A Bavarian Versaille and A Monastery on A Lake- Herrenchiemsee, Germany

The day started out rainy, which was a slight bummer considering we planned to be out and walking around that day. Determined to not let it put too much of a dampener on the day, Julia grabbed her very cute umbrella with cats on it and I grabbed the one I had bought that had it’s own cats and dogs design (this goes toshould show you, more than anything probably, why we get along so well) and we headed out to make the hour and half drive to Prien am Chiemsee where we would board the ferry that would take us to Herreninsel where our final destination,Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee was located on.

If you’re not familiar with Bavarian history or King Ludwig II then all those names up there might have thrown you for a loop and to be honest, just a couple of months before I took this trip I would also have been itching with curiosity. Thankfully not only did I do some research to make sure I knew where I wanted to visit while in this part of Germany, I also had a fantastically nice and knowledgeable local Bavarian friend with me who was more than up for trying to visit all the castles that King Ludwig II had commissioned to be built between the years of 1869 and 1886. These include Schloss Neuschwanstein, Linderhof Palace and the one we were there to see that day, Herrenchiemsee. 

Sprinkling rain and cloudy skies were definetly not going to stop me from going to see a real- life Bavarian palace and so we happily bought our tickets for the ferry and took the short trip over to the island while making idle plans for the rest of the days I would be there. Once we disembarked, we showed our pre bought tickets (Julia had purchased us tickets that granted entrance to all three castles for one fixed price, a genius move) at the desk and reserved our spots for the next the guided tour. Its a bit of a walk from where the ferry drops you off to where the palace is situated but eventually we found ourselves coming out from the forest that lines the trail to look upon what we had all come here to see.

Just by looking at the front of this beautifully grand building- never mind the fountains that encircle the front- you can easily get an idea of what the king was going for. As quotes from the official tourist info website state (seriously this website is great if you’re planning a visit):

“King Ludwig II’s original idea was to have a copy of Versailles Palace built on the Herreninsel as a “Temple of Fame” in honour of the Sun King Louis XIV of France.”

One thing to note, if you do plan to visit, is that you can only go inside by a guided half hour tour. Also, photography is strictly prohibited inside. As much research as I had done on where I wanted to visit, I had apparently missed this rather important bit of information and was subsequently more than a little saddened at not being able to 1. Tour the palace more freely and 2. Photograph any part of the interior.

The tour itself was really informative and fun though, and as a bonus our group was pretty small as it was the English language tour and the majority of the tourists here were German speaking, so it was a more intimate experience. It’s hard to describe the opulence of the palace, mainly because the word “opulent” seems lacking- enchantingly lavish is perhaps a better descriptor. From the entrance staircase that seems to fairly shine with a fairytale sort of grandeur to rooms covered in the kind of craftsmanship that has you leaning forward just to get a better look to a copy of the Versailles Hall of Mirrors, it almost leaves your heart aching at all the beauty you wish you could linger around.

Thirty minutes is all you’re given however, and after the tour was done we headed back to the front of the palace where we had lunch at the cafeteria thats just off the lobby and decided on the rest of our plans. The tickets we had bought back at the ferry point allowed us to not only visit the island the castle was on but to also take a trip to Frauenchiemsee (also know as Fraueninsel) where a monastery is located. And of course, if you’ve been reading any of my last few posts, you know if there’s a monastery or church nearby , Julia and I will probably go visit it.

The rain let up for a while as we explored this smaller island and there was a bit of a surreal-ness to the experience of coming from one of the most ornately decorated palaces i’d ever seen to a quiet and almost homely island that was centered around a monastery. Also, we got a bit of a kick out of being probably the youngest people touring the island who weren’t there with their parents- the average age of most tourist we saw seemed to be fixed firmly at around 50, and we had this fun moment where we looked at each other like, “wow, we really are very nerdy people aren’t we?“.

Our feet were pretty tired from the walking we had down around the other island and we weren’t too keen on exploring the museum here, mostly because all the placards were in German and my reading comprehension in anything other than English, Spanish or Italian is not so great. The area is full of beautiful houses and gardens though, and being a car-free island we had a nice time just leisurely taking a walk around the winding paths before heading back to the ferry docking point.

Hands cold and feet a little sore we headed back to the mainland on our last ferry ride of the day, talking about all that we had seen and making plans for the rest of the day- which included heading back to her apartment to pack an overnight back as we would be going to stay in her hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to make our trips to the next two castles a little bit easier and also so I could finally meet her bunny rabbits (yes you read that right, it’s not a typo). As we drove back the way we had come, the large lake fading in the distance behind us, I really wondered what the other castle we had yet to visit would have in store for us.

~m

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