Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

An American in Germany / Part # 25 / Linderhof

GAPP Exchange Journal 2012
King Ludwig II / Linderhof Palace

 Schlosshotel Lisl / Outdoor Dining
We had just descended from the heights of Neuschwanstein via a tour bus flying down the mountain as if it were an Olympic event.  I had already been suffering from a growing bout of nausea and now I think I could add whiplash to my list of symptoms.  As the bus driver pulled in to drop us off at the bus stop at the bottom of the mountain, there were a lot of smart people in line waiting to take the trip to the top rather than walk the whole way up to the castle.  The bus driver was not the most patient man I have ever encountered to say the least.  As the bus attempted to pull into the designated parking stop, a few of the awaiting passengers standing in line were not behind the designated sign.  First, the bus driver blasted the horn and then seconds later, used the bus itself to physically push a few people out of the way!  Really?  I know this guy has a schedule to keep but take a deep breath and don't be such a bus bully!  We exited out the bus door without getting run over and looked for some place to grab a quick bite to eat.  The clock was ticking, so we had very few options to consider and simply went right to the outdoor seating area of the restaurant located next door.  The goal was to get something to settle my stomach but the normal traditional fare of bratwurst and sauerkraut wasn't even on my radar, drastically limiting my menu options.  Wendy jokingly suggested ice cream was the best medicine but this would be one of the few days I broke the law and sadly didn't have any.  With few choices, I reluctantly settled on a grilled chicken tender salad thingy that was incredibly sophisticated and fanciful when it arrived at our table.  I managed to eat the chicken and pick at the overwhelming mountain of salad but left the majority of the fluffy greenery on the plate.  We went to the parking lot and found our bus, which was the designated meeting spot for our group.  Always reliable, our bus driver Fitztum was standing outside the open bus door at the ready.  We all boarded the bus early and waited for the others to arrive.  Fitztum was a great guy and never used his bus to push any pedestrians out of the way... at least to my knowledge!

Cloud Covered Plansee Lake
 I really have to give our kids a lot of credit!  Although they had been spread out over an area about the size of a full square mile, they all managed to meet and board the bus on time.  Good job boys and girls... you have all earned a happy face sticker today for your classroom punctuality chart!  In all seriousness, it is really stressful to have kids that are your responsibility out of sight and separated from one another in pairs, navigating a historic site within a foreign country on their own.  Although part of the experience, it was always a relief to count heads and arrive at the sum of 17!  We really appreciated our kids conscious efforts to watch the clock and consistently rendezvous on time throughout our trip.  Even Fitztum noted he was impressed and admitted it was a trait he rarely encountered with student groups!  We were ahead of schedule and Fitztum now took over, taking the initiative to fill the small open vacancy within our trip itinerary.  He drove us through the beautiful green twisting alpine roads that flip-flopped back and forth over several river beds that appeared half full as if the area was suffering from a drought.  After asking Fitzum, he informed me that the river beds were rushing torrents during the spring thaw when the winter mountain snows were rapidly melting and resulting water was descending into the valley.  However, in early summer they were now transformed back into gentle streams in stark contrast to their former strength.  We were traveling to make a brief stop at another one of King Ludwig's palaces known as Linderhof.  Although we wouldn't have the time to purchase tickets for an interior tour, we could check out the exterior of the palace and accompanying legendary gardens free of charge.  The bus ride was tough for me as I felt myself slipping further and further into an unmistakable state of illness.  Wendy repeatedly urged me not to think about it... So once again, I tried to focus on the incredible scenery out every window as we were traveling through isolated rural roads off the beaten path at the mercy of Fitztum's internal GPS.  I was glad we would be making a stop on our bus ride toward home to break up the long drive back to Altötting.

