Road Trip - Part 5 (The Fairy Tale Castle - Neuschwanstein, Germany)

(Continued from part 4...)

After leaving Am Plansee (Austria), we reached Reutte (Austria), which was just a couple of kms from Am Plansee. We didnt really had to go inside Reutte, so we just passed by and joined into the Austrian motorway. After driving through a long tunnel and splendid scenery, we reached Fussen, which is the nearest town to Neuschwanstein.

Here's a video that I shot before entering and as we drove through that tunnel (This video is kind of boring, but I'm sorry as I'm posting it anyways):



And Here's a pic of Fussen, which I took when we drove through:



Once we drove through Fussen and were nearing the base of Alps mountains (again), we could see the 2 castles (hochen-schwangau and Neuschwanstein). I was very much looking forward to visit the fairy tale castle, since a long time and so, when we approached, I was enough excited. Below are some pics of those 2 castles:

The one below is the Neuschwanstein castle, which is called 'The Fairy Tale' castle and is famous all over: (By the way, Neuschwanstein is the most famous of all the castles that were built by King Ludwig II)



And below is the pic of Hochen-Schwangau castle:



These pics might not be the greatest pics, but it just gives a view/imagination of that place for you folks. It was indeed not in full glory at this part of the year, since it was cold, all the trees cast off their leaves and that bit of greenery was missin'. Also, some of the mountain paths were closed because it was winter time.

We then parked our car in the available parking lot, where the ground was frozen enough to skid. After that, we headed towards the ticket counter to get some tickets to enter into the castle. Unfortunately, the counter was closed as in winter time, they close it around 4 PM in the eve. I thought its our bad luck, but we atleast thought of walking around and have a glimpse of that castle. It is indeed the view of the castle from different angles, which makes the difference anyways and thats what its famous for. Generally, the castle is in full flory in spring/summer time, when its totally green or in winter time, when its full of snow. It was winter,when we were there, but not much snow at that particular time, although it was enough cold. If you wanna know/see more of Neuschwanstein, just do a search and you will get to see splendid pics of that castle.

After that, we had to climb up a couple of kms, to reach that castle. We had a option of using the main road or the short rugged path. The main road is a bit longer and that short path is closed in winter time for regular use. We decided to use the short path, cause we didnt have much time left out and its gonna get dark in short time. As we walked by, we noticed that most of the path was frozen and was slippery. Below is a pic of that path:



We somehow managed to do that, walking/hiking along the edges and joined the main road. This is when we could get a glimpse of the castle from nearby distance, obstructed by trees in between. Here's a pic for ya folks:



And here's one more pic, after walkin' a bit:



We then walked into a small park, from where you could have a glorious frontal view of the castle. Here's a pic, that I shot from that location:



Also, from this park you can have a panoramic view of the plain landscape filled up small lakes, on the other side. Here's a pic of that:



We then walked towards the entrance and have a look at the castle, from close by. Here I go, with some more pics:









Ok, so..we were done with that place...hmmm..! Indeed, there's much to do around, if you are into climbing/hiking or exploring different paths on its neighbouring mountains and having a view of the castle (from where you can get a glorious, splendid, full-in-glory views) from different angles. Also, there's a small bridge connecting this place to its neighbouring mountain, from where it is said to look great and from where, most of the postcard pics of this castle were taken (which can be found on the internet, if you search for that). Unfortunately, that was closed too 'cause its winter. Well, anyways we were tired enough and just headed back downhill.
After reaching the base of the mountain, I shot one of those great pics of the castle, accompanied by a full moon. Here's that:



Thats it and we hopped into the car and headed back home. I just said to myself 'Goodbye Neuschwanstein! C ya sometime later (since I didnt cover everythin')'. :-)

Below is a pic that I shot when we were a bit far-off from the castle (and the Alps):

Road Trip - Part 4 (Am Plansee - Austria)

(Continued from part 3...)

After leaving Linderhof, We headed towards our final destination for the trip (Fairy Tale Castle - Neuschwanstein). There are a couple of routes that you can use to reach Neuschwanstein from Linderhof, but we wanted to use the best and the shortest route. My friends knew that we had to cross the German border and pass through Austria for a couple of kms. But we were wondering if we had to pay toll, because Austria (Oesterreich) and Switzerland (Schweiz) collect toll if anyone uses their motorways. If you plan to use their motorway (Autobahn), you are supposed to buy a 'Vignette' sticker for the duration required, stick that on your vehicle and use their motorway (For Switzerland, you gotta buy the Vignette for one year - You cant select a shorter duration). We spoke to some police guy, after we just left Linderhof and he said that we dont need to pay toll for that short route across the border. So, we decided to use that route although this route is sometimes closed because of landslides/avalanches. This route is more unused and isolated than the one from Ettal to Linderhof (specially in the winter).

