Tag Archives: Alps

Linda does Linderhof (and Neuschwanstein)

If you’re wondering why we chose to stay in a random little pocket of Austria, the answer is that Heiterwang is just a 20-minute drive from the world-famous Neuschwanstein Palace, but with much friendlier prices than on the German side of the border.

Unfortunately, the fabulous weather we’d be enjoying had come to an abrupt end, and we drove there through torrential rain under an angry, cloudy sky. But, even in crappy weather, the palace doesn’t fail to impress.

The first glimpse
The first glimpse

The only way to see the inside is on a guided tour and thankfully we’d reserved tickets as the queues were insane. They advise you to get there an hour before your tour time – with good reason. On a nice day, there was a chance we might have walked up there but with the rain still coming down by the bucketful, we decided to take the bus instead.

The ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Winding roads, steep drops and a driver with a lead foot on the accelerator. Still, we made it to the top in one piece.

View of Hohenschwangau
View of Hohenschwangau

There’s still a pretty steep walk up from the bus stop, and you have to battle your way through oblivious Japanese tourists. (Signs in the town are actually in Japanese, too.) But we made it with around 20 minutes to spare before our tour, which meant a 20-minute stand in the rain as you can’t get in until your designated time.

Tour group number 464 was herded through and then 465 was called. Our tour guide was a German girl with a love of using continuous tenses for everything. There was also a rather annoying man who roared translations at the rest of his party who clearly couldn’t understand a word of English.

The tour itself was underwhelming and took just 25 minutes in total. It felt a bit like being on a factory conveyor belt. Only around a third of the interior is furnished as all work stopped after the mysterious death of “Mad” King Ludwig at the age of 40. And while it was interesting enough to hear the details of some of the craftsmanship – it took 14 carpenters 4 years just to make the bed – it could have been so much better. When you’ve got a character like Ludwig on your hands, an entertaining tour should pretty much write itself. As it was, it was a bit like the “bad sex” of palace tours – in, out… Huh, was that it?

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We left the palace and walked through the drizzle to Marienbrücke.

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If you have a fear of heights, I would definitely not recommend this but the bridge is where you get the “money shot” of Neuschwanstein so it’s worth braving it.

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We got the bus back down and hopped into the car again. With the day still being but a pup, we decided to make it a Ludwig-themed one and go check out Linderhof as well.

Manfredas: If you see anything you want to take a photo of, just yell “stop”. 

Me: Cool, O… Jesus Christ! STOP! 

We had arrived at Plansee.

Wow...
Wow…

I’d been impressed by some of the other lakes we’d seen, but this one literally made my jaw drop. The weather had cleared up a bit and the reflection of the mountains in the water was nothing short of heavenly. We proceeded to drive for around a minute, stop again, jump out, take a photo, drive for another minute, stop, take a photo… This went on for some time and it is now clear to me that Manfredas has the patience of a saint.

Me: Where are we?

Manfredas: Well, we just passed … so we’re about 5 minutes from …

Me: No, no, I mean which country are we in? 

This was around the 4th time we’d crossed the Austrian-German border that day so hopefully you’ll understand my stupidity.

By the time we made it to Linderhof, the palace was closed for the day but we were kind of palaced out anyway so we were content to just wander around the gardens for a while. This was the only palace that Ludwig lived to see completed and I reckon he must have been pretty pleased with it. It’s almost as nice as my flat.

Not too shabby, Ludwig
Not too shabby, Ludwig

With the gardens, he attempted to recreate Versailles but, as I’ve never been, I can’t really say if he succeeded. They certainly are very, very pretty though.

I think I would have liked old Ludwig if I’d met him. After Wagner met him for the first time he said, “He is unfortunately so beautiful and wise, soulful and lordly, that I fear his life must fade away like a divine dream in this base world”. People say that about me all the time too…

After all of the touristy madness of the day, it was a relief to get back to our quiet little town, settle on the balcony with a glass of wine and listen to me mooing and baaing away. After that got tired, we headed back to Sunnawirt for more delicious food and pan piping.

Turkey and an edible flower!
Turkey, baked apple and an edible flower!

There wasn’t any yodelling that night as Paul was a bit worse for wear, having been on the red wine for God knows how many hours. Instead, we got a private tour of the rooms from his wife which was great. If I’m ever back Heiterwang way, I’d definitely try to stay there.

As we were on the road again the next morning, we had to call it a night – but not before I yodelled all the way back.

 

 

Road Trip: From Schechen to Salzburg

With the Germans on the road in their camper vans or off stealing sunbeds in Mallorca, there’s nobody left in Berlin for me to teach so it seemed like as good a time as any to take a holiday myself.

