Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Munich Meanderings

Should've flown the dragon! After a v delayed start we were up n away for a long weekend break in Munich. Some time back we saw a TV prog about the castles of King Ludwig II and decided to go see for ourselves.

Stayed at the Atlas City Hotel. A small but perfectly formed budget hotel in the heart of Munich, yet surprisingly quiet at night. Munich has one of the best integrated/affordable public transport systems and the hotel is ideal for tram/bus/U & S bahn.

Also, much like Tokyo, the city has some large urban green spaces that can transport you from the bustle of city life to tranquil green spaces. The Englischer Garten is an amazing space with long walks, lakes and a large picnic area around the pagoda.

The architecture in the city varies greatly between the gothic and the almost brutal, some picturesque some large square concrete blocs.

Meanwhile back at King Ludwig II. Born 1864 and became Crown Prince of Bavaria at age 18. He passionately believed in the divine right of kings and besotted by Richard Wagner - the latter being the inspiration for the castles at Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. The lavish expenditure on these projects led Ludwig to bankruptcy and his untimely death in Lake Starnberger (did he fall or was he pushed, the mystery has never been solved).

Linderhoff was conceived after Ludwigs visit to Versailles in 1687. Ludwig became enchanted by the concept of the Sun King. This was the only building project Ludwig saw to completion and became his favorite residence.

The tour took us through some picturesque countryside in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps

Perhaps the most scenic, and probably the most devout, was Oberammergau. Famous for its ten yearly Passion Play (lasts around 7 hours) since 1634 - designed to keep the plague away from the village. Many houses and shops are air painted mainly with religious scenes.

Neuschwanstein (Swan Rock) was built between 1869 and 1886 above Alpsee Lake. This five story castle built in Romanesque style contains many lifesize scenes from Wagner operas - including an internal grotto. These projects bankrupted Ludwig, the State decided to remove him and he was later found drowned in mysterious circumstances. The irony is that now Neuschwanstein now draws in enough tourist revenue to support all of Bavaria's castles. The steep climb up is well worth the effort, or alternative horse n cart for the less adventurous.

The views from the castle balconies are equally as stunning -

The castle in the background, Hohenschwangau, was his fathers.

On the way back we drove through the most amazing 'tropical' storm. Within two minutes the temp dropped from 23 to 13C, hail/thunder/lightning and water cascading off the bus. Within 20 mins all back to normal.

Meanwhile, back in the City, rest and some sustenance -

a tour of the main market + some familiar places -
many towns/villages have these maypoles
the icons show whats available
bakers/inns/butchers et al

Then onto a palace within the City. The baroque palace of Nyphenburg was the summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs. Five generations of Wittelsbach rulers were involved in the construction which houses several outstanding collections. With its lavishly decorated interior and the famous "Gallery of Beauties" commissioned by Ludwig I, it contains the former bedroom of King Ludwig II and the impressive banquet hall with fine ceiling frescoes by Johann Baptist Zimmermann.

the very bed

There are extensive garden walks down to the 'cascade'.

and so to the final evening.

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