I’m not one to subscribe to much of that sort of ballyhooed, fatalist rigamarole, you know. Not about the end of the world, or zombies, for that matter. But… this morning, I woke up, and I realized that my own little corner of dreamland is over and I thought, “well, I guess this is it, then…”
Over the last 9 days, Mike and I spent time in the land of the “Fairy Tale King” (for real, that is what King Ludwig II was called, and he had the castles to back it up), also known as Schwangau/Füssen, Germany; Venice, Italy; Rome, Italy; and Innsbruck, Austria. Can you believe that the castle part of Germany and that Innsbruck were really just stop-overs on a long road trip? Matters of convenience? Believe me, people, these places are worth their own trip across the pond, in my opinion. We took almost 900 pictures in Schwangau/Füssen alone! (and, you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the castles, and we arrived at night on Friday, and left early Sunday morning. Almost 900 pictures in about 36 hours. At a point of convenience on our road trip to Venice. Needless to say, 9 days later our memory cards are bursting and our trigger fingers have blisters…
I was telling Mike that every single day of our trip (EVERY SINGLE DAY, I TELL YOU!), I felt like saying, “I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this. I need to take a picture. Well, not just one picture, this needs multiple pictures – just to remind myself that I really saw it!”
We got to our hotel (a really cute family run inn midway between Hohenschwangau (the original hunting palace of the royal family of Bavaria) and Neuschwanstein (the castle that the castle in Disney theme parks is supposedly modeled after) close to 9pm on Friday night. Especially in small towns in rural Germany, this is very late… We decided just to check out what the castles look like at night (and they are gorgeous), but what was breathtaking was the sky! The same sky that each one of us looks upon, but here? Touched with fairy dust… Truly, I’ve never seen a sky that pretty before. We tramped out into the middle of an ice/snow/frost covered field, just under the shadows of mountains, and I saw galaxies, stars, and planets in a way that I have never even imagined before. We have a great camera, but even it does not do justice to the magnificence of this field. I have been hiking, I have been to the mountains, I have been where the sky was supposed to be unfettered by urban interference, but I have never seen anything like this. I was freezing, don’t get me wrong (did I mention that I was standing in a snow/ice/frost covered field at night and it was negative something unmentionable??), but the shivers I had were in no relation to the cold I felt. I was a witness to a miracle.
And that was before I woke up and saw the majesty of the mountains RIGHT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW! And the castles! With a warm cup of hot chocolate, we were off! Check it out:
After touring the amazing castles, we drove about half an hour away to see a church along the Romantische Straße (the Romantic Road) called “Weiskirche,” the pilgrimage church of the Scourged Savior. It is truly in the middle of nowhere, and the town around it is nearly nonexistent, save for the church, but it is beyond the scope of justice any picture can do. Back in the 1730s, there was a wooden carving of Jesus bound in chains. Tears were seen flowing on this rendering of the Savior, and thus began a pilgrimage of epic proportions. The church we saw was built to accommodate the many faithful who came to see the miracle, as the church that was there is probably smaller than most of your closets. It is really, really tiny… The Steingaden monastery (that is the name of the town the church is in) oversaw the building of the Rococo masterpiece that is Wieskirche today. The architect who was in charge was so enamored with the church that he built a house right next to the church! It really is that gorgeous… For more information on this church, check out this site. And these pictures:
Just to put this in perspective… at this point in our picture-taking, we haven’t even been on vacation for 24 hours yet! CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?