Schloss Linderhof

Schloss Linderhof in Ettal was another famous creation by Ludwig II of Bavaria. This gem was the only building which was completed while the king was still alive. As a consequence, Ludwig spent most of his later life at this palace.

We arrived at the palace’s car park just before noon.

A sign board on the wall of the public restroom in the car park, displaying the Tyrolean summits in German…

The sun was already high and its glare was beating down on the Tarmac mercilessly. It was going to be another scorching day, we groaned as we stepped out of the car.

What a pretty house! There was a house in the Tyrolean fashion standing by a path leading towards the ticketing office…

Before Ludwig transformed the place to Linderhof Palace, it used to be a hunting lodge favoured by his father, Maximilian II. The exterior of the hunting lodge was clad with timber in the tradition of Tyrolean. I wondered if the lodge looked like the house we walked past.

After buying tickets, we followed a gravelled walkway through parkland. The path was dotted trees which offered a welcome shade here and there.

There was a pond with a lone swan…

A few tourists were looking on the swan from the edge of the pond and the swan appeared to be very tame. The swan glided across the water and looked up at the spectators, expecting to be fed.

After having a short breather, we pressed on towards the palace. The place was surrounded by beautiful woods and pastures…

The place was like an Alpine paradise. Birds were chirping, the blades of pastures gently trembling in the travelling breeze and the blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds. I could easily imagine why Ludwig wanted to retreat into this place of tranquility away from the political intrigues of Mucich.

When we arrived at the entrance of the palace, we still had another 10 minutes to spare…

While mum rested at the bench in the shade, I walked around a landscape garden in front of the palace…

Same as Neuschwanstein Castle, the interior of the palace was accessible only by joining a guided tour and photographing it was not permitted. Our group was around twenty people and most of them were Canadians who were touring Bavaria with their Harley Davidsons!

Our tour commenced from the entrance hall with a small golden statue of Louis XIV, Ludwig’s idol. If I was to summarize my impression of the palace in one word, it would be “small”. Everything in Linderhof was exquisitely made but very small. Unlike Neuschwanstein, the place was not made to impress the king’s visitors but to allow the king to retreat into his world of fantasy.

At the bedroom, we were greeted with an enormous stately bed which was inspired by the Sun King’s at Château de Versailles. However, Ludwig never had the “getting up” ceremony, the Levee, like Louis XIV. According to our guide, Ludwig ordered his clothes to be laid out on a table next door and changed himself alone, instead of a team of courtiers helping him to dress every morning.

Another well-known anecdote regarding the reclusive Bavarian king was his peculiar dining habit. His dining room at Linderhof was not stately in scale but regally opulent. It was decorated in the late Rococo style and a priceless Meissen porcelain vase with hand painted porcelain flowers graced as a centrepiece. However, what made this room famous was not the decor but a dining table which the king used to eat his meal. “Tischlein deck dich”, a disappearing dining table was installed for the solitary king, therefore, his servamts wouldn’t have to bother him. It may sound like Ludwig was painfully alone yet he did have dining companions. Well, at least in his imagination. He invited fantasy guests who he considered to have equal clout to him, such as Louis XV, Mme de Pompadour or Marie Antoinette, and asked his cooks to prepare extra feast for them. The kitchen below the dining room would duly laid out the foods, sometimes including Ludwig’s favourite roasted peacock, and hoisted the table up for him and his guests.

Another impression I had about the palace was that it was like the inside of a kaleidoscope. The epitome of it was Ludwig’s favourite room, Hall of Mirrors. It was said that the king loved to spend the nights in this room, reading books and gazing unlimited reflections in the mirrors. No one would ever know what he saw beyond his own faces and the gold gildings shimmering under the candle lights other than imagining his pessimism about his dimishing status and yearning towards the past.

The tour lasted about 30 minutes and we walked out of the palace and into the sunshine and the garden…

What shall we have for lunch? There was a restaurant near the car park and we sat at one of their tables on the terrace and studied menu…

We didn’t fancy what they offered and decided to buy some sandwiches and drinks at a gift shop next to the ticketing office…

Mum had the one with mozzarella and tomato with basil, and I had the one with chicken Schnitzel. They were pretty moreish.

I also bought these adoringly kitsch postcards…

Hubbie, who was a through and through modernist, sniggered when I showed them to him. Oh well, I think they are really retro and cute and I am gonna keep them for myself…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Maximilianstaße, Augsburg

So, Augsburg was founded by Emperor Augustus. It was where the name came from! I chirped to mum while I googled about the statue in Rathausplatz.

From our bench, we could see people sitting on the rims of the fountain and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. We wondered how scorching hot the square could be when the sun was high during the summer.

