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My European Favourites – One Day In The Bavarian Alps

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My European Favourites – One Day In The Bavarian Alps

My favourite area of Germany is Bavaria. It’s the largest state, about one fifth the size of the country, and is located in the south-east of Germany. Bordering the Czech Republic and Austria, the state’s capital Munich is an easy place to fly into, and it is a great city to explore and enjoy, especially during Oktoberfest.

Hotel Wittlesbach and two buildings in Oberammergau with painted frescoes

Oberammergau, Germany

The Bavarian Alps are about an hour drive south from Munich, and one of my favourite places to stay is in the town of Oberammergau. You may have heard of the town as it is well known worldwide for its performance of the “Passion Play,” which is performed in the aptly named, Passion Play Theatre. In 1633, while the plague was rampant in Europe, the villagers promised to perform the play every ten years if no further deaths from the plague occurred in Oberammergau. The play details the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Their prayer was answered, and they kept their promise with the first play staged in 1634. The most recent performance was supposed to be in 2020, but due to the covid-19 pandemic, it has been moved to 2022.

Oberammergau is a compact place easily explored on foot. The Bavarian State Woodcarving School is located there, and there are shops where you can purchase everything from wooden toys to elaborate woodcarvings, including those of religious saints and crucifixes. As you walk through the town, you will see many buildings with painted frescoes (Lüftlmalerei) on their exterior walls with scenes from fairy tales, Bavarian folk themes, religious scenes and decorations that imitate architectural elements.

To be able to accomplish our sightseeing today we need to start with an early breakfast at one of the local hotels. One of my favourites is the Hotel Wittlesbach which is located right in the town centre and has been operated and owned by the Ternes family for many years. The hotel is full of the Bavarian charm you would expect, and the breakfast they offer is very good. We have stayed there many times over the years, and our groups love the hotel and location.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle

Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria

Linderhof Palace is only a 15-minute drive away from Oberammergau and is the smallest of the three places or castles built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The Kingdom of Bavaria existed from 1805 until 1918, and the Ludwig’s Wittelsbach family ruled during the kingdom’s entire existence. In 1864, Ludwig became king at the age of 18. He had little interest in politics and soon began to spend his own wealth on personal projects, like three fairy tale palaces or castles. His spending and accumulating debt became such a concern by Bavaria’s political elite that they had a medical commission declare him insane and

incapable of reigning. A day later, he was on a walk with his psychiatrist, and they were both found dead; presumably drowned and floating in Lake Starnberg. Now that you know some of the story of King Ludwig II, we can talk about two of the three places or castles he built, Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle. The third and largest building, the New Herrenchiemsee Palace, which will not be part of our day, was built on an island in Lake Chiemsee and was to be a copy of Versailles in France, but it was never completed.

Linderhof Palace, the Gilt Fountain and the Neptune Fountain

Linderhof Palace

Linderhof is the only palace that King Ludwig II lived to see completed, and it is located near where his father, King Maximilian II, had the royal hunting lodge. Ludwig went there many times as a child and was very familiar with the location in the Graswang Valley near Ettal.

Ludwig idolized the French Sun-King Louis XIV and wanted to emulate his grand palaces in Bavaria. Throughout the Linderhof Palace, you will find sun decorations as an homage to his idol and as a symbol of royal absolute power. Linderhof was initially intended to be Ludwig’s Versailles, but due mainly to an unsuitable sized area, it became a smaller project which was completed in 1886. During his construction of Linderhof, Ludwig purchased the much larger Herrenwörth island on Lake Chiemsee, and it became the new site to build his Versailles as Herrenchiemsee Palace.

The Linderhof Park is fun to explore and has a mixture of different garden designs, cascading waterfalls, fountains, and a large pond with a gilt fountain that jets water 25 meters in the air. As you walk through the park, you will find a swan pond, the Moroccan House, the Terrace gardens, a Temple of Venus, a Neptune fountain, a Royal Lodge, a chapel, a music pavilion, a Moorish kiosk, various parterres (level gardens with symmetrical patterns) and a grotto. The Venus grotto is an artificial grotto and theatre where Ludwig could sit in his small boat as it was gently rocked by a wave machine and watch his favourite operas by Wagner.

