Category Archives: Germany

Walking and Singing

With a thrill of excitement and a touch of disbelief, we took our passports when we walked across the bridge, town to town.

Walking into another country amazes and delights me. Growing up in the south-west of Western Australia meant that travelling to another state was a huge event – one requiring more than a cut lunch and a waterbag. Going to another country was a feat. Transport affordability and border restrictions have changed since then but the novelty hasn’t worn off – memory stalks and history breathes.

Because of their speed, we expect landscape, cultural and time zone changes when we travel in vehicles. Walking is such a simple act, homely and unassuming, so it is all the more surprising to find massive, rapid change attached to it.IMG_6529

We are in the little German (Bavaria) town of Laufen, which is about 21km north of Salzburg. It was once one town spreading on either side of the Salzach River. The river was its lifeblood, as precious salt from the Salzburg mines was transferred here from small boats to larger ones. In 1816, following the Napoleonic Wars, Laufen was separated from its suburbs over the river and became German. The new town was named Oberndorf and given to the Austrians.

Salzach River, Laufen

The river commits a great U-shaped curve through the towns.

The traffic bridge is moody. In the evening sun the plaques and statues glow benignly. In the morning, mist renders it ‘Gothic crime novel’.

IMG_3573

On day four of our stay, after rain-filled day three, the river, which normally appears sluggish due to its width and pale grey-green opaqueness, is raised and racing. It is littered with sticks and branches and I almost expect to see a body. Waves surge up the piers but the bridge is stalwart. (It was completed in 1903 to replace its less-reliable wooden predecessor.)

Salzach River, Austria overflowing

The Salzach flows down a nearby road, misting in the background.

Laufen:

monastery - hotel

This monastery has been added to and is now the hotel, Kapuzinerhof.

Laufen houses

frescoes

Frescoes in the cloisters of the church at the bend in the river.

IMG_6521

T

A two-way street runs under that arch. The sign at the side indicates the right-of-way obligations…or you could just drive around.

IMG_6518

chapel

A disused chapel in the monastery grounds.

IMG_6516

Across the bridge, walking the streets of Oberndorf, one treads almost hallowed ground. It is the birthplace of the carol, Silent Night, first performed in 1818. The town priest wrote the lyrics and asked a nearby organist and schoolmaster to compose the music. The latter accompanied the inaugural singing on his guitar. The church in which it was sung was demolished in 1913 due to flood damage. A memorial chapel was erected on the site in 1937. It is here that people from all over the world gather on Christmas Eve to sing, in many languages, this beloved carol.

Silent Night chapel

colourful house

Crossing cultures and times can be as easy as walking or singing.

 

Advertisements

A Tale of Irrationality and Mandel-thingies

I’m on a Swiss train waiting impatiently to feel hungry so I can eat the mandelhoernli I have laid up in my handbag. To some extent, I don’t even like them. Continue reading

This Air, The Rain

This day, the German summer air is laden with visible moisture – not mist – enough to blur and blue the forest trees skirting the narrow field beside which I sit. Australian air is intense, like eyes piercing secrets.
I had not known there was other air. Continue reading

And the Second Little Pig Built a House…

Schluchsee in the Black Forest.

Directions: The K4989 runs parallel to a road that hugs the south side (Seebrugg train station end) of the lake. Take this road and park in the designated area next to the road. Cross the causeway and turn right. The house is not far. Continue  for some lovely walks through the forest and alongside the lake.

Throbbing in the Black Forest: Sauna as an Extreme Sport

At its best a sauna is a place of extremes. And sometimes it requires all my will to take it to the max. It’s not the heat that gets me so much as the cold.

The sauna I frequent is a little hut at the bottom of the garden. (Fairytale settings just spring from the German ether – thank you, Brothers Grimm)  Around 5.30pm the potbelly is lit with pine. About an hour later it’s ready – depending on the ambient temperature and one’s predilection for heat. Fifty degrees Celsius is sufficient for my ageing parents. (Bear in mind that the highest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 57°C (134°F) in July 1913.) However, for me it still feels clammy at 60 degrees.

Continue reading

Of Celery and Power

Grocers take their duties very seriously in Germany. This is a sign on a town store.

It says, “Most dream of money, power or sex. We dream of fresh and crunchy celery.”

I Spy Plenty in Germany

On a German road: a young man is zigzagged low over his rollerblades; legs, ankles and feet fast together like a dart; his hair streaming as he is pulled along by a galloping German Shepherd. Continue reading