Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bavaria: Schloss Linderhof

Schloss Neuschwanstein gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so... it's a fairy tale castle, despite not being finished on the inside.  But for those fascinated by "Mad King" Ludwig II, undoubtedly an eccentric your ruler, you would find Schloss Linderhof, his favorite and only completed palace, to be a more intimate look at a place where he actually lived.  (Ludwig lived at Neuschwanstein for less than 200 days, but lived about 8 years of his life at Linderhof.)

The grounds alone at Linderhof are stunning.  It is clear this palace was modeled after Versailles, and Ludwig's appreciation for all things French from that time period.  As a fellow enthusiast for Louis XIV, I totally understand!  The gardens and grounds here are worth walking around for a long time.

The palace visit includes a tour (no photos) of the interior, and it was gorgeous.  Very, very ornate, and Ludwig's bedroom was the piece de resistance.  A bit of a recluse, he even had a dining room where the table could be set in the kitchen below, then lifted via pulleys up to him so he never had to interface with any servants or people.  The sizes of the rooms are proportionate to his solitary lifestyle, and it feels very livable.  His reading room was his favorite, and I can totally understand!  It was a beautiful space too.

Ludwig was obsessed with Wagner's operas, so he had an artificial cave/grotto built on his property so he could watch performances privately.  Can you imagine him sitting alone in his "cave" watching full-scale opera performances?  The grotto even has an artificial lake that could be heated for private swimming.

In the Grotto

Among other buildings on the property is the Moroccan Kiosk, which Ludwig purchased at a World's Fair.  It is a gorgeous little retreat.

Schloss Linderhof is difficult to reach without a car, or an organized bus tour.  We took a family road trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein, dipped down into Austria, and then Schloss Linderhof.  You can hit Oberammergau on the way back to the city too.  I definitely think that it is worth comparing and contrasting the two castles, given they are such an intimate look at Ludwig's personality.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: July 2014

A day late and in the middle of my Germany posts, but here is July's Budgeting Bloggers update! 

July was a good month!  I was away from home for most of it, but I also got some great gifts from my family when I spent time with them.  I definitely also spent some money, as I got excited about summer dress and skirt weather.

  1. Unisa Lola Wedge Sandal in Gold - (valued $60, paid $40):  I bought these sandals to wear in my cousin's wedding this fall.  I needed a gold sandal I could walk on grass in, as well as something formal enough for the occasion.  She approved these and liked the shiny wedge heel vs. something more informal like cork.  I counted them in my budget (unlike the dress) because these are wearable again for sure.
  2. eShakti Rose Print Cotton Shirtdress with Custom Sleeves (originally $88, c/o eShakti): This beautiful dress was given to me by eShakti for a review.  I had short sleeves added, since I don't like cap sleeves.  Check out my review of the dress here.
  3. Heart of Haute Peacock Royale Skirt ($62 with shipping):  The DAR Junior mascot until 2016 is a Peacock, and as a National Vice Chairman I felt I needed some peacock flair to wear at DAR events.  I bought this so I could wear it to our state's fall workshops in August.
  4. Fabletics Embra Tank and Lima Capris (originally $60, paid $34):  I fell in love with the colors in the capris, and I had a credit left over from some returns.  I skipped last month (Fabletics is a subscription service, learn more by clicking my referral link here) but this month the pattern was awesome!  It's called High Intensity.  Definitely got a lot of compliments when I posted on Instagram.
  5. eShakti Retro Chambray Shirtdress (originally $80, paid $57):  I have been looking for a denim shirtdress with a flare, and this one was the only one I found that seemed to fit the silhouette I was looking for.  I got $30 for first-time purchase, plus stacked another promo code to get it for $57 including S+H.  I love it!  Totally worth what I paid to finally have a chambray shirtdress that flatters my shape.
  6. Studio 1 Maxi Dress via JCPenney (originally $70, paid $40):  This was a semi-impulse purchase, as I needed something to wear to dinner for a work trip in NYC and I sweated through my planned outfit on a walking tour the same day.  So I power-walked a few moreblocks and found this.  It's comfy, and it's only the 2nd maxi dress in my closet after I got rid of a couple of less flattering ones.  Easy outfit.
I also got a bunch of freebies this month from my time with my family!

