If you haven’t seen the Alps yet in your lifetime, make them the subject of your next vacation. I won’t pretend I’m an expert on the Alps (the only part of Switzerland I’ve been to as of yet is the airport in Zurich…) but experiencing them in Germany and Austria was, and I’m not exaggerating, a life-changing experience.
The next two posts will focus on the beautiful mountains of the region.
My first exposure to the Alps was in Bavaria. We took a trip from Munich to visit the castles of Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. These two palaces were essentially playgrounds of a flamboyant king, Ludwig II of Bavaria. He had these projects commissioned to enjoy his lavish lifestyle and flaunt his kingship, and ended up being known as a controversial figure whose mental stability and sexual orientation was called into question throughout his short life of forty years.
So while Ludwig II wasn’t exactly the poster boy for influential leaders, his two pleasure palaces are two of Germany’s most visited sites.
First, we stopped at Linderhof. Inspired by the Palace of Versailles, the palace is the only one of his building projects that Ludwig lived to see completed. The building is set in a gorgeous corner of the world, nestled into its Alpine backdrop.
Even more impressive than the castle itself was its setting. Going to Linderhof will make it clear why the king of Bavaria would choose this as the location for his palace. I was just blown away by the beauty of it all. Even though it was April, there was still plenty of snow on the ground and a manageable, but noticeable, chill in the air.
From Linderhof, we moved on to a small nearby town called Oberammergau. Nestled into the mountains, Oberammergau and its 5,100 residents share a town that oozes with Bavarian charm. Our tour guide informed us that Oberammergau is best known for its once-per-decade reenactment of the passion of Jesus Christ, called the Passion Play. She continued to bring up the Passion Play in a wistful, longing way throughout our tour – using any excuse to mention the Passion Play. “Wow, it must be some play,” I mused.
From there, we went to the crown jewel of the region – Neuschwanstein Castle. Conjuring images of fairytales, the castle is perched high above the town of Hohenschwangau. It is best known for being the castle emulated by Walt Disney in his Disneyland theme park. Unfortunately for us, we happened to come during a time when Neuschwanstein was getting somewhat of a facelift – resulting in the entire front facade being covered in scaffolding.
While we were disappointed, the trip was not ruined. We were still treated to a beautiful view of the scenery and the rest of the castle. While you’re at Neuschwanstein, don’t forget to check out Hohenschwangau Castle as well – where King Ludwig grew up.
But this was only the beginnings of our enjoyment of the Alps. As we would soon find out, we had a lot to look forward to in this beautiful part of the world!