After Cochem, we headed to the magical Bavarian Alps. The town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (or Garmisch for short) is a Mountain resort town. The town is in Bavaria and has the best scenic drive in all of Germany. Wow! I cannot begin to describe mother nature’s wonders in the south of Germany. Absolutely phenomenal!!! There are pine trees in abundance and we happened to drive there the day after it snowed. Every tree was sprinkled with snow, and the snow was untouched and white. The drive was peaceful and serene. Then we would randomly drive past a log cabin with its fireplace on, so you would see the smoke come out of the chimney with the beauteous pine trees as its backdrop. Simply stunning!
There is a military lodge resort in Garmish called Edelweiss Lodge where we had reservations. I had no expectations since I’ve been disappointed in previous military lodges before. But, I must admit, Edelweiss is surprisingly great! It has a cabin feel and you feel welcomed as soon as you walk in. There was a huge Christmas tree decorating the lobby and it was very impressive.
The resort offers tours you can sign up for. We decided to take the Neuschwanstein Castle tour and it included a stop at the Scholderhof in der Wies, a beautiful pilgrimage church. Even the grounds it sits on are picturesque. According to the legend, tears were seen on a Jesus statue in the 1700’s. People started calling it a miracle, and even the Vatican became involved with this church.
After the church, we headed towards the Neuschwanstein Castle. This sensational castle helped model the Cinderella castle in the Disney cartoon and is my personal favorite castle. If you are ever visiting Bavaria, you must come visit this wonder. The word “Neuschwanstein” means New Swanstone. It was built for King Ludwig II’s liking and he had an obsession with swans.
When you arrive to the area, there are three options to get up the hill to the castle. You can walk up the steep hill (takes about 30-45 minutes), take a horse carriage ride and pay 6 euro (per person, each way) or you cant take the shuttle and pay $2 euro per person, each way. Even with the shuttle and horse carriage, there is some mandatory walking due to the location of the road and the castle.
That night, we went to another tour offered by Edelweiss Lodge. This was a brewery and our host, Wolfgang, was so entertaining! He showed us how their beer gets produced and we tasted delicious beer. Make sure you pay attention to the informative beer-making presentation because you will be quizzed at the end. It’s okay if you don’t know the answers, you can cheat off each other. After the presentation, dinner is served. We chose the pork knuckle and it was delicious! This tour is worth taking, especially if you love beer. You don’t have to worry about transportation since it is included with the tour price.
Along with providing tours for a fee, Edelweiss has a kiosk outside the gift shop on the first floor that offers do-it-yourself pamphlets for visiting the sites on your own. Since we had a car, we decided to drive to Austria and visit the Swarovski Museum. After the psychedelic museum experience (um excuse me flying dancing pants), there is a big Swarovski store you can shop till you drop. Driving to and from Austria is easy. The international borders are open and the GPS will take you between countries, no problem.
We decided to spend our last night in Munich. On our way there from Garmish (about an hour away), we stopped at the Dachau Concentration Camp. This was a prison camp during the Holocaust and it was open for 12 years. Entrance is free and when you walk inside, you are walking through the same gate that the prisoners walked in from.
There is a 20 minute documentary film that plays in the middle of a building where the prisoners used to cook at. The film is not intended for children under 12. Let me tell you, it was not intended for people like me either. This documentary was recorded by the American soldiers once they liberated the camp, therefore, the film caught the end result of the prisoners, including starving people, dead bodies, sick and infected people. The film is real and it is graphic.
After watching it, we went to see the bed sleeping quarters of the prisoners. Even though the camp now is pretty much bare, you can’t help but sense the eerie past that is connected to it.
At the camp, there was a crematorium however, it was never actually used to kill prisoners. It was mostly used to burn bodies of prisoners that died of diseases or malnutrition while being imprisoned at Duchau. When we left, we went straight to our hotel and took a shower. We felt dirty from being in the camp and we needed a drink. Ugh, someone get me a dirty martini please. Pronto.
The last day we spent it at the BMW museum. We learned the history of BMW’s and enjoyed watching vintage cars. It was a different pace from the previous day’s events.
Our week in Germany was very educational. I now have a better understanding about what went down during World War II. Our history lesson would not stop there, though. Two months later, we visited Normandy…