Monday, August 31, 2015

A Visit to Uli & Thomas in Krumbach, Bavaria

Herbert took the picture; Thomas, Heather, Scott, Uli and Claudia

Thomas & Uli in Herbert Haas' Restaurant - Kachelofen
The highlight of our whole trip was visiting our cruiser friends Uli Boker & Thomas Bartl at their home in Krumbach, Bavaria. They helped us plan our independent tour back at Tortugal Marina at the beginning of our last sailing season in Guatemala. They are such a lovely couple and were the most gracious and fun hosts.
We drove there from Hohenschwangau in the morning and after touring their beautiful modern condo, we went down to the a nearby restaurant garden to have lunch. Much to our delight we found there their very good friends Herbert and Claudia having lunch. We joined them and had SUCH a good time.
Uli, Scott, Heather, Herbert and Claudia

This time it's Herbert, Scott, Heather, Uli and Claudia
Our original plan was to have dinner that night at Herbert's Kachelofen Restaurant - he's the Chef/Owner, but we were all enjoying each other's company so much that he invited us to his home for dinner instead. How marvelous! We parted company until later and Thomas & Uli gave us a tour of the city. Krumbach is a charming town as you can see from the pictures.
 Later Uli's parents came over for a visit and some delicious cake which Uli made. It was a delight to meet them. We had a brief rest and a chance to do laundry (we cruisers know how wonderful it is to have the use of a washer and dryer!) Then we drove over to Herbert's home in the countryside, a lovely spot. He had prepared a fabulous dish of Kaese Spaetzle to go with Uli's simple Green Salad (the perfect accompaniment). There is no way I could ever duplicate that dish here in the U.S. as the 3 cheeses he used are special mountain cheese we can't get here. And he added caramelized onions. WOW! I'd get really fat if I lived near Herbert (but it would be worth it). It was such a perfect evening.
And the next morning was pretty close. Thomas went shopping first thing for fresh bread and we had the most scrumptious breakfast. There is a picture here of the special white sausage and mustard that we learned was traditionally eaten on Friday mornings, sometimes at the back of the butcher's. It was delicious as was everything they served. What a start for the day! And we were then off to visit Ulm with our wonderful guides - more in my next post.
This fascinating resort featured mechanical waterskiing. This was
a first for us. We didn't even know it existed!

This famous Health and Rehab Facility, run by Nuns, is also a
Hotel and the buildings and grounds were beautiful. It's the
 Heilbad Krumbad .

The historic Town Hall, Krumbach is mentioned in documents
for the first time in 1156

That's Herbert's restaurant in Pink right on the Market Square

Church St. Michael

A tributary of the River Mindel flows through the center of town

Thomas, Uli and Uli's parents on their terrace

Scott, Herbert, Heather, Uli, Claudia and Thomas with
the camera taking the picture automatically
White sausage with pretzel and mustard - Yum!

Our breakfast table with Thomas, Heather and Scott

Meats, Cheeses, lovely bread & pretzels and veggies

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hohenschwangau Castle and Town, Bavaria

Looking up to the Castle as we finish our descent from
We walked down from the Marie's bridge and had some coffee before starting up the walkway to Hohenschwangau. Our reservations for the tours of both castles were timed very well; 2 pm for the first and 4 pm for the second. We arrived at Noon, picked up our reserved tickets and had lunch nearby.
The walk up to Hohenschwangau Castle was beautiful with many lovely views of the lake. The castle is surrounded by formal gardens but most people were hiding in the shadows - again it was a hot day.
Built in 1837 on the ruins of a previous fortress from the 12th C by Ludwig II's father Maximilian II, it was his childhood home. Like Neuschwanstein it has the feel of a real home, actually more so as this is still a residence of the Bavarian Royal line - currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria. The rooms are filled with light and often have balconys overlooking the lake and mountains. Murals on the walls are similar to those at Neuschwanstein - German folk tales. It's a charming warm place - surprising really as Maximilian and his wife Marie were cold and uninterested in their offspring; Ludwig and Otto. There are 2 houses making up the castle - the children lived in a separate one from their parents and hardly saw them.
Formal gardens and fountains - notice the parasol!
It was a lively tour with a funny guide. Afterwards we walked down to the lakeside and toured the Museum of the Bavarian Kings, a modern museum depicting the history of this rather fascinating family up to this present time. One example of the interesting details was that prior to WW II the Wittenburg family opposed the Nazi Regime and escaped to Hungary and Italy, but almost all were later arrested and sent to concentration camps - men, women and children. They were liberated at the end of the war by Allied troupes.
But it was a long day so we were delighted to find our hotel and settle in. Landhotel Gughumf was excellent - our room was the nicest we had on the whole trip and they served a very good breakfast in their lovely dining room. At their recommendation we had dinner at the Hotel Helmerhof restaurant and it was excellent, with a beautiful view of the mountains. We both regretted that we didn't have at least a week to spend here hiking, swimming and eating!

