2009 Do-Re-Mi Tour : Gallivanting thru Europe (Part 3/4: Germany)

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Europe » Germany » Bavaria
August 15th 2009
Published: August 27th 2018
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No policing at the Sensapolis …

The girls were extra excited about this leg.

Stuttgart, Germany was going to be our next base. Sheldon wanted to go by the Merc Museum to say hi to all his babies but we quickly veto-ed it! I did not want to face ‘no baby mamma’!!!

Ken andCarol(our darling neighbours whom the girls adore) had brought back a brochure from Sensapolis and were convinced that the girls would love it. Love it, they did – just from looking over the brochure before the trip the girls said it was gonna be their favourite of all our stops.

So much for exposure to Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance periods!

Sensapolis was a gigantic, innovative children’s play arena. It was a huge in-door stadium with giant tree houses, huge rock walls, trapeze obstacle courses, Doll and Horse dream castle, large pirate ship and a spectacular space ship. Each area was brilliantly designed and had fun activities for the children.

Lauren was besides herself with glee dropping down sheer vertical slides from the side of the space ship. Cassandra was happy with the gentle slides off of the tree house. There was something for everyone …

Moi went to the Café and pigged out on Nasi Goreng, Margharita pizza’s and huge slices of German black forest cake… how can one resist?

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse : Wurzburg Residenz Schloss(castle)

Next two days were dedicated to being completely Schloss’ed out.

We decided to traverse the Romantique Strasse (romantic road). Started at Wurzburg and toured the magnificent Residenz Schloss.

The cobbled circular driveway led directly to a very grand stairway. Defies any hyperboles I can use to describe the regality of it! The ceiling had one of the largest frescoes I’ve ever seen with a depiction from each of the continents. Africa was ultra exotic and according to my audio guide was not factually accurate as it was based more on hearsay by the fresco artist. The stairway was grand marble and one felt regal ascending it.

Apparently, it’s occupant Franconi was the Bishop of Wurzburg and he was given the title of “Prince-Bishop” and given the Schloss as his official residence. The guide also said horse-driven carriages would draw right up to the stairway for it’s royal patrons to ascend and join the grand balls thrown in their honor. Talk about ultra-special valet parking …

Rick Steve’s had mentioned in his book that the English tour was the only way we were going to be able to see the opulent princely quarters as it was closed for renovations. We had just missed the English tour but a very kind palace attendant walked us down a secret passageway and let us join the tour mid-way! I had never seen anything like it before. Room after room of mega-opulence.

Some of the room had sustained some damage during WWII and some of the painting were being restored and hence the need to have very limited public viewing now. There was sense of palpable sadness in rooms where there were models of Wurzburg villages that were completely burned down during WWII. One could not help but think how a totally evil nut-job like Hitler could have come from such a pretty country …

There were two particularly grand ballrooms. One had it’s ceiling done completely in delicate white stucco. Looked like intricate lace or perhaps even like delectable icing on a cake. I felt like reaching up and breaking off a piece and eating it!

The other ballroom was done in lovely pastel shades and had elegant columns in pink marble. Rick Steve’s mentioned that the Frescoists (Sculptors) were incredibly talented and created 3D effects with seemingly magical illusions.

There was the fresco of a dog by the foot of the Prince-Bishop at his coronation which appeared to grow from a scrawny, thin thing to a chubby, fat dog when you walked from one end of the ballroom to the other! It was quite the visual treat. I told Sheldon it would be great if he could learn that trick and photograph a much scrawnier me! I did concede that the camera does add ten pounds to which his smart aleck answer was “how many cameras were on you honey?”

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse: Delightful luncheon at a German Bakerei

We schlepped along to Weikersheim to go see the next Schloss.

The romantique strasse is quite the scenic drive.

Enroute, we stopped at a charming, quaint lil’ German backerei served by a charming, delightful old German lady. She rattled on quite enthusiastically in German and using my very, very limited German I managed to get across that I’ll have :Eine Kein Fliesch Salate” (one small meatless salad).

It dates as one of the best salad’s I’ve ever had. Refreshing fresh garden vegetables slices swimming in a lovely ranch style dressing topped with mozzarella cheese.

For the girls I ordered “Eine Klien Bratwurst mitt ketchup” – my Laurie loves her little hot dog swimming in ketchup and “Eine Klien Bratwurst Kein ketchup” – Cassie thinks ketchup adulterates everything! Sheldon ordered himself a storm of Bratwurst’s (did not hear any reference to Eine (one) or Kein (without) or Klein (small) when he ordered his stuff!!!) So it appeared he ordered multiple pieces and large portion with every fixin! He had gone to wash up when the charming lady fired away in rapid German at me and all I could muster was “yes, he would like to have kartoffel (potatoes) on the side” and nodded vigorously for everything else without understanding a word of whether she meant rare, medium or well-done! I just hoped his platter was not going to show up with rare, dripping bloody pieces of Bratwursts! Turns out she wanted him to try some patty style Bratwurst as they were delicious.

Enormous helping of Bavarian black-forest cakes, fruit torte and delectable donut’s later we drunkenly staggered towards the car. I told Sheldon not to be surprised if I just climbed into the Dauphine’s bed and snored away.

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse: Weikersheim Schloss

We did have a rigorous agenda in front of us.

A stop at Residenz Schloss at Weikersheim, Finger Hut Thimble Museum , HeisKirche (church) and end the evening touring the medieval town of Rothenburg Ob Tauber.