It will be very very hot…

The cloud above the square was remnants of the rain we experienced earlier that day.

While we were driving from Rothenburg to the city, we were met with a torrential downpour on A7. The beating of the rain drops was so ferocious that my dusty VW looked like if it went through a car wash once the rain was over. I must say that it was rather a hairy drive because the spray of the water produced by the lorries’ wheels blinded us momentarily every time we passed by them. When the downpour came down its hardest, the only thing we could see through the window screen was tail lamps of the cars in front of us in the shape of very blurry red dots.

‘Shall we get some fruits at a supermarket?’ We walked down Maximilianstraße. The thoroughfare looked like a major high street of Augsburg and both sides of it were lined with large stores.

Let’s try here, we spotted a supermarket. Mum was very curious about German groceries, especially tinned vegetables. In Japan, the people used much less tinned foods for everyday cooking, therefore, she was fascinated by the wide variety of them lining the shelves in Germany. After inspecting every single aisle, mum’s curiosity was satisfied and we left the shop with a box of strawberries, a few flat peaches and a bag of dried apple slices.

Then, I spotted a pharmacy. ‘Can I check if they stock the sunscreen I am after?’

I had been looking for a particular sunscreen by La Roche-Posay, called UVIDEA XL Ultra-light Mist SPF50. I asked about it at every chemist in France but couldn’t find it. And I was wondering if I had any luck in Germany. The pharmacy was large and did stock La Roche-Posay. However, they didn’t have the specific one I was looking for and I had to leave empty-handed. Oh, c’estla vie!

We continued our stroll down Maximilianstraße and arrived at a junction with Moritzplatz…

A multiple tramway tracks merged and forked at the junction…

Drum roll, please! We will ride a tram in my next blog entry (at last)…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Xmas shopping in June

Apart from their immaculately restored mediaeval townscape, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village. This all-year Christmas store has two shops on Harrngrasse, off Marktplaz.

‘I think I’m gonna find some gifts for my close friends at Käthe Wohlfahrt.’, mum told me as we had our German breakfast.

By the way, we loved German-style breakfast – a buffet style breakfast consisted of various breads, cheeses, cold meats, jams, cereals, juice, yoghurt, salad and fruits – very much! I also introduced mum to blue cheese during a breakfast buffet at Strasbourg as the cheese was packed with gut-friendly bacteria. At first, she was not very keen on “cheese with mould”. However, she grew to like it by the end of our road trip. Our favourite way of eating the cheese was to have it with a thinly sliced German-style rye bread. They were delish!

After breakfast, we checked out of our room at 9:30. I asked at the reception if we could continue to park our car in their car park while we were sightseeing because we couldn’t see much of the town the previous day due to our late arrival. The receptionist replied, ‘Of course! You can park all day if you want.’ How nice! We liked the town even more.

The sunshine was beating the streets already. I had got a feeling that it was going to be another sizzling day…

Rothenburg was full of gift shops!

Mum loved a linen shop which was laden with house accessories such as cushions, pillow cases, tea towels, handkerchieves, Christmas ornaments, etc. All of them were beautifully hand embroidered and some of them were heavenly scented with locally produced lavender. ‘How do I look?’ Mum picked up one of the hand embroidered t-shirts and asked my opinion. She didn’t expect the weather to be this hot, therefore, she needed a few new tops. The t-shirt was made with organic cotton and looked very flattering on her. ‘Yeah mum, it’s a definite buy!’ So she bought it.

Marktplaz was filling up with tourists…

There was a fountain which we overlooked the previous day…

Mum with a cute company car of Käthe Wohlfahrt which reminded me of a Harrod’s delivery van…

Mum with their all year around Christmas tree…

No photography was allowed beyond this point, therefore, I have no image of this Aladdin’s Cave for Christmas lovers. Describing it in one word, the store was HUGE. Every available space, such as walls and shelves and even some floors were utilised to display everything “Christmas”. Despite it was in the middle of June and nearly 28°C outside, being on the comfortably air-conditioned shop floor with never ending Christmas tune ringing in our ears, we felt like the festive season was just around the corner, not six months away!

Mum pondered for a long time what to buy for her friends. ‘No chocolate because they’re gonna melt. No tree ornament because they’re too fragile and bulky…’ Oh, she was in trouble. Then, we came to a department selling advent calendars. ‘How about them?’ I suggested mum to get those fun calendars for her friends. Since advent calendars were a part of the German Christmas traditions, they would be most appropriate and space-saving souvenirs! She agreed and we picked altogether 15 sheets, including one for herself.

When we left the shop, it was nearly eleven and the sun was high…

Before leaving the town, mum wanted to visit the shop we came across last evening…

There were many small wooden toys and ornaments in their show windows. ‘Shall we go in?’

