Thank God it’s (was) Friday.
May 19 was our official free day, so I decided to visit Chiemsee with my parents. Our private driver dropped us off in downtown Prien, a beautiful town located right on the coast of the Chiemsee. When we arrived, we had no idea that we were still far away from the port; according to the tourist information center, we still had to walk for 20 minutes to get to the port, and the boats leave every 30 minutes. We walked as quickly as we could in the sweltering heat, and it felt like forever until we finally reached the Chiemsee-Schifffahrt, where we quickly grabbed some Wiener sausages from a snack stand before boarding the boat to Herreninsel. After docking and getting off the MS Siegfried, we hitched a horse carriage to the Herrenchiemsee, the most expensive of King Ludwig II’s three castles. Due to his financial situation, this castle was never finished; 50 out of the 70 intended rooms were never built. Upon looking at the building and the surrounding fountains, my parents and I knew that it looked almost exactly like Versailles. As it turns out, it really was intended to be a near-exact copy of Versailles because Ludwig II was obsessed with King Louis XIV, the “Sun King”; in fact, Ludwig called himself the “Moon King” and wanted to pretend as if he was Louis XIV when he walked inside the building. The interior of the castle also looked very similar to Versailles since a lot of the paintings of French monarchs are copies of the original paintings in France. Additionally, the hall of mirrors in Herrenchiemsee has the same number of mirrors as the one in Versailles, but it is also a few meters longer. One of the most interesting rooms in this castle (in my opinion) was the bathtub room: a large circular bathtub filled the entire floor, so there was a small bridge for us to walk over the tub, which took a whopping 8 hours to fill with water and heat up. Some other rooms I found interesting were the dining room and kitchen. Similarly to Linderhof, another one of Ludwig’s castles that we visited last year, there was a dining table on a platform that could be lowered to the kitchen directly below via a hand crank so that servants could put food on the table before lifting it back up. Apparently, the entire process of lowering the table, putting food on it, and lifting the table took roughly 13 minutes, and it didn’t help that Ludwig liked to eat a lot; the food had to have gotten cold! Overall, we had a great tour guide who explained everything concisely. In fact, she told us that our tour tickets are actually good for six months! That’s an awesome deal for 8 Euros! Following the tour, we entered an area that housed the Ludwig II Museum, which contained several pictures of Ludwig II and his family and acquaintances, as well as some of his clothing and furniture. The visit to this museum gave me a better understanding of the progression of Ludwig’s life and his relations with other people.
After leaving Herrenchiemsee and taking the horse carriage back to the port, we took another boat to Fraueninsel, a small village with an abbey in the center. We saw a lot of nuns walking around, and there were several villagers dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing standing in front of the taverns and guest houses. We enjoyed taking a stroll in the areas surrounding the abbey and looking through the stores where they sold locally made souvenirs, such as jewelry, religious items, and cookies. Our visit to Fraueninsel was brief because we had to catch the next boat in order to get back to Prien in time for our private car ride back to Augsburg. I really enjoyed traveling the calm waters of the Chiemsee and looking out the window watching sailboats and ducks pass by and appreciating the calm scenery.
Despite our crunch for time, we accomplished a lot and were able to visit the most important highlights of the Chiemsee area. Coincidentally, back in my junior year of high school, I made a brochure for things to do in Chiemsee as an assignment for my German class, not knowing that I would eventually go there two years later. This made me further appreciate what I had learned back then, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to experience for myself what I had written in the brochure! I just wish that I had more time to go around downtown Prien–it looked like there was still a lot to explore.
Time to pack for my journey home.