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

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

Carriage ride@Neuschwanstein

There are a few ways to reach Neuschwanstein Castle.

1. By walking – The route is steep uphill and winding but doable if you are fit (& young). It takes approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

2. By shuttle bus – A shuttle bus leaves from Schlosshotel Lisl. The fare is €1.8.

However, the shuttle bus does not stop at the castle but carries on to Marienbrucke (Queen Mary’s Bridge) which command the best view of the castle. From the bridge, the access to the castle is a steep 10-minutes downhill walk.

3. By horse drawn carriage – the carriage leaves from Hotel Müller and it costs €6 one way. The passengers are dropped off at the point where the castle is a little more than 5 minutes on foot. The ride lasts about 10 minutes.

A carriage departing to the castle…

We saw a shuttle bus departing early on with the passengers crammed like the sardines in a tin. Unless mum can sit, there is no way we can use the bus, I thought.

There was a longish queue for the ride in front of a souvenir shop next to Hotel Müller…

A variety of languages I overheard while we were waiting in the queue was truly international. German, English, Polish, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Thai, Indian and so on. Everyone there seemed to be itching to go up the mountain and see the magical castle of Ludwig II.

Some carriage drivers donned traditional Bavarian attire of leather short trousers, embroidered braces and a Tyrolean hat…

The appearance of the carriage drivers spoke loudly about how hardy those people were. Their faces were weathered by the sun and wind. And their physiques, especially their upper bodies, were well developed.

Their beautiful horses…

Unlike the ragged appearance of their masters, the horses were very well presented. Their sumptuous manes were combed immaculately, their heavily muscled bodies were glossy and their hooves were well-trimmed and oiled.

Even though all the horses appeared to be well looked after, some of them had to bear an extra burden…

A group of Polish tourists didn’t like to be split up and decided to pile on the same carriage even though the carriage was overloaded. The driver protested but the customer refused to come off, insisting he needed to be with his group. In the end, the driver relented and off they went. I felt really sorry for the horses.

The driver arguing with the passengers while we looked on…

Eventually, it was our turn and we were ferried toward the castle at a leisurely pace…

Ludwig II also travelled like this every time he visited his beloved castle. He saw the same scenery like we did.
We felt amazing.

We are almost there!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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