As you doubtless know, we are a bit (OK, or more than a bit) castle obsessed, so you might be surprised it has taken us this long to get to the most famous castles in Germany. And, because they are down in the German Alps, we combined some castle visiting with a cross country ski weekend; both castles and skiing were pretty awesome.
|Skiing!! On snow!!|
|One of the mural covered buildings in Oberammergau|
Saturday, we decided that things had re-frozen overnight and were going to be icy, so we wandered around town for a few hours, shopping, before going skiing to let things soften up a bit and get a bit safer. We found some really cute things, including a small wood carving, for which the region is famous, and a traditional Bavarian men's hat that looks good on Sasha and coincidentally also fits me. We grabbed sandwiches and pretzels from a bakery to eat for lunch, then drove down to a trailhead near Ettal, so that we could ski to a castle, which we then did. Now, this isn't our usual "two rocks on top of each other that you can envision once was part of a castle if you squint"; rather, this was Schloss Linderhof, one of the famous castles of Crazy Louie himself. OK, we have started calling him that because it is more fun than saying "König Ludwig II of Bayern" every time we want to talk about him. Anyway, he was born in 1845, and pretty quickly after he became king, Bavaria became part of the German empire and he effectively didn't need to govern so spent his time and his money (and then some more money that he didn't have) building 3 elaborate castles around Bavaria, because after visiting Versailles, he decided that Bavaria needed more castles. At some point, the people around him realized that he was pushing the monarchy into insolvency, they decided that the best way to reign him in was to get him declared insane, and shortly thereafter he drowned under mysterious circumstances. The castles then quickly became tourist attractions, in an attempt to recoup some of the losses of their construction.
|Don't you agree, that's a stylish hat for Sasha!|
I have to say, from the outside, I was almost a bit disappointed with Neuschwanstein. Yes, it is huge, and with the towers and such, looks like an ideal castle. But it doesn't look "real" to me, it looks more Disney. And it's not just because this castle is one of the main influences for Disney's castles, it is also because it is so new and pale in color that it looks like it just was taken out of its castle box; the stonework is too crisp and perfect, which makes sense, I suppose, since it is less than 150 years old (a baby by castle standards) and was barely lived in. Only a handful of rooms were completed by the time that Ludwig died, and he stayed there I think something like 113 days total, and never with guests and musicians, etc. The inside, though, changed my opinions. Unfortunately (although not surprisingly given the number of tourists), we weren't allowed to photograph inside, but the walls are completely covered in murals and such, and there were plenty of fancy curtains and brocaded furniture for it to seem suitably palace-like.
|Neuschwanstein (doesn't it look new and shiny?)|
But I still have to admit that my favorite thing was probably the freshly fried donut things we bought on the way up. Hot, covered in powdered sugar, with moist quark-rich dough... Yum!