A ticket is required to tour the palace with a guide, but there are really only four rooms that served a specific purpose. The first room is the “Hall of Mirrors” which served as the main living room. Then there is Ludwig’s bed chamber, the dining room with a disappearing dumb-waiter, and the small audience chamber which was used by Ludwig as a study and not a room where he would see people. There are two “Tapestry Chambers” which serve no real purpose, and there are no real tapestries on the walls, but instead, there are canvas paintings made to imitate tapestries.

A visit to Linderhof is enjoyable mainly for the gardens and palace exterior, but you might as well see the palace interior if you are there. Near the parking area, there are shops where you can purchase your ticket to tour the palace, buy a souvenir or a snack. The Schloss Linderhof Hotel is there as well, but I would rather stay in Oberammergau.

Fussen Arena, Fussen’s colorful old town, plus the Abbey and Castle

Fussen

After spending the morning at Linderhof, we travel west for about an hour through winding mountain roads to the town of Fussen just north of the Austria border. Our hockey tours often go to Fussen to play at the BLZ Arena or Bundesleistungszentrum, which ever you prefer. The main arena is a fabulous structure with windows installed above the seating area offering natural light into the building and onto the ice surface. The hometown team, EV Fussen, nicknamed the Leopards, play in the U20 Deutsche Nachwuchsliga II. The BLZ complex also has a second arena, and surprisingly, a curling rink.

Fussen is at one end of the Romantic Road which is a 350 km tourist route with interesting towns, villages and sights. Wurzburg, in wine country, is at the other end and the medieval walled town of Rothenburg, just south of Wurzburg, is one the must stops on the road.

We will stop in Fussen for a couple of hours to explore the old town and have time for lunch. Fussen is an underappreciated town with medieval walls, baroque churches, a former Benedictine Abbey (St. Mang’s) and a museum with historical music instruments including violins and lutes. The interesting Fussen Castle has the unfortunate luck of being located on a few kilometers from one of the most famous castles in the world and gets no respect. With just a couple of hours in Fussen I’m walking directly to the old town’s pedestrian friendly cobblestone streets to find a nice place to have lunch. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but I will try to make time to slip over to the Hotel Schlosskrone’s Konditorei Kurcafe for a nice dessert. The hard part at the pastry shop is deciding which one to have.

Hohenschwangau Castle and the scenic Bavarian Alps

Hohenschwangau Castle

Just a few kilometers from Fussen, you will find one of Germany’s top attractions- the Neuschawanstein Castle. When you arrive to the parking place, you will immediately see a mustard colored castle that is not as famous, named Hohenschwangau. King Maximillian II of Bavaria, Ludwig’s father, rebuilt this 19th century castle on the ruins of a previous castle which had been partially destroyed in various wars. The castle was restored to its original plans and became the summer residence of the royal family and a young Ludwig. The castle, which is now often overlooked by the larger Neuschwanstein Castle, can be toured along with the Museum of the Bavarian Kings. Unfortunately, our schedule does not allow time for it.

Mary’s Bridge, Neuschwanstein Castle entrance, lower courtyard and tower

Neuschwanstein Castle

Our goal today is to see the Neuschwanstein Castle before it closes. It’s a good idea to reserve your time online prior to arriving, especially in the busy season from May to September. After getting your ticket and tour time at the ticket office, you must get up to the castle courtyard on your own in time to join your tour. There are three ways to get up to the castle from the town; a walking path up to the castle that can take 20-30 minutes, horse carriages that take you most of the way up to the castle, and a shuttle bus that takes you up to the Mary’s Bridge (Marien Brucke). We will take the shuttle bus which costs a couple of Euros to the Mary’s Bridge drop off. The Mary’s Bridge offers a fantastic panoramic view of the castle and the valley below. Tourists flock here prior to or after touring the castle to take their most prized photo of the day.

