First things first: Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there!
When my aunt and uncle invited me to accompany my uncle’s choir group on a Sound of Music tour to Germany and Austria, I jumped at the chance. I’d never been out of the US except to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico, on trips with my sister-in-law.
I’ve always felt it was my responsibility to visit Germany at least once to honor my ancestry. The fact that the areas we were touring were Bavaria and the surrounding locales were a bonus. Bavaria is where Mad King Ludwig built his castles; I’d have the chance to see a number of them and others.
Originally, castles were a way for a king to protect his land and his people. They had room for a small village, a way to survive sieges for a while, and defenses. The more “modern” castles seem more a way to show off how rich and important a person is (enter King Ludwig II). We toured Neuschwanstein, Nymphenburg, and Herrenchiemsee, as well as the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, and Mirabell Schloss in Salzburg. The thing is, those castles were built to be more family residence or government center than castle in the old-fashioned sense.
My favorite part of the trip was our day in Salzburg. My favorite castle was the fortress on top of the “burg” overlooking the city–Hohensalzburg Fortress. “Burg” in German means “fortress”, or these days, “town or settlement”. Salzburg is up close and personal with a salt mine, which we also toured (way cool!). So, Salzburg is the fortified settlement on a salt mine. Hohensalzburg is the fortress high (hohen) over the town. And get this–it’s a real castle overlooking the city, complete with inner and outer walls, a portcullis, cannons, a whole village inside the walls, and even a well to provide the residents with water during a siege. The path to the gate is via a steep cogwheel train.
All the fantasy books I’d read that incorporated castles of some sort now had more substance in my mind. I could picture the relative size and layout of a castle built for defense. Hohensalzburg is more “real” castle than Neuschwanstien could ever hope to be.
The thing I remember most about that trip is the sheer amount of history. The United States is pretty young in the grand scheme of things. In the Midwest, if something is a couple hundred years old, then wow, it’s old. On the East Coast, where the first thirteen colonies put stakes in the ground, that extends a little bit more, to maybe three or four hundred years. In Europe, four hundred years is a drop in the relative age bucket. We saw the oldest restaurant in Europe: Stiftskeller St. Peter in Salzburg. Get this: established in 803. Didn’t eat there, but the Roman legions did.
Someday I will go back to Europe, but maybe to Ireland first, then the UK, then Iceland, then the rest of my list, including a must-do-it return to Salzburg and Bavaria. My family’s ancestral farm still exists in northern Germany, and I think it’d be cool to see that. So ends Day One of the Five Day Challenge. Now off to pull some weeds before I put together tomorrow’s post.
I was nominated to take part in this photo challenge by Andrea Connolly, who shared wonderful images of the sea and sailing, along with great prose. I would like to nominate Mae Clair, whom I know is on a book tour right now for her new release, Myth and Magic, but I hope she can find some time to pick up the challenge (besides, she just tagged me for a different challenge 🙂 ).
The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:
1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive day
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!