Monday, March 19, 2012

Piracher Strasse in the Snow

 Here's our little street in the height of the snow time this year
The road seemed to get more narrow as the days went by and we ended up taking turns with other cars more and more as the snow piled up on the roadsides. That's one major difference between driving here and the USA...There's not always enough room for everybody at the same time and you HAVE to cooperate with one another
The bottom letterbox belongs to us.  There's a yellow sticker on ours...I dont' have ANY idea what it says. Maybe I should figure it out, but I'm not too worried.
We don't get much mail anyway
 Here's my little viewing window on the second floor. It's my own personal catbird seat...
 I got a picture of the Deutsche Post truck delivering the mail one day.
Most of the time, it is done with a bicycle. My grandfather was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Chattanooga in the 1940's through the late 1960's. He would have enjoyed seeing the bicycles with the large baskets and mailbags. He himself had to hoof his way through
the East Lake area all those years!
 The Volvo, with its snow tires, handles wonderfully in this weather
I'm gonna miss this vista when I'm back in Chattanooga.  I'll have these pictures to look back on though.  I plan to collect all the ones I have to create a multi-seasonal montage of this
straight-out view from our livingroom

Robert Koch Strasse in the Snow

 This is one of the main streets I haunt in Burghausen.
The little coffee shop I stop at to experience a little American-style wireless Internet is up on the left in this picture. I can stand up at a small outdoor table and check my email here.  I don't do that very often, because checking my email publically when I could be chatting with friends or observing passersby isn't very German from what I can tell. Rain, shine, cold or hot, there is usually a someone or two at the little outdoor table. I would like to sit at the one table nearby that has chairs, but there are a couple of old guys that kinda hold court there for most of the day-every day!  They talk and play cards a lot of the time and greet friends...many people seem to know them
 There are many hair dressers, optical shops, clothing stores, gift stores, cosmetic companies, day spas and food markets in this stretch of road. The upper floors contain professional offices and private apartments.  The dermotologist I've seen here in Burghausen has a second floor office on the right hand side in this picture. I ride my bike down the sidewalk and have to dodge people along the way. This is where I perfected my "ride at a walking pace" technique!
The footing can be a little tricky in this kind of snow.  Though the roads and sidewalks are cleared to perfection, crossing the snowpiles in between can be precarious. I saw a woman almost take a terrible spill here in front of where I parked my little Volvo. 
In the left background, you can see the Hotel Garni Lindacher Hof. It's one of the nicer hotels in the cityThere's no need for a car if you stay here, as it is nearby to most everything. It's probably a 10 minute walk or so to the train station and there's plenty of restaurants close too. -Mine and Billy's favorite Greek restaurant can practically be seen in the distance- The old town (Altstadt) is a bit far to walk to, but it can be done ...if you don't mind the major climb back up the hill to this new part of the city. There are plenty of cabs to take you there too.
It all looks great in the snow

Romantic Walk in the Frozen Night Air

Billy and I took a walk one night at the lake.  It was totally frozen over.
The previous night we had heard that it was an effervescent and crowded place with people from all over the area.  We were looking for hot wine, hot chocolate, and to watch ice skaters and hockey players. (A friend said the lake only does this every 5-7 years or so.) Then, there was a storm ...and it covered the ice with a layer of snow.
We went there expecting to have to fight our way through hundreds of people. But instead we were met with a muffled silence and stillness that was startling. We walked the length of the lake arm in arm and only met a solitary jogger along the way.
The walkway was nicely plowed and easy to walk.
It was lit with attractive street lights on iron posts

The castle loomed overhead. Funny that it never looks like a cold hunk of stone, but warm and glowing...even in sub-zero temps

The Castle in the Snow

 The castle looks beautiful in the snow. It's a bit like a like a fairy fact it's  ALWAYS like a fairy tale
It was frightfully cold when I took these pictures from the highway across the way. I was glad to have bought boots made in Maine from LL Bean before I left. I also had a very warm down-filled parka I got at the same time.  I wonder how much use these will get back in Tennessee after I return

Warm and Snug in a cafe

As spring rapidly approaches and the snow has already melted here in Burghausen, I thought I'd better get busy and post some of my February snow pictures. I will soon have pictures of blossoms and freshly tilled earth on which to comment.
I have noticed that I'm a bit lax in posting now that Billy and I are well passed the half way mark of our Germany stay. Life has settled into a more relaxed mood in some ways ...I am NOT constantly surprised & astonished at the strangeness of the little things about my surroundings now. Though I still have a little smile for the extra-special sitting over a hot cup of coffee in a cafe and enjoying the way it is served on a little tray with a glass of water. I've spent quite a bit of time this winter looking out on scenes like these with my hat, gloves, and scarf on the chair beside me (There's always a coat rack by the door!) It was a great way to defrost from my bike ride or walk.
I was sitting at a restaurant called the Wiener Brathendl on Marktler Strasse in Burghausen when I took these pictures. My friend Daria (an ex-pat from California) was across the table. This is a place we like to get chicken noodle soup. They also have an imbus...or a place to get orders to go.
I'm really grateful to have met Daria. So often everyone I know here is working or busy with their children and we are both free during the days. We've been able to share lots of good conversation over coffee or soup and have a common interest in art. She is married to a brilliant German guy named Timo and they live in a neighboring town.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ruhpolding, Germany

