Sunday, February 5, 2012

Durch Dick und Dünn gehen

Or 'Another Travel Post'

Since I failed to even leave my flat for Christmas/New Years beyond the grocery store, I felt the desire to get out of England for a bit once my projects were finished. It's a bit of a joke, since my projects are not even close to finished, but I like to lie to myself in order to feel better. This is how I came to a travel to Germany on January 25th.

I can say a lot of things about Bavaria. 99% of them are absolutely lovely, and the other 1% is only because it's currently cold enough there to freeze Hell over and I live in Europe for a reason. But I had never been to Germany, so it was automatically going to be stunning, no matter the weather.

I never really know what to write for a travel blog post. I mean, I write them, but I'm not certain they are entertaining or useful or that anyone even reads them. But I like to write, and I like to record, and here we are.

The Germans are a funny people. I mean that in the nicest way. They are very friendly (at least in Bavaria, since that's the only place I've visited) and welcoming, but listening to them talk in rapid-fire German is sort of hilarious. I can read German not badly, at least enough to manage as a tourist, but I don't understand a single spoken word beyond 'bitte' and 'danke'. Thankfully, most Germans speak a measure of English (better than I will ever speak their language, bless them). It reminds me of the Hungarians at Gibbs Hill Farm in Northumberland who didn't speak a word of English, but who I talked to for two hours one September evening.

Munich would take a few weeks to really see. But I like to leave things undone for my 'next' visit, like the proverbial throwing of a coin into the Trevi Fountain. You need a reason to go back. I have about six that I can think of off the top of my head, and in no particular order they start with BMW and end with October. Sometime when the weather is amiable and the trees are still green.

However, winter in Bavaria is stunningly beautiful. The sort of beautiful that Ontario never manages to look, no matter how early you get up after a night's snowfall. That constant state of greyish brown that defines the province cannot be helped along by snow and slush.

I'm not going to talk about museums, because in all honestly I wasn't overly impressed. I could go on for days about how beautiful Schloss Neuschwanstein is, but if you've ever seen a picture, words don't do it justice. Suffice it to say, the inside (in which you are not allowed to take photos) is just as stunning as the outside, at any time of the year! Pity about all that scaffolding right now which ruins the view from Hohenschwangau, but thankfully not from the front! It's unfortunate that Ludwig II never finished it and only lived in the half-completed palace areas for 172 days before he died. It was immediately opened to the public for tours, to pay back the enormous sum that had gone into it's construction. Though it is the model for Disney's castle in Florida, the real one on the slopes of the Bavarian Alps is much more picturesque inside in the completed rooms (do a Google search for hi-def images).

Amusingly, the true highlight of the trip was the hockey game on Friday. I've never been to a hockey game. I know; I fail as a Canadian. I only ever watch it at the Olympics. But when your cousin plays for Munich, you can't pass up a game! It was an edge of your seat one too, resulting in not only overtime, but a shoot-out. The fourth shot by Munich, by #19, was the winning goal. Yeah, that would be my cousin. ;) We sat in the wives section, of course, and afterwards had drinks in the VIP room (with free Bavarian style dinner - yum!) It was amazing and very surreal. I hope they have a great season and I am already excited for the prospect of more hockey games next year!

I need to go back to Germany during Oktoberfest and warmer weather. And Salzburg too, which is so much closer than I thought. It was especially wonderful to spend time with cousins that we've only recently reconnected with (their aren't many of us still living on that side, so it's really nice to make an effort). I spent 8 days sleeping with a four-year-old who throws tantrums and playing with a 1-year-old who is the most adorable creature ever and not thinking about my PhD AT ALL. That is what I call a vacation.