Tag Archive | Germany

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Container

I just had to stop and admire the beautiful window displays in this clothing shop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The colours were bright and summery and I was charmed by the traditional Bavarian costumes.

DSCN1060

DSCN1063

There was one interesting item which caught my eye. I’m sure it wasn’t a traditional Bavarian container!

DSCN1064

 

Discovering Joy

I’ve never really been an avid follower of fashion when it comes to cars. But when we walked through the doors of BMW Welt, the showroom and delivery centre of the BMW brand in Munich, I fell in love. There was my dream car – the sporty, red BMW X6 Coupé. It was one of the latest models on display on the floor of the BMW showroom.

BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and the BMW Plant are all located in a complex in an outer northern suburb of Munich, just a short train ride from the centre of town. The striking architecture of the building caught our attention even before entering. The design by Professor Wolf D. Prix represents a cloud spinning out of a twisted double cone made of steel and glass and emulates the strength and design of BMW.

Inside, we were awed by the immensity of the Plaza which opens up to a huge space dedicated to design and technology, with the entire range of the latest vehicles on show in all their gleaming glory.

Visitors are encouraged to touch and admire these cars close up, maybe in the hope that they will succumb to the allure and buy one. I began to picture myself in that X6, driving along the streets of my hometown and receiving admiring looks from those I passed.

Several guided tours of BMW Welt, the Museum and the BMW Plant take place daily. The English speaking tour of BMW Welt is at 2pm. Before our tour started we were presented with headphone sets which made for easy listening, and allowed us to wander at will.

The first exhibit on our tour was the motorcycle display, where little and not-so-little boys fulfilled their fantasies of a test ride seated on the latest BMW models.  The off road, touring and sports bikes were all presented in mint condition but our guide encouraged everyone to sit on them for as long as it took to get the perfect photo.

We were treated to a stunning display of riding skills by two company employees who rode their G450X bikes along the length of the first floor and managed to navigate the staircases at both ends of the building several times.

Then we went behind the scenes to the area where new vehicles are stored prior to delivery. We saw a car brought from the factory and lifted on a hydraulic roadway to the position in which it would be stored in what resembled a set of giant pigeon holes until the following day when its new owner would come to collect it.

The most fascinating part of our tour was the automobile delivery gallery where those new owners receive their brand new vehicles. We were led along a suspended walkway, which our guide proudly informed us is the longest suspension bridge in the northern hemisphere, to a viewing area overlooking the mezzanine gallery. There we were able to see the magic that is BMW in action. There were six cars each on their own presentation platform. The salesman guided his customers down a large staircase as if they were movie stars at a premiere. They stopped at the half way mark and were greeted by their new car, highlighted with spotlights, headlights flashing, and rotating on its platform. A photographer took several photos of the lucky owners with their vehicle and the salesman explained the features. Finally the owners were presented with their keys and drove a lap of the gallery before exiting down a spiral driveway and out on to the autobahn. About 15000 vehicles are delivered in this way every year. We watched this spectacle repeated several times and it was hard to tear ourselves away and move along to the next part of the tour. The looks on the faces of each new set of owners lived up to the BMW slogan of “Discover Joy.”

The last stop on the tour was the Technology and Design Atelier, an interactive space where visitors can experiment with and experience the technology that goes into the creation of the vehicles of the future. Our favourite was the efficient dynamics machine. We had to pedal up a simulated hill as fast as we could in order to build up enough energy to coast down the other side without using any fuel. Easier said than done!

After experiencing all that is BMW I just couldn’t leave without that dream car, so I gave in to temptation and bought an X6 – sporty, red and in its own collectable box, just the right size to fit in my hand luggage on the trip back home.

DSCN8547

Weekly Photo Challenge – Pattern

One of my passions, apart from travelling and writing, is quilt making, and everywhere I go I always see great quilting designs. Gates can be elaborate and highly ornamented or plain and practical but they all provide endless inspiration for new patterns. I am still to put the inspiration into practice but when I do I’ll have plenty of photos to reference.

On the Thames Pathway at Hampton Court Palace, London

On the Thames Pathway at Hampton Court Palace, London

In the cemetery at The Abbey Church of St Peter, Salzburg.

In the cemetery at The Abbey Church of St Peter, Salzburg.

Symmetry and simplicity - the gateway to the Bedouin Desert Camp, Wahiba Sands, Oman

Symmetry and simplicity – the gateway to the Bedouin Desert Camp, Wahiba Sands, Oman

Entry into the churchyard at Holy Trinity Church, Bosham, England

Entry into the churchyard at Holy Trinity Church, Bosham, England

A portal between the old town and the new, Rothenburg, Germany

A portal between the old town and the new, Rothenburg, Germany

The gates of Buckingham Palace, London. I knocked and knocked but I didn't get in!

The gates of Buckingham Palace, London. No one heard me knocking!

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

“Sleep” is the theme of this week’s A Word a Week Challenge at A Word in Your Ear

DSC04890

The Sun King Louis XIV slept here when he was in residence at the Palace of Versailles, in France.

DSCN0162

Queen Caroline’s bedroom at Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, Germany. On 25 August, 1845 the child destined to become King Ludwig II was born here.

quilt, Hardy's cottage

This bed with its beautiful patchwork quilt is in a tiny cob and thatch cottage in Dorset. The cottage was the birthplace of the author Thomas Hardy, and where his early novels were written. Perhaps he slept here.

