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.