Small Bavarian Towns and A Few Thoughts

My eldest daughter finished her first year at BYU at the end of April; it was learning experience. Learning to live away from mom and dad. Learning to share a room. Learning to get along with a roommate. Learning to exist in the United States once again. Learning to live in an intensely religious environment. 

To kick off her summer, she decided to spend one month in Munich taking an intensive language course and I decided to join her for two weeks. 
Today I go home. I woke up two and half hours before my alarm clock went off. I am anxious. It is time to go home--I do, after all, have other family members. But, I am anxious to say goodbye once again to my daughter, perhaps because I know she's anxious to say goodbye to me as well. 
We've had a great time these last two weeks traveling around, trying new restaurants, huddling around the computer watching tv and just being together! Being in Germany has been such a breath of fresh air. May is a beautiful time to be here if you can put up with a little rain. The flowers are in full bloom, the trees are heavy with leaves, the birds are sounding off and the church bells are music to my ears. 
And then there is the architecture, history and culture, I just can't get enough! Honestly, just look at these buildings all photographed in Mittenwald. Every town/village in southern Bavaria is similar. The buildings are decorated with fairy tales, religious tales or idyllic scenes of community life. It is all so charming! 
But alas, it is time to go. I hate to say goodbye even if it's only until this summer. Why do children have to grow up?

Linking with...Randomosity * Life Thru the Lens  *  Thru My Lens * Our World Tuesday

Silent Sunday

Linking with ... Photalife * Weekend Reflections

Talking To Myself...

Armed with a Diet Coke, a liter of water and a fresh almond croissant, I board the train, select a seat and settle in for my 2 hour ride down to Mittenwald. I'm hiking today. Not 100% sure what route I will take, I'm hoping a sign will direct me once I arrive. Bob would hate that I'm not prepared. He has to have a plan, a legit destination with directions. I do have a plan, it's called winging it. I just want to be in the mountains. I just want to be someplace green where the air is crisp. I want my heart and lungs to work today. 
We're passing through Starnberg, I don't even have to see the lake to know, the mansions tell me so. If I were a mansion owner, I'd be ticked off the train comes so near my house. 

Admittedly, Diet Coke and an almond croissant aren't the ideal way to start your day, but I already had breakfast-- chocolate granola mixed with fitness flakes and low fat milk. I almost passed the croissant altogether but I need a couple of napkins for the inevitability that I will have to tinkle in the forest and this provides the perfect excuse. 

The man sitting across from me just pulled out a map, he's going cycling as evidenced by the biker shorts he's wearing. He studies the map. Maybe I need a map.  Dang it, why did I get rid of all our maps when we left Germany. Maybe I will buy a map when I get to Mittenwald. Dang Germans, always so prepared and now I'm not feeling so confident. 

We are passing through quaint villages now. The undulating hills and yellow rapeseed fields make my heart happy. More fields with wooden sheds in the middle. I've never understood this. Why is there a shed in the middle of a green field. It's not for animals, I've never seen an animal in one of these sheds. 

Aww, the mountains have come into view. They are snow capped. I hope I'm warm enough.  

My biker must be getting off at the next stop, he's pulled out his sun cream and is applying it liberally over his body. Dang it, I didn't bring sunscreen. My face is going to get burned. I used to not worry so much about sunscreen but I've begun to get sunspots. 

We are passing through Eschenlohe now. This brings back fond memories. A terrible traffic jam into Garmisch prompted us to exit the freeway and hike in these hills. We ran into families bringing their cows out of the mountains.  This celebration, at the end of summer is called viehscheid
The mountains are gorgeous and green. 
I'm wearing tennis shoes. Who hikes in tennis shoes. I'm irritated bc I have hiking sandals at home but I didn't wear them for fear of cold. It's warmer than weather channel said it would be. 
We're pulling into the station now. Everyone is standing up, pulling on their day packs and grabbing their poles. Everyone looks "official." The Deuter backpack, Mammoth rain jacket, hankerchief around the neck and proper footwear--NOT NEON GREEN NIKE RUNNING SHOES. They all look like they know where they are going. Perhaps I'll just follow this father/son team.  
On second thought, I'll pop into the tourist information center and get guidance from them.  
Armed with a plan (and a map) I am off.  Gosh, these mountains are gorgeous! 
This is why I wasn't worried about having a route beforehand! 

