Category Archives: Germany

Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau (Schwangau)

I drove from Munich to Schwengau through the beautiful German countryside.

Driving into Schwengau I caught glimpses of my true destination – Neuschwanstein. One of the inspirations to for Disney’s sleeping beauty castle. Built on the top of a rock, it was breathtaking. I pulled over a couple of times on the road in to admire its beauty as it came into view. The smell of cow manure made me feel right at home.20170616_151506040_iOS

I stayed right at the foot of the other castle in town – Hohenschwangau.

The town reminds me of Venice in that it closes up at night as tourists mainly come for a day trip. 20170617_103402139_iOS

I arrived in the evening and hiked up to Marienbrucke (St. Mary’s Bridge). It’s steep on the way up the non-road path but worth it, especially if you’re looking to stretch your legs after a drive. 20170616_171746890_iOS

Holy cow… the view… It leaves you breathless… There’s a view of the castle with the village and the lake behind. I was a little nervous on the bridge as the wooden planks shift under one’s weight. There were few people up there at night so I got to enjoy my view mainly by myself.

A path connects the bridge with the castle. You come out right at the base so can see some of the exterior carvings up close.

There’s another viewpoint at the castle where you can see the town and the church. You can hear cowbells from down below. 20170616_180548206_iOS

On the way down I made a deer friend who followed me for a bit.

The next day I took the more direct road path up. The hotel said it would take me 45 minutes and I made it in 20! There is the option for taking a horse carriage or a bus (to the bridge and then you have to walk over) although I believe it is quite fun to make the hike.

  • Ludwig II lived for 40 years. Construction on the castle began in 1869 and ended with his death in 1886. He liked Wagner and dedicated the castle to his works.
  • In the throne hall there was a chandelier that literally weighed a ton with a beautiful starburst on the ceiling.
  • The bedroom had a Tristan and Isolde theme. Ludwig’s favorite color was blue and this is reflected in the room. Right off the bedroom is an artificial drip cave with a winter garden attached.
  • There was running water on the upper floors. The king also had his own chapel.
  • The swan was featured a lot as it was Ludwig’s favorite animal.
  • The tour is fairly brief at only 30 minutes as the castle was barely finished before his death. It concludes at the Singer’s Hall were there were beautiful paintings all around. Then you enter into the unfinished parts of the castle. There is a balcony with a view of the bridge, a multimedia presentation about how it would have been finished, and a look into the modern kitchen.
  • King Ludwig only spent 170 days in the castle total over 6 months.
  • I found this guy on the way down. He was already positioned there when I noticed him. 20170617_094741741_iOS
  • These squirrels were enjoying the bird feeder (make sure you find both).20170617_081758911_iOS

Hohenschwangau

  • Maximilian and Mary married when they were 32 and 17, respectively. Their son, Ludwig, became the youngest Bavarian King at 18 when his dad died at 53.
  • His younger brother Otto fought in the various wars and came home with what would have now been diagnosed at PTSD. He was placed in a mental institution and therefore unfit to potentially rule.
  • When Ludwig died, his uncle took the throne and he lived until 1912. Ludwig’s mom died 3 years after Ludwig.
  • Electricity was put into the castle in 1910 when an elevator was put in at the request of Leopold who at age 90 requested it.
  • The Wittelsbach family (royal family) owns the cast but not Neuschwanstein. Some of their castle have been sold off and some they still own. There are 20 living members of the family left.
  • The bedroom is attached to a music room featuring a bust of Wagner. The bedroom had a lot of naked women painted on the walls. There’s a telescope in the dressing area to view the progress of Neuschwanstein. In the ceiling the stars and moon could be illuminated from the third floor.
  • Ludwig II stayed unmarried and childless. He was engaged for 8 months to the younger sister of Siss, the Empress of Austria, but he broke it off.
  • There are nice gardens around the castle, which is located right off the lake.

     

     

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Shloss Nymphenburg

I went for a nice afternoon visit to this Summer Palace that used to be outside of the city and now is barely on the outskirts. It’s a quick train ride outside of the city.

