Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Bavaria, Germany

The next morning, we woke up in our AirBnB in Wolfertschwenden, Bavaria, Germany. This little town obviously wasn’t used to tourists. We picked our AirBnB due to its proximity to several sites we wanted to visit, and, as it turned out we ended up in the middle of a quaint village going about its daily life on a Tuesday morning. Kids walking to school, a house being built, and a tractor carrying a hay bale down the street.

The first order of business was a visit to the grocery store. There was no Aldi close by, so we chose to visit a local chain called Dorfladen. After gathering what we needed for a couple of meals, we went to check out. The nice German lady helped us, but as we went to pay, there was some issue with the credit card (also not used much here, apparently). There was some confused German, and then a call across the store that we understood, “Sandra!, Sandra!, Help!” Eventually, we understood there was a minimum for the credit card charge, so we ended up with five extra pretzels to get us over the limit (along with our tomato soup). This was fine with me, because one of my goals on this trip was to eat as many authentic German pretzels as possible. We also found some peanut butter, labeled, ironically, with the brand, “American.”

Neuschwanstein Castle from Queen Mary's Bridge

Helicopter rescue

Our main destination on this day was the Neuschwanstein Castle. You may have seen pictures of this castle before, as it is one of the most iconic sites in Germany. It has also been used in several films, including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." Upon arrival, we realized the castle’s popularity would also lead to crowds of people. Adam quickly dubbed this “Bavaria’s Gatlinburg.” As we arrived at the base of the mountain, we noticed a helicopter flying multiple trips back and forth to the summit, near the castle. At first, we thought maybe this was a tour or, as we got closer and saw rescue personnel, some kind of training. It wasn’t until later when we saw the police were involved, and, the BBC reported that there had been an attempted double murder. A man had lured two ladies off the trail, attempted to assault them, and then pushed them both over a cliff. One woman survived, but the other did not. They were able to quickly capture the suspect (an American, ironically).

At this point, we told Adam, we might have to be careful traveling with him. When we were in the UK recently, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy just happened to be visiting London and we were passed by Rishi Sunak’s motorcade on the way to Stansted Airport to meet him. Also, Adam mentioned the last time he was at CDG airport, the Concord plane crashed (which eventually ended its service to Europe). And now this. News seems to follow Adam.

Hohenschwangau Castle in the distance
Now we come to a segment called, “Tell me you’re American without telling me you’re American.” Sometimes, these things are simple; the guys wearing OBX or Dunder Mifflin shirts, for instance. Other times, these things are funny; like the guy who yelled “Gesundheit!” when his buddy sneezed with the thickest southern accent I’ve ever heard. And sometimes, these things are a little more disappointing; like the penchant for public arguing and airing of grievances for anyone within earshot. We passed one American family that was obviously not having a good family vacation, and I told Adam if he ever heard me speak that way to Gabby, he has an obligation as one of my groomsmen to kick me in the butt.

Our swan friend
When we arrived back at our AirBnB we were greeted by our jovial German host, who was excited to emphasize all the amenities available to us, including the sauna in his backyard. He spoke even less English than we spoke German, but we managed to get by with Google Translate. He even had one complete phrase in screenshots, asking us, if we enjoyed our stay, to leave a “five stars review.” He also told me I looked Norwegian. Maybe it’s the red hair? Since it was included, we decided we were obligated to try the sauna. Adam and I found this a little uncomfortable, unless we were as close to the floor as we could get. Meanwhile, Gabby was in her happy place, basking in the heat like a turtle on a rock.

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