After taking our photo, we still have to walk from the Mary’s Bridge on a paved path to the castle courtyard to join our English tour which takes about 35 minutes and ends, as most tours do, in a souvenir shop.

Despite its medieval look, Neuschwanstein was built in the 19th century and served no defensive purpose. It was built for one man, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, but unfortunately, he only spent eleven nights there. The original castle name was New Hohenschwangau Castle but was changed to Neuschwanstein Castle after Ludwig’s death. Neuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Castle” and was named after a character in one of Wagner’s operas, the Swan Knight.

In addition to being a big admirer of the French King Louis XIV, Ludwig was a big fan of the renowned composer Richard Wagner and was his patron. Many rooms in the castle were inspired by other characters in his operas, but sadly, Wagner never got a chance to see the castle as he died before its completion. The singer’s hall which occupies the entire third floor is adorned with characters from Wagner’s operas. The amazing woodwork in Ludwig’s bedroom took fourteen carpenters four years to complete. You will find that there is no throne room in the castle for Ludwig as the Throne Hall had not been completed by the time of his death. Although the fairy tale castle is one of the most photographed buildings in the world, tourists are not allowed to take photos inside the castle.

After our tour, we can slowly make our way down to the parking area and make our 45-minute drive back to Oberammergau where we can have dinner and enjoy the evening at an outdoor patio. Maybe tonight we will go to the Ammergauer Maxbräu in the Hotel Maximillian where they brew their own beer. That concludes a great day in the Bavarian Alps.

Explore Europe With Us

Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing Tours have taken thousands to Europe on their custom group tours since 1994. Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom tour possibilities for your group of 26 or more. Individuals can join our “open” signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours including our popular Canada hockey fan tours to the World Juniors. At azorcan.net/media you can read our newsletters and listen to our podcasts.

Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours.

Paul Almeida: My European Favourites in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been in sports management and the sports tour business since 1994 when I created my company, Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing tours. Please visit our website at azorcan.net for more information on our company, our tours and our destinations. We are European group tour experts specializing in custom sightseeing tours, sport tours (hockey, soccer, ringette, school academies) and fan tours (World Juniors). Check out our newsletters, and listen to our podcasts at azorcan.net/media.

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Alberta

Suspect in stolen vehicle kills one and seriously injures another in wild chase

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News release from Beaumont RCMP

Beaumont RCMP seeking public assistance in locating suspect in fatal collision

On Feb. 24, 2024, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Beaumont RCMP located a person suspected of theft, in a parked 15-foot cube moving truck, at a business on 50 Street in Beaumont. When members approached the truck and attempted an arrest, one male driver and one female passenger rammed into a police vehicle and fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Patrols were initiated to find the truck and, a short time later, it was observed on 50 Street and Highway 814 in Beaumont at a high rate of speed.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) Air One Helicopter was notified and provided its location to RCMP members. Multiple surrounding RCMP detachments, including Leduc and Strathcona, responded to assist. As the truck was driving into Edmonton, a tire deflation device was deployed by RCMP, disabling multiple civilian vehicles. Consequently, an adult female exited one of the civilian vehicles and was fatally struck by the suspect truck. The truck failed to stop and continued driving into Edmonton.

The suspect vehicle then collided with another civilian vehicle, leaving an adult male in serious non-life-threatening condition. The truck was located at 50 Street and 22 Avenue in Southwest Edmonton.

Further investigation revealed that the driver of the truck, an adult male, then proceeded to steal a parked 2020 Honda Civic at a nearby convenience store. This vehicle contained a child who was safely recovered and reunited with his family a short time later. The male suspect has yet to be located.

No other members of the public or officers were injured during this incident.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victim,” said Superintendent Leanne MacMillian, Assistant Central Alberta District Officer. “This is a devastating incident that will leave a mark on family and friends for years to come. Please understand that you will be in our thoughts as we progress through this investigation.”

