Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bavarian Foothills, Germany

The next leg of our journey took us north from Switzerland to various parts of Bavaria, Germany, with our home base here in darling Mittenwald. We absolutely loved this town hugging the Alps, and started dreaming of retiring here to run a B&B.

Lorelei and Gryffin's video of Germany is HERE.

Our first day was hard. Not only because it required hours of driving (though the scenery was superb!), but in particular because we thought it was important to visit Dachau, and pay our respects to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
We were advised that this wasn't a good place for children under twelve, so we were thoughtful about which parts we took the kids to see. Lorelei didn't want to see much, but Gryffy wanted to come with me to see some of the grounds, and I thought it was important that my kids knew what had happened here. The Holocaust is something we should never forget, and it's incumbent upon each generation to teach the next about the dangers of fear, nationalism and xenophobia. Dachau was not cut off in some remote land; it happened in plain sight, inside of a town and community of neighborhoods and homes. There really are no words, but the experience of being there was heavy and solemn.

It felt strange to leave and drive a stone's throw to lively, bustling Munich. The only way to enjoy the day was to compartmentalize our emotions, which isn't altogether healthy. But we set out hoping to enjoy the rest of the afternoon - Munich has always ranked as one of my favorite cities, and it was good to be back and show it off to the kids.
Driving into Munich wasn't bad at all, and we found a great parking spot and were immediately in the gorgeous Marienplatz, the heart of the city!
On the hour, the clocktower dances and chimes.

But we didn't have much time, so we headed straight for my favorite spot to secure a table right beside the Oompah Band at the Hofbrauhaus.

I love the painted ceilings!
Note: Gryffy was NOT drinking this flagon of beer. :)

When the band began playing, a swarm of tourists rushed in with cameras. These guys are rock stars.
After dinner, we took another stroll through Munich, Mark bought the kids more fidget spinners from a street vendor, and soon we were back...
... at the car, ready to drive an hour south...
... to our darling B&B, Gastehaus Sonnenheim, in Mittenwald!

We couldn't believe our eyes - this place was adorable, and the kids and parents had our own separate rooms upstairs, including a balcony!
The kids claimed this room.
And here's ours. Look at the cozy beds and snow white downs! I'm pretty sure the Seven Dwarfs would approve.
Our balcony.
And the view! As with the rest of our trip, we could hear the clock chime upon the hour from the church in the distance.

We spent the rest of the evening exploring Mittenwald.

Like Oberammergau and Garmisch, Mittenwald is known for its fresco painted scenes (Luftlmalerei) on buildings.

We stumbled upon a grotto in the churchyard, water dripping into a pool and candles burning. The elements conjure the spiritual realm, honoring the divine feminine in Mother Mary.
And across the churchyard stood another stirring shrine to Christ, crucified.
This friendly black cat followed me around everywhere.

Mark's misbehaving. Ha!

The next morning called for thunderstorms as we made our way to Hohenschwangau to see King Ludwig II's famous castles.

This was the king's childhood home.

And here is the fairytale castle that inspired Walt Disney, Neuschwanstein.
I knew from my last visit that this was a tourist trap, but the kids wanted to see it and the tour was just right at around half an hour (after the hour-long ticket pick-up and short bus ride up the hill - so glad we made reservations because that place was packed)!
I took this image from Google - this is how that fairytale castle looks in the thick of winter (with the help of a drone and professional photographer)! 
We purchased our keepsake magnets and enjoyed some ice cream before driving back to Mittenwald.

But first, we made a stop in Oberammergau to enjoy their mountain coaster. We assumed it would be like the ones we ride each year in the Rockies, but we started going up... and up... and up. It was an endless journey; I've never seen a mountain coaster so loooooong! It was spectacular!

Back in Mittenwald we found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving Turkish food and played a game of cards as the rain clouds slowly rolled by, and enjoyed another stroll through Mittenwald as the sky cleared. We adored this cute town - another jackpot hit on this beautiful trip, with brooks babbling down every street!

Mittenwald is considered the violin capital of the world, and here we are at its violin museum (Lorelei plays and Gryffy's planning on joining orchestra next year - hoping to keep them inspired!).

We toured the church with all its baroque extravagance.

As darling as these nameplates look on the pews, this really boils my blood! Imagine being told in a church, "Don't sit here; this is my seat." Geesh. I hope that's not the case!
Another visit to the grotto.
I wonder who lights these candles everyday, a beautiful act of devotion.
Next we went for a hike on the Goblin trail. It was much steeper than we had thought to begin, and Gryffy twisted his ankle.

So we opted instead for a shorter leg of the trail that led through a gorge and to a fierce waterfall. It was stunning!

We felt pretty adventurous on this cliff-clinging platform.

And in true Bavarian fashion, we ended our second evening in Mittenwald at the Biergarten, which boasted a park and trampoline for the kids, and lively entertainment.
I bribed the kids to dance to the band's music, and they put on quite a show! Mark and I were rolling in laughter!
The next morning, we coffee'd up...
...bade farewell to our favorite B&B...
... and set off toward Austria.

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