the longest castle in the world

Yes, really, this is one castle up on the hill in the small Bavarian town of Burghausen, which lies on the Salzach River on the German-Austrian border.

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A picture of the entire castle obviously required the panorama setting on my camera. This is a view of the castle with the town below it taken from the Austrian side of the Salzach.

My brother and I drove on a cold winter’s day about a year ago from Munich 1.5 hours east to Burghausen. We parked up at the castle. The day was gray and windy – especially up on the hill. After a tour of the castle, we walked down through the town, across the bridge, and the sun came out for a bit.

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Looking down on the Old Town of Burghausen from the castle

Like all real castles, Burg zu Burghausen has a long history, which you can see in the pieced-together look of the castle itself. The first mention of the castle was in the year 1025. The main part of the castle was built in the 14th-15th centuries, in the time period that the Bavarian kings took up residence there, but the oldest fragments of the castle still in existence go back to 1090. Throughout the centuries, the castle was expanded… it had a military defense function in the 16th-18th centuries. Towards the end of the 19th century, the citizens of Burghausen were able to prevent demolition of the castle. The first renovations took place around the turn of the 20th century, and since the 1960s, historical renovations have continually taken place to return some the original character of the castle. Burg zu Burghausen belongs to the Bavarian state and parts of the castle serve as museums and event rooms, while other parts are rented as homes! That’s where I’d want to live if I lived in Burghausen!

 

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Passing through a courtyard to head to the museum area.

There is one main castle and six courtyards strung along the ridge. We walked through the courtyards and toured one part of the main castle, which housed rooms that were set up with furniture along with art galleries.

 

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

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Inside the main courtyard.

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Photo from the roof of the main castle.

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One more view of the main castle from the river bank.

This was a great half-day-trip destination from Munich. On a warmer, sunny day, we would have surely liked to stay longer up at the castle complex and enjoy the views from the courtyards. As it was, though, we had the castle to ourselves!

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lady bavaria

The Bavaria statue stands proudly on a hill above the Theresienwiese — the grounds of the Oktoberfest. Behind Lady Bavaria and her lion is the Ruhmeshalle. I’ve never been inside this hall filled with busts of famous folk, but I did go up in the Bavaria statue.

This is something that doesn’t sit at the top of my to-do list in Munich, but I’m really glad I did it once.

You get a neat view of the Theresienwiese by peeking out of the lion’s mouth. In late summer, when we visited, they were already preparing for Oktoberfest.

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Lady Bavaria in front of the Ruhmeshalle

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the romance of heidelberg

A quick internet search about the city of Heidelberg leads to a slew of results about Romantic Heidelberg. For example: “Fall in love with Romantic Heidelberg” or “Heidelberg: Germany at its most romantic” or “Visit many romantic places in Heidelberg.” The way the word “romantic” is tossed around conjures up images from a cheesy greeting card: couples walking hand-in-hand, candlelit dinners, a bed of rose pedals, hearts and red silk.  Romantic may be a good descriptor for Heidelberg, but I’m not sure it’s primarily that kind of romance.

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cinque terre, italy

Last year Julius and I went spent the Pentecost holiday in Cinque Terre on the western coast of Italy. The Cinque Terre National Park is home to 5 colorful little fishing villages perched upon rocky cliffs and terraced hillsides over the deep-turquoise hued waters of the Ligurian Sea.

The five villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We stayed in Corniglia, the village in the center of the five, which is the only one that isn’t directly on the sea. It sits high up on a hill and is only accessible by climbing many, many stairs. We loved staying in Corniglia, because the day-tourist crowds aren’t as heavy there as in the other four villages, it has a great panoramic view of the ocean and the neighboring villages, and it offers good access to the hiking trails.

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Corniglia is called the turtle village. From the sea, you can see how the main part of the village (on the right) looks a bit like a turtle shell on top of the hill.

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rail tripping: hiking at tegernsee

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Our new boots!

After we’d decided that we wanted to take more trips to the mountains, we made the next logical decision to say that we’d also like to hike in the mountains. With that in mind, we invested in some good hiking boots.

And before breaking in our new boots, we just headed off to a nearby destination in the Alpine foothills and decided to hike. Not the smartest idea… Julius had the blisters to prove it.