Gifts from Family (FREE to me, clockwise from top left):
  • White Shirt with Buttons (Mom found this via Sam's Club)
  • LOFT Tanks ($9 each on sale)
  • LOFT Dress (on sale at outlet for $20!)
  • Tory Burch Cardigan (Sissy found this at Last Chance, it has a tiny hole I will have fixed)
  • Banana Republic Tank  (Another Mom find, on super sale)

Not Pictured:
  • Target Swan Favorite Button Down Shirt, similar ($23):  Another Target button down in adorable print for me!  Like my pineapple shirt from last month, this one is from Merona brand.  I couldn't find a picture online but there are similar prints available.  Loads of compliments on it too.
  • Ann Taylor Peplum Top (originally $55, paid $13):  Extra 70% off clearance top at the outlets during my NY trip, it's sleeveless, white, and has black dots.

$249 spent - $90 earned = $159 total
$$$ savings (lots of freebies!)

Quarterly Budget: $500 - $159 July = $341 remaining

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Bavaria: Schloss Neuschwanstein, Austria, and Oberammergau

It's official...  I've now been to Schloss Neuschwanstein for the third time in my life.  It's the castle that inspired Disney, the incomplete magnum opus of "Mad" king Ludwig II.  And since I am interested in Ludwig's short but fascinating life, I was game to go back once more since Sissy could not remember the first trip.  The castle actually faces another castle where the royal family spent time, but Ludwig was building a true fairy tale into the mountain.  Sadly, he lived in it only a short while, and construction halted when he died his untimely death.  (Note to self: find photos from each visit and compare!)

It's a steep, sweaty hike up to the castle, but we braved it!  You have to buy a ticket at the bottom to get a reservation for a specific tour time, so it's best if you either get there early or reserve in advance.  Then you join the short guided tour (no photos allowed) to sneak a peek at what was completed in Ludwig's lifetime.

After Neuschwanstein, we drove via Austria towards Schloss Linderhof and Oberammergau.  We passed beautiful water and vistas, and we had to stop for a photo op.  I went down to the water and tasted it... pure and cold and delish!  I would have filled a bottle with it if I had one.
We stopped at Schloss Linderhof before Oberammergau, but I'll share that with you in my next post.  To round out this one, here are a couple snaps from our brief stop in Oberammergau.  It's a town that prayed to be spared from disaster by promising to put on a passion play every decade, and so now its buildings are covered in Biblical scenes.  They have a theater where the play is performed... next one is in 2020.  There's not much going on in town, but there are lots of woodwork shops and cute buildings.  Worth a pitstop!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Austria: Salzburg

This being my third trip to Salzburg (I know, #firstworldproblems) we didn't really do a whole lot except walk around Old Town before heading back to Munich.  It was so close to our planned Berchtesgaden route that we felt it would be a shame not to stop over for a bit.  Sissy checked out Mozart's Birthplace (my favorite Mozart site in the city) and we perused the different squares, streets, and soaked in some sun and architecture.  The cathedral there is still one of my favorites.  If you like Mozart, or you like The Sound of Music, it's worth a stop.  The movie was filmed all over the place, but it does such a good job of integrating sound stages and real locations you can feel like a von Trapp.

Here are a bunch of photos, minus a lot of narrative given Salzburg speaks for itself. I do love the Mirabell gardens, but there wasn't time this trip to visit again.  If I had longer, I would lay in the sun and read a book there by the steps from the movie.

The bleachers aren't usually there, those are for a festival.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Munich: Bavarian Feast at Der Ratskeller

We had a "traditional" German feast at Der Ratskeller (located at Marienplatz) and Munich along with the rest of the travelers in our group.  This included the tapping of the keg and a family-style meal with music, yodeling, and the works.  I've got to admit, for a themed dinner it was not overly cheesy (well, minus the Chicken Dance) and really quite fun.