Saxony Switzerland: Side Trip From Dresden

To be honest, we allowed ourselves too much time in Dresden so a day trip to the Saxon Switzerland National Park was just what we needed to fill our time. Easily accessible by train, we bought a family day pass for 19€ and hopped on at the Dresden Hauptbahnhof. I wanted to hike near the Bastei bridge, so we got off at the Rathen stop, walked down to the river and ferried across to the other side (1.80€ roundtrip). Once on the other side, we walked about 5 minutes through town then followed the signs to the Bastei Bridge.  It's a 45 minute family friendly hike. 
 View of the village of Rathan from above.
Once back down we walked over to the lake and rented a paddle boat for 30 minutes. It was such a glorious day! 

On our way back to Dresden we stopped in the small town of Pirna. There wasn't much to see other than this sweet little church, but we did have just about the best hamburger I ever eaten for lunch. The charming cafe is called Hirschplatz and it's in the main town square.
Disappointed with Pirna we scoured the map to find another place we could stop along the way back to Dresden, this led us to Schloss Pillnitz.  Only 30 minutes south of Dresden on bus 63, it is very easy to find and with lovely gardens it's a pleasant way to spend a few hours. The palace was once the summer residence of the royal family, but time and war have taken their toll, only a few rooms feel grand. 

Notice the flood markings on the ceiling.  The palace sits directly on the banks of the Elbe River.
You can tell this was once a grand ball room, but time and lack of funds has taken its toll and don't ask me what that elephant was there for--it had no explanation. At the conclusion of our walk around the grounds we called it a day well spent and took the bus back into Dresden.
Wednesdays Around The World

Two Days in Dresden

The city of Dresden has a tragic story. Once hailed as the Florence on the Elba, a city of high culture and fine museums, it was tragically and controversially destroyed during a fire bombing raid on February 13-14, 1945.  So complete was its destruction there was hardly a building left standing.

To the credit of its people, Dresden, like so many other European cities, began rebuilding. Only a handful of the most historic buildings were reconstructed piecing together what original stone they could use. As you walk around the city you will notice buildings pock-marked by blackened stones. Those are original's pulled from the rubble. Dresden is not a large town; one can easily see all there is to see in two days and get in a side trip if one day of museums is enough for you.

1. City Stroll--The first thing I like to do, especially if we arrive late in the afternoon after the sites have closed is take a stroll though the city. Get my bearings, find entrances to places I'll be visiting and take pictures. Afternoon/early evening light is great to work with.
2. HofKirche--Ironically, this Catholic church stands front and center on the skyline of this Protestant town. Why? It has a lot to do with 18th century politics. Augustus III was King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. An Elector is a position granted by the Pope and so one wanting to keep in the good favor of the mighty and wealthy church did things like build cathedrals. The church is very understated inside, you won't find the flash of Baroque churches typical of this era.  Oh, and see that horse drawn carriage out front? If you don't feel like walking to explore the city, take a ride. Eliza and I did this and it was lovely. 15€/per person, 30 minutes.
3. Frauenkirche: Completely destroyed during World War 2, the ruins of the church sat in a pile for years. In the 1960's a plaque was erected as a memorial to the war. It wasn't until 1994 (after the reunification of Germany) that the church began its slow restoration. In 2005 the church was finally finished and opened to the public. The blackened stones were saved from the original pile of rubble and serve as a reminder of the war. The church has a calming and pleasant pastel colored interior. The 7 exits are spaced equidistant around the base suggesting as one leaves, we "go ye into all the world to preach the gospel."
4. Albertinum: This museum houses Dresden's sculpture collection and the New Masters Collection which consists of art from the Romantics to 20th century modern.
5. The Residenzschloss or Royal Palace: Originally the residence of the royal Saxon family, this building has also been reconstructed and now houses the royal nick nacks. I was a little disappointed that there were no grand ballrooms or bedrooms open to visit, but perhaps they are still under construction. The main attraction here is the Green Vault which requires a timed ticket reservation. These rooms hold the treasury of the Saxon royal family and are a spectacular sight to see. Make reservations online if traveling during high season. Other exhibits include the royal armory, a beautiful Turkish tent and be sure to climb the tower-it affords you the best arial view of Dresden and a real close up of the statues lining the roof of the Hofkirche.
6. The Zwinger: Honestly, I enjoyed the exterior as much as the interior of this building. The Zwinger is actually 3 museums in one; the main attraction being the Old Masters Collection. Anticipating bombing, the treasures were removed from the museum and stored in basements and in the countryside until the war ended at which point the Soviets carted them off to Moscow.  In a gesture of good will the art was returned to Dresden in 1956. 

