Coming Home…

It’s been a crazy non-stop day starting at 3 am in Sweden and ending at 2:30 pm or so boarding the daily Lufthansa flight leaving Frankfurt for LA. We were able to score seats in Business Class for a good price so we said “Why not?”. Definitely a happy surprise…no more grouchy faces…

Visiting Neuschwanstein, Part 3

As previously noted, we were unable to take any pictures inside the castle so I’ve found a few online to give you an idea of what’s there. The one thing to keep in mind when viewing Neuschwanstein is that this structure was never intended as a fully functioning royal residence. Rather, Ludwig II conceived of Neuschwanstein as his own personal retreat from the world at large (and its attendant responsibilities as King of Bavaria) and it was meant as a solitary place with a minimum of staff. Heavily influenced by Romanticism, the decoration incorporated elements from Germany mythology as embodied in the The Ring of the Nibelung. Ludwig also drew heavily from Christian themes and running through everything was a heavy fantasy element that’s hard to precisely define.

Here are few of the rooms that impressed us the most. First is the Throne Hall:

Above are three views of the Throne Hall looking from where the throne would have been. Ludwig died before the throne could be completed so the order was simply cancelled. And now for some views looking towards the throne platform:

And a close-up off of some of the detail:


The Throne Hall was quite an impressive sight, especially since it combined elements of Byzantine and Gothic architecture. Next on our most impressive list was the Singer’s Hall (which was never meant for actual concert performances):

The Singer’s Hall looking in both directions. Here’s some views of Ludwig’s study and bedroom:

And finally, some of the most curious of the rooms- the Grotto and the Wintergarden:

We have to say, that as much as we liked seeing all of this “in the flesh,” it was impossible to get any unobstructed views due to the large crowds of tourists- they’re simply letting too many in. We would have been more than willing to have paid three or four times as much to take a private tour… With the tour over, we exited the castle and took a horse-drawn carriage ride down the mountain. We highly recommend this mode of travel if the lines aren’t too long:

We were definitely worn out from all the walking so we repaired to a local gasthaus for a hearty Bavarian lunch before getting on the train back to Munich. It was an amazing day and I would highly recommend visiting Neuschwanstein to anyone with the caveats that it can be quite crowded and there’s A LOT of walking involved. 🙂


Visiting Neuschwanstein, Part 1

Today we hopped on the Deutsche Bahn and journeyed south to Füssen to go visit the legendary castle of Neuschwanstein. Getting to the castle is relatively easy BUT it’s advisable to buy tickets way in advance since it’s regulated by appointment and it gets crowded in the summer and early fall. Worse, you have a specific time window to pick up the tickets prior to your “appointment” time (for further details on visiting Neuschwanstein, go HERE). Nevertheless, the Deutsche Bahn is fast and efficient and after about a two-hour ride in a comfortable train, we arrived at Füssen where we caught the bus heading to the town of Hohenschwangau where the main visitor center/ticket office is located (it’s actually an easier trip than what we’re describing).

Waiting for our train at the Hauptbahnhof, Munich.

After picking up the tickets, we were able to rest a bit easier and so we decided to take in the scenery a bit before heading to our first stop, the Museum of the Bavarian Kings (more properly, Museum der Bayerischen Könige). Like Neuschwanstein, it’s best to buy tickets in advance (we bought it all at the same time online about a month before leaving for Germany) but there’s no fixed admission time and it seems that most of the tourists avoid visiting in favor of the castles (Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwanstein). For us, it was perfect. The museum is right next to this lake, the Alpsee:

Compared to the visitor center, and later the castle, the museum was empty and we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. As the name suggests, the museum is focused on the Wittlesbach family who were the ruling the monarchs of Bavaria from the Middle Ages. Here’s some of the things that struck us (the lighting was playing havoc with my camera so for some pictures, I had to organize some photos from online):

The interior displays were aesthetically brilliant and it was complete sensory overload. And yes, that’s a LOT of real gold you’re looking at. 🙂

And here’s a portrait of Ludwig III, the last King of Bavaria, reigning from 1913-18:

And now for Ludwig II:

Portrait of Ludwig as Ludwig II as the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St George, (Gabriel Schachinger, 1887) wearing the ceremonial robe. And here’s the robe today:

The display of the robe is quite cleaver- it’s designed so it can be viewed from both front and back:

Not, it’s not the camera- the robe has faded to a shade of teal. It’s dramatically different than what’s pictured in the portrait above. There’s a lot more in the museum than what we’ve posted and we highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of Bavaria. It captures the history of the Wittlesbach kings very nicely, especially in how they attempted to come to grips with a modernizing world that would eventually render them irrelevant (sad, to say). Between this and the Residenz Museum, one can gain a pretty good overview. Definitely worth a visit. And now, on to the castle!

(To be continued…)

Out and About Munich, Part 2

Lunch was a delightful low-key affair at a local cafe that had an excellent view of the Residenz and after having recharged ourselves, we returned to the Residenz to view the Treasury and Cuvilliés Theatre. The Treasury itself is pretty straight-forward- essentially a large vault with a very massive door- that now houses the Wittlesbach Crown Jewels and other valuable mementos to include a coin collection with some 300,000 pieces. Below are just a couple of examples:

The Wittlesbach Crown Jewels.

It was hard to get decent pictures in the Treasury due to the lighting and glass display cases so I had to lift the above two pictures off of Wikipedia.

We next visited the Cuvilliés Theatre which was a visual treat. Like much of the Residenz, it’s been completely rebuilt on a site that’s close to the original site but it follows the same plan as the original and many of the fittings to include the boxes are original, having been stored away for security during the war. Originally built in from 1751 to 1755 under the Elector Max III Joseph, it was designed by the architect François Cuvilliés the Elder (who designed a number of structures in the Residenz complex). Below are some views that we got:

The stage- This is actually a working theater.

Looking up from the ground floor. There were four levels of seating.

Looking towards the main entrance. Above the entrance is the King’s private box.

Interestingly enough, the theater is a functioning theater and performances are staged here on a regular basis. Of all the places we visited, the theater was the most compelling, helped by the fact that it was fully air conditioned. 🙂 One of the downsides of visiting museums in Europe during the warmer times of the year they have minimal ventilation and the atmosphere is warm and stifling. But in spite of the challenges, it was well worth the effort and just the scale and magnitude of the structures and their furnishings is simply amazing. Stay tuned for more! 🙂