Linderhof Hotel + Restaurant
One of the highlights of our scenic drive was passing by the impressive length of the Plansee Lake bordered by large rugged mountains that bore the harsh scars from the runoff of melting winter snows.  The entire lake would have a drastically different look during the spring season when reducing snow capped mountaintops fed the runoff lines transforming the now present scars into beautiful tumbling waterfalls.  I never realized how the change of season could also change water levels and their volume could impact the total physical appearance of the landscape.  The lake just seemed to go on forever and appeared to be mostly desolate and uninhabited, which added to the rustic charm and Alpine personality of the peaceful lake.  There were no boats on the surface of the lake or people visible on the shoreline and few cars passed us on the road.   It was an isolated spot on the map of Bavaria.  Had I been feeling better, I may have been bold enough to ask Fitztum for a quick pit stop for a few pictures from the shore.  However, Linderhof awaited and so I settled on capturing the setting of the lake with my camera from the comfort of my seat through the glass of the bus window.  We eventually left the never ending shores of Lake Plansee behind and continued on our way, twisting and turning through the complex valley, running through the gap between steep mountain walls.  Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off!  We pulled into a parking lot that was almost deserted in comparison to Neuschwanstein.  The alpine styled hotel and restaurant near the parking lot was incredibly beautiful and perfectly fit the surrounding mountainous atmosphere.  The walk to Linderhof palace was advertised as "46 Year Old Man Suffering from an Oncoming Virus Friendly" since it was a short distance and almost level.  Ok, I can do this one more time... I think?

 Linderhof Palace Front Entrance
Linderhof was the third and only palace that King Ludwig II lived to see completed.  The physical site of the palace was originally used by Ludwig's father as a summer retreat and hunting lodge.  When Ludwig became king, he tore down the original wooden structure and began to rebuild it on the present site of the palace.  The wooden structure was expanded and then adorned with a stone facade. Over time, it was transformed into a palace, no longer resembling anything like its former self.  It became a smaller physical tribute to Ludwig's fascination with King Louis XIV of France, resembling the Petit Trianon, located on the estate grounds of the palace Versailles.  In contrast to his other building projects, Linderhof was small and personal, designed only for King Ludwig's private use.  In fact, there are only a total of six rooms inside and several had no specific usable purpose.  Too bad we didn't have tickets... I mean, how long could it possibly take to see a tour of six rooms?  We walked up the gentle sloping pathway past a small lake containing a pair of white swans.  The swan is the symbol most attributed to King Ludwig II and among his many names, he was also known as the Swan King.  There were also lush green mountainside meadows visible as far as the misty skies would reveal.  In my opinion, the small palace structure of Linderhof was overshadowed by the beautiful Versailles like gardens, which surrounded the chateau on all four sides.  They were the most stunning exterior gardens I would encounter during my trip, resembling living works of art created by nature but manicured by man.

Southern Garden / Naiad Fountain
The southern garden was striking, unlike any formal gardens I had seen yet.  The centerpiece was the golden fountain sculpture of Naiad that forced water upward through it's center at least 50 feet in the air.  Beyond the ornate fountain were dual stone staircases that mirrored one another in form and rose to a small Romanesque styled dome topped temple.  I was thinking about going all the way to the top but had climbed to enough heights for one day.  The perimeter of the Naiad fountain pool was framed with colorful flower plantings.  The whole scene was truly a beautiful sight to behold.  Rounding the walls of the palace I came upon the western parterre garden that was covered by a rich lush green lawn, with borders of bright red impatiens, dusty millers, and neatly trimmed dwarf spruce trees that were about a foot high.  The entire space was surrounded by tall hedges and a green wooden pavilion that encircled the rear section of the garden.  Bright white pathways led to several statues and cascading fountains within the gardens but few people entered, as if not wanting to disturb the pristine space.  Continuing around the garden compass, the northern section consisted of a waterfall that fell from the top of a hillside down 30 stone steps toward a large fountain of Neptune accompanied by sturdy horses of stone.  I was told there was a music pavilion on top of the hillside but I took their word for it because as I said before... I was done climbing!  I was saving all my remaining strength for the three steps I needed to conquer to board the bus for home!  Enough Already!

