Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deutschland, here we come.

The final country on our tour...Germany.  We load our things into the car and drive out of Lucerne which was amazingly easy all things considered.  Google says that the drive time is a little over 3 hours, however, Google always knows where it is going.  WHEN we have Internet access, I've been saving off the Google map of the destination on my desktop to be able to guide us when we each our final destination.  Unfortunately, the map doesn't always translate to what you're looking at...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
On our way to Fuessen, we wind up driving through the western tip of Austria.  We stopped in the town of Bregenz to find some lunch and pull over to this little market we find.  We're walking around trying to collect sandwich makings.  I'm at the back counter where they have the meats and breads.  Bob comes up and says that he thinks we are in an ethnic market as he holds up some item in his hand and the writing on the package is not in a language that I recognize, why heck, it's not even the same alphabet!  As I'm waiting for someone to come out of the back room to get service in the bakery section, I here this ZAP noise.  I look up and there, mounted on the wall, is one of those bug zapper units.  Some fly has met it's maker, which is probably a good thing given the open meat counter.  I'm thinking it's a creative solution when a woman comes out and grudgingly offers to serve me.  I ask for some of the rolls in the bin over there and she tells me that they are old and then walks off. 
At this point, we decide to buy only the fruit that we have collected and get out of Dodge.  We finally found another market further along and lunch was purchased and consumed.  The fruit purchased at the earlier stop turns out to be beautiful to look at, but tastes borderline nasty.  
Through Austria and onto the German Autobahn where the other cars begin to pass us at speeds that cause our car to be sucked over into their lane as they whiz past.  At this point, it's fairly easy going until we get off of the Autobahn and start to find our way around Fuessen.  Since we are early for check in, we decide to go to visit Linderhof, one of Ludwig II's castles.  Now we run into the problem of having a map that doesn't show all the little roads, the scale is too large.  I try to navigate by dead reckoning and a large percentage of luck, but the stars are not aligning themselves on our side.  After several abortive attempts (and driving back into Austria a couple of times), we wind up heading north on one of the roads that actually shows up on the map.  By now, I'm thinking "screw it", we'll go visit Wieskirche and then go all the way around and get to Linderhof.  It's not what I had in mind, but it worked.  Unfortunately, it did lengthen the time in the car...
Wieskirche is a church that is situated on a little knoll and is now surrounded with buildings given over to the tourist industry which dampens the effect of the church.  When I first saw it in 1973, it was this simple looking little pale yellow and white church standing on a rise in the middle of a field.  It has since been repainted to a pale peach and white and a new "wing" built on the backend in addition to the restaurant and gift shops built out front.  

At any rate, you walk up to the church, walk inside and get hit right between the eyes.  Built in the mid 18th century, the interior is decorated in the high Baroque style called rococo.  The style of the exterior is diametrically opposed to the interior.  
Side altar.
 Front altar.
 The organ loft at the back of the church.
 The clerestory windows that run along the sides of the church letting in the light.

While we were inside, a visiting group of tourists gathered at the front and began to sing "Amazing Grace".  It was very pretty to hear their voices as we admired the magnificence of the ceiling and different altars.  It's a bit choppy as I tried to shorten it using iMovie on my laptop.

We left Wieskirche and continued on the large loop based on the map.  We finally arrived at Linderhof (the long way around) about 5p.  The man at the gate waved us in without paying the parking since we were so close to closing time.  We were able to get in to last tour of the day.  
The tour no longer allows photography - even without flash which is a disappointment to Hayley and I.  It is also conducted primarily in German with notebooks containing laminated sheets that say roughly the same thing in "your" language as the tour guide is saying German.    The binders are labeled on the spine in German with the various languages.  Mainly Eastern European, English, and Korean.  If you are from a neighboring EU country apparently you are expected to speak German.  The Swedes on the tour went with English. 
Linderhof is one of the few completed castles that Ludwig II built.  
It was patterned after Versailles and Louis XIV was a big influence.  One of the little rooms was was patterned after the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.  A lot of the art on the walls were portraits were of French nobility from the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV.  Ludwig was apparently not playing on a level field as he had a tendency to sleep all day and cage around in the middle of the night.  He had a dining room with a table that stood on a trap door.  At meal time, the table was lowered to the floor below, set by the servants and then winched back up into place.  He didn't like to interact with people.  There was a lot of carved and gilded woodwork all over.  I remember reading that over 22 lbs of gold leaf was used throughout the chateau.  Given the weight of gold leaf, that's a heck of a lot of gold leaf.  
After the tour of the castle, we walked around on the grounds and took pictures.   
This urn had the signs of the zodiac running around it.  Oddly though the faces covered up Scorpio and  Taurus.
Hayley getting a shot looking down at the fuchsia.
After we finished we got back in the car, drove back through Austria again and found the apartment where we would spend the next two nights.  Again, not an easy task.  As I mentioned earlier, the Google map lacked any distinguishing landmarks.  I finally used my cell phone and Google maps to find out where we actually were and used it to retrace our route and find the address.  As we rounded the sharp right hand turn to roughly the 5 o'clock position, I noticed that the street sign was jammed up into a bush and leaves covered it up.  Small wonder we missed it, but the mishap was a blessing in disguise as we found a market up the road a ways.
We unloaded everything and Bob and I managed to put a pasta dinner on the table with food that we had brought with us.  We turned in fairly early.  I had been coughing quite a bit so I dosed myself with some "homemade" Nyquil.  Cough syrup and a stiff snort of Calvados, an apple brandy we had picked up in Normandy.   The lengths one goes to for a good night's sleep...Nyquil tastes better than this stuff did.
Tomorrow the castles. 

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