Did you know there is a distinction between palaces and castles? I didn't until we got to Bavaria. A palace is a royal residence that serves no other function. A castle can be a royal residence, but also serves as a defensive hold.
We were fortunate enough to get to visit both. We went to Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. Both belonged to Ludwig II. Both are stunning! We also got to see the town of Oberammergau.
First we got on a bus to Linderhof. The palace there was rather small, (only by palace standards) but exquisite. The surrounding countryside was also amazing. Ludwig was a very shy man and did not enjoy constantly being surrounded by people, so he had a dining table on the second floor that was situated in platform that worked as a dumbwaiter. The table could be lowered down to the kitchen, set and filled, and then hoisted back up to the dining room allowing the king to dine without having to see a soul. Very cool. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the castle, but you will not be disappointed if you make the effort to look up some photos on the Internet.
We left Linderhof and stopped by the tiny village of Oberammergau. During the worst of the bubonic plague epidemic, someone exposed to the plague came through the town. The villages all prayed that if they were spared from the horrid disease they would dedicate themselves to performing the Passion Play (a full account of life of Jesus Christ) every decade. Well, they escaped mostly unscathed and have been putting on the most famous production since 1634. Every performance lasts seven hours, but they do take a meal break. They put on 105 performances every ten years and they are always sold out. Only locals can perform and it requires taking extensive time off work. The theater was astounding and had a fully retractable roof, needless to say it would have made my brother drool.
After Oberammergau, we traveled on to Neuschwanstein castle. It is the castle that inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland. It was magnificent! The scenery was breathtaking, the castle insanely beautiful and the weather glorious! To reach the castle requires a nice hike up the steep mountain (or you can get a horse and carriage). Emma and I hiked. The lushness here is so beautiful to us! It is so different from home. The castle was truly a fairy tale castle. Each room was modeled after a Richard Wagner opera. It was whimsical, romantic and completely over the top! It even had a manufactured cave!
Of course, poor Ludwig II never got to see it completed. His is a fascinating and sad tale. Take us out to lunch sometime and we will regale you with the tales.