europe2015

King Ludwig's Castles

One of the most anticipated sights for us on this trip was Neuschwantstein Castle. The Disney castle is modeled after this and it's literally a real life fairytale. When we arrived here the first day the fog was so thick the castle was barely visible. We decided to wait and come back again the next day hoping that weather would clear and the visibility would be better. We woke up to the sound of rain hitting the rooftops. We decided to visit the castle anyways. When we finally made it up to the castle we were again devastated because Mary's Bridge was closed.  King Ludwig created Mary's Bridge so he would be able to marvel at his masterpiece, this is also one of the best viewpoint for photography of the castle. We shot the castle from other angles and left semi-satisfied. The next morning we woke up to a wonderful surprise. SNOW! The snow had fallen overnight and the surrounding mountains were covered. We drove back to the castle and the what we saw can't be described. It was one of the most beautiful sights either of us had ever seen, leaving us speechless. The snow above the castle and the vibrant fall colors below were something out of a dream.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Ludwig did not live long enough to see the completion of his masterpiece. His mysterious death at the age of 40 is still unsolved.

Hohenschwangau Castle

Across the valley from Neuschwanstein Castle is King Ludwig's childhood home. Situated on the top of a hill surrounded by lakes and mountains this castle's pale yellow exterior is beautiful especially in the fall. Ludwig built his "dream castle" close by so he could easily walk to and from his home and keep a close eye on it's construction.

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Linderhof Palace

These two photographs above are from (http://www.schlosslinderhof.de/englisch/palace/history.htm)

These two photographs above are from (http://www.schlosslinderhof.de/englisch/palace/history.htm)

Linderhof Palace is an hour's drive away from the other two castles and is nicknamed "Mini Versailles." Ludwig modeled it after the famous Versailles Palace in France but it is tiny and only has one bedroom, for the King himself. They do not allow photography inside which we truly appreciate! This is the only one of Ludwig's three properties that he finished before his death. Along with only one bedroom he had a unique eating room, where he would sit alone and enjoy a 7-12 course meal every day. The table in his eating room was designed so it would go up and down from his chair to the kitchen downstairs. He wanted to eat like a king, but without interruption. He used this palace as his hunting lodge and it is very secluded.

Ludwig's Grotto. This man made cave was used for personal music performances.

Mittenwald

This little village nestled below the German alps is nicknamed the "living picture book." Every building is beautifully painted and tells its own story.

Down the main street a little trough of water flows and at night the babbling sound of this stream is all that can be heard in this sleepy town.

Our hotel had main street on one side and the the German Alps on the other.

Our cozy hotel for the evening. Hotel Alpenrose

Our cozy hotel for the evening. Hotel Alpenrose

Look closely at this picture. This cafe had individual wooden shade structures for your beer! Underneath those wooden houses on the table were beer glasses. While traveling you see some weird things that are very unique to a certain area, this is one of those things. We walked by and almost everybody looked very local and borderline sunburned. Eyes closed and faces to the sky trying to gather the last of the summer sunshine. These little "beer shades" were pretty awesome. 

Look closely at this picture. This cafe had individual wooden shade structures for your beer! Underneath those wooden houses on the table were beer glasses. While traveling you see some weird things that are very unique to a certain area, this is one of those things. We walked by and almost everybody looked very local and borderline sunburned. Eyes closed and faces to the sky trying to gather the last of the summer sunshine. These little "beer shades" were pretty awesome. 

Fussen

The old town of Fussen is a 5 minute drive from Neuschwanstein castle. It's a pedestrian only walled city with great little restaurants and a rich history.

St. Mang's Cathedral in Fussen was stunning. All the churches in Europe are breathtaking but this one felt different for us. Maybe it was the 3D murals on the ceiling (notice the boys leg coming out of the frame), maybe it was the ancient relics hanging above the alter, or maybe it was because it was a warm and comfortable place on a cold and blustery day. Either way this cathedral was something special. This was the first time I think either one of us had entered a giant European church and had the whole place to ourselves, it made for a very different experience.

Exploring the German Alps

We would highly recommend renting a car in this area, and if possible during the fall season.  When the leaves start to change colors the mountains come alive! With the aid of a GPS and a turbo-charged Volkswagen you are sure to have a great time and (almost) not get lost. With a car you have the freedom to take back roads and find undiscovered areas and stop at your convenience.

Leutasch Gorge is a 15 minute drive from Mittenwald; and as the myths goes it is home to water-fairies and goblins. The vibrant colors of the water and trees as you walk through the gorge are so contrasting and unique that it seems unbelievable. No wonder this is the place of folklore and legends.

Our favorite thing about driving through Germany is turning around a bend to be surprised by a castle! This was one of our favorites we stumbled across.

Traditional Bavarian meal. 2 steins of beer, cheese spaetzle, and pork knuckle with a bread dumpling.

Oberammergau

Oberammergau

We spent two nights in this area, one in Oberammergau and one in Garmish. Both were charming and had views of the German alps.

Oberammergau

Oberammergau

Berchestgaden

Right over the Austrian boarder into Germany is the small mountain town of Berchestgaden. This little ski town offers some great mountain views and a very charming Bavarian town. Near by the town of Berchestgaden is Hitlers "Eagles Nest." This building was a gift to Hitler on his 50th birthday from the Nazi party. Resting at over 6,000 ft and placed right on the peak of the mountain, the view is nothing short of spectacular. Even on this semi-foggy day we could easily see Salzburg, Austria over 35 kilometers away. To get up to the Eagles Nest you must park your car, then take a shuttle up to a small parking area. From this parking area you must walk over 100 yards into a tunnel which ends at a small dome shaped room with one elevator door. You enter a lavish polished brass elevator and are brought up 400 feet to the top. Once up at the top you are left with a stunning view of the German/Austrian boarder, and a very eerie feeling.

Below the Eagles Nest is Kongissee Lake which was our next stop.

Kongissee Lake

Kongissee Lake

We ditched the crowds and found a quiet place to take in the views. The boats moved about the lake as the clouds opened and closed letting in some very dramatic rays of light. Below is poster of St. Bartholomew's Church, the boats take tourist there for a bargain price of 14per person so we decided to hike around and get a view from a far and save our 28€.

Amazing light coming down onto St. Bartholomew's Church.

Amazing light coming down onto St. Bartholomew's Church.

Goulash for lunch

Goulash for lunch

After exploring the surrounding sights we headed into the colorful old town just in time for their Sunday market and the end of a German festival.  Everyone was dressed in their traditional outfits, men were yodeling, and everyone was drinking local wine. We grabbed a bottle and joined the festivities. The town party came to an end as equally fast as the rain came into town, we found ourselves at the beer hall for dinner where the party continued. We met some incredible local people and had one of the best nights of our trip so far.