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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castle tours - too beautiful to be real!

Tuesday morning we felt that our heads had just touched the pillows before the alarm went off for our early morning meetup with Gray Line tours.  We picked up a butter croissant and cappucino in the central station.  The public transport here is extremely efficient, clean, convenient and pretty easy to figure out as well as many of the stations having cafes and shops.

A couple hours into the gently swaying, sleep inducing bus ride, Marcie tapped me and said, "You might want to see this."  I wiped the drool from my mouth and immediately dropped my jaw again.
 There on the horizon were the jagged blue and white silhouettes  of the alps and all around us down below were rustic, Chalet style buildings decked out in flowers dripping from every window box.  If a building wasn't picturesque enough on its own, then elaborate, fake shutters were painted around the windows and medieval style illustrations of daily life or angels were painted on the sides.  Not a single fast food chain in sight (Munich itself does a fair job of keeping these out as well), only small town flower shops, wood carving shops, ice cream vendors and the like.

Many tourists were wandering through these towns looking just as awed as we were.  As we came around a corner in the incredibly beautiful town of Oberammergau, a rough looking woman passed by, wearing a Penthouse t-shirt with the eye grabbing headline, "F*ck me!" complete with illustration of how....  Marcie said, "Wow, I wouldn't have expected crack was easy to find here."  Seeing a woman so seemingly out of place with the surroundings was a shock, but goes to show that no place is perfect.

Linderhof castle, inspired by Versailles, is nestled in a mountain valley. It was built for King Ludwg II in 1876 in French Baroque style.  Ludwig was fascinated by the French royalty of 150 years before who had absolute rule and could get away with doing whatever their whims desired without answering to parliament.  He became king at age 18 and tried to live like those kings.  Parliament and Bavarian politicians had something else to say about this so he used his own substantial family wealth to build his own fantasy land.  King Ludwig was such an introvert that he preferred to sleep the day away and come out at night when others had already turned in for the night.  His dining room in Linderhof castle was equipped with a sliding door in the floor so that his meal could be entirely prepared and placed on the table in the kitchen below then the door opened and the table was lifted back up to the dining room when complete.  He had an indoor grotto lake complete with artificial waves was where he was suspiciously found drowned along with his psychologist the day after parliament announced that he had been diagnosed as mad and not fit to rule.

We stopped for lunch in the town of Fussen at Hotel Muller.  Started out the meal with a delicious dessert of Bavarian cream and a view of Hohenschwangau Castle on one side of us and Neuschwanstein on the other and the "romantic" smell of horse dung from the horse drawn carriages.  We sadly didn't have time to tour Hohenschwangau.  Next time!

The weather was perfect.  The views amazing. We kept looking at each other and saying how unreal the whole thing seemed.  The place was immense and everywhere you looked, you saw another exquisite detail in the carvings, paintings, and mosaicked floors.  Here's a pic of King Ludwig's bedroom (Had to snag it from another site since we couldn't photograph inside).  It took 14 carpenters 4 years to finish these carvings which tell the tale of Tristan and Isolde.  The castle was inspired by and dedicated to  Wagner's operas.  It was never completed and the king only got to live in it for something like 126 days before his untimely death.