Sticky night @ Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The distance between Linderhof Palace and our next destination, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was roughly 50 minutes. We followed B23 up to Oberau and changed to B2 which led us all the way to the famed German ski resort.

Around 14:30, we arrived at our hotel. I parked the car by the hotel and went inside to inform them our arrival.

Sometimes, you have a humch that things are not gonna be right with this person / place. And I had this gut feeling when I saw a man behind the reception. He asked me to fill a guest registration and instructed me where to park our car. His demeanour while dealing with us somehow lacked any warmth or enthusiasm, and it worried me a little. Will the stay at this hotel be pleasant? I wondered.

Our room was on the top floor…

The room looked okay at first glance but we did notice how tired their bathroom was after a more careful inspection. Oh, I hoped we would have a trouble free stay tonight…

Another thing we noticed was a raucous rooster in the field nearby which was bossing around his several misses…

Stop being so bossy and keep your voice down!

After unpacking, we ventured out to explore a small thoroughfare in front of the hotel.

In spite of being it was Saturday afternoon, the place was very quiet…

We needed to buy a tube of toothpaste so walked into a chemist. A pharmacist behind the counter was very nice and ended up giving us a few samples of the different toothpastes for free. Danke!

We saw a chocolatier with amazing selections of chocolates and sweets displayed in their windows…

Unfortunately, the temperature was too warm for buying chocolates, therefore, we had to walk away empty-handed.

Isn’t it a time for us yet to have an early dinner and beer? Mum wanted to know as we walked past a restaurant / hotel with a brimful of guests sitting outside and enjoying their alfresco supper…

Even though it was still 5pm, we were fairly hungry as our lunch that day was a very light one. Therefore, we decided to have an early dinner and to go to bed early…

Our beer!

Mum’s favourite beer at Garmisch-Partenkirchen…

Paulaner-Brau. She ended up drinking 3 glasses of them.

Then, our dinner…

Wienerschnitzel for mum and veal for me. Mine also came with a generous portion of Spätzle. They all tasted great but the servings were far too much for us and we ended up not being able to finish them.

Halfway through the dinner, two young men on bikes arrived at the restaurant. They were clad in a traditional Bavarian costume and appeared to be in a great hurry. They rushed into the restaurant and the music started shortly afterward. The tune sounded like typical Tyrolean tunes and we could hear the sound of clapping and cheers from the inside.

Then, they came out and started to dance for us too!

 

Didn’t they do well?

I wish if the night ended as well as the dinner and the dance. However, my earlier hunch proved right and a problem developed as soon as we retired to our room. We discovered that we didn’t have any hot water! I alerted the hotel staff as soon as I was out of the shower, and they duly sent us one of their staffs to our room. He fiddled with valves on the wall for a long time, muttered something incomprehensible in German and left us without fixing the tap. I called the reception again and demanded an explanation. This time, an old woman with a very unfriendly tone answered my call and said ‘Sorry but there is nothing we can do!’ She also asked why we needed a hot shower if the outside was 30°C! How dare you! I was outraged. Why should I ask my old mum to have a cold shower?! If the woman on the other end of the line was not so unrepentant, I would have been less annoyed and more sympathetic. However, she was so unapologetic and unpleasant. Mum was also very annoyed about not being able to freshen up with a hot shower. Who wouldn’t like to take a relaxing warm shower before going to bed? She lamented. After slamming the phone down on the unpleasant old bag at the reception, I suggested to mum if she could face a cold shower. ‘No! You must be bloody joking!!’, she refused it categorically.
I am very sorry, mum. I apologise on behalf of that horrible woman. I muttered as she lay on the bed, being not in the best of her moods…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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

The Wieskirche 

Visiting the Wieskirche, the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, was another highlight of our road trip. Thanks to Google, we did know what to expect from this 18th century church. Still, seeing the actual place with our own eyes, which was world famous for being the epitome of a Rococo style, was exciting and unforgettable. One poet who visited there was so moved and described it as “The Wies is a bit of heaven in this suffering world.”

From Schwangau to Steingaden, in where the church was located, took about thirty minutes. We left the hotel shortly after nine…

We set off for the church from the car park via an immaculately kept gravelled path around 9:40.
Unlike the congestion around Neuschwanstein Castle we experienced the previous day, the vicinity of the church was serene and quiet…

The car park nearby was ample yet very empty. We assumed the church could be as crowded as the castle if our visit was timed any later. Our advice: Visit the church early as the place opens from 8 am.

The Wieskirche was listed as one of the locations of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. The church was originally built by two brothers, J. B. and Dominikus Zimmermann in 1749.

We pushed a heavy wooden door to enter the church.

The west side of the wall which accommodated a piped organ above was undergoing a restoration work, and scaffolding surrounding it barred the visitors to approach the nave of this oval-shaped church directly. We walked around it and sat on one of the pews and gazed at the altar from the distance first.

A panoramic view of the church interior…

What a Rococo extravaganza! Mum and I sighed. Probably, the prettiest church in the world!! We did understand why the poet was moved by the sight. The place was indeed heavenly.

The Residenz at Augsburg was another Rococo extravaganza, but this church surpassed it in my opinion.

The ceiling with trompe l’œil, which made the Wieskirche so famous, did not betray our expectation…

The world outside may be a horrible place. However, the inside of the church is a full of peace and hope, we murmured.

In a typical Rococo style, the church was full of elaborate stucco and plaster works. They were skilfully coloured in manifold of hues, most notably in gold…

Aren’t they amazing?

