Europe

Experiencing the Castles and Alps in Bayern

For four months, I studied abroad in London, England. These notes are select entries from my experiences in the United Kingdom and Western Europe from that time.

Friday, November 27 –

I awoke at 8 a.m. with a good night’s sleep despite my Uncle Barry’s snoring. Sometimes you just have to clear your throat really loudly or give him a slight nudge during the night. Barry is a great travel partner although we have different travel ideas. He takes photos of everything to get the perfect shot for his slides instead of sometimes enjoying the atmosphere, though I am sure his photos are much better than mine! He also can be indecisive and a little slow at times. I wonder what kind of annoyances he sees in me?

I packed my stuff for the day before going downstairs to get some breakfast continental style. I had a baguette with different meats and cheeses, a boiled egg, orange juice and some tea. We then left in the Opel for the post office where I mailed an envelope of postcards for Grandmother since we are in the process of moving back home.

The Wieskirche near Steingaden, Bayern

The Wieskirche near Steingaden, Bayern

Inside the Wieskirche

Inside the Wieskirche

The snow was still falling heavily through grey skies creating a true winter wonderland in the Alps. We drove towards Neuchwanstein stopping at Wieskirche along the way. This magnificent Catholic Church, with jaw-dropping views of the Alps, was very beautifully decorated inside wit the Bavarian style.

After leaving, we headed down the snowy roads towards King Ludwig II’s fairytale castle, Neuchwanstein. Barry and I walked 2 miles (the long way) really by accident to the castle amidst awe-inspiring winter landscapes with waterfalls, gorges, the Alps, alpine bridges and the castle itself. Set on a prominent rock spire, the fairytale-like castle of the “mad” King Ludwig II was a huge architectural achievement. The castle was very impressive all sorts of styles included like Greek revival, medieval, renaissance and baroque. It was tacky though very beautiful and only over 100 years old, built by Bavaria’s last king. I could just picture and imagine hearing Ludwig’s friend Richard Wagner playing his concerts in the fortress (like “Flight of the Valkyries”).

On the way back to Garmish we took a road “less traveled” and saw highlights that included fabulous views of the Alps with mountainous cliffs towering over crystal clear lakes with virgin snow.

We stopped at this beautiful  lake

We stopped at this beautiful lake

Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Bayern

Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Bayern

Neuschwanstein from the forest trail

Neuschwanstein from the forest trail

After finishing seeing these views for a short time in Austria, we eventually crossed back into Germany. We stopped at one of the most famous and beautiful monasteries in the world at Ettal.

Kloster_Ettal_

Kloster Ettal Benedictine monastery close to Oberammergau

Ettal monastery was huge and its two-domed sanctuary was simply ausgezeichnet. I don’t know if I have ever been held speechless and completely lost at words trying to explain its beauty. Barry bought some of the monastery’s famous brandy and I bought a small booklet and christmas cards there. The beauty of the Alps seen from inside the cathedral has attracted many pilgrims over the last 800 years, and it made me stop and pray to God as well. Barry seem to be very impressed and moved by it as he mentioned how he was moved spiritually at Ettal in the past.

Kloster Ettal before dark

Kloster Ettal before dark

We drove the final kilometers back to Garmish-Partenkirchen in the Opel before stopping back at our hotel. Barry took a nap and I made some plans for tomorrow when I would leave for Vienna on my own. Before leaving the hotel, I reserved a spot on the train and learned of the details of my train ride.

Then we went back to the same restaurant we visited the evening before since we liked it so much. I ordered a skewer of various meats including wurst, schnitzel, lamb and beef along with a Lowenbrau weisbier, salad and pommes frittes. I had the same fabulous dessert once again and was stuffed to the gills. I even ordered in German as I usually try to do. Barry and I talked about our future plans before we came back to the chalet.

After returning to the chalet, I figured out my itinerary for my solo “Euro-adventure” while I watched some German television and NBC. Barry went to watch the last period of an amateur hockey game at the Olympic Eistadion, built in 1936. We went to bed around midnight. What an awesome day in the Alps! Can it be real or is it merely a dream?

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