Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Places: Around The Bavarian Horn

Aside from a brief stop in Amsterdam and a couple of loops into Austria, we spent most of our time in Germany. Can't imagine trying to see the whole country (or any European country, for that matter) in only three weeks, but we had a good taste of Bavaria.

I've spent plenty of time covering Munich, so I'll just say this: for a city of 1.3 million people, it's fairly compact and probably smaller in terms of area than Portland, Oregon. The Bavarian capital has plenty of green space and the River Isar flows right through the middle of town. The Altstadt (Old Town) is truly vibrant and easy to get around, with many favorable comparisons to one of my favorite European towns, Genoa, Italy.

The suburbs are very nice; Gina and I took a cab to the perimeter of the city and jumped on the train for the trip back. But the city's major sites are grouped around Marienplatz in Old Town, just blocks from our hideout and place of repose, the Hotel Deutsches Theater.

The soot-black, and major gothic, Neus Rathaus features statues and gargoyles (above, right) -- and, of course, the town's glockenspiel.

The Viktualienmarkt, one of Europe's premier food (and people-watching) bazaars, converts into one of the finest and most expensive beer gardens around, sometimes earlier in the day than later.

Just north of the Marienplatz is the Englischer Garten (where Gina would get in her runs), the town's principal park, a major aboretum which is much larger than Central Park in New York City.

On the trip to two of the royal castles built by Ludwig II -- Linderhof and Neuschwanstein -- we explored Oberammergau and Fussen, two little villages tucked away in Germany's Bavarian Alps.

Oberammergau (above) seems to be more rural and something less of a tourist trap than Fussen because of the sheer numbers of people visiting the "Disneyland" castle in June.

We rolled through Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg, two lovely Alpine skiing villages on the Austrian border that -- unfortunately -- will be forever associated with the life and times of Adolf Hitler (above).

Prior to the Zugspitze, it was the little town of Ettal (below), along with the larger Garmish and Partenkirchen. All had features reminiscent of the American version in Leavenworth, Washington.

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