Monday, September 30, 2013

A Pilgrimage to St. Bartholomä

St. Bartholomä is another stop on the Königssee, Germany's gorgeous crystal clear lake in the Bavarian Alps. It's a traditional pilgrimage site, since St. Bartholomew is the patron saint of alpine farmers and dairymen. You can only get there by boat or by hiking over the Watzmann mountains...we chose the boat!

There isn't much going on besides the small chapel, a restaurant/inn once popular among Bavarian royalty, and numerous hiking trails into the mountains or to the nearby ice caves. It's incredibly beautiful though, and was a perfect place to spend the afternoon.

The one thing you CAN'T miss here is the food. All the ingredients come from the surrounding area and are amazingly delicious. Fionn's mom and I both tried the trout, caught fresh from the Königssee itself. Seriously, some of the best fish I've ever eaten in my life (and I grew up on the coast!).

All the other dishes being ordered by our neighbors looked amazing too-we were sad we weren't hungrier!

After that we decided to say goodbye to the Königssee and see more of Berchtesgaden!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cows, the Königssee and a Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop!

Hello to everyone from the Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop! I'm so glad you're here. Today I'm recapping our trip to the Bavarian Alps-I hope you'll stick around, leave a comment, or scroll down to join the Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop! Have fun! :)

About a year ago I saw a gorgeous picture on Pinterest of a pristine Bavarian lake called the Königssee. The water was crystal clear near the shore and changed from emerald to deep blue as the water got deeper. In the background, imposing snow capped mountains soared into the sky. It didn't even look real. I love the Bavarian Alps, and since it's a few hours from us I have been eager to go for a while.

It's hard for Fionn to get time off, so his mom and I decided to do a quick girly road trip down to Berchtesgaden before she left. Berchtesgaden is a mere 15 minutes from the Königssee, so I finally got my chance to visit!

The Königssee is Germany's cleanest lake. It located in the Berchtesgaden National Park, in the Berchtesgadener Alps, right near the border with Austria. To keep the lake clean, they only allow electrically powered boats, a rule that's been in place since 1909! There are lots of hiking trails around, but we decided to take the boat to see the sights.

At the end of the lake is a stop called Salet. It's only open from April to October, but from there you can walk to the smaller Obersee lake and see the Rothbach waterfall. So that's what we did!

As we walked, we saw a sign advertising fresh milk for sale. It seemed interesting, so we followed other hikers onto the trail. 

After walking for a while we started hearing clinking noises up ahead. We rounded the corner and came face to face with this!

A whole herd of cows were happily munching on the grass along the trail. We skirted around them and laughed, finally having an explanation for all the torn up shrubs on the hill where cows were climbing!

From there we continued our walk, up some slippery stone steps...

...and were rewarded with a great view!

We found a little barn being run by two old Bavarian ladies selling fresh milk, water, beer, and bread with cheese or butter. Fionn's mom had some fresh milk (very good, she said) and we enjoyed a little rest before heading back.

fresh from our friends on the path

On the way back we were blessed with some sunshine after a morning of rain! It made everything even more beautiful.

We caught the next boat out and headed to our next stop on the Königssee, St. Bartholoma!

Now hop on down to our Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop!


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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where to go for Christmas? Help!

Ok, travel lovers. I'd like your input. 

Fionn and I were brainstorming where to go for Christmas, and we made a list of the places we haven't been in Europe. Maybe we should revisit countries we've already been to? None of these places seem very nice in the winter, but maybe they have great Christmas traditions we don't know about.

Or maybe we should branch out to other continents? What's a place that's close to Europe but will be way farther once we're back in America?

I'd love to hear any idea you've got! We won't be in Europe forever, so we want to travel now!

Suggestions anyone?

Croatia (this will probably be our Thanksgiving destination though)
San Marino

If it has a strike through it, Fionn has been there and I haven't. Did I mention he's got one blank page left in his passport?? No doubt about it, I married a travel addict!

The color and chaos of Marrakech

I was going through travel pictures the other day for my photo wall (part of my 25 by 25 list!) and came upon some great pictures of Marrakech that I never uploaded to the blog. Sure, I talked about what we did, but I really feel like I missed the opportunity to show you the city itself. So without further ado, let's go back to Morocco!

Marrakech is the most exciting (and sometimes exhausting) place I have ever been. There was always a swirl of color and activity, whether it was 10pm or 7am. 

Marrakech is sometimes called the "pink city" due to its pink hued buildings, but Marrakech can't be defined by one color. In particular, we noticed how colorful the people were. Men pushed past in mustard colored djellabas while woman in hot pink floral headscarves haggled over dried figs. 

In addition to the color, Marrakech is always moving. As our guide pointed out to us, pedestrians rank 4th in order of importance-AFTER cars, buses, donkey carts, and mopeds. Add to that the fact that we didn't see a single cross walk the whole time we were in Marrakech, and crossing the street can be a terrifying experience!

Even though wandering around Marrakech sometimes felt like running the gauntlet, it remains one of the coolest places I've ever been.

Are you interested in Morocco? Want to see some more Morocco pictures that never made it to the blog? :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Berlin's Eastside Gallery

Our last day in Berlin, we took Fionn's mom to the Eastside Gallery. She's an artist, so we figured she'd love the murals painted on old sections of the Berlin Wall. It's another way Berliners have turned ugly history into something positive.

During the Cold War, people in West Berlin drew graffiti on their side of the wall, and when the wall came down, artists joined together to create an international memorial for freedom by painting murals on remaining parts of the wall. The Eastside Gallery is one of the world's largest open air galleries, but it's had its share of problems. Just this year a developer for luxury apartments destroyed part of the wall to begin construction despite protests, and every year the wall is further damaged by weather and vandalism.

I've visited the gallery a lot of the past few years, but I was very shocked at the amount of graffiti on some of these famous murals when we visited last week. In less than two years the wall has really fallen into disrepair and there is a hardly a mural left that hasn't been damaged by irresponsible tourists or vandals. I never understand why people feel the need to deface history like that, especially such an important piece of world history!

 Some murals were unrecognizable and some had so much offensive and rude graffiti drawn on them they were completely ruined (another blogger wrote about the vandalism of the famous "Fraternal Kiss" mural over here). It made me so sad. This is one of Berlin's biggest tourist attractions and people are allowed to just destroy it and no one does anything about it. Where's the city government? Where is the personal responsibility? You don't come as a visitor to another city and ruin it!

one of the famous murals completely wrecked by graffiti

Luckily some of the murals were still pretty intact, so the whole trip wasn't ruined. It was just disappointing to see such a change from when we were living in Berlin in 2011.

Despite the vandalism, I love the color and creativity of these murals. Fionn's mom had a blast taking pictures of it all!

My favorite ones are the more political ones (it appeals to my inner history nerd). Especially for a city like Berlin, with its turbulent past and very art heavy present, using art as a kind of healing is very powerful.

When we got to the end, it was a bit surreal seeing how thick the Berlin Wall actually was. A few feet of concrete divided families, a country, and the world. Incredible.

You can find the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße, which is easily reached by S-Bahns Ostbahnhof or Warschauerstrasse. Follow the crowds and the signs and you'll easily find it.

Have you visited the Eastside Gallery? Should something be done about the vandalism?