In part 1, I described a silly, over-excited 41 year old which was me on my very first visit away from my native Britain. A huge deal for myself, a huge annoyance to those around me, no doubt.
We had explored the Rhine Gorge for a couple of days, staying near Rudesheim, in the village of Assmannshausen, . I had been thrilled to see a theme of vines in our hotel room, and then equally thrilled to discover a four poster bed. ‘Oh grow up, you daft woman,’ I almost hear you sigh at this point. My poor fella probably said just that. I wouldn’t have heard him anyway, I was far too concerned with oohing and ahhing over everything, and wondering why the pillows looked like two white teeth sticking up on the bed.
After leaving this area we headed down the ‘Romantic Road’, a 200-odd mile stretch linking mid-Germany with the south. Ages later, we arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirken, our home for the next three nights. From here, we were reliably informed, you can see Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, but goodness knows where in the gloom of deepening evening.
While down in Bavaria, the plan was to visit the humble abodes of King Ludwig II, the so-called mad king who befell an untimely demise. He was found mysteriously floating in a lake, only about the same age as I was at this time when I was walking over three of his thresholds.
Linderhof is a decorative but compact palace, featuring a frighteningly ornate fountain, a Moroccan-style hideaway, gardeners hauling carts of bedding plants between tourists, and a no-photos rule inside, possibly to encourage rich sightseers (and me) to purchase postcards and overpriced guide books.
Even though Linderhof is considered somewhat snug in comparison to the other Royal Residences, it would still have swallowed up our own little cottage in rural West Yorkshire. Being of a rustic persuasion, I still found Linderhof interesting, though far too fancy-pants for me.
Linderhof, being in Bavaria, is also surrounded by stunning scenery. I would have loved to have had time to hike around some of it. What did help was the weather. It was May, and it was sunny and proper warm.
After seeing Linderhof, we paid a visit to one of THE tourist attractions of these ere parts. The awesome fairytale castle which is Neuschwanstein, or New Swan Rock. When I was a little lass, I had a Ladybird book of Sleeping Beauty, and I’m sure this castle was in it. I recognise it, it’s welcomingly familiar. In fact, I’ve even drawn it whilst attempting a childrens’ book cover illustration for college some years ago.
I preferred the semi-gothicy nature of Neuschwanstein to the gilt and Meissen-encrusted interior of Linderhof, but oddly my husband, opposite to me in many things, goes for ostentatiousness. Despite Neuschwanstein being built in honour of King Ludwig’s friend, the composer Richard Wagner, the castle was never fully finished, the King never lived in it, and Wagner never clapped eyes on it.
To reach Herrenchiemsee, you need to hop on a boat and sail over Chiemsee to the island where the largest and most elaborate of Ludwig’s palaces is situated. Herrenchiemsee was modeled on the Palace of Versailles. It’s dripping with the influence of Louis XIV (the ‘Sun King’ who Ludwig apparently admired for style, though heavens knows why) and is way fancy-schmancy for me. It was huge too, and rammed with tourists. I think I’d have much more enjoyed a stroll through the surrounding woods, except for the fact it was hitting 30 Celsius by this time. I’m from Up North, I struggle with anything over 25 degrees.
The weather broke after leaving Herrenchiemsee. On the way back past Munich, a storm erupted, and rain lashed down. After waving goodbye to Bavaria the next day, it was still raining. We headed up to the Black Forest for a night and to a complete change of scenery.
In the town of Triberg (weather now restored to warm sunshine), gushes Germany’s highest waterfall. For 3 Euro 50 we could go for a squint, but there’s plenty of it, and a decent hike up. We just had time to dash up, take a few photos, and dash down as we still needed to explore Triberg’s main street, and duck into Adler’s, the cake shop, for a much desired piece of real Black Forest Gateau.
So, that was my first holiday outside Britain. I saw stuff from other another culture, ate ponderous potato dumplingy things, drank Augustiner in a pub in Garmisch which smelt of sauerkraut and was full of cheerful local people also consuming quantities of Augustiner, and spotted some young men cycling about, dressed traditionally if not chafingly, in lederhosen. ‘Heck,’ I whispered. ‘They really do wear them.’
Ok, the Rheingau, further North, is full of tourist trash, and does cater for folks like me and my fella who try to speak pidgeon German with limited success, (I did quite well actually) and are unadventurously British when it comes to food. But I really did have a lot of fun. I like exploring places, and sometimes turn into a proper giddy kipper doing it, but hey…
And a final word on poor doomed King Ludwig. I don’t believe the guy was mad at all. Eccentric definitely, and that’s not bad thing, and he probably had mental health issues which were not understood back in the mid 1800’s like it is today. Like all Royalty, the King had enemies and opposition, and like many before him, sadly copped it in the worst way. Well Ludwig, Old Lad, Jillslawit enjoyed having a squint around your homes.