Our first main destination was to be Salzburg but that’s a bit of a monster drive from Berlin so we decided to overnight in a pretty little Bavarian village called Schechen.

Our little Gasthaus :)
Our little Gasthaus 🙂

You knew you were in Bavaria the moment you walked into the bedroom…

God is watching you, you unmarried sinners...
God is watching you, you unmarried sinners…

Still, as much as they like a good pray, the Bavarians are also rather partial to a good party, which is why you shouldn’t be overly surprised when you come across something like this:

Chuckle. Bavarians.

Anyway, after a walk around the town centre (approximately 2.5 minutes), we headed back to our Gasthaus which also had rather a nice beer garden. It seemed to be a pretty popular spot with the locals – it turned out to be the only spot – so we sipped our drinks and tried to understand what in the hell the other guests were saying. Bavarian, if you didn’t know, is not at all like “normal German” so it was a total mystery to both of us.

I ordered a Schnitzel which turned out to be the best one I’ve ever had. But still, I’m no match for German portions and the Schnitzel won, as bloody usual. It was while I was trying to wash it down with wine that I was attacked by the most vicious mosquitoes I’ve ever come across. Maybe they couldn’t understand me telling them to “Fuck Off!” in normal German and English so I ended up being bitten 10 times in under 10 minutes. We retreated to our room and hoped God would protect us as we slept…

The next morning, after a gigantic German breakfast, we were on the road again. With the sun shining and the temperature around 30 degrees, we decided to stop off at Lake Chiemsee, which was absolutely lovely and jam-packed with frolicking Germans. Clearly this is what they’re up to when they’re supposed to be at English lessons…

After almost burning my arse off on a seat and almost freezing my feet off in the water, we set off for Salzburg. This is where the Bavarian countryside starts to get really pretty and I was ooh-ing, aah-ing and singing the whole way. Lucky Manfredas…

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Ooh…aah…

Just before the border crossing, we pulled over to buy the sticker you need to have on display if you want to drive on the Austrian Autobahn. Manfredas also pulled two hi-vis vests out of the boot – seemingly you need to have them in the car to drive in Austria. (And that’s it for “Linda’s Random Facts You Probably Aren’t Interested In” – for now anyway.)

We arrived at our AirBnB apartment at around 2pm and met with the cute Polish-Russian host couple, who gave us a little guided tour, handed over the keys and then headed off to Italy for a couple of days. After a quick freshen-up, we hit the streets. The flat was in a great location so after around five minutes, we were in the centre of the Old City.

Cute idea!
Cute idea!

Salzburg has to be one of the most dreamily-located cities in Europe – it lies on the River Salzach, is renowned for its Baroque architecture and is surrounded by the Alps on all sides. Some guy called Mozart was also born here…

DSC01520The city is known for being incredibly rainy but we were in luck and it was blue skies all the way. After lunch at the perfectly named “Wein & Co”, we caught the bus to Hellbrunn, home to a palace, a park and trick fountains. I’d read about the trick fountains online and was intrigued so we bought tour tickets (you can only see them on a guided tour) and prepared to be amazed…

What I wasn’t prepared for was how wet I would get. While you’re admiring the fountains, the tour guide sneaks over and switches on jets of water that hit you from all sides. You never know where they’re coming from next so it’s either a laugh or a squeal a minute. The best you can try to do is find a dry spot to stand in but there’s really no way to avoid getting wet – which is a bit scary when you’ve got a nice camera or phone in your hand. One Chinese girl screamed her way through the entire tour, which was massively entertaining.

We didn't volunteer but also didn't escape...
We didn’t volunteer but also didn’t escape…
Thankfully not a trick fountain.
Thankfully not a trick fountain.

After drying off a bit in the park, we caught the bus back into town for some dinner and to find somewhere to watch the opening match of the Bundesliga. We settled upon my favourite kind of bar – dodgy – at the end of our street. There was no football, only some local characters and a semi-toothless Indian owner.

We chatted a bit with the locals who weren’t asleep and despite me calling one man’s tattoo a “tramp stamp”, we were invited back the next evening for a drink and a tour of where the locals go on a Saturday night. On a trip to the unlockable ladies’ loo, I came across something you probably don’t find in the guidebooks…

A SEX GAG MACHINE!
A SEX GAG MACHINE!

Of course, I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure when the last time it was used was but Manfredas told me every eyebrow in the bar raised when they heard the “clunk, clunk” of the coin dial. Still, I wasn’t disappointed:

Clearly enchanted by my cackling, the owner gave me a quite nice beaded necklace he found in a drawer.

Dodgy bars are always the most fun.