As we drove along, we were awed by some of the scenic landscapes that we saw. The sun was out playing, but it was still very cold in the shade. Here's a video that I shot on that route:



And here are some pics:







After driving a bit, we crossed the German border and reached this place called 'Am Plansee' (Lake Plansee), near Reutte, Austria and We stopped by, at that place for a small break. Its not really a village/town, but just a lake, a couple of houses and a hotel around. This lake (Plansee) was totally frozen and you could just think of that as ground covered with snow (specially, if you are new to living in cold places). A couple of people were walking around and some were skating on that lake. I walked around a bit and spoke to some locals in my broken (not so good, yet) Deutsch/German, just to figure out how different is Austrian dialect from native German. I heard from a couple of colleagues and friends that sometimes they also find it difficult to comprehend their dialect. The same case with Switzerland. Here are some pics that I took when I walked around on the lake:







And me, on the frozen lake (Am Plansee):


After spending some time there, we just got into the car and headed towards Neuschwanstein. Thats it for now! I'll post the next and final part of my road trip in the next blog article. Aloha! :-)

For more pics, check the slide-show below:



Click the following link for the next part of the road trip: Next Part

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Dachau Concentration Camp

This post deals with a sensitive and provoking topic. So, I'm typing the 'Disclaimer' first and then the actual content.
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Disclaimer:
1) The information in this post is based on my visit to the 'Dachau Concentration Camp' and hence it reflects my personal views. And I've no intention to hurt (or deal with) anyone's sentiments or feelings. Also, I'm not trying to deal with any 'Politically Incorrect' stuff. I'm all for egalitarianism, be it based on color, creed, religion, et al things.

2) Its no way related to Germans or Jews. I have nothing against anyone. Indeed, I have good number of German friends and I know some good Jews too. Its indeed hard for innocent Germans (who weren't aware of the insider dealings or the younger generation who are constantly fed up of studying/knowing something about this and the guilt associated with that) to swallow this truth and also for the good Jews out there.
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Last weekend, I had to go to Munich as one of my friend's was throwing a party for her upcoming birthday. Since I was going to Munich anyways, I thought I could go and have a look at the notorious 'Dachau Concentration Camp'.

A concentration camp is a penal camp where political prisoners or prisoners of war are confined (usually under harsh conditions). 'Dachau Concentration Camp' was the first camp opened in Germany by the Nazi's, in 1933. Dachau then served as a model for other concentration camps. Infact, the biggest camp was later built in Auschwitz, which was in the German-occupied southern Poland (and now, just Poland). As per my knowledge and research done on this subject, this camp was claimed (or announced to the general public) to be just for political prisoners or prisoners of war and that they will be treated like normal prisoners. But it wasn't true, as the prisoners were treated like slaves with no basic amenities. And whats worse is the fact that many of the prisoners were left to starve, killed in one of those gas chambers or any other way.

A lot of people from other countries (who weren't much influenced by the World War II or any other events like that - specially from other continents excluding Europe) dont know the impact of these sensitive topics, which include World War II, concentration camps, et al things. Indeed, I was one among them. That doesnt mean I didnt pay good attention in the 'History Classes' in school. Its just not so effective when you dont really see, feel or experience that. Since I had been here for a while already, I know how sensitive and provoking, this topic could be. Indeed, you can still see the influence of those historical events among people here (I mean specially in Germany) and other countries who were part of the war or in any way related to these things. I mean it..! So far, with what I said, I aint blaming any country in particular. Ofcourse, there's good and bad everywhere. I also wonder how can one person (Hitler - who was said to be shy when he was a kid) move the feelings (in a subtle way - healthy or not, depends on each and everyone's opinion) of millions of people and can, kind of hypnotise them in getting to the ranks of a country-head with dictatorial rights and do all those cruel deeds. He's an interesting subject for a case-study (I mean, for the people to learn from mistakes , for the governments to be accountable to whatever they do, for human rights, for pyschological analysis of a personality, et al things).