  • Bavaria has the largest amount of land but not the largest population
  • The palace is original as it was not bombed during WW2.
  • The palace was built between 1664 and 1749.
  • The Royal family is now known as Dukes. They still reside at the palaces and as a result one is unable to visit the entirety of most castles.
  • King Ludwig II was the eccentric, mad king. When he was at Berg he went for a walk with the doctor and never came back. He was found in a foot of water. There are of course a million theories.
  • The bedrooms were designed in green as it was thought to calm one down.
  • Her name was Lola! She was a showgirl! Her real name was Lola Montez but really Eliza Dolores Gilbert. She said she was from Spain but she was really from Ireland. She was married, then divorced and had to make money somehow. She was trained in dance and had her first performance in Royal Albert Hall in London. She met the king and was given horses. She tried to influence the king and the people weren’t that happy… The people went and did some research, finding her records and discovering her lies. She went to Switzerland and then to the US. She wanted to be rich. However it never happened. She moved to Brooklyn at age 40 an died shortly thereafter. She is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery. Now of course you wonder why this is mentioned. She was one of the famous women painted and hanging on the walls of Shloss Nymphenburg. 20170615_113914667_iOS
  • Th house, gates, and servant houses formed an enormous circle. It was pretty amazing. There were lots of gardens in the back of the palace.

Munich!

I took advantage of a free walking tour beginning in Marienplatz, named after the statue of Mary.

  • 85% of the city was bombed during WW2 so now there are multiple building materials per building, showing the patched up places.
  • It is mandatory for high school students to visit a concentration camp. They also have classes about the psychology behind the war.
  • There’s a monkey tower, named because a monkey grabbed a baby, Ludwig IV, and carried him up it. The tower was destroyed during WW2 bombings but was able to be recreated due to an unusual source – Adolf Hitler. Hitler moved to Munich in 1915 to become a painter after he was rejected from an art school in Vienna. The monkey tower was one of his many painting spots.20170613_124647945_iOS
  • Traditional clothing: A dirndall for women has a blouse, skirt, and apron. A knot on the left means you’re single. Liederhosen is the traditional outfit for men and literally means leather pants. Both of these were working gear initially and now have turned into the traditional costume of festivals, for example Oktoberfest.
  • Oktoberfest started with Ludwig I’s wedding celebration. He gave free beer to the people and they demanded he continue the tradition. While originally in October, it was moved to September to attract more tourists.
  • The Residenz was the king’s city residence. It was bombed by the allies because they thought it was the Nazi HQ but it was not. As a result it has been completely redone. One of the first rooms is a semi-outside room that is decorated all with shells. It is quite amazing!
  • The English Gardens is a large park area behind the Residenz. A river runs through it and there’s one area where people surf. It’s crazy! You’ll also notice some skinny dippers of all ages enjoying the fresh air and cool water.
  • Field Marshall’s Hall is at one end of Ludwigstrasse with the victory arch at the other end. The Nazi’s used this area to show off on parade. The building are close together so the marching military would be loud and echo off of the buildings.
  • Church’s towers at Frauenkirche supposedly have a devil’s footprint.
  • The famous Glockenspiel “performs” a couple of times a day, depending on the time of the year. I went to the evening performance. It was not the most exciting but it is something to see if it fits into your day. I do believe that if you are going to see it you must stay for the entirety of the performance, including the final cuckoos at the very end. Otherwise I don’t feel as though you can say you actually saw it.

Hofbrauhaus

As soon as I arrived in Munich, my colleague whisked me away to the Hofbrauhaus for dinner. It was quite the “Welcome to Bavaria!” experience.

We found a place on the outdoor patio and were serenaded by singers lined up on the stairs and then by the band which marched through the tables before going to its traditional spot in the main hall.

In true Bavarian fashion I ordered Wienerschnitzel.20170612_184533722_iOS

Hofbrauhaus was the King’s beer house. in 1844 there was a beer revolution as the beer tax kept getting higher and higher. There were a few more revolutions over the years as well.

In 1995 the government ruled that biergartens had to close at 1:00am. People boycotted and refused to leave for the weekend so the government gave in and got rid of the curfew.

Mozart was banned for starting a bar fight. Hitler was a regular here as well.

My colleague told me that there was a Airbrau at the airport so I made sure to make a visit on my way out of town! There is a nice outdoor patio as well.