our rail passes didn't cover the cross-border thing (it's complicated but was easy to solve). There were only a few places we wanted to get off and look at, the first being the Residence Museum and Treasury. The Munich Residence was the political and cultural centre of the dukes, the electors and the kings of Bavaria and is a large palace, opulently styled in all the wealthy bling of the Wittelsbach dynasty. The treasures and art collections are astounding and date from the 10th to 19th centuries, and comprise the finest artisan work of Europe in all manner of gold, jewels, gemstones, china and crystal. The place was so large we had a hard time finding the exit, and even the security people were confused because some sections were closed for renovation!
But after getting back on the bus, we stopped briefly at the Nymphenburg Palace which was built by mad Ludwig's old man. Our legs, our stamina, and our timetable didn't allow us to spend long there but, once again, we couldn't help but feel like mere peasants in the presence of such wealth and grandeur! So I made sure we got a hit of nature by stopping off at the Englischer Garten, a massive park bigger than Central Park in New York! The soothing effects of the colour green and the sounds of a babbling creek washed away our inferiority complexes, and recharged our esteem :). Before long we were back in the centre of Marienplatz but we flowed with the marauding crowds, past the small public concert being performed by some handicapped people, past the small crowd gathered to protest against domestic violence, and past all the other shoppers happy to have completed another mission on our journey :)

Tags: castles, sightseeing



I also loved Neuschwanstein and Oberammergau........best ever Kaffee und Kuchen!! did you visit the Ettel Monastery as well? so serene with beautiful gardens.

  Anna May 7, 2014 5:36 PM

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