Friday, October 6th, 2000 Hallstatt, Austria
Woke up about 7 am…some high fog but sun is trying to come out. Down to breakfast about 8…only offered between 8 and 9 am. Breakfast room has all kinds of trophies from someone who was a hunter. Lots of sheep, goat, deer and elk horns; plus some actual animals and skins etc. We were concerned, as there didn’t seem to be many people in the Pension as to whether or not we’d be able to make our sandwiches for lunch. No problem. They had meat and cheese and gave us each two buns at our place. So we were able to make lunch with no problems.
By 9 we were out the door…opps it’s raining..Jim climbed back up the four flights of stairs to get the umbrellas and maps. Then, he went back again for the car keys! He’d worked up a sweat by the time we left the Pension. We checked with the information office and they said that rain and snow were predicted for the whole weekend so we decided to get into the car and drive two hours back into Germany to see Ludwig II’s third castle called Herrencheimsee which is about an hour back past Salzburg towards Munich. It’s on an island in Lake Cheimsee. We’ll save the Ice Caves until Saturday. Long walk to the car. Jim had followed Rick Steves instructions and parked in Lot 2 which is at the other end of town. Loooooong Walk! Will try Lot 1 tonight when we get home. Landlady had recommended it but we followed instructions! Actually only about 10 minutes, but it seemed longer in the rain. But, no attendant, so the parking was free for the first night!
We left Hallstatt about 10 am and arrived in Gstadt around 12:30 pm. Took a little longer as we went the long way around the lake. We don’t have very detailed maps and sometimes we take the wrong road here and there! Found parking and ate our lunch in the car before starting out for the boat dock. We decided we needed some more German marks. There was a bank, which was closed for lunch; but we saw a couple go inside and use the ATM. When they came out we asked them for help. They were from Switzerland and showed us how to use a credit card to make the door open so that we could get into the inside to use the ATM. Then we got 200 Marks…probably too much but no choice as they won’t take Austria Shillings and we aren’t sure how much the castle entry fee will be.
About 1 pm we were able to catch a boat. It took us first to an island with a convent and then to the one with the Monastery. We got off there. It’s called Herrenchiemsee. Herren is man in German and the rest is the name of the lake. So it’s the King’s Castle on this island.
We had a twenty-minute walk in the rain…and we went fast as there was an English tour starting at 2 and another at 4. We made the 2 o’clock tour…had to run to catch up with them in the third room. But well worth it. She was very knowledgeable. This Castle was a reproduction of Versailles in Paris. Ludwig II’s idol was King Louie XIV who built Versailles. There are no paintings or bust of Ludwig. Everything looks like it was built Centuries before. Only forty of the two hundred rooms were finished before his death. But, they were beautiful. Everything is on a grander scale but otherwise a carbon copy. Ludwig came about sixty times during the construction; but only spent ten days in the castle after he’d completed several of the rooms. [We were not allowed to take photographs inside so have scanned a few of the postcards I purchased so that you can see the splendor of the castle!]
The state rooms were never used, as during those ten days, he had no visitors during his entire stay. In the bedroom he used during those ten days there was a blue ball suspended in front of the bed. It held three candles and gave a moonlight glow. His bed had stars in the material of the ceiling of the four poster bed. Since he preferred the night, this room was designed to allow him to create an effect of being night even in the middle of the day. Although electricity was invented prior to the building of this castle; to create his illusion, all of the light was by candles. The family had the first tour groups organized within six weeks of his death to generate cash. They auctioned most of his things off to help pay the debt that he’d created in building his palaces. The Rockafellows from New York purchased truckloads of his things.
Something good did resulted from the building of these castles; a generations of craftsmen were trained to do the art work necessary to recreate the churches and castles of Europe after the destruction of WW II. It also gave thousands of people jobs. As this was located on a lake the supplies were driven over the ice as it was frozen about two months in each winter.
Back to the car by 4 pm. On the way back on the boat a gentlemen talked to Jim all the way about the United States. He was German, from a town near Hildeburg. He’d been to the United States many times. His English was excellent and I think he wanted to practice with Jim. He was leading a week-long tour for an annual outing for a social club that he belonged to. Probably retired, he had been trained as a Mining Engineer and ended up working for a company that developed a tool to cut diamond stones. His 25th wedding anniversary trip had been to USA on a Delta Tour very similar to our first trip to France in 1992. Twenty-one days to fly anywhere in the USA. [One of these days I'll blog that trip for you...lots of good memories and the beginning of our travels to Europe!]
Back to Hallstatt by 7 pm and we found parking in Lot 1. Lots of steps but once we were down we were almost home! We went to Gasthaus Muhle’s Restaurant for a wonderful pizza dinner with huge salads. Back to the hotel…telephone still not working. Very frustrating. Also, they had done nothing to the rooms! Our beds were still unmade. Went down and did get some extra towels using lots of sign language....no English spoken here!