Thursday, March 02, 2006

Crazy (as in Ludwig II) Kind of Day

02 March 2006

Before I even start to go into this day, I just want to say that I’ve had a change of heart. I will cave on this one and admit my stubbornness and occasional hatefulness here and say most is forgive with the Ayinger thing last night. After I slept on it last night, I still had to admit that the food at this place was nothing short of great. The beer, well need I say more? So really my beef, if you’ll pardon the pun, was with the service at this place.

Now granted I won’t go back there again, while I’m here this time. There are so many places to eat great German style food in Munich, that you couldn’t eat at every one of them if you had a month vacation here! We have challenged ourselves day in and day out to find a place that has anything nearly as bad as the best English food we had in London!

Now as far as the service goes, I just think Wermers got himself into the wrong occupation. Perhaps with his puckered prune face and unfriendly type attitude, he might investigate opportunities that would not put him in such close contact with the public…maybe like a mortician or a post office worker where his attitude will be easily forgiven by others. You know what I’m talking about, right? The Lilly Tomlin operator type. “Yellow. No I’m sorry we can’t help you. Pardon. No, really, we DON’T care. We’re the phone company, we don’t have to care.” Course that was when there was only one phone company…and she really was a MOTHER!

So we got our happy behinds out of bed early today to make the bus trip to Neuschwanstein. Now if you’ve never heard of the place, it is known as Crazy Ludwig II’s biggest mistake. I supposedly cost him his throne. Actually, his loss of the throne was a purely a political tussle among his haters in Munich. Ludwig was actually an artsy kind of guy who just wanted to be left alone but was thrust into power by his father’s early death.

One thing that particularly surprises me is that for as uneducated and unschooled as Ludwig II was, he actually was into some very deep material and artists. He loved the writing of Schiller and loved the music and operas of Wagner. These are not the tastes of some dolt ascending the throne that didn’t have at least some proper education and breeding. But his lack of education did ultimately put him at a disadvantage when pitted against his adversaries in Munich as we found out.

Our first stop on this bus tour was to Ludwig’s first palace just outside of Oberammergau. It isn’t a very big palace actually, but inside it was very ostentatious. It was built in tribute to the French style which he very much admired. Of course we saw all the guilded rooms and French reproductions. Then there were the unique things like the gray marble fireplaces, brown marble fireplaces, malachite table from Russia, lapis lazuli fireplace and the like. Every detail was drafted and verified by Ludwig himself. He lived in this palace during most of most of time in that area.

We really didn’t get to view and walk the gardens and see all the statuary since it was covered for the winter. The weather was not too great today either. Started out clear, cold and windy with temps about 20F. But the way the palace is situated on the mountain side, it really gave him great views of his rear and front gardens. I could see him living very comfortably in that place.

From Linderhof, we went down to Oberammergau for a quick shopping excursion. This town was only about six kilometers from Linderhof and is also famous by its own rights. Oberammergau is mostly famous for the passion play it puts on every ten years. Only native born Oberammergauers are allowed to act in the play which recreates the Passion of the Life and Death of Christ. How this was explained to us was that after the 30 years war came the great plague. Oberammergau was so descimated by these events that they prayed and prayed and prayed to God for mercy. The promised Him that if he would hear their prayers that they would make sure to remember his mercy on them for generations to come.

I had heard about the Passion Play when I lived here, but since it is only held every ten years, I missed the 1990 edition. Our guide advised us that tickets for the play which runs from April through September are sold out years in advance and are very pricey, but that they probably could still be had if we were interested for 2010. Something to think about if you’re planning a trip to Germany down the road some.

From Oberammergau, we proceeded to the city below Schloss Neuschwanstein. We finally were able to catch lunch. Once again, a pretty stinking good lunch although portions were a bit small. Still hungry? Have another Weissbier. That should hold you over till later.

Since Phil was not up to climbing up to another castle, he suggested that for 5 Euro a piece that we take the horse-drawn wagon up to the top. He said that his legs are still aching after Heidelberg! That was fine with me. The weather at this point was somewhat overcast and sloppy. The road leading to the castle was snowpacked in some places and horse-dung covered in other places. Melting ice and snow and squished horse-dung piles only mean one thing…a real nasty watery mess that you don’t want on your shoes!

Went through the tour of the castle and found it quite interesting. As with Linderhof, what is completed of Neuschwanstein is very ornate and its construction was completely overseen by Ludwig personally. Ludwig built this castle in a theme of Middle Ages. So the arches and such are all replicating that of the Middle Ages buildings. This castle was also built as a tribute to Richard Wagner’s operas. So each room contains murals with scenes from different Wagner pieces and Middle Ages stories. The only one right now I can think of is Tristan and Isolde. I remember reading that in German classes back in high school too.

His throne room is phenomenal with six apostles on either side of where the throne was to be located, six canonized kings above his throne and the risen Christ above them all. The inlayed mosaic floor contains some millions of pieces in a hunting/animal scene, St George slaying the dragon is on the back wall and a chandelier that weighs two tons in the shape of a crown hangs above the room. Aside from the bedroom, I’d say that this throne room is probably the most beautiful room that we saw in the castle.

Part of the problem also is that since the castle was never finished, tours are only allowed in completed areas. For as large as this castle is, you really only get a taste of what it really could have been. It is also said that this castle was the inspiration for Disney’s castle.

By 4:30, we were on the road back to Munich. Quite the full day. We were walking through the Karl’s Tor when I asked Phil what we were going to do for dinner. The reminded me that I wanted to go back to Bratwursthartzl. Well, especially after yesterday, you weren’t going to get any argument from me on that suggestion.

Saw Sabrina today and told her about our incident at Ayinger. I was telling her that our waiter was too good for us and rubbed my finger up the underside of my nose. She just cracked up and said, “Well we aren’t that way over here and you’re welcome in here any day!” Now that’s the kind of atmosphere I can live with…that’s Gemutlichkeit. Need I say anymore? My slice of stuffed veal roast, some of that potato salad with the cucumbers and a couple of weiss biers and I’d say it was about the perfect ending to the perfect day.
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