The Western Parterre Garden
There was a pair of long arched trellis tunnels covered in vines on both sides of the step waterfall that went down the length of the hillside.  The entrance to each tunnel was guarded by an ancient looking Roman statue.  The Neptune fountain contained three powerful looking horses who had water pouring out of their noses and mouths with force.  They almost appeared as if they had all downed a glass of milk way too fast and started to laugh mid gulp, causing liquid to sprout from every available orifice!  Do you remember when that used to happen when you were a kid?  It's one of those things from childhood that is always funny as long as it wasn't happening to you, especially during school lunch!  Anyway, heading east I encountered another beautiful garden that mirrored the western parterre in style but was slightly different.  The beautiful landscaped eastern parterre area started with a decorative garden of flowers in the shape of a scrolled ornate emblem, consisting of bright red and white impatiens outlined with purple floss flowers.  The edge of the garden space was marked with a total of six large roman statues on pedestals positioned in the form of ball pockets on a pool table.  A larger sculpture depicting Venus and Adonis was centered within the rectangular shaped garden.  Once again a wooden pavilion filled the far end of the garden space containing a bust of King Louis XIV with steps just beyond, lowering visitors down to a submerged fountain.  Soon I was back at 12:00 on the garden clock and once again looked out over the large southern cultivated landscape.

The Eastern Parterre Garden
The eastern and western parterre gardens were incredibly beautiful and they would remain at the top of the list of the most elegant gardens I encountered in Germany.  Maybe I was biased because they were small enough to actually fit within my backyard!  What a great setting to enjoy your morning cup of coffee!  However, King Ludwig probably never had a morning cup of coffee since he was known to be nocturnal, sleeping during the daylight hours and conducting his daily routine by night.  I thought it ironic that the ornate gardens were painstakingly fashioned for the king's enjoyment but he most likely rarely saw them, with his obscure sleep schedule.  I highly doubt they were as beautiful in the darkness of night.  Some of our kids went off in search of the famous grotto that contained an artificial lake enclosed within a man made stone cavern designed to resemble a scene from one of Richard Wagner's operas.  Several other out buildings were designed in honor of Wagner and his plays that were among King Ludwig's favorites.  In a way Linderhof was a hybrid palace, appearing to be a cross reference in architectural style and design between Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee.  The persona of King Ludwig II, King Louis XIV, and playwright Richard Wagner were all represented and present.  It was finally time to head back to the bus.  In some ways Linderhof was my favorite of Ludwig's palaces because it was a manageable size and it was actually finished being built.  As I descended the pathway back to the parking lot, I was officially done, I was exhausted, and I was very sick.  I dragged myself up the final climb of the day to my seat aboard the bus and endured one of the longest rides of my life, fighting nausea the entire way.  Unfortunately, our drive to Linderhof did not shave off any time from our long ride home.  We still had an excruciating two and a half hour drive home to Altötting.  Find a happy place... Find a happy place...

Northern Garden / Neptune Fountain
Angela was faring much better than Andy and was well on her way toward recovery so she was at KKG to pick me up... One look and she knew I was a goner... She informed me that both her parents had also now fallen prey to the illness and I was just hoping it would not spread through our students.  So far they all seemed ok and Wendy, who had hugged little Leo so tightly just the day before, was thankfully showing no signs of the virus.  Angela took me straight home where I collapsed into bed and continued to fight the urge to need the bucket that was placed beside my bed, all night long.  It was rough going!  I would miss the next two days of school and accompanying activities due to the virus.  Leo returned to preschool where signs had been posted warning of a nasty intestinal virus that had swept through the school building, inflicting all three of Leo's teachers and classroom aides.  Luckily, I didn't miss anything important on the event calender.  It turned out I was the only person within the affected circle of victims who had not thrown up, quite an accomplishment.  Andy asked me how I managed to to pull that off... It just so happened to be the Fourth of July and I was wearing an American Flag t-shirt... I jokingly pointed to the flag on my shirt and told him, Americans are tough!  The following day Leo proclaimed to Andy that the Americana was looking healthy again!  I was nursed back to health with the help of Angela and Andy's Mother Martha who made me noodle soup, which was just what I needed.  I think it was the only thing I ate for two straight days.  I was very grateful for their compassion, care, and concern during my time of need!  I truly appreciated it!  And I was most thankful that Wendy and not a single student caught the virus despite their close proximity to me during our trip!  In fact, it was a miracle! 

Linderhof Palace, Southwest Bavaria
Please stayed tuned for the next installment of our adventure!




1 comment:

  1. wooow Wonderful palace but Neuschwanstein still the best


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