Ruhpolding was fun!
Kimberly Archer, her son Noah, and I drove through the small village on the way to the
cable car to take us to the mountaintop above.
 Noah waited patiently in line with us.  The car was very small and a lot of people were waiting to go.  As we watched the cars travel up and down the mountain, they looked like little Easter Eggs hanging from strings! I started getting a little nervous (the mountain looked very high) but I just tried not to think about it.
 Whew! The cable car station started to look pretty small about this time.

 The views were spectacular and it was a real payoff for dangling in the middle of the air with a thin metal sheet under your feet.
 Can you see the lake in the background of the picture on the left? That is the Chiemsee which is sometimes called the Bavarian Sea. On a larger island in that lake, there is a castle built (but never finished) by Ludwig II of Bavaria. It is the Herrinchiemsee and was patterned after the Palace of Versailles in France. There is also boating, hiking, and swimming available at the Chiemsee...its very beautiful with lots to see and do.
 The area is known for sports of all kinds and in all seasons. There is a biathlon track here that has hosted world championships. Mountain biking, hiking and fishing are very popular
...that's all besides the skiing possibilities.
As we came through the town, we passed a cross country skiing school as well as a downhill skiing school where many people were taking advantage of lessons. There seem to be mostly kids on the small slope and adults on the cross country track.
 There were many hiking & snowshoeing trails available at the top, but we didn't think Noah would be up for that for another year or two!
It was all good until I realized that I was going to have to get back down. But I just set my mind to enjoy it and not think about cables snapping or anything.  It was fine, as you might guess.
When we got back to the car and headed home, the navigation system in the car stopped working! Eeek.  We are so dependant on the navi here in our temporary home area.  The roads we travel on seem like a spider web of local connections and its all very different from the US. Thankfully, I had my iPad and a mapp application. We were able to use it plus the road signs to make it back home. Kimberly did a great job as pilot and I was squeeking by as the navigator/copilot.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Berchtesgaden & Berchtesgaden National Park

 Berchtesgaden is place with an amazing history. It juts down into Austria and is even 30 kilometers South of Salzburg, Austria.  It is most associated with Mount Watzman which is the 3rd highest mountain in Germany. It was a beautiful drive there!
Since there was no snow in Burghausen this day in January, we had to go somewhere to find some!  This was the place...
Behind Billy is  the view toward the Berchtesgaden National Park which extends into 3 deep valleys.
There was a great little museum in the National Park Visitor Center showing what life was like in the area in earlier times. Daily existence high in the Alps seemed basic, but sweet and charming.
This little cottage represented inside the museum was shown as it would have been on the upper pastures in the 1930's or so. They were usually built of hewn wood beams with stone floors and wood shingled roofs. It seems these still exist and since the 1950's these have gradually been updated...most no longer have the open fire places.
 The cemetery in the middle of the town was pretty amazing,
...especially in the snow.
The stones were all unique and many had lit candles in traditional red globes,
...showing that the dead were still remembered by their families generations after their passing.

There was a beautiful palace with an attached church with twin bell towers. There was a lot of pink inside and outside the old walls. I am always amazed as you set foot in these churches.  The main stone in the doorways are always very worn down by the thousands of feet that have tread there over the centuries. I tend to think about adding my own footsteps upon the many layers of history.
 The drive home was very nice too.  It alternated between snowing...
...and clearing.
The colors of the day and the changing light was something unlike anything I'd seen in the Souteastern USA.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Visit to the Snow Church

This is our group visiting the "Schneekirche" in Mitterfirmiansreut

 It was made totally of ice and snow.  It was created in honor of the 100th anniversary of the original Schneekirche in 1912.  That one was built in protest because the community wanted a church of their own and had to travel too far to attend services in another town. They built one of their own in the way they could...totally from what they had most of!
The church was very pretty in the mist.

 Billy with the altar of the church
We ate at a hotel-restaurant call the Almberg
 On the way back, our half of the group stopped in a small town with a ski lift and some small slopes called Herzogsreut.  I got some great shots showing the magnatude of the trees in the Bavarian Forest. It was very dense too!  The snow was incredibly deep.
A red sled was brought out of the trunk for trial on the perfect sledding hill. The weather was very nice (although a bit foggy) as it was only around freezing or slightly below.