A Travellerspoint blog


Munich – We’re Not Here for the Beer

rain 12 °C

Although Munich is renowned today for its annual vomiting contest, (generally known as Oktoberfest), it is equally famous as the home of many of the world’s most successful manufacturers like BMW, Audi, Adidas, Puma, Grundig and Siemens. Munich is also home to some spectacular historic architecture including the enormous gothic city hall which is at the centre of the city’s Christmas Market…
Bavaria was ruled by members of the Wittelsbach family from 1180 - 1918, although by the time that the flambouyant Ludwig II took the crown in 1864 the real power was in parliamentarian’s hands. However, despite the fact that Ludwig broke the royal bank with his madcap buildings, the family kept a firm hand on their crown jewels and chief among them was their colossal palace, The Residenz, in the centre of Munich. Building began in 1385 and continued for centuries. The palace simply grew and grew as subsequent monarchs added big lumps to suit the times and their tastes – sometimes a little OTT...
The palace eventually had 130 major rooms around 10 courtyards with hundreds of ancillary chambers and staff quarters. Fortunately for our knees only 90 of the rooms are currently open to the public – although some of the halls are a route march in themselves. This banquet hall – the Antiquarian built in 1385 – is more than 200 feet long…
Allied bombing in WWII destroyed many of the buildings in the Residenz complex but it has been faithfully restored. However, while the Allies were flattening Munich in the 1940s, the Nazis were knocking big holes in London. It too survived and has been restored to its former glory – and what a glory it is. We often enthuse about all the amazing historic buildings we see around the world, but none compare with the architectural magnificence of London. This is The Royal Albert Hall…
Along with numerous royal palaces, the thousand year old fortress of the Tower of London and the capital’s iconic parliament buildings, there are hundreds of truly breathtaking buildings in this historic city. There are vast museums like the Victoria & Albert, the Science and the Natural History…
However, entry to all the national museums and art galleries in London is always free so there are crowds – everyone loves ‘free’ - but with museums like the Victoria & Albert having more than ten miles of exhibition galleries it’s always possible to find a quiet spot…
London has street after street of Georgian and Victorian masterpieces dating from the mid 1700s…
Regent Street, a mecca for the world’s wealthiest shopaholics, was built in the early 1800s and rebuilt a hundred years later. If you have to ask the price here you definitely can’t afford it. But it costs nothing to wander up and down and gaze in awe at the spectacular Christmas lights...

There is much more to England than London so now we are heading off to the country - to the beautiful Cotswolds. Hope to see you there in a few days.

Posted by Hawkson 01:20 Archived in Germany Comments (7)

Mittenwald – A Town for All Seasons

semi-overcast 15 °C

Many of the world’s tourist centres have eye-popping landscapes while others feature beautiful buildings; some offer easy access to historical sights and some are great for outdoorsy folks; some provide succour to the religiously inclined while others are happy to cater to sun worshippers. But, few places in the world have as much to offer as tiny Mittenwald perched on the border between Austria and Germany in the Bavarian Alps.
How about this for a view of the town centre, famous for its violin makers…
Or these beautifully decorated buildings near the main street, the Obermarkt...

Mittenwald is surrounded by the sort of bucolic Tyrolean landscape familiar to lovers of “The Sound of Music.” Cattle, sheep and deer graze in the lush lowland pastures while beech, birch and fir trees carpet the lower mountain slopes and the early snows blanket the higher peaks. With its ski-lifts and cross-country trails Mittenwald is an alpine playground in winter, and its many lakes, rivers and flower-strewn alpine walks make it a sun lover’s paradise in spring and summer. But now it is mid-November and, although the midday thermometer still hits the high teens, the leaves are turning copper and gold and the town is taking a welcome breather after a hectic summer.

