Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Five Photos, Five Days Challenge — Day One


Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress — outer wall

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!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

11 thoughts on “Five Photos, Five Days Challenge — Day One

  1. Great post, Julie, I liked your experiences in Salzburg. And your German ancestry! One thing if you don’t mind, would you correct my surname at the link please? It’s Connolly. Married to an irishman, born in Germany. Looking forward to your next post! Andrea


    • Glad you liked it! Sorry about the misspelling; corrected it. Loved Bavaria, and I’d go back to Salzburg in a heartbeat. It was a great trip with great people. Now every time I watch the Sound of Music, I can say “I’ve been there” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Do you know where your German ancestors come from? My mum is nee Goebel…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some of my ancestors are from Schleswig-Holstein. Wow, that’d be wild if somehow our ancestors were related. The original spelling of my dad’s family is: Göbel. Once they got to the US, it was Americanized into Gaebel, but some of my grandfather’s siblings took the other spelling, Goebel. My mom’s family is also from northern Germany; I’ve got the name of the town where the family farm is somewhere. Turns out we even have distant relatives in Australia. Man, I forgot how much fun genealogy is!


      • Well, my maternal grandfather was Wilhelm Göbel from Rettigheim in Baden-Wurttemberg, which is next to Bavaria. He had many relatives in that area…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll have to check the family tree. Baden-Wurttemberg sounds familiar. All my ancestors came from Germany (even the ones from Luxemburg, which was part of Prussia at the time). I think someone in the family has traced both lines back to Germany, but I haven’t followed up for years. Now you’ve got me thinking I should jump on Ancestry.com and check out how far back they’ve gone 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Will you please let me know if you find my grandfather on your tree? I wrote a little caption about him in my first poetry book VISIBLY UNDER CANVAS. I grew up with him. Good luck!


      • I will. Now I want to go home to find my research! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fascinating post. I have German blood on my father’s side, and somewhere I have a family history with information on what part of Germany our roots trace back to. How great that you got to visit Germany. I’ve traveled a fair amount in the U.S., but have never been out of the country.

    Thanks for thinking of me on this blog challenge. It sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll pick it up in July after my tours wind down (I’ve got most of my days filled with posts on my blog already, LOL). Looking forward to doing this! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds great! Looking forward to your pics and posts!

      I feel fortunate I got the chance to travel there. Really want to go back and wander around the northern states, where my ancestors came from. I think it’d be a kicker to stop by the ancestral family farm, which still exists!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Catching up on Challenges (and cheating along the way) by Mae Clair | From the Pen of Mae Clair

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