The gardens at the Residenz palace at Weikersheim was truly beautiful. It almost matched the beauty of Butchart Gardens in Canada. The girls delightedly chased pretty butterflies around while I perched myself on one of the marble garden seats and Sheldon flitted around ‘shutter-fly’ happy …

Next stop at the thimble museum. Thimbles galore …from King Ludwig thimble, to Princess Di to Michael Jackson thimble and every famous person in between!

Heiskirche was dainty and delightful as well – constructed on a site were a farmer found a piece of the holy sacrament. The girls ran around in the Kirsche’s cemetery trying to spot ghosts!

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse : Rothenburg Ob Tauber

Next stop – Rothernburg Ob Tauber.

Quaint and delightful lil’ city. We walked around the walled-off city taking in the scenic splendour.

There were apple trees galore and the girls and I helped ourselves to the delicious, wild apples. Cassandra looked around for Snow White’s evil witch and her poisoned quill at which point I decided we’ll skip the medieval torture museum!

No one should visit Rothernburg Ob Tauber and not go to the world-famous Kathe Wolfharte Xmas store. Sheldon warned me not go nuts in there. A compassionate fellow traveler told me she sat her husband at the platz and spent 2 hours in there easily! I did buy a little crystal shoe tree ornament and a delicate winged golden butterfly. This will be a nice addition to my crystal and gold themed Xmas tree.

We had dinner at Rothenburg and headed back to our hotel …

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse: Von Neuswantein

The Von Neuswanstein – need I say more?

The day was meant exclusively for this crowning jewel of all castles.

Ever since I saw Cinderella’s mock fantasy castle at Disney I’ve always wanted to see the inspiration behind this fantasy.

The last time I was in Germany I had done the castles at Heidlburg.

The German castle tours were far more organized, and the crowds were moved brilliantly through the huge lines … (just like in America – brilliant minds think alike) We were allotted specific tour time on the ticket and told if we missed the tour times we would have to re-schedule.

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse: Hohenschwangau{/b]

First stop – Hohenschwangau – the father’s summer castle. A yellow jewel of a castle nestled on the hillside.

We had 3 options:

(a) walk up the hillside

(b) take a bus

(c) take a horse driven carriage.

I could not resist taking an opportunity to clip clop along some delusions of grandeur and chose to go in the horse driven carriage. Wanted an opportunity to have the Ludwig experience of arriving at the Hohenschwangau in a carriage! It was truly a royal experience.

The castle being just the summer residence, the royal quarters of the king, queen and young dauphines were rather spartan, but boasted spectacular views of the Bavarian alps and the swan lake.

Two things stood out :

(1) The hanky-panky secret passageway connecting the king and queen’s quarters

(2) The lookout point with a telescope through which the young prince Ludwig would gaze at the Bavarian alps and dream of building the fantasy castle.

After our guided tour we leisurely toured the gardens and got a glimpse of the Neuswanstein – the fantasy castle.

We decided to walk down the hillside as there was a nice pathway snaking all the way down to the swan lake. The “swan” was the official crest of the Ludwigs while they stayed at Hohenschwangau and that’s how schwan (swan) became inculcated in the castle names Hohen’schwan’gau and Neu’schwan’stein – very clever.

The Schwan lake glistened in the sun like a brilliant diamond framed perfectly by the majestic Bavarian Alps. Even though the water was cold the girls and I could not resist wading in it.

Schlepping through Romantique Strasse: Swans swoon at the NeusSchwangau …

After lunch at a local restaurant we realized we had lost track of time and were running late for our Neuswanstein tour.

We had opted to take the bus up to Mary’s bridge and were going to walk along the bridge and up into the Neuswantstein.

The wait at the bus stop delayed us further and by the time we reached the bridge it had started drizzling. We started running along the bridge and uphill trying to make it on time. Rain pounding harder by the minute, hair plastered over my skull like a wet rodent, and huffin and puffin I fell way behind, and my three nimble goats had already reached the palace gates. Our tour number had already been called and I breathlessly explained to the attendant we were off to Austria that night and this was our last chance.

Me-thinks the attendant felt sorry for the shivering, wet-rodent looking huffin and puffin lady in front of him and decided to let us through. In general, I must say we met with very polite and nice folks on our trip …

Ladies and gentlemen – this truly is one BIG FANTASY castle. Every room was decorated as if it were a theatrical set of an opulent Richard Wagner opera – Oh, wait a minute it was!

Apparently young Ludwig fantasized building a castle based off of Wagner’s operas as a child and ended up making it into reality in his adulthood!

From the grand throne room, to the magnificent dining room, to the fantasy kingly boudoir there were fantastic carvings, paintings, golden gild work and marble columns galore …

The boudoir gave a whole new twist to the line “fit for a king”. Our tour ended in the fantasy theatre room which was not 100% complete but still quite stunning.

Apparently, Ludwig did like the palace at Versailles and was inspired, however I found this palace far, far more enchanting! Maybe because this time my bladder was not threatening to burst?

Our tour ended with a walk thru the unfinished servant quarters (a good way to come back to reality!). After the horse carriage ride to the Hohenschwangau I was afraid I was becoming delusional!

Talking about delusional, apparently the young King Ludwig ascended the throne at the tender age of 19. He died very young at 40, having lived in the Neuswanstein for barely 6 months. He had died under mysterious circumstances while boating (thankfully not in the beautiful swan lake but elsewhere near Bern). It is believed he became increasingly mad and had killed himself. We ended our tour watching a documentary on his life and it was so tragic.

The girls bought themselves a cuddly swan and I got my shot glasses at the palace store. Neuswanstein will always be etched in my memory as a fantasy castle nestled in the beautiful Bavarian Alps. We walked downhill taking several pictures of Mad King Ludwig’s fantasy.


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