Here are some pics from the entrance of the camp:






The above picture shows the entrance gate of that concentration camp. There's a German phrase stamped on that gate, which says "Arbeit Macht Frei", which means "Work Makes You Free". That might be a crappy translation that I did, but as a general statement, its true, but since it was used by the Nazi's, its not a good thing to use (Its probably banned). Also, before coming to Germany, Swastika was a familiar and holy symbol for me (coming from India). After coming here, I got to know how serious it could be if I talked about that or drew something in that shape. Indeed, I knew that it was used by the Nazi's, but I didnt knew the seriousness of that issue.

Here are some more pics from that camp:

1) The Camp Courtyard:



2) Memorial:



3) Prisoner Bunks:



4) And here's a picture of a picture, that shows how those prisoners lived in those bunks:



5) Prisoner's Bathroom/Sinks:



6) Prisoner's Bathroom/Lavatory:



Below is a picture of the 'Gas Chamber' that was disguised as a 'Shower Room'. This room was used by the SS Generals in executing the prisoners, in groups (by telling them to go to that room, for a quick shower):



Below is a pic of a big oven that was used to burn the dead bodies of prisoners who were killed by hanging or using the gas chamber:



And here's a picture of one of the "Watch Tower's" for that camp. This, kind of reminds the world war movies, in which the security guys used to watch the prisoner's of war. There are many movies related to these events or places. Some of them that I can recollect, at the moment, are "The Great Escape", "Schindler's List", et al.



Here's a pic of the hallway in the bunker:



And below are miscellaneous pics from that concentration camp:



























Its indeed very moving to look at those pics of starving/dying prisoners (and there were millions of 'em) and the harsh conditions at that camp. Peace! :)

Road Trip - Part 3 (Linderhof - King Ludwig II's Castle)

(Continued from part 2...)

After we left Ettal, we headed towards Linderhof. I was very much looking forward for this as my German friends always talked about this path being one of those beau paths. This is indeed special because you gotta drive between the snow-capped Alps mountains, on a small road in the middle of nowhere covered with full of scenery (be it summer or winter) and not much traffic (especially in winter). Here's some pix that I took on our way to Linderhof:















After travelling for around 15/20 kms, we reached Linderhof. Linderhof is not a residential place at all. Its just the Castle and the park (Schloss-park) located in a kool location between the mountains. It is one of the castles created by King Ludwig II besides the world famous fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein and some other. He indeed has a royal taste, but by the way he spent money on building those marvellous castles and spending much time there instead of administering Bavaria, he was branded by some people under him as 'Mad King' . Finally he lost his crown and after a while (when he was under house-arrest and supervision), he was found dead in 'Starnberger-See' (Lake Starnberg) in suspicious circumstances.

After arriving at Linderhof, we parked our car and bought entry tickets for the castle and its park. Here are some pics as we walked by to the entrance:







At winter time, the castle is bit hard to maintain as it is located away from main inhabited areas. When we went there, it wasnt in full glory, but was still beautiful in its own way.Also, some parts of the park were closed due to maintenance and sometimes, it runs the risk of avalanche (so, sometimes the road might be closed too). Its indeed very good looking in summer, where in you can see it in full glory with all the greenery, fountains, and sundry other things.

After walking some distance, we could finally see the castle. This is indeed a small castle in which King Ludwig spent his last years in seclusion. Seclusion and serenity were the reasons why King Ludwig selected this location. Here's some pix of the castle:





Also, check the 'summer' and 'winter' pics at Wikipedia site for 'Linderhof'. They are awesome.

Linderhof castle was built in the style of the second rococo period, as the French Sin-King Louis XIV was an idol for King Ludwig. Its not as big as the palace at Versailles (Paris, France), but was built in the style of that and you could see the symbol of sun in some of his castles. Photography was prohibited inside the castle, but I inadvertently took a picture (and was later reminded).. and here it is:



That was the only pic that I took inside the castle. But from what I saw, I can say that its a very grand castle. Special things to look at are King Ludwig's personal space in the first floor like Music room, personal room, bed room (big and grand), etc things. He used several things from different countries in Europe and Asia to decorate the castle.

After that, we walked around the castle for a couple of minutes and headed back to the parking lot to get going to Neuschwanstein crossing the German border and passing through Austria. I'll post the next part of my road trip in an other blog article. Please check for that. For more pics, please check the slide-show below:



Click the following link for the next part of the road trip: Next Part

Chow Chow! :)

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