All the museums are open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm.  For 20€ you can buy a one day all museums pass.  It's do-able, but you'll be tired at the end. Tomorrow I will feature a side trip from Dresden. 

* Wednesdays Around the World * Imagine-in-ing 

Silent Sunday

Our favorite mountain peak on the trek, Fish Tail. It is forbidden to summit this sacred mountain, so climbs to the top are stopped about 500 meters from the top.
Linking with...Photalife

Trek: Day 5, The Finish Line!

This may be my favorite post of pictures yet! Our last day was wonderful--I got up early to photograph the mountains one last time when I heard rustling in the trees and then I saw it...MONKEY'S! What a fun surprise! Coming out of the mountains we passed through small villages perched on the terraced sides of the mountain. We watched people working in their fields dressed in colorful skirts. This land is amazing--poor, challenged, broken, but still amazing. I am ending this post with a poem written by one of our trek mates, Kari Wells describing some of what we felt during our trek. Enjoy! 
It was the night before the trek, and all through the hotel, everyone was excited, and feeling just swell
Rach and I waited until the restaurant was clear, to sneak down to the bar to have another beer; 
“Well, I guess it won’t matter, nothing to do now.”
“Yeah, I’ll get through it I’m sure – I just don’t know how!”
With Ellen and Allyson and Val on the bus, someone mentioned politics and I thought, “Oh, please don’t discuss!”
Soon we were walking, and my mind began to flip. “Why, oh why, did I sign up for this trip??”
Jin suggested a mantra, and that worked for a while, until I realized I’d only walked half a mile!
The last one to lunch, I felt kind of lame. The dal baht was good, but every day will be the same???
I talked with the Lenas and chatted with Rach. Everyone else just said, “Man, you’re really red in the face!”After lunch it was pure torture, 4 hours of step after step after step…
“I’m sure as hell NOT loving this yet!” Luckily we arrived just before the hail and rain. I was so proud of myself. I survived – and without pain!
Day 2 was more steps (I’m going to kill that Razoo!), then finally a forest, Ok, this I can do…
Another delicious lunch then I climbed with all my might. At last I saw the peak – and what an awesome sight! The snow-capped mountains just took my breath away. It’s hard to believe, but I didn’t have anything to say.
I talked with Melissa and Brooke and Michelle. I still had no soreness – all was going quite well.
Had dinner of noodles that Vi and I couldn’t eat, but a hot shower and pillow just couldn’t be beat.
Day 3 at 4 a.m. it was another story, but Isma and I puffed and climbed to God’s glory.
Poon Hill was amazing – all of us together and perfect weather!
After breakfast I just wanted to go back to bed, but we were off on the trail (with more damn steps!) instead.
My camera broke, my legs were like jello, then I met ‘the crazies’ and some other Asian fellow.
With the woods all around me, and my best friend, Ramesh, to remember these moments, was all I could wish.
The day flew by quickly and soon it was night. We were so excited to charge phones and have light!
Day 4 we awoke ‘late,’ and started on our way.  Finally DOWN DOWN! It was a lovely day!
Had a beer before seeing old town, and then, of course, more tea. I just can’t believe all I’ve been able to see.
Suray, Ganoo, and Doc Smiley in the rear – always so helpful to carry our gear.
And now here we are at our final night’s meal, happy and proud yet a bit sad I feel.
It’s been a wonderful vacation…I fell in love with Nepal.
So thanks for the memories – I just adore you all!