Many of the windows overlooked the
 Lake. The awnings reminded me of Italy.

And another view up to Neuschwanstein

The lake from the path up to the castle

The terrace of the Museum of the Bavarian Kings

Our beautiful spacious room at Landhotel Gughumf

The sitting room area and doors to our balcony

The view from our balcony

And this was the view from our table at the Hotel Helmerhof
Restaurant where we had an excellent dinner.

Next morning we had a leisurely drive through some lovely countryside before taking the highway to Krumbach. That's
Neuschwanstein up on the mountain in the distance on the left and Hohenschwangau on the right.

This church looked so charming but the road was closed to it.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

Scott and I in front of the iconic castle

Scott looking handsome here too

A view of the Marien's bridge - looks precarious doesn't it.

The road up to Neuschwanstein

On this view taken on the road you can see 2 of the lakes

A close up of Hohenschwangau Castle

Neuschwanstein from the bridge

Looking down from the bridge - that's it's shadow below

The bridge was so crowded and rickety - rather scary in fact

Panorama from Neuschwanstein over to Hohenschwangau and the village of the same name.
And now for something entirely different! No city this time but a trip to the countryside to see two famous castles. The first, Neuschwanstein, is a part of popular culture now. Copied by Walt Disney as the perfect example of a castle and the center of Fantasy World at his parks, it was built by "mad" Ludwig II as his retreat and homage to Richard Wagner, the composer. Sometimes called the "Swan King" (the "schwan" in both castle names means swan in German) he succeeded to the throne at 18 and spent much of his family's and royal revenues (not state funds) on beautiful extravagant artistic and architectural projects. This was probably the reason, along with that fact he was a secret homosexual and was unlikely to begat an heir, he was declared insane, deposed and almost immediately died at 41 under mysterious circumstances ("drowned" in waist high water in a lake with no water found in his lungs and injuries to the head and shoulders). Altogether a sad and romantic story.
 Neuschwanstein is a Romanesque Revival design and picturesquely sited on a promontory set off by higher mountains and the lake below. In 1884 the King moved in. The interior is intimate and warm with many early modern conveniences such as central heat, warm running water, flushing toilets and telephones. To say the least this was unusual in 1884! The walls are adorned by colorful and lovely murals representing the stories from Wagner's operas and German tales. Only 15 of the 200 interior rooms were finished by his death and right after that the castle was opened to the public.
 We rented a car and drove down early in the morning. Tickets to both castles were reserved online 5 months before - if you don't there is an endless line to purchase them there. When we arrived the whole area was packed with tourists; it was hard to find a parking space. After a nice lunch on a restaurant terrace, we walked up to Neuschwantein along a narrow road shared only by the horse drawn carriages. The buses took a different route. It was a lovely walk of about 40 minutes, all up hill. You are given entrance times and then have a guided tour, in our case in English. I loved the place! It's the first palace/castle I've ever been in that I could imagine living in. Afterwards we walked up to the fantastic overlook on the Marienbrucke (Marie's Bridge) and took panorama pictures of the castle. There are lots of beautiful walking paths in this area along with lovely lakes. We wished we had a week to spend here!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Walk Around Munich

