Thursday, September 6, 2018

Admiral Ackbar Strikes Back


I apologize in advance today. You're going to be seeing a LOT of pictures of fountains.

Greetings once again from the sleepy Bavarian town of Bernau-am-Chiemsee, where we no longer have workers building a tent underneath our window. Nope; now we have sausages cooking underneath our window. It's not a bad smell, at least as far as travel smells go. But when I made the joke yesterday about the German habit of using every edible part of the pig, I wasn't kidding.

Really, I wasn't.

Today was another castle day, but this was a very special castle. Loraine's BFF King Ludwig II built Schloss Herrenchiemsee on an island in the middle of the lake near which we're staying. And this wasn't just any old castle. Ludwig, who had this thing for French king Louis XIV, built Herrenchiemsee as an (almost) exact replica of Versailles, down to the gardens and fountains. Technically, he both ran out of money and died before finishing it, so it's not an exact replica, but you can decide for yourself--

Trust me. It's close enough.

As a student of history, both the castle and the museum attached to it were fascinating. For instance, did you know the castle also served as the place where the West German constitution was drawn up in 1948?  I did not know that.  And as someone who dabbles (or tries to) in photography, the grounds sent me into a sensory overload. And that went double when the water show started. Every half an hour for five or ten minutes a series of six huge fountains would shoot water high into the sky and out of the mouths of every imaginable (and some quite unbelievable) pieces of sculpture. I swear that I could run around that place for three or four straight days and not take all the pictures I wanted to take.

So that's why I apologize in advance for subjecting you to too many fountain pictures. It's not my fault, though. It's his--

The way the castle grounds were designed, you could take a picture, move five feet, and see an entirely different aspect of the grounds and/or the fountains going off. The symmetry of the place was just incredible, which allowed you to line shots up just perfectly. Ludwig apparently had a dream when constructing this castle. It's just sad he never lived to see that dream actually completed.

Like I said, I apologize in advance for the torrent of fountain pictures you're going to see. I took (ahem) almost 160 just of them, and it was gosh darned hard trying to narrow it down to just five or six.

But here goes. I present to you the fabulousness (Jim's made up word of the day) of the Herrenchiemsee fountains--

The splendor--

The glory--

The Greek gods--

The panthers projectile vomiting a stream of water--

And the genius who thought of doing all of this--

Even when the water show wasn't going on, the statues themselves were very cool to look at, especially if you like angry turtles next to angry iguanas--

Snakes that will give you nightmares--

And Admiral Ackbar, standing in the middle of it all--

You just know he had to be seeing the people out to get Ludwig kicked off the throne and telling him “It's a trap”, right?


Okay. That's it with the fountains and the statues. I promise. The grounds did have other things that you could see, including the ferry boats that brought us over--

A wonderful line of trees that provided shade on this hot day, another example of the symmetry you see everywhere on the grounds--

Cows off in the distance--

And a robot lawn mower, as well--

Seriously. It's like one of those robot vacuum cleaners you see in people's homes, except it was rolling around the grounds cutting grass. Little kids were more interested in watching that then they were the castle. Heck; they were even more interested in the robot lawn mower that than they were looking at Admiral Ackbar, and that's saying something!

That trip to the island and back basically took up our whole day, but the genius behind our little tour had one more great idea up her sleeve. Remember a few days ago when we were driving through a small town and she saw a monument to her BFF? Well, it's only eight kilometers from here, so we took our dinner down there, and ate it in a park, with the Alps in the background--

After exploring that little town, we were quite impressed, especially by the nexus of biking & hiking trails that emanate from there. So don't be surprised if, some year in the future, a blog or two is written from the German town of Grassau--

Tomorrow we head back to Munich, look at few more Ludwig related sites (including a castle belonging to his family, set in a city instead of a forest), and start to think about heading home.

You guys DO think we should come back home, right?


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