. Within an hour of leaving Schwangau, we had arrived in Linderhof. The weather was still misty rain, but not enough to force us to wear raincoats. We booked our tickets and wandered the grounds of the castle. The castle itself it really small. It turns out that it was built in the style of Versailles palace in France, but as a one person palace. Hence the ’palace’ looks like a very ornate house, but the gardens in themselves are amazing. Out the from of the palace is a large pool with golden statues and then grand staircases leading up the hill to a temple of Venus at the top which overlooks the palace. Behind the palace is grand gazebo that leads down to an cascading waterfall that runs right down to the palace.
The tour group was quite small, which was nice - in keeping with the theme of the palace. Ludwig never received guests at Linderhof, it was built purely as a one person palace. The dining room had a small table and one chair. The table was lowered through the floor to be set so Ludwig didn’t have to see his servants. Again, many of the rooms were in tribute to Louis XIV and Louis XV of France (he did have a bit of a thing for the French kings). Again in keeping with the Palace of Versailles, Ludwig had his bedroom created in such a way the mirrors gave the impression that the room had endless space similar to the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. We had a laugh at the giant ceramic peacocks that were placed outside the palace when the king was in residence so locals would know not to approach. He really didn’t want anything to do with his subjects. After finishing the tour through the palace we made our way up the hill to the grotto. Ludwig, in his madcap architectural fantasies, had an artificial grotto built for his pleasure. The tour of the grotto didn’t start for about 20 minute, so we waited and people watched
. One little girl was having a lovely time dancing around, until she fell flat on her backside in the mud. She was less than impressed, although her parents (and us) were laughing. By the time the tour started, there was quite a crowd. We made our way inside and really came to understand how off his face Ludwig was. The cave opened out into a large space, with a lake and a conch shaped boat, artificial waterfall, huge painting on the wall, a balcony for the musicians and huge mirrors. Ludwig would receive private concerts here while being rowed around the artificial lake (which was heated to 22 degrees). It really was an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G cave. After the german rendition of the tour, the crowd thinned appreciably and we were able enjoy a wander around this amazing display of decadence. Gobsmacked, we made our way out and headed for another building on the grounds called the Kiosk, thinking we might be able to get a cup of coffee. NOOOOO. The Kiosk is actually a small building that looks like its from Turkey. It was apparently inspired by the tales of Arabian Nights. There were a few people inside so we waited around outside and a German fellow came up to us and started having a chat in broken English and German. Our understanding of German was enough to get by and he was travelling around Europe in his car and camping in the car. Keen. We were saying our goodbyes when all of a sudden he started into a spiel about god and religion. Turned out he was an evangelist (we can pick ’em can’t we) and from out limited understanding of German, it seemed he despised the churches as this was not the way Jesus lived, but he thought the Billy Graham was a reincarnation of Jesus
. He pulled out a booklet and gave it to us, telling us to read it and have our questions answered. Wasn’t aware we asked any…. Anyway, we eventually made our goodbyes (I think we made his day as he was able to preach his word etc). Inside the Kiosk, the building really was laid out like Aladdin’s Cave. Being careful to head in the opposite direction to the preacher, we made our way down the hill to the small chapel and back to the Palace. IT was starting to mizzle again so we decided to head for the car via a cup of coffee and hit the road again.
As we made our way down the valley from Linderhof, we turned off for a quick look at Oberammergau, a small town famed for 2 things. Its magnificent painted buildings and the Passion Play. The Passion Play is the towns tribute to being spared the ravages of the plague in 1634 and is about the suffering of Jesus. While it would be interesting, the play itself lasts for 8 hours and has about 2000 cast members. No wonder its only done every 10 years. The painted buildings though were fantastic. We stopped and had a bit of a wander around and bought some wurst supplies from a local butcher.
Stocked up and wary of a decent length drive to Berchtesgaden, we hit the road again, only to make it as far as Oberau (10 minutes down the road) and spot a Lederhosen factory outlet
. It was a about 4.30pm…..should we stop…….oh, ok. The place was amazing, traditional costumes wall to wall. We got a few lederhosen to try on. One above the knee style in brown leather and a couple of below the knee style in black leather. Eventually decided on the above the knee style and Rach found some red check shirts that fit perfectly, so I was set. Meanwhile, Rach was looking the Drindl’s and eventually decided to try one on. While it was a plain black dress with puffy white blouse and a red apron, Rach looked fantastic in it. After saying she wasn’t going to buy one, it looked so good, we just had to.
We paid up and hit the road again, this time managing to make it further than a 10 minute stretch. The drive across Bavaria was lovely and it was only an hour and a half before we were driving past the Chiemsee (where we had spent Easter) and turned off to drive up to Berchtesgaden. The rain had really started to come in again and as we were driving up, waterfalls were crashing down onto the road (fortunately on the other side of the road to which we were driving). At one point we crested a hill and there we couldn’t see anything, whiteout. We were both yelling out our favourite Mighty Boosh line “……I can’t see crap….We’re flying into the heart of darkness….AAAAGGGHHH.”
Made it into Berchtesgaden around 7.30pm and still flogging down rain. Found the camp site and it was one of those that we love, “Find a place and come see us in the morning”. Brilliant. Got the van set up and sloshed our way to the bathroom. The bathrooms were beautiful, but you wouldn’t want to be too sloshed as there was a sizable drop to the rushing river below just a couple of metres from the door. Anyway, we were all sorted, if a little damp and soon had the van warmed up and dinner on the go. We were both fairly knackered and hit the hay with the rain still thudding on the roof of the van.
Today started overcast and raining…..again. Once again it was time to don the blue raincoat to pack up the bikes and the van and wait for old matey to come back to read the meter, wow a whole €1.20. I suppose its for more user pays system for the motor mansions and their satellite dishes. Anyway, got him sorted out and Helga programmed and we were of on our way again. We were headed for Schloss Linderhof, the last of Ludwig II’s palaces and the only one that was completed. The quickest way there was to go through Austria rather than back tracking. Neuschwanstein was shrouded in mist with occasional glimpses. It was literally around the corner and across the river and we were back in Austria, again. 10 minutes down the road and it was time to turn off and head up into the mountains towards Germany again. We climbed to about 1000 metres and then all of a sudden, a huge glacial lake appeared, the Plansee. The road followed the shoreline of the Plansee and its beautiful emerald green waters for several kilometres before heading back into Germany