Tag Archives: Wagner

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.

 

 

Let loose in Leipzig (Part two)

Next on the list was the St. Thomas Church – place of “faith, spirit and music”. I hid my horns under my hood and walked in.

Thomaskirche
Thomaskirche

While the church itself, built in 1212, is very impressive, there’s more than a little history behind this building. Martin Luther preached here in 1539, bringing the Reformation to Leipzig…

Not to be confused with Martin Luther King
Not to be confused with Martin Luther King

Bach was Cantor here from 1723 to 1750, Mozart played the organ here in 1789, Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” after the latter’s death, and Richard Wagner was baptised here in 1813. Not bad, eh? It’s also the final resting place of Bach, whose grave was moved here in 1950.

In addition, there’s a prayer cross which I thought was a really nice idea. It started out as a prayer board in 1989, when unrest in the GDR was at its peak, and reflected people’s thoughts, hopes and fears, and was replaced by this prayer cross in 2001.

20150125_140739[1]I didn’t leave a prayer as I’m a heathen now, but I did drop a few euro in the donation box on the way out. Money is money, after all. I then spent another €0.70 on visiting the ladies’ toilet. I used a lot of soap afterwards to feel like I was getting my money’s worth.

After walking around a little more, I decided that it was time for more refreshments, and found a cosy little place that fit the bill.

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I had planned on getting a nice cup of tea, but when I saw that they had Glühwein, that plan went out the window. I flicked to the cakes section. While the first item on the menu caught my eye, it didn’t sound terribly appealing, so instead I opted for the Apfelstrudel.

Shame they didn't call me before this went to print
Shame they didn’t call me before this went to print

It turned out that they didn’t actually have Glühwein either so the menu lied to me. Instead I chose an alcoholic hot chocolate with Jaegermeister in it. While I’m not normally a fan of Jaeger, this was really quite delicious – and very warming.

The couple in front of me looked a little startled when my flash went off. I think maybe they thought I was trying to take a photo of their baby. Seriously. Why would anyone want to take a photo of a baby when they have lovely, photogenic cake on their table?

Feeling ready to face the world, and the rapidly dropping temperatures again, I continued walking around for another while, snapping a few pictures of eye-catching buildings as I went – not babies – until my face started to feel numb and I made my way back to the history museum (or “Das Stadtgeschichtliche Museum”, as it’s known in German).

This was really the highlight of the day. I hadn’t known that much about Leipzig before visiting, but after spending some time in this museum, you get a fantastic picture of the city, from its origins in the middle ages right up to the present day. The only downside was a “phantom farter”, who seemed to be one room ahead of me all the time, dropping little bombs for my olfactory pleasure.

Little Leipzig
Little Leipzig

When you see what the city looked like after the war, it really is remarkable to see it now.

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You can also sit and listen to Bach’s music, while looking at the only known original portrait of him. Previously, whenever I thought of J.S. Bach, images of Sister Roisin banging away on the school piano invaded my brain. Now I feel that I will have much more positive associations .

The man himself
The man himself

With the museum closing soon and my bus due in around an hour and a half, it was time to get a drink for the road. Having tried and failed to find a proper German Kneipe (bar), I came across an Irish pub, hidden away down a side street close to where the bus stop was. Disappointingly, there were only around four other people in the bar but I still managed to while away an hour or so, reading my book and mixing grape and grain.

A few days later, I met Dietmar for a few drinks.

Me: I was in Leipzig on Sunday. 

Dietmar: Did you see the Monument to Freedom and Unity?

Me: Um, no…

Dietmar: Then you have not been in Leipzig.

Me: Sigh. 

Next time, before I go anywhere, I’ll ask a German what to see and do instead of asking the internet. Stupid internet.

 

Useful links: 

http://meinfernbus.de/ – bus tickets from Berlin to Leipzig from €8

http://www.stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de/index_en.php

http://www.cafewaldi.de/

https://www.thomaskirche.org/