Bavaria a day in the bavarian countryside

The business trip to Munich was as mundane and as busy as we had expected it to be. But a weekend in between changed all that. We headed out, partly sick of our excel sheets and mostly bored of television (that we could not understand a single word of). The love of photography is a strange affliction. It doesn’t let you rest, till you have found a story that you want to say through your pictures, and if your traveling companions are a history buff and a foodie, then you have just the right ingredients for a terrific road trip across the Europe’s best kept secret - Bavaria.

We found our guide Kevin, by chance alone – but meeting him must have been providence. He is an American, (who came to Germany to learn the German language and never went back) who took us to places that were not remote, but his narratives made us feel like medieval travellers walking across thousand years stories. He picked us up at our Munich hotel after an early breakfast and headed to the Bavarian Alps with a rather basic wish list - history, local cuisine and excellent landscape shots.

As we drove out of city limits, a giant rainbow greeted us as if to form an ornate gateway arch to the beautiful Bavaria. This story was going to be a beautiful one. I told my thumping heart. The soft curves of the meadows in varied hues of green looked like the folds of a shawl covering mother earth as we headed towards the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein.

The drive was made interesting with Kevin’s lively narration of the stories of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (also known as the Mad King). The stories about the King’s fervent love for art and the theories surrounding his mysterious death are what great movie plots are made off.

Our fairy tale journey though found a sudden road block (literally) as a security personnel informed us that the roads to the Neuschwanstein Castle were closed due to the G7 summit where violent protests were expected to break out. Cursing our bad luck we saw Kevin taking a de-tour on an unknown road.

It did not take us too long to recover as the landscape merged into verdant greens on both sides as we drove past quaint little Bavarian villages with beautiful views of wooden cabins built on ponds surrounded by tall pine forests.

A speed limit traffic signal welcomed us by turning into a green smiley (☺) each time our car slowed down before entering a village border. Kevin’s superb comfort with the geography (he did not believe in a GPS and loved getting lost in the Bavarian Alps) and great knowledge of the local culture led us to some amazing gastronomic delights. We reached Ähndl, an “as-local-as-it-gets” restaurant in the midst of leafy trees surrounded by miles of green Bavarian meadows. The woman steward in traditional Bavarian dresses served us local delicacies on wooden picnic tables laid out in the shade with fresh and balmy June breeze soothing our souls. With some help from Kevin in reading the German menu card, my history buff friend and I ordered for some traditional homemade sausages over Sauerkraut (finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria). Our ever adventurous food loving friend’s experiment did not go as well. While his choice was a crackling pork knuckle, it turned out to be super bland and under seasoned. However, all went well with the local Weissbier that was brewed in the adjoining monastery and tasted like nothing we had ever had before. Kevin also narrated the story of how beer was accidentally discovered by monks who were looking for a clean source of drinking water in ancient Europe. We also came to know that Weissbier means “white beer” and derives its name from the yellowish-white tinge that is imparted by the pale malted wheat from which the brew is made.

After a hearty lunch, we started towards some of the famous Bavarian churches. First up was the Rottenbuch Abbey. Though the exterior of the church architecture was a deviation from the Bavarian style churches, the ornate High Baroque style interiors exhumed exuberance and grandeur. We were told that this was one of the oldest churches in Bavaria.

As we started from the Rottenbuch Abbey, Kevin started narrating a fascinating story of an ancient Bavarian farmer who sculpted a figurine using waste wood. Folklore has it that tears were seen flowing from the eyes of this dilapidated wooden figure. A small chapel was built to house the statue, and it gained popularity as soon as thousands started visiting the church. Soon the chapel building proved too small for the number of pilgrims it attracted and hence a separate shrine was constructed. As Kevin finished his narration, we drove into this beautiful church compound surrounded by miles of bright green meadows with a distant boundary of dark green coniferous forests. The white clouds on a sunny day added drama to the settings. It was the quintessential scenery, one that you would visualize in your school art project only more poignant with all the history that surrounded it. We had reached the Pilgrimage Church of Wies also known as Church in the Meadows.

A wooden fence led us to the church building with beautiful interiors where photography was prohibited but the rear exit opened up into mesmerizing surroundings. A horse and a foal housed inside a fenced meadow were a photographer’s delight. They looked so complete in their surrounding that even my non-photographer friends couldn’t help themselves and went trigger happy with their phone cameras.

After satiating ourselves with these beauteous landscape views, we started our return journey. Kevin would take various detours as we crossed some Bavarian lakes, the shores hosting picnics for the locals soaking in the rare sunshine staring wistfully at the clear sky and little flecks of clouds. He even took us to a waterfall hidden in the forest, unfortunately, to find little water.

We reached back to our hotel late in the evening with an exhausted body, lavish, magical and enthralling landscapes impossible to forget, a crash course in Bavarian history and memories for a lifetime.

Created By
Saurabh Ganguli

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