There were many wide pedestrian only streets, lined with flowers
and cafes. It was still quite early in the morning so no crowds yet.
Looking down the main nave at St. Michael's with that very angel
After a nice breakfast at the hotel we took the trolley downtown to Karlsplatz, or as the locals call it Stachus, after the pub that was here before the square was built. Facing downtown was the Karistor, a Gothic gate in the demolished Medieval walls. We walked down the wide pedestrian street Neuhauser, lined with restaurants and stores. St. Michael's Church merited a good stop and a later visit for the noon time organ recital.
Our first order of business was to try and buy tickets for the concert that night in the Haus der Kunst (House of Art). It took a while to find the correct ticket seller but they were sold out that night. It is sometimes possible to buy some at the last minute and we tried to do this that evening, but with no luck.
We then split up for the morning. Scott was off to find the nudist area of the English Garden, the central park of Munich and sunbathe. I toured the Residenz and the Treasury - two of the most famous sites in the city. And they were amazing. The Residenz contains 10 courtyards and displays 130 rooms, each one magnificent. The first building started in 1385 and more were added on in every style through the ages. After the Revolution of 1918 it became a public museum and then was severely damaged by bombing in WWII. Much was rebuilt and restored but other areas were simplified. Unfortunately I only had a few hours that morning so I had to rather rush through both the Residenz and the Treasury. This latter museum
Scott displays his Bernie for President sign while rubbing the
bronze boar for luck.

We had lunch at this cafe in the courtyard of New Town Hall, but
later in the day.
contained some of the most beautiful items I've ever seen. There was a lot in common with the Fabrege exhibit at the Museum of Art in Montreal that we saw a few years before but MUCH bigger and of course, many pieces from a thousand years of collecting. I've a few pictures here as examples.
Meanwhile Scott was enjoying nature with other nudists in the centrally located public park, followed by a swim in a stream nearby. It was a wonderful morning for him.
After both enjoying the concert at the Rathaus Clock and then the organ recital at St. Michael's, we had lunch in the courtyard of the New Town Hall. Then walked around the city, down to the Isar river thinking to go into the Deutsches Museum. As it was closed we instead walked around the area marveling at the beaches lining the river and lots of people sunbathing and swimming - right in the center of the city!
After a rest back at our hotel we returned to try for tickets at the concert - sadly still sold out. Walking back along in the area between the Ring Road and the river we found a nice little sidewalk cafe for dinner and a few blocks later, ice cream. A great day in Munich - we loved it!
Fountains and Churches are everywhere.

There were a lot of interesting shops - Deeply Felt here!

The Renaissance Antiquarium in the Residenz

This small room had beautiful inlay work and gold

One door after another led to rooms with unique
 and incredibly detailed decoration

There was a lot of gold and mirrors

This statue of  St. George slaying the dragon was a
stand out. Encrusted with jewels and gold but lively and
charming! Made in 1599.

The little details just amazed me - like the
handles on this crystal vase.

And this toilet case had to be the most elegant one in existance!

Back outdoors I walked past the Opera House on the way to
meet Scott

And oohed and aahed over these traditional costumes for children.

We met in front of the New Town Hall at noon to watch the
 Rathaus Glockenspiel strike the hour with it's intricate
32 figures dancing.

You can just make out the figures halfway up the
 tower. Here shown with the Marien Column
in the Marienplatz  square.

St. Peter's Church is the oldest parish church
in Munich and presumably the originating point for
the whole city. Fantastic "cloud" of crystals on
exhibit hanging from the ceiling.

No afternoon would be complete without a pastry break

Along the river was a photo exhibit of the changes in the river
bed and buildings along it over the last 300 years. Fascinating!

Walks stretch along both sides of the river and along the banks
of the islands in it.

A few views of the river spanned by many lovely bridges

And with lots of people enjoying the sun and water.

And everyone also enjoyed the fountains. Again it was very hot
during our visit.

Small streams pass through the city as well, flanked by walks
and greenery.