Soon the skiers and snowboarders will come. Soon too, the Christmas vacationers will fill the hotels and bars with rowdy revelry. It is the start of Advent and the shop windows are gearing up for the festive season…
This part of Germany still has very strong links to the Catholic faith and, while Mittenwald has its own elaborately decorated church, it is surrounded by some of the most extensive and flambouyant religious structures to be found outside of Rome. This is Mittenwald’s ornate church tower…
However, when it comes to interior decorations, few church ceilings can rival this one in the Benedictine monastery at Ettal…
…apart from the Wieskirche (The Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour) in Steingaden…
But, when it comes to true religious zeal, few communities have the passion of the inhabitants of nearby Oberammagau who, since 1634, have decennially performed a spectacular re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion in thanks for being spared the bubonic plague that was rampant at that time. The next production is in 2020 when some 2,000 people, (half the population), will be involved in the 120 performances. Tickets go fast, so book soon – and if you do, please stay in Mittenwald. We know you will love it.

Posted by Hawkson 12:23 Archived in Germany Comments (3)

The Mysterious Affair of Lonely Ludwig

Another Inspector Bliss Mystery

sunny 17 °C

After successfully solving the 300 year old mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask in Louis XIV’s France, (as depicted in James Hawkins’ epic novel, The Dave Bliss Quintet), we found our trusty sleuth, D.C.I. David Bliss of Scotland Yard, in the Bavarian Alps on the trail of the dastardly killer of King Ludwig II, (alias: The Swan King). This is the last known bust of the deceased who died mysteriously at the age of 40…
The case so far... King Ludwig II of Bavaria, son of Maximillian II, was found dead in a lake together with a doctor who earlier that week had declared him insane. The time of death was 6.54pm on 13th June 1886. The facts: Ludwig and his equally nutty brother, Otto, were brought up in strict isolation by nannies and tutors in a house across the courtyard from his parents neo-gothic country cottage, the Hohen-Schwangau Castle in southern Bavaria…
The castle’s thirty lavishly decorated rooms are stuffed with more gilded baubles than a Bavarian Christmas tree, so it’s understandable that King Max and his missus wouldn’t want the kids hanging about and knocking things over. However, when his dad died in 1864, Ludwig moved in. But his mum still lived there and, like the average 18 year old, he wanted his own pad. So he started small – as young’uns are wont to do – and knocked up this little number…large_1-P1110228.jpg1-P1110237-001.jpg
This is Schloss Linderhof… a bedsit by royal standards. With only twenty or so rooms, each plastered with enough gold to buy Portugal, this little gem was modelled on Louis XIV’s Versailles. It even has a mini hall of mirrors that took three years to build.
Ludwig spent at least 7 years in almost total isolation in this mansion and, so that he would never have to see anyone, the dining table was lowered through a trap door into the kitchen below where it was laid before pushed back up… a theatrical illusion just like the rest of Ludwig’s life.
Like many youngsters in his twenties Ludwig had bigger plans so, not content with his mini version of Versailles, he went on to build a replica of the real one on an island in the middle of Lake Herrenchiemsee. But even that wasn’t enough for this crazy genius.
Despite the fact that he had completely blown all the money in the royal piggybank and was up to his eyeballs in debt he tried to outbuild his hero, King Louis XIV, with this incredible castle at Neuschwanstein overlooking his childhood home…
This enormous fairytale castle is so completely out to lunch that Walt Disney used it as his inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty and his Magic Kingdom at Disneyland.
Only half of the projected castle was ever built and much of the interior was never finished, but Ludwig didn’t care – he was king of the castle. He spent his days alone on his golden throne imagining that he was ruling the world while listening to Wagnerian operas.
So we asked the intrepid sleuth, D.C.I.Bliss, “What really happened to King Ludwig II?” and he told us that, after being subjected to a performance of Wagner’s ring cycle, a fifteen hour operatic marathon in which someone steals a ring from the King of the Gods and he spends the next fourteen and three-quarter hours trying to get it back, Ludwig went completely potty and shot himself in the back – twice - before turning the gun on his doctor. Who knows, Bliss could be right!

Posted by Hawkson 02:29 Archived in Germany Comments (6)

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