Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beautiful Bavaria

Ciao! Sorry for the long-delay in posts, but after we moved into our new apartment, we didn't have Internet service. Many Italians take the entire month of August off, making it difficult to get repairs done. The great news is we now have WiFi, and I'm back in business!  (Or maybe that's bad news for those of you reading this...haha.)

Back to our travels... Several weeks ago we ventured much farther down the road to Bavaria, Germany. Talk about incredible beauty! This area is surrounded by the most beautiful mountains, lush pastures, and castles galore! This was the view from our hotel room!

We first visited two famous castles in southwest Bavaria, near the town of Fussen. First, we saw the Hohenschwangau Castle, built on the remains of a fortress dating back to the 12th Century. This is the castle where Ludwig (later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) grew up. While we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, we got some great shots from outside.

Built within sight of Hohenschwangau, The Neuschwanstein Castle, which means "New Swanstone Castle", is the real-life model for the Disney Castle! This is the castle Walt Disney used to design the famous castle seen in so many movies and at Disney World. Ludgwig, very reclusive, wanted a retreat and a way to honor his friend, maybe lover, the famous composer Richard Wagner. Many of the rooms pay homage to Wagner. Sadly, Ludwig only spent half-a-year here before he mysteriously died. Some believe he was assassinated. From what I can gather, he was a gay man who loved and fostered the arts. He hated politics. That combination, at that time in the world, was not accepted. People believed him to be crazy. However, had it not been for his great contributions to the arts, Bavaria would not be what it is today.

The following day we drove to the town of Berchtesgaden and saw the infamous Eagles Nest, or as its called in German, the Kehlsteinhaus. It towers on a ridge more than six-thousand feet into the clouds. Paid for by the Nazi Party, it was presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday as a retreat. Talk about eerie! This place looks almost exactly like it did decades ago. Its surrounded by incredible geographic beauty. In fact, I find it to be one of the most beautiful spots in the world. How can such beauty be the plotting grounds for Hitler's incredible evil?

Hitler is said to have only visited this retreat 17 times due to his fear of heights. However, his mistress and later wife, Eva Braun, spent months here entertaining.

You can only access this sight by bus. Boy, is it a crazy, thrilling, twisty ride up there! Once you arrive, you walk through the same tunnel, dug out into the mountain Hitler used. The tunnel leads to a polished-brass elevator that shoots you up into the mountain and into the retreat. (The elevator was purposely made reflective to make it appear bigger due to Hitler's fear of small spaces.) Inside the retreat, you'll find the grand fireplace Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini gifted to Hitler as well as several other well-preserved rooms.

Outside, the view will take your breath away. We were very lucky the day went. Often, this area gets very cloudy and foggy blocking the view. However, saw nothing but blue skies and sunshine.

After the war, a cross was erected near the sight as well. A very somber and beautiful sight.

This was, by far, Billy's favorite spot we've visited on our travels. I've never seen one person take so many pictures! It truly is seeing history come alive. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this place as well. It was very surreal to be standing there.

We really hope to get the chance to return, at least one more time, before our European adventures end. Until next time, ciao!

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