In compliance with legislative requirements, the Director of Law Enforcement was immediately notified causing the deployment of ASIRT to conduct an independent investigation. The RCMP believes in accountability and transparency and in so doing will provide full support to the ASIRT investigators and also conduct its own internal review.  Events like this are difficult for the communities in which they occur, as well as the general public and RCMP officers involved. RCMP officers recognize the trust placed in them to use force that is necessary, proportional and reasonable and in so doing remain fully accountable.

The RCMP are actively investigating this occurrence and are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a stolen, dark grey 4-door Honda Civic with Alberta license place E98-099. The vehicle was stolen by a male suspect described as being approximately 5’11’’ and was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

If you have any information about this crime or those responsible, you are asked to contact the Beaumont RCMP at 780-929-7400. If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1‐800‐222‐8477 (TIPS), by Internet at www.tipsubmit.com or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).

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Alberta

Alberta looking to ban electronic vote tabulators ahead of next provincial election

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

electronic voting tabulators, which were supposed to speed up vote counting, instead saw election results delayed due with workers having to manually enter the results that each tabulator printed out.

The conservative Premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith, has confirmed she is looking to ban the use of electronic vote tabulators in future provincial elections after issues with them in the 2023 election saw massive delays in the tallying of votes.  

Smith, according to a report from True North, while speaking to a United Conservative Party (UCP) fundraiser on January 26 in the community of Bonnyville was asked if she would “end the use of voting tabulators across the province?” 

Smith replied with a firm “yes.” 

The 2023 Alberta provincial elections held in May saw Smith and her UCP win a majority, although a slim one, over the left-wing Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP).

Elections Alberta used what is called a Vote Anywhere Service, which allowed anyone to vote at any voting place regardless of which riding (jurisdiction) they were actually voting in. While paper ballots were used for the election, electronic tabulators were used to count the votes from all hand ballots. A form was then printed out with the result of each riding from the tabulators count of the hand ballots.  

However, the electronic voting tabulators, which were supposed to speed up vote counting, instead saw election results delayed due with workers having to manually enter the results that each tabulator printed out.  

Elections Alberta noted in June 2023, per True North, that “[w]e did not use any electronic data transfer from the tabulators, as the tabulators used for advance voting were never connected to a network at any time.” 

“As a result, it was a manual process to verify and enter these results.”  

As for Smith, before the 2023 election, she noted that she was confident in Elections Alberta’s plan to use electronic tabulators, as “we have the ability to do a hand count as a follow up in the event there are close results, I believe that’s going to be sufficient.” 

“That’s, I think, something that people expect in democracy – that you should be able to verify a vote if results end up very close,” she added.  

Elections Alberta, however, has pushed back on returning to hand counting ballots, saying it would increase the manual workload of employees.

There were many close results on election night, with the NDP losing a few seats by only a handful of votes in some Calgary ridings.  

Smith gave no timeline as to how or when she would make the change.

Many large municipalities in Alberta, including the province’s two biggest cities, Calgary and Edmonton, use electronic tabulators for ballot counting.

Issues surrounding electronic voting machines as well as tabulators came to a head in the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which saw Joe Biden declared the winner over Donald Trump. 

A report published by LifeSiteNews last year documented how a computer programmer, Clinton Eugene Curtis, who had previously testified to Congress on the integrity of voting machines, warned lawmakers in Arizona to never trust them.  

“Don’t use machines, because you can never, ever trust them to give you a fair election,” said Curtis. 

“There are too many ways to hack them. You can hack them at the level that I did when you first build them, you can hack them from the outside, you can hack them with programs that load themselves on the side. It’s impossible to secure them. You will never beat the programmer. The programmer always owns the universe.”  

Of note is that Curtis is a Democrat who had worked as a programmer for NASA, as well as the Department of Defense and other government agencies.

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