DSC03521

In September the city of Toowoomba, in Queensland Australia, hosts the annual Carnival of Flowers. This “garden bed” is purely ornamental – maybe a bird slept here.

At the Safari Desert Camp, in the Wahiba Sands in Oman, is a collection of traditional Bedouin tents complete with beautifully decorated furniture. I slept here!

 

A Bus Trip Through Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most popular castles in Europe with more than 1.3 million people visiting it and neighbouring Hohenschwangau Castle every year. For many the castle looks familiar. Walt Disney and his designers used it as the inspiration for the castles of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. It is set on a steep and rugged hill overlooking the tiny village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria and getting there can be an adventure in itself.

From where we were staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen it was only 64 km to Hohenschwangau. Without a car and with no train line between the two towns the only way to get there was on the local bus. The bus stop was opposite the train station and right on time, as is the way with public transport in Germany, the bus pulled up and the driver greeted us like old friends. We set off on our journey but we didn’t get far before there was an unscheduled stop. The driver had seen a girl he knew and they had a friendly chat. My five years of German language study at high school might have been a distant memory, but I understood enough to know that the girl had bought a new bike and the driver was full of admiration for it.

After a few minutes we were underway again, travelling through tiny villages and mountain passes. We drove through Oberammergau, home of the famous Passion Play, and Unterammergau. We crossed over a gorge through which a mountain river rushed in a torrent of white foam and passed Bannwaldsee, one of many alpine lakes. We passed by the Wieskirche, or Pilgrimage Church of Wies, en route. This time we could only take a photo from the bus.

After two hours of scenic travel we arrived in Hohenschwangau. Our bus driver gave us instructions to be back at the bus stop by 5.13 pm for the last bus of the day and reminded us that it was a long walk back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

We had read that up to 6000 visitors a day visit the castles here in the Summer – it seemed as if they were all in the queue for tickets. The only way to see the castles is by guided tour and tour times are allocated when tickets are bought. Make sure you are at the entrance to each castle at the allotted time – numbers are limited – miss your tour and you miss out!

We visited Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of King Ludwig II, first.

There were two ways to get there on foot; by a stairway that climbs steeply up the hill, or a longer but less steep walk along the road past the serene Alpsee and through the forest. On the lake we saw a swan – heraldic symbol of Ludwig’s family. Ludwig is sometimes known as “the Swan King”.

We came across a family watching a snake. The father assured us that it wasn’t poisonous, but a snake is a snake, and we didn’t stay long.

After touring the interior of the castle our descent from Hohenschwangau via the steps was quick and to reach Neuschwanstein in time for our second tour we had to start walking straight away.  Tourists can take a horse carriage or a bus to the castle entrance but the queues for both were long and the picturesque thirty minute walk through the forest beckoned.

We detoured to Marienbrücke, a bridge which spans the Pӧllat Gorge and gives the best views of the castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle was built on the ruins of two medieval castles. It was commissioned by King Ludwig II and construction began in 1869. When he died in 1886 only 40% of the castle was completed and the rest was never finished. The rooms that were completed were lavishly decorated and dedicated to the works of Richard Wagner, who was one of Ludwig’s closest friends.

We took a shortcut on a forest track on our walk back to the village and the bus stop, just to be sure we would be there before 5.13. After the heat of the day it was cool and refreshing in the shade of these majestic trees. Again our bus arrived on time and we left Hohenschwangau and its beautiful castles behind. After all that walking it was nice to sit and relax on the drive back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and for most of the way we were the only passengers so the return journey only took 90 minutes. And what was the cost of this day of adventure on board the local buses? The princely sum of €18. Even King Ludwig would have been pleased with that.

English: photograph of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

English: photograph of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Change of Seasons Part Two

The second part of our journey was on the Glacier cable car which goes all the way to the summit terrace. The edges of the terrace were treacherous with thick ice and a mound of snow had been pushed up in the centre so that it was safe to walk around. The track to the summit of Zugspitze, adorned by its gilded cross, was closed to walkers and we weren’t going to be buying anything from the souvenir stand either.

Back inside the warmth of the cable car station we followed the walkway around to the Fascination Zugspitze Interactive Museum where the sign said that cable car tickets would give us free admission. We tried to swipe them time after time without success until the lady on the information desk spotted us and came to help. “Where have you come from today?” she asked and laughed when we told her we had started from Garmisch. “Your tickets won’t work here – you’re in Austria now!” Lucky there were no passport checks!

We paid our €2.50 entrance fee and made our way through the museum, from the Conquest of the Zugspitze display with old photos and artefacts telling the history of the railway, past the glass floor and internal viewing platform which looks down 200 m to the rock below, to the 3D model of the Zugspitze.

We left Austria and crossed back over into Germany, exactly where we weren’t sure, and made our way back to the summit terrace. The cloud had begun to clear and the 360° view over the mountains was amazing. On a clear day it’s possible to see into Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland – this day we were happy just to be able to see the mountain peaks, more than 400 in number, and green alpine valleys stretching away to the horizon.

      The last part of our journey was on the Eibsee cable car, which took us on a 10 minute 2,000 metre descent to the Eibsee Lake. We walked along the track through the alpine forest to the train station to wait for the cogwheel train back to Garmisch, shedding our warming Winter layers as we went. At the foot of the mountains we were back in Summer.