All posts for the month October, 2022

I’m looking cheerful despite the constant presence of rain, rain, rain. Recovering from COVID might have had something to do with that.

In planning this trip through Bavaria Mark wanted to find one little picturesque village that would feel as though you were in medieval Germany. With Rothenburg he hit a home run. My recovery from COVID couldn’t have come at a better time, allowing me to wander the old streets at my leisure.

This is what our forecast looked like for Rothenburg. Just rain.[/caption]Rothenburg is a seriously beautiful city, one of only three towns in Germany with the old city walls still intact. Just how beautiful is it? During the Nazi era, Rothenburg was considered the epitome of a German “Home Town,” representing all that was great about German culture and family life. It sustained a bit of bombing during World War II, but the Assistant Secretary of War ordered that troops abstain from using artillery to take the town. Instead, the local American commander sent six men – two officers and four enlisted men – to negotiate a surrender. The German in charge disobeyed Hitler’s standing orders that all towns were to be defended to the end and instead handed Rothenburg over to the American troops. The result is an almost unbelievably lovely old town.

Our super charming hotel

How perfect a German town is it? Rothenburg was the inspiration for the 1940 Disney production Pinocchio. I mean, you can’t get more German than that, can you? OK, maybe not the best example but clearly it represents olde Europe.

Now, truth be told, there isn’t a lot to actually do in Rothenburg, so a two-day stop was just fine. And lord knows the weather wasn’t helping – it was cold and rainy the whole time we were there, unfortunately consistent with much of our weather in Bavaria. But if all you have to do is wander around, hang out in our cute little hotel, read a little, and search out good food … that’s a good way to spend our last two days in Bavaria.

I was a little freaked out when we had to drive through this gate into the old town…

…but if that wasn’t bad enough we soon had to drive right through the middle of the cathedral. Never done that before!

Mark in one of the main squares in town. Those tourists in back are taking selfies, not dancing…

This altar in the cathedral boasted a little reliquary with a few drops of the actual blood of Jesus. How cool is that!

Does this look like a traditional enough Bavarian restaurant?

Loved the looks of this traditional butcher shop, but there’s no way we were going to buy meat from Erich Trumpp!

On our way to Frankfurt we stopped for lunch in one final Bavarian town. Here is the town square in Memminger.

Jim shows off the cute centerpiece at our lunch spot in Memminger

At the surreal summit of Zugspitze

Saw a momentary speck of sun in town

Even the technical equipment looked other-worldly under the ice and snow on Zugspitze

Neuschwanstein is stunning in its setting way above the landscape

We are now deep into Alpine Bavaria, where we’ve holed up at a charming hotel in the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I know what you’re thinking: That’s just too darn many syllables for a pretty mountain town! Well, Garmisch and Partenkirchen were two separate towns for centuries until Hitler forced them together to play host to the 1936 Winter Olympics.

Today, some people casually call the whole thing “Garmisch,” but apparently the Partenkircheners feel slighted by that, so that’s not OK. It is, however, acceptable to call it simply, “Ga-Pa.”

We spent our first day in Ga-Pa easing Jim out of isolation, as his COVID symptoms rapidly started to fade away. Despite the continued AWFUL weather, we had a lunch outside at a nice Bavarian restaurant where they had blankets to fight off the damp wet cold.

The next day we set out to encounter the reason people really come to Ga-Pa: the adjacent mountain Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. We weren’t sure it made any sense to go there, since the weather was still horrible and everything was completely clouded over. But the hotel receptionist reported that the summit of Zugspitze was actually above the clouds that morning. So while we wouldn’t get amazing expansive views, it might still be interesting. So we chanced it.

We bought tickets to ascend Zugspitze by the incredibly sleek Swiss-designed cable car that was completed just before COVID. Most of the rapid 10-minute ride we were looking at nothing but fog as expected. Then suddenly the car swooshed above the clouds, and everyone gasped as the rugged, snow-covered face of Zugspitze suddenly appeared before us. The car was climbing so steeply, and the mountain face was so dramatic we were astounded.

Once we reached the summit, we found ourselves in a total winter wonderland. This stunning landscape felt especially other-worldly because it was so cut off from the rest of the world hidden under fog nearly 10,000 feet below. What a cool adventure!

And now that we were back in the business of seeing sights after Jim’s recovery, we added another quintessential Bavarian landmark to our roster as we headed north again. An hour from Ga-Pa we toured Neuschwanstein, the dramatic 19th-century castle built by mad King Ludwig II. It’s probably the first image that pops up if you google “Germany,” and it was a fun stop. The sun even peeked out a bit to reveal the beautiful fall colors below the castle.

Jim’s first dining foray after days of isolation

Can’t get enough of this Bavarian look

The amazing winter landscape at the summit of Zugspitze

looking down as another sleek cable car whisks passengers above the clouds

A monument at the highest peak in Germany

The sun briefly reveals the stunning lake, village, and another castle below Neuschwanstein

Above the valley at Neuschwanstein

Enjoying a moment without rain at Neuschwanstein