We found a woman at the till / worktop busy assembling one of her Christmas table ornaments. She explained that all the items in her shop were made by her and her husband. Mum and I agreed that we wanted a souvenir for ourselves which was truly “Made in Germany” since Rothenburg used to be a town well-known for their craftmen and artisans. We chose a Christmas table ornament with a Santa Claus, a reindeer and a tree arranged on a small rectangular dais. ‘This will remind me about the fun we had together.’ Mum smiled.

Now, we must get back to the car and head to our next destination!

Eww, I’ve got a feeling that our car will be scorching hot by now. How am I gonna touch the steering wheel with my naked hands…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Rothenburg in dusk

One thing I totally misjudged about our road trip was the amount of time it would require if we wanted to visit every single town along Romantic Road. I thought we could get away with visiting several towns a day while we were en route from Würzburg to Füssen in four days.

After we had the fiasco between Würzburg and Rothenburg, it was decided that we would rather visit one place at a time and spend a quality time there than skim through a few places in a hurry and end up passing most of the time in a car.

Following is a list of the towns we gave up visiting: Tauberbischofsheim, Lauda, Bad Mergentheim, Creglingen, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, Harburg, Donauwörth, Landsberg, Schongau and Pfaffenwinkel. You see, I should have allocated a week at least if we were to explore Romantische Straße properly…

Ok, let’s get back to the moment right after we bid farewell to the Japanese gentleman at Cafe Walter Friedel.

We found Marktplaz almost emptied of tourists…

Apart from restaurants and cafes, all the shops were closed…

We decided to have gelato at one of ice cream parlour on Rödergrasse…

We sat on the steps of one of the souvenir shop and watched the passers-by who also appeared to be tourists like us while we ate our dessert…

Once we finished the gelato, we resumed our evening stroll.

What a pretty dress! Mum was delighted to see a little girl’s dress in the window…

Anyone fancy some Lederhosens for little boys and Dirndl dress for little girls?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Snowball in June

No, it was not a real snowball but a pastry named as Schneeball (snowball), which was the most famous sweet in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. And I forgot to taste it!

I blame the heat wave, which was upon us throughout our road trip, for making me to miss out on this local delicacy. It was simply too hot to have any appetite for a fist-size fat-fried donut with sugar. Instead, I craved for ice cream (and beer).

Awww, Scheebälle! I want you now…

Are they like Krispy Kreme?

The history of these pastries is very long – they have been known to exist for at least 300 years. They were meant to be served on special occasions such as weddings, however, they became famed local delicacies and started to be available throughout the year.

The main ingredients are flour, eggs, sugar, butter, cream and plum schnapps. In order to form a distinctive shape of Schneeball, the dough is first rolled out and cut into even strips with a special rake-like cutter. The dough is cut as such that the top and bottom are left intact. Then, partially cut dough is loosely assembled and placed in a “Scheeballeneisen” – metal tongs with hollowed globes on the both ends. Finally, the scheeballeneisen with the dough inside is inserted into a deep-fryer, and voila, a golden brown Schneeball is born! Obviously, it has to resemble the real thing, therefore, it is dusted with confectioner’s sugar while warm.

Nowadays, Schneeball comes in many varieties of flavour, such as dark chocolate, white chocolate, mocha, almond, marzipan, vanilla, etc.

When mum and I were peering into a show window of Cafe Walter Friedel, a man standing nearby turned and asked if we were Japanese.

‘They are Schneebälle, did you know?’ He smiled. He was a Japanese tourist and visiting the town which was a part of the package holiday. ‘We came by a tour bus. How did you two get here?’

He was very much surprised when I told him that I drove from London. His eyes twinkled with excitement. ‘Oh wow! Really? I’d love to drive on a world famous autobahn too!’, he gushed. Apparently, he loved fast cars and driving a car in general. He confided to us that a driving holiday in Europe, especially hiring a BMW in Germany and driving it on autobahn, was his lifelong dream.

Our conversation returned to the Schneebälle in the window, and we asked him if he tried them already. He replied yes and told us what he thought about them.

‘They were very sweet and rather greasy.’

Oh, I see. Mum and I looked at each other, thinking the same thing. Are they going to be as anticlimactic as Kendel Mint Cake or Grasmere Gingerbread?

Anyway, the man and we parted shortly afterward, wishing each other a safe journey home.

Next day, we did have a chance to explore the town, but we completely forgot about the pastries because our attention was all focused on the Rothenburg’s famed Christmas shops.

As I write this post, I have come across a German confectionary shop Walter Friedel, and they are happy to ship their Schneeball to anywhere in the world as long as the order is more than €18.00! I am going to ask Hubbie if he wants to try them. So watch this space…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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