Legend has it that tears were seen on a dilapidated wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour in 1738. This phenomenon started a flood of pilgrims which swamped a small chapel which then accommodated the statue. A local monastery, Steingaden Abbey, realised that it needed a separate shrine, therefore, decided to commission a new church. The construction started in 1745 and it was completed in 1754.

The present figure being presented in glorious splendour…

Astonishingly, this divinely beautiful church once faced total demolition in the 19th century. Under relentless pressure from the revolutionary France and Napoleon, who advocated the spirit of the secularization of society, the church was nearly destroyed by the Bavarian government. In the end, protests from the local farmers saved the shrine from demolition.

Once we were out of the church, we saw their neighbours. Three ponies…

Are your owners a descendent of the brave farmers who saved this treasure?

A dog was waiting for its owner in the shade…

By the church, there was a small cafe/restaurant which had a good review in Google. Unfortunately, we had a large German breakfast at the hotel and were not remotely hungry. Otherwise, we would have had their famed Wiesküchen, Bavarian donut…

We saw hens pecking the ground. Do you supply eggs to the restaurant?

Houses around the church were pretty…

Now, we are heading for a town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Our carriage ride through a leafy path towards the castle was very pleasant and relaxing. Apart from a steady rhythm of the hoove kicking the tarmac and occasional murmuring by our fellow passengers, there was hardly any sound which reminded us the hustle and bustle we went through prior to the ride.
We alighted the carriage at where the road bulged out so a carriage could manoeuvre, and headed for a waiting area adjacent to a direct approach to the castle. The waiting area was equipped with benches, some of them were under the roof, electric noticeboards and a small kiosk for souvenirs and refreshments.

A view over the parapet…

We had another 40 minutes to kill before our tour began so we started to read guide books, a short biography of Ludwig II and a book about the interior of the castle, together.

Eventually, “16:45” was displayed on the electric notice board, and we proceeded to the entrance.

Unfortunately, the main entrance was undergoing a major restoration work and it was completely hidden beneath scaffolding…

The work was very much needed for the castle to stay on this windswept cliff. However, it did spoil the view very much, therefore, I didn’t take many pictures of the castle’s exterior.

Photographing the inside of the castle was strictly forbidden, therefore, again I have no image to show here.

After going through automated ticketing gates with revolving bars and walking through a small courtyard, we entered an assembly point by the main entrance. In there, a small handheld audio device was distributed to each of us by the staff and we were herded up by a castle tour guide. Our tour guide was a very (very) handsome German guy and he spoke English with a slight German accent. He explained how the handheld device worked – it amplified the sound of his commentary which he would make through a small microphone so everyone in the group, no matter how far they were, would be able to hear it if the device was held close to one’s ear. He also warned us that strenuous stair-climbing would await us before we were treated with the extravaganza of Ludwig II’s medeaval fantasy. He explained it was because we were on level 2 and we were to skip entire level 3 before reaching to level 4 on which most of the highlights of the tour were located.

The stair-climbing he mentioned was certainly tough. Please heed my advice, anyone who may be thinking about visiting the castle. You must visit before being too OLD! Even though my mum managed to negotiate them with a walking stick and a handrail, it was a bit of an ordeal for her. Did the king himself climbed those steps? He must have done because it was the main staircase. Didn’t he find it a bit cumbersome? Maybe he didn’t have to move between different floors as often as his servants had to?

I didn’t count the steps but it felt like the stair would never end. Then, we arrived at level 4, the king’s floor. The first room we were ushered in was the throne room. The ceiling was high and it had a huge steel chandelier which resemble a crown. Symbolically, a space allocated for Ludwig’s throne was left empty because the king died before the castle was completed. What kind of chair would have been installed if the project was not abandoned, mum and I mused. Would it resemble the one in Westminster Abbey, a simple dark wooden one in gothic style? Or a bejewelled one which would compliment an opulent decor of the throne room?

Has any of the readers watched a documentary “The Fairytale Castles of King Ludwig II with Dan Cruickshank” which was aired on BBC4 during last May? The programme gave a fascinating insight into the king’s tragic circumstance and his motivation for building those fanciful castles. Obviously, the main problem was that Ludwig did not have the cunning and stomach to survive the turbulent period which swallowed up not only him and his kingdom but also the rest of Europe and beyond.

Even if he managed to stay alive until the castle was completed and the throne was installed, what sort of life would he have led? Would he be still very alone and melancholic? And what caused his death by Lake Starnberg?

His and Dr.Gudden’s death by the lake was shrouded in mystery, and it has been a subject of speculation and fascination ever since. Was he bumped or did he jump?

After the throne room, we were led to Ludwig’s dining room, followed by his bedroom. The rooms were dark, and if I may say so, gloomy. It was undeniable that a mood of melancholy was hanging in the air.

And, had I ever been any castle which had an indoor grotto? Never! It was until I visited Neuschwanstein, of course. Between his living room and study, there was a small grotto made from plaster and paint. The grotto was dark and felt slightly damp like the real one. Why he decided to have a man made grotto in there, I had no idea. I should have asked my guide, Mr.Adonis…

All in all the castle was beautiful. It was like a jewel box. One of a kind. Still, I found it hollow and tragic through and through. Poor Ludwig II, a powerless puppet king living in fantasy in self imposed exile. Probably, the castle was Ludwig’s oversized bravado against the outside world which was ruthless and ungratifying?

He never imagined that his beloved castle was to become one of the most well-known tourist attraction…

We left the castle and headed for a pick up point of horse carriage.

Hello there. Good to see you guys again…

Descending was a lot easier for the horses. The driver made sure the carriage wouldn’t roll too fast by applying a foot brake time to time…

Join a carriage ride with us!

 

 

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

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