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By Pam Hobbs

Munich: Well, at least the swans were happy, leaving their ponds to splash about in puddles on footpaths leading to the palace. For the rest of us it wasn't that much fun, scurrying from the shelter of one group of trees to another, trying to dodge some of the torrential rain. If at all possible, save the Nymphenburg summer palace on the outskirts of Munich for a sunny day. It will help the enjoyment of formal gardens and wooded walks, the picturesque fountains and ornamental pools, and carpets of blue and white flowers representing Bavaria's national colours.

Bavaria, as every visitor soon discovers, has more than its share of palaces, three of the most extravagant being built by Ludwig 11, who loved the finer things of life. Nymphenburg preceded him. As a summer home for Bavarian princes and kings, it was started in 1664 and completed by 1758, with priceless furnishings and artwork installed by a succession of residents.