More cowbell!  Also, the cowbell lady was a yodeling pro.
Overall, I feel like I ate similar meals to this throughout the trip.  Mom and Sissy definitely struggled, as the only meat they eat is chicken (Mom also eats seafood).  I found that the concept of vegetarian meal options doesn't seem to exist as prominently in Germany, much as I experienced in France.
We drank beer (of course!) and wine (summer = German Riesling Spatlese for me!).  This is where a fellow traveler introduced me to a Radler, a beer mixed with lemon soda.  Delish!  We started with a Munich leaf salad with small meatballs, then moved to a meat platter of different sausages, wiener schnitzel, veal knuckles, and roast chicken.  For side, there were fries (I ate a lot of fries in Germany), sauerkraut, and dumplings.  Dessert was a treat too, with a curd cheese strudel and vanilla sauce, plus chocolate-covered strawberries.  Woof, we ate so much!
It was a great time for the entire family... We just don't all sit around a table together that often anymore as we live in different states.  I think that was probably the best part of the meal in total.  I'd definitely recommend Der Ratskeller for a traditional, campy fun themed dinner in Munich, or Bavaria for that matter.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Munich: Residenz München

Since we already had Mehrtagestickets to see a number of sites in Bavaria, I asked my family if we could visit the included Residenz München and Treasury, in the heart of the city.  It is the former palace of the Bavarian monarchy (from 1508-1918), and the rooms are just fascinating.  I haven't been to many palaces where you can walk through literally a hundred rooms and see different types of decoration, tapestries, art, and more.  While Schloss Nymphenburg was impressive from the outside, the Residenz takes the cake on the inside.  I just can't even imagine what it was like while it was used to live in!  It was interesting to hear that while much of the building was damaged in WWII, many of the paintings (including those on the ceiling) were taken down to protect them.  You can see some darkly painted spaces on the ceilings where the paintings were too big to remove and were destroyed beyond repair in WWII.

Exterior of the Residenz
Here are a BUNCH of photos to give you a sneak peek behind the walls of this gem.  I can't believe there weren't more people walking through it, given you can see so much more than other grand palaces I have visited.  (Bonus: it's one of the few that is okay with photos inside!)   From the outside, you'd never guess that all of this was right smack dab in the middle of Munich.

Antiquarium, built to display the Duke's sculptures

I kind of liked how paintings felt integrated into the walls.

Tapestries were all over, making rooms feel so big.  Most rooms were pretty small/narrow.

More photos after the jump, included royal jewels!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dachau: Concentration Camp Memorial Site

I won't go heavy on words for this post; the pictures speak greater words.  This was my third trip to Dachau; I visited before at age 4 and age 17.  While I was reluctant to "anniversary" this excursion for a third time, it is still a moving place to visit.  What happened there is virtually incomprehensible to me, as with what happened with the Holocaust in general.  I wish we had the time to explore the city of Dachau, in contrast to what I've seen at the camp, but we did not during this trip.  The memorial site is free of charge to visit, and it was good to see so many school groups touring so its memory will never be forgotten.  All Bavarian schoolchildren must visit a concentration camp site during their education.  I think the last words I leave with this post are: Never Forget.
Camp Entrance

"Work Makes You Free"

International Memorial

Camp Grounds

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Best: On Vacation

Dresses are one of my favorites for traveling.  Period.  So on our vacation to Germany, I packed a number of them as easy outfits.  Pants + tops take up so much more suitcase space!  Today's dress is brought to you by Old Navy past clearance sales.

Dress: Old Navy (similar, similar strappy, similar strapless)
Belt and Sunnies: Charlotte Russe & H&M
Shoes:  Gladiator Sandals or Running Shoes
Purse:  Longchamp (ancient circa 2005)

Notice my running shoes mucking up my style on the hike to Neuschwanstein...
Okay, so my belt isn't staying where it should be, but you get the idea.  I was very comfortable, and I had a cardigan in my Longchamp bag for when the temps shifted based on altitude and whatnot.  While the rest of my family wore shorts/pants, I felt very happy in my casual dresses, and I think it's great for photos!  

I've also observed that most women in Europe, while they wear the shortest mini skirts, do NOT wear shorts.  It is the quickest way to call yourself out as a tourist; that's another reason I like dresses.  What do you wear when you travel?

Here's a little snapshot of the other frocks I wore while in Germany...

P.S.  This is possible TMI, but for my fellow curvy girls in dresses, I also pack a little tube of chafing-relief powder gel when I travel and know I'll be walking a lot.  A pea-sized amount goes a long way.  I actually used this as a makeup primer (yes, on my face!) for years, as it is the same ingredients as Smashbox primers but way cheaper.  This stuff is the bomb, so I had to share it here.

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