After our day in Salzburg, my parents and I took another day trip from Munich, this time participating in a tour that would go to some of the famous castles and palaces in the state of Bavaria in Germany. Frankly, I hadn’t had much knowledge of the places we would be visiting, but all the same, I was interested in seeing what they were all about.
Around 9h00, we met up at the city center of Munich, just a bit off the busy intersection near the Hauptbahnhof, to board our tour bus for a day trip to see the Linderhof Palace, Oberammergau (small town), and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The tour was in English (no German for us!), and we got a crash course in the 19th-century history of how Neuschwanstein Castle came to be. Essentially, it all started with Ludwig II of Bavaria (aka “the fairy tale king”), who was quite the crazy man, but because of that has been immortalized through myths, of which are used on tours such as the one we took. After all, they sell our experience of it!
After about an 1 hour, 20-minute drive, we made our first stop at Linderhof Palace, one of the three palaces (along with Neuschwanstein) that was created during the reign of Ludwig II. It is the smallest one, and it was the only palace that was completed when he was alive, let alone lived in. Photography was not allowed inside, but imagine rooms covered from top to bottom, floor to ceiling, with ornate golden-leaf carvings and million-ton chandeliers hanging in a row along the hallways. There was also the “Hall of Mirrors” (not to be confused with the same name in Versailles), which involved a seemingly never-ending hallway of mirrors, due to the optical illusion played out by two opposing mirrors on two sides of the room. Quite mind-boggling!
We also checked out Ludwig II’s private room, as he was a private, reclusive man- he was such a recluse that he had servants deliver his dinner through a dumb waiter built into his office desk: the desk would descend from a trap door on the floor down to the kitchen, where the servants would place the food on it and bring it back up to the king himself, so that he didn’t have to see, let alone interact, with anyone, and was left to eat his dinner in peace.
After the tour of the inside, we exited Linderhof Palace for a quick photo opportunity of the exterior before we boarded the tour bus to our next destination. While the outside of Linderhof Palace was quite small and unassuming, nevertheless I enjoyed the tour of the inside, which in itself was incredibly impressive.
Our next stop was at Oberammergau (yes, I know it’s a mouthful to say!), small town located just a bit off of Linderhof Palace, about fifteen minutes away and along the way to Neuschwanstein Castle. It is known for three things: wood-carving, Lüftlmalerei (intricately-painted houses with fairy-tale depictions), and its Passion Play, a theatrical production of Jesus Christ’s life that takes place every ten years in the town. At least for the Passion Play, it draws plenty of tourists to Oberammergau, and tickets are usually sold out at least a year in advance, which is absolutely insane! Put out by the locals, the most recent one in 2010 was the first one to have the lead actor (who played Christ himself) who was gay, which for me being a huge proponent (and member) of the LGBTQ+ community is a big step for progress, especially in that of a traditional, religiously-based play.
We didn’t spend too much time in Oberammergau; we just wandered around town, checking out some of the Lüftlmalerei which depicted fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. My parents and I popped into a souvenir shop, where they opted for a wood carving magnet of Neuschwanstein Castle (in Oberammergau, I know, but probably cheaper than at the actual location).
After Oberammergau, we boarded the bus once more, taking the 45-minute to 1-hour ride over to Neuschwanstein Castle, which would be our final stop of the day. It would also be our longest, since we would be having lunch and taking a tour of the castle itself. We arrived at the base of the hill on which the castle was perched around 13h00, close to 14h00. Before, we got lunch at a hotel-restaurant, where I treated myself to spätzle, which is egg noodles cooked with melted cheese and onions. Think a “fancier mac and cheese,” although I much prefer spätzle over Kraft anytime! Also got mulled wine, considering that it was actually snowing (flurries, but still) while we were there. Overall, it proved to be a nice, hearty meal, ready to be burned off afterwards with our ascent to Neuschwanstein Castle.
After lunch, we began our climb up to Neuschwanstein Castle, easily a 20 to 30-minute walk up. While we could have opted to go up via a horse-drawn carriage, we thought we would save a bit of money and also get our exercise by going on foot. The climb ended up not being too bad, and 25 minutes later, we reached the entrance of the castle.
Besides being one of the three palaces of Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein Castle (“New Swanstone Castle”) is also famous for being the inspiration behind the iconic Disney castle logo. Close to 15h00, we took a guided tour of the inside, which personally I didn’t find as impressive as that of Linderhof’s, but all the same it was good to have visited another one of Ludwig II’s castles, although the king himself didn’t live long to see it fully completed.
Our tour finished around 16h45, and after hanging around the exterior of the castle, my parents and I began our descent to the base of the hill, where the tour bus was waiting for its passengers, and from there we took the long ride back to Munich (about 90 minutes to 2 hours). Upon arriving near the Hauptbahnhof, we once again got sandwiches for dinner before returning to our hotel to eat and rest for the night. It would also be our last night in Munich, as we would be catching the train over to our next destination the following day.
Altogether, the day trip excursion within the Bavaria state of Germany was brief, but very fruitful: I hadn’t known that Neuschwanstein Castle was that famous, let alone knew about it at all, but I was glad to have discovered a castle that rivaled that of other castles and palaces that I’ve seen so far in Europe (e.g. chateau de Versailles in France, Peterhof Palace in Russia). In the end, I was very pleased with how it at all turned out, with our stay in Munich and our day trips to nearby cities and locations.
Coming up: Passau, Germany!