Our first of the big three Mad King Ludwig castles in Bavaria was Herrenchiemsee. From our base in Feldafing, along the shores of the Starnberger See, it was the most distant of Ludwig's Bavarian palaces. The GPS took us along slower, small roads south of Munich, and it was a fairly pleasant ride out into the mountainous areas, of which we were to explore more during our visits to Ludwig's other palaces, Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.
Herrenchiemsee is unique among his palaces in that it is on an island. We parked near the lake, at the ample parking lot, and bought our ferry tickets. It was after being on the boat that I realized that I had left my all-important palace pass. I shot off like the Brady Bunch trying to weave through King's Island get Mike's plans to him. Luckily, those decades of running served me well, and I was able to return to the boat, pass in hand, before it departed to the island.
What is this "palace pass" things you speak of? Glad you asked - I'm here to inform and entertain, most of the time in that order. This pass is a great way to save money if you plan on seeing more than one or two of the many palaces in Bavaria. For 44 euros, we had a family pass good for two weeks that included entrance into most of the big name castles and palaces. Absolutely worth it.
The boat ride isn't long, as you get a nice view of the palace from the very long lawn. The boat docked near the ticketing area for the palace, where I actually got our timed tickets to view the palace. It's a fairly long walk along the paths to reach the palace, but if you'd like someone else to hoof it for you, carriage rides are available. Fit Bit miles don't accumulate by themselves, and thus, off we went on our own hoofs.
Being lunchtime, we snacked at the in-palace cafeteria, my food of choice being the bratwurst. Well fueled, we toured the fountains and ground out front of the palace before our appointed time to enter. You must take a guided tour to see the palace, and each ticket is timed. You will be roughed up and made to watch William Shatner sing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" if you attempt to enter without a ticket.
If you've ever been to Versailles, then the gardens and palace exterior will be very familiar to you. In a good way - both Versailles and Herrenchiemsee are beautiful.
Photos aren't allowed inside the palace, so my camera was kept cooped up. But the interiors were beautiful and spacious. Herrenchiemsee was designed to resemble Versailles - Ludwig was a big fan of King Louis XIV, wanting to be an absolute monarch himself. But who doesn't? Yet despite all its grandeur and opulence, the king only spent a few days there. His $250,000,000 (today's dollars) expenditure, more than both his other two palaces, didn't get him too much enjoyment, apparently.