Again, on a Sunday afternoon, we headed out from Munich to another place within an hour away.

Our destination? The Wallberg at Tegernsee.

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bio cult(ure)

Sometimes the simplest, everyday things of life in Germany make me think about cultural differences. Take trash, for instance. One of the things I had to get used to in Germany was separating trash. Paper, compost, metal, green glass, brown glass, white glass, plastic, and all the rest. In my first year here, I had to ask all the time about where to sort things. A tea bag, for instance, has a paper tag and bag, it’s filled with tea, which belongs in the compost, the string might go in the “rest” bin, and the tiny metal staple connecting the tag to the string would go in the metal bin. (This is just theoretical… no, we don’t separate all these tiny parts…)

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We have 4 recycling stations like this within close walking distance from home.

At our apartment now, they only pick up paper, compost, and the rest, so we collect the metal, glass, and plastic all together and carry it to large recycling bins down the street and separate it there.

This everyday practice has become second nature to me, and I think it is representative of a larger cultural phenomenon in Germany: Bio- and Öko-leben. Organic and eco-friendly living. Germany is really green. Continue reading

rail tripping: murnau

As winter turned to spring this year, my husband and I said, “we live so close to the Alps, and who knows for how long… we must go, and often!” Really, in about an hour, we can be surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes. So we decided to take some day trips. Road tripping, but with the train. Rail tripping.

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Landscape hanging in the Lenbachhaus

First up? Murnau. Ever since I had visited the Lenbachhaus in Munich, where the Blaue Reiter art is on exhibit, I’ve wanted to visit the home of Gabriele Münter in Murnau, where she and Kandinsky and their posse lived and painted. The house is a museum, and is the birth place, so to speak, of the Blaue Reiter movement. The surrounding landscape and local culture provided their inspiration. When you see the explosions of color on canvas depicting the village of Murnau and the mountain panorama there… you just want to go see the real thing!

So, off we went on a Sunday afternoon. It was a glorious, sunshine-y day! Continue reading

new seasons, new year, new job

A let a lot of time go by between posts, and to rectify the situation, I’m attempting to offer a few catch-up posts.

Since the last time I wrote, the weather really changed from fall to winter. We’ve had a lot of cloudy, foggy days, white skies, and a few big snow falls. (I had to buy new boots, since I found out the hard way that mine were not waterproof!)

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The first big snow in December – and our neighbors’ cute snow man.

At the end of November, Munich, like many German towns and cities, was taken over by the Christmas markets. Continue reading

honeymoon in dresden

No wasting time on apologies. I’m back in the blogosphere and going to do a couple of catch up posts, then I’ll try to stay more on top of things.

This post takes us back to October. Fall break for the schools in Bavaria.

Let me first back up to mid-August, though. Right after our wedding, there was just no time to jet off some place for a honeymoon. Some folks expressed pity. I didn’t really mind. Instead of spending a ton of money on a 10-day honeymoon in Europe like lots of couples, we were just moving to Europe (which is expensive enough). And, there would be time enough for a nice trip in the months to come.

Furthermore, the time following our wedding in the States was full: packing, partying, saying goodbyes, moving abroad, coping with jet lag, bureaucracy, parents visiting, another wedding reception, apartment hunting, moving in, Julius starting to teach, me starting to job hunt, etc. And the whole time, I still didn’t regret not having a honeymoon, but… let’s be honest, that’s enough change in a 2-month time span to make anyone need a BREAK!

So, fall break was rolling around at the end of October, and the funds weren’t there to take the delayed honeymoon in Italy we would have liked, but we decided a long weekend away was definitely in order. And where did this long weekend take us?

The romantic, exotic destination in former East Germany, the capital city of Saxony… Dresden! Continue reading

intercultural holidays

When most couples start celebrating holidays together, they have to cross a difficult bridge: which family do we go to? do we alternate years? do we drive long distances to see both families? and what if both sides of the family see their plans as inflexible? Ah, the cause of much marital strife… When you add an intercultural dynamic, the questions multiply, as the holidays are traditionally celebrated in different (sometimes incompatible) ways for each partner.

And then for us, there’s the issue of the ocean between both sides of the family… Continue reading