Friday, September 19, 2008

Giovedi en Italia/Freitag im Deustchland

What a crazy couple of days!! Yesterday (Thursday) we checked out of our flat on Via Toscanella in Florence. (One of these nights I'll need to write about all of our accomodations-we have stayed in apartments in Rome, Florence and now in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. All of them have been wonderful, all were booked online, so we have been pleasantly surprised each time we checked in.) At 10 AM we took the bus to the train station with our luggage and checked it into storage at the station. We checked a few schedules and decided to use our Eurail passes to take a train to Siena for a day trip!
Siena is a quaint little town with a very medieval look and history. There is a great central square called Piazza Del Campo, with tiny little streets radiating off the center. We went to The Cathedral, it was beautiful, but different than the churches and cathedrals in Florence - the inside was darker and seemed colder. Seina deserves a couple of days of exploring on it's own! We grabbed sandwiches at a little bakery, ate and took the train back to Florence. Then with a couple of hours to kill before our night train left for Munich, we walked around the city again and got our last taste of Italian gelati. At 9:30 we boarded our train to Germany. We had sleeper cars - they were really quite comfortable but it was a little difficult to sleep while bumping through the mountains, but we all got some sleep and we arrived in München Friday morning at 6:30 AM.

So today has been all about the culture change - danke not gazie; ya not si; castles instead of churches, beer and schwieneschnitzel instead of wine and pizza!!

We picked up a minivan, drove south to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and checked into the apartment by 9 AM. We drove to Schloss Linderhof - a hunting castle built by Crazy King Ludwig. The castle was smaller than we had imagined, but really ornate. Apparently Ludwig was kind of an odd duck - he didn't like to have anyone around when he ate, so his table was lowered into the kitchen one floor below his dinning room, the servants set the food out and sent it back up to him. The most unusual part was probably the Gotto - an artificial cave that Luwig had built into the mountain so that he could have Richard Wagner preform his operas privately. Ludwig had a throne as well as a shell shaped boat and artificial lake in the Grotto. Funny thing was - the acoustics were so bad in there that there was only one performance - ever!!

A quick trip down the highway brought us to Oberammergau and a great little restaurant called the Hasen-Bräu. Good beer & great meals all around! We did some window shopping and topped the day off with a visit to a monastery in Ettal -- another beautiful church built in the 1300's and this one has large windows so it was lighter inside. We had dinner here at the apartment tonight, there's a grocery store right across the street - you should see the 6 of us shopping without a list! Then we watched the broadcast of yesterdays Twins game on the internet.

A little hint for all of you - our brother Dan is a veritable font of historic knowledge! He's been a terrific guide, we usually know the best pieces of history about a particular place even before our guided tours begin. If you can't travel with Dan though, the Green Guides by Michelin are great!

While driving between all these places we were treated to beautiful countryside and spectacular mountain scenery. From the deck of our apartment you can see Zugspitze - the highest mountain peak in Germany at 2962 metres, just under 10,000 feet! Take care all - we are having a wonderful time and will have many more stories to share when we get home.

No comments: