All of Ludwig's castles became tourist destination within months of his death and there are the most visited attractions in Germany

Yeah, I like watching foreign weddings

Herrenchiemsee and Berchtesgadener Land

Whew. Back on schedule. The previous day marked the end of our "free" week. We now were off to Berchtesgadener land (as an aside, the spell checker is having a heck of a time with all these German names. Seems like 1/3 of each page is red squiggles...). We'd booked a room in a small town in the mountains hoping for a little nature, not knowing that we'd get more than our fill in Garnish-gently-with-Parmesan. But first, a to see one of the fantasy castle of Mad King Ludwig II, Herrenchiemsee.


Dude had some very elaborate fountains

King Ludwig II build three fantasy castles, the most famous of which is Neuschwanstein, but Herrenchiemsee was built as a replica of the Versailles palace in France. It was on an island, so Leon got us as far as the ferry, and we fought with crowds of old Germans to secure a spot on the boat. The palace grounds were pretty amazing, but the inside was just unbelievable. Unfortunately they didn't allow you to take pictures inside the castle, but Ludwig spared no expense on the marble walls, furnishings, art, and what-have-you. That is, until he ran out of money. He finished about 1/2 the castle before he died. We were then able to see what happens when a king runs out of money: bare brick walls, unfinished wooden stairways, etc... Pretty neat seeing what was behind all the marble, stucco, and gold that you usually see.

The ferry got us back to Leon, and it was time for lunch. The guidebook claimed there was a Tapas place in the city of Prien, but we drove Leon up and down the main drag and found nothing, except for a few pizza places and an Indian place. We chose the Indian place.

Is the grime spicy?

The place was empty when we sat down, and the Indian "waiter" came over and asked what we wanted, in German. Well, we spoke no German, so we did our best to point out what we wanted on the menu, all the while noticing his t-shirt that was half-tucked into his pants, and it contained many stains of an unknown origin. After he went away to the kitchen a discussion ensured as to the merits of staying and eating in this establishment.

In the midst of this discussion a much flashier-dressed Indian man can into the restaurant, decked out with the cool shades, half-open shirt showing chest hair and gold chains, and an expensive watch. He had a quick discussion with the stained t-shirt guy, who promptly put on a dishwasher's apron and went to work on the pots and pans. I was both relieved, intrigued, and I wondered if we'd make it to Berchtesgaden without getting food poisoning. The actual waiter (Mr. Flashy) chatted us up, and the food arrived and was passable. It never came back up, though I was nervous about it the rest of that day.

Berchtesgadener Land

Back on the road, it began to rain, and we started to see mountains and streams again. Indeed, the streams were very interesting. The one running along the road seemed very high, and was almost a rapids. Arriving in Berchtesgaden, we stopped at the tourist info place in the hopes of getting some info on the region (specifically, busses to Salzburg, which we planned to see on Monday). It was closed.

This is the best picture of the river I could find

And there we saw a most interesting site. A completely green and dangerously swelled river was merging with a very ugly-brown river right at the point where three streets met. It was fascinating. But anyway, the main office was up the hill, so we checked that out (in the rain). We got info on busses and trains leaving from here to Salzburg on Monday, and then set off for our hotel.

As with all endeavors involving finding the hotel, we spent about 30 minutes driving back and forth through the gentle rolling hills of Berchtesgaden until we found it. But this place was cool. Majestic views of the mountains out our windows (or there would be, they claimed, if it wasn't raining). The lady at the desk scoffed at our mention of busses and trains for Salzburg. She told us to just drive there, and use the park-and-ride to get into the city proper. That sounded cool to us.

The view from our hotel room balcony

Since it was early for dinner, we walked to a pub for a snack. I had some weird egg thing that almost made Lin-Wei vomit, and a beer. She had an apple strudel that was simply fantastic, with a delicious custard sauce to boot. Damn that was good. There was also a German wedding going on in the hall attached to the pub, so that was fun seeing all the guys dressed up in Lederhosen and listening to the Oompah music.

It was at this restaurant that I realized that I was finally among my people. Everywhere I looked I saw my aunts and uncles on my fathers side. And I must have seen my father about 10 times. It was pretty weird, man.

We hiked along the river after our snack. That sucker was really moving, man. It looked pretty dangerous. And it was mere centimeters away from swelling over the banks. That kept us busy until we went back up to the town for dinner. We walked around trying to find a fun place to eat, but ended up at a semi-fast food Italian place. How long had it been now since we had German food?

After dinner we spent some more time strolling next to the green river, wondering when it was going to burst free and flood the whole town. It was quite exiting to watch (for me, anyway)!
Who's up for a little salt mining?

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