Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Europe Adventure for Jan & Me - Bavaria

Everything about our ten days with Jochen & Sylvia was special, and when they suggested we spend three days in Bavaria, we were very quick to say, 'Yes Please!!' The extra bonus was that Sylvia was born in this area, which made it even more special.

We left Liggesdorf on the Sunday on a lovely sunny day and on the way made a stop at Lindau near the Austrian border on the Bodensee.

Thankfully, it was a lovely day to walk around Lindau
Once again, we were treated to a lovely old town with much to see and enjoy. The little lakeside port of Lindau had all the elements of history & architecture, all in a sublime setting. Let's give you a glimpse of what we enjoyed.

The lake-side port of Linda.
Tourist boats were a-plenty and many took advantage of the glorious day.

Including us two!
No question! It was a fun time enjoyed by the four of us
- and we kicked up our heels!

But, there was a long journey ahead of us and it was time to move on to Bavaria. We left the flatter countryside of the Bodensee and headed into the Bavarian mountains. The oohs and aahs about the countryside were adequate expressions of our enjoyment. It was great to finally stop at a roadside parking area to admire the following views:

How peaceful is this! Grazing cows on green pasture with a
Bavarian village on the background!

And just a reminder of the map, showing where we traveled. Please click on for a larger image:Our journey took us through breathtaking scenery around mountains and over mountains, finally arriving at our destination of Eisenberg where we overnighted at Landgasthof Cockelwirt. This is a special place for Sylvia who told us that she stayed here with her family as a young person and it left a lasting impression on her. It is a delightful place and we were very comfortable. The views from our rooms were great and looked out over the small village across the road, as you can see:We arrived at 5 pm and were thankful that there was still a lot of daylight for us to enjoy the surroundings. Glad we took photos then, as the following morning the weather had closed in. The late afternoon sun just lit up the countryside, the mountains and everything that flows from that. It was very much a 'wow' factor. Once in the village, we were enticed to sample the local brew in the local pub. We were not disappointed. It was a lovely place for a drink and it was pretty full when we got there. We happily joined the locals and shared a table with another couple. The different languages did not bother us a lot and with Jochen and Sylvia to assist, had a fun time.The locally brewed beer was very nice and it was obvious that this little village pub was well regarded.

Mixing with the locals! And below, the painting on the ceiling above where we sat:

Our dinner that evening was at the Cockelwirt, which has a cozy restaurant - or as my Dutch friends will have it, it was 'gezellig'! On the recommendation of Sylvia, we all ordered the speciality of the house, which is a special recipe with a half chicken each. It was a banquet of delicious food.

We're putting on the weight, that's for sure!

The following morning saw us on our way to Neuschwanstein, the site of Ludwig II's magnificent late 19th century castle. The castle is built at an elevation of just over 1000 meters, or 3300 feet. in the Bavarian forests. The lead up to this attraction is magnificent as the following photo shows. Once in the village, we were taken up to the castle by shuttle bus, surrounded by crowds of people. And this was on a rainy Monday! What would it be like on a summer weekend day? Glad we didn't find out!

As we entered through the village, we got this first view of the castle
and just to the right we saw the castle of Hohenschwangau
pictured below:
The buses were also chocka full. We just managed to squeeze in at the front of the bus before the door shut, much to our delight!Jochen and Sylvia found it all very amusing!

With so much rain, most of the people wanted to shelter in the castle's entrance. We chose to gently push our way through into the courtyard and found that more to our liking:Despite the rain, we very much enjoyed visiting Neuschwanstein. The autumn colours and the spectacular scenery were great.
We found the castle guide very informative and with her excellent English, got a lot out of it, including the fact that Ludwig admired the work of Richard Wagner. 'The king saw the buildings as representatives of a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages as well as the musical mythology of his friend Richard Wagner. Wagner's operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin had made a lasting impression on him.' (Ref: Wikpedia) He wrote to Wagner in May 1868 as follows:
"It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights' castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world. It will also remind you of Tannhäuser and Lohengrin."
Throughout, the design pays homage to the German legends of Lohengrin. Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig spent much of his youth, had decorations of these sagas. These themes were taken up in the operas of Composer Richard Wagner. Many rooms bear a border depicting the various operas written by Wagner, including a theater permanently featuring the set of one such play. Many of the interior rooms remain undecorated, with only 14 rooms finished before Ludwig's death. (Ref Wikpedia)

This model gives a good idea of the romantic style of this castle.
It is indeed, very
elaborate and it is no wonder that up to 1.3 million people visit this outstanding castle.

The Pöllat Gorge and the bridge from where we had the best view of the castle.
Pity is was a murky day, but still nevertheless, breathtaking!
Anything after this must surely be less interesting. But not so. Sylvia skilfully drove us to our next destination to another of Ludwig II's castles. This time his palace at Linderhof: Above, my buddy and me admiring the gardens and sculptures at Linderhof!
And the ladies needed to be in our party as well!

It was a long and most enjoyable day and we were ready to relax in our booked accommodation in Garmisch Patenkirchen. Alas, when we finally found the guesthouse, the rooms were not available and they had booked us for another day! However, the owners finally found suitable accommodation in the centre of town where we settled for the night. The following morning, we were greeted by the following views:As you can see above, the weather had improved and we enjoyed a wander around this town, which is typical Bavarian:Our journey today would take us through beautiful country & smaller towns, finally going back to Liggesdorf. Our first stop after leaving Garmisch Patenkirchen was Mittenwald. A great town where we would have liked to spend more time and go up the mountain where we could see snow. But, there just wasn't that sort of time. A walk around Mittenwald was all that we could manage. The 'grafiti' on the houses told us how creative the people are in Bavaria and how proud they are of their homes:
Even the church was decorated with lovely artwork above. and below,
the splendid ceiling in this church.
To complete the art connection,
the photo below is in recognition of a violin maker from the area:

There was enough time to have lunch in Mittenwald and Sylvia & Jochen strongly recommended a Bavarian delicacy of 'white sausage' with sweet seeded mustard & pretzels. We weren't disappointed and very much enjoyed it:

From here we traveled to Oberammergau, the place where every ten years the Passion Play is performed. It goes back to 1630. That is some long running show and is apparently booked out up to 4 years in advance. We enjoyed wandering around this little town: bought a CD as well as the inevitable ice cream. We noticed that ice cream is very reasonably priced here and paid Euro 4.80 for ice creams in a cone for the four of us. Certainly much cheaper than Oz!

A visit to the catholic church in Wieskirke was next:When we arrived, the priest in charge of the music was speaking to a group and explained its history, spoke about the organs (the main organ had just been renovated or replaced at a cost of Eu700, 000), and demonstrated the acoustics with his own excellent voice. We said hello to him afterwards and he invited me to play the small chamber organ near the altar but I declined.

Our final stop was Kaufbeuren where Sylvia spent much of her earlier life. After that it was back home to Liggesdorf, but not before a glorious sunset:

But.....it is time to say our farewells to Germany. A farewell lunch in Ludwigshafen (very appropriate after our encounters with Ludwig II) -

"Thank you Jochen & Sylvia. It was 'sehr gut'. We loved it!"

It was time to pack our cases, and then to Singen to catch the first of three trains to Holland.