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Monthly Archives: April 2009
I have gotten a bit behind in my updates!
Rosebud is teething so we have had a few sleepless nights. Perhaps tonight she will sleep better.
Her first birthday is on Wednesday, which is very exciting! I am not really sure what we will do, but it will of course involve a lemon birthday cake. In the past few weeks, she’s taken a great interest in solid food, so I think she’ll have fun with her cake.
Anyway, the weather has been gorgeous this April – an anomaly, I am told. One afternoon, we went to the Starnbergersee, or Lake Starnberg.
This lake is a well-loved tourist destination. King Ludwig II, the fairy tale king, spent time at the Schloss Berg (Castle Berg) which is situated on the lake. King Ludwig II was apparently found dead near this castle. My friend Mia tells me it is more likely he was murdered than drowned, because he was known to be an excellent swimmer. I don’t know if we will ever know how Ludwig died, but the theories abound!
We decided to go to the town of Starnberg, as there is a nice walkway and park along the lake. The water is amazingly clear and blue. This is our friend and Rosebud’s playmate, Abi:
(I see London, I see France… okay, okay, I don’t have a pair of panties to go with the dress! Bad Mommy! 😆 )
It was one of those perfect lazy days, walking around a bit and then sitting by the lake to enjoy the cool breezes. Here’s hoping the rest of the spring weather is as nice!
Side note: King Ludwig II comes from the House of Wittelsbach, which you can read about here.
A few days before we traveled to Köln for Easter, Rosebud and I went for a walk through Ramsau. This is a small farming community not too far from our house. There’s a pleasant café there, attached to one of the barns, as well as a riding stable. The views of the surrounding countryside are amazing. On a really clear day, you can even see the Zugspitze, the highest peak in the German alps.
Behind our neighborhood there is a wooded area with a few walking/riding/biking paths.
There’s also a lovely stream once you reach the road toward Ramsau. The stream winds through Ramsau and past many of the farmhouses.
Rosebud is fascinated by water so we stood by the little waterfall for awhile.
The wildflowers were just beginning to bloom, so I snapped some pictures of them. I should buy a wildlife guidebook so I can learn about the local botany and wildlife. I think these might be related to forget-me-nots, but I’m not sure.
Approaching Ramsau, you can see these typical farmhouses. The building style in these barns is unique to Bavaria. I find it especially interesting that the barns are attached to the farmhouse. It makes sense, if you think about it. The farmers can easily care for their animals without having to go very far during a heavy snowfall.
In many Bavarian towns, you’ll see a little shrine like this one. If someone hasn’t been able to get to their local church, they can say a prayer at one of these shrines. This one has a statue of Mary and of Jesus. When I lived in the Köln region, I didn’t notice too many shrines like this. But here in Bavaria, where most families are Catholic, these little shrines dot the landscape.
The stable in Ramsau offers riding lessons. When my niece comes to visit, we can hopefully do some riding together. (My talented niece loves horses and she takes riding lessons in Kentucky.) When Rosebud is old enough, maybe she will also want to learn to ride.
The path we walked is actually one used by the farmers. I’ve noticed that many of the walking paths here are farm paths. Sometimes, you’ll end up walking right past the front door of the farmhouse. The farmers are used to it and don’t seem to mind.
Here’s the stream again, having found its way from Ramsau.
Isn’t the countryside stunning? When I do this walk again, I think I’ll pack a lunch so Rosebud and I can sit and enjoy the view for awhile.
I was carrying Rosebud in my front carrier, so I was getting a little tired at this point. We sat down on a bench, and then I decided to let her sit on the ground for a few minutes. She was fascinated! She looked at everything – the blades of grass, pine needles, some wildflowers… it makes you look at the world differently when you consider how it would look from a baby’s perspective. She enjoyed playing with a pinecone, turning it over and over in her hands.
Another view of the mountains:
The path goes a bit further, but both Rosebud and I were tired. Next time, we will go all the way to the observation point, where you really get a good view of the whole area.
In early February, we visited the little cloister in Schäftlarn. Here’s a short video I made, featuring a few appearances of Rosebud.
When we were in Köln, we visited the Tierpark (animal park) Tannenbusch. Next to the park are walking and biking paths and on one of the paths, we came to this interesting wood carving:
If you put your hand in its mouth, and if you have ever told a lie, it is said that it will bite you.
Unfortunately, I did not find out until it was too late!
Just for fun, I’ve added a picture blog which will only feature pictures of Rosebud:
Germans take their Spargel very seriously. What is it, you ask? Why, it is asparagus!
Especially appreciated is the white asparagus. Germans are mad about it when it is in season in the spring. All over the countryside, little asparagus stands have suddenly appeared, making it convenient to buy some fresh asparagus on your way home from work. This afternoon, I stopped by the little stand near our house, as Rosebud and I were coming back from the grocery.
There was some green asparagus, but I opted for the white asparagus this time. The gentleman in the booth was very happy to talk to me about the asparagus and how to prepare it. He even gave me a little brochure from the asparagus farm, Spargelhof Lohner. It’s nice to know that my asparagus is locally grown.
White asparagus has a more delicate flavor than green asparagus. If you think that green asparagus is too bitter, you might like the white asparagus because of its sweeter taste. I believe that it is kept out of direct sunlight to get the white color. The next time I buy asparagus from the little stand, I shall have to ask about that.
Also, white asparagus needs to be peeled because the stalk is tougher than the thinner green variety.
I put my asparagus in a special pot, which our German friend Rafael gave us a few years ago. It has a wire basket which you can see in this picture. The wire basket doesn’t work very well for the green asparagus, because of how thin it is, but the basket it ideal for white asparagus.
The asparagus vendor suggested I cook the asparagus for about twenty minutes in water, with a bit of butter, salt and a pinch of sugar. I decided to use a bit of honey instead of the sugar. I also made a citrus glaze to drizzle on top of the asparagus. It was delicious!
One of the many reasons why Bavaria is a popular tourist destination, especially upper Bavaria, is because of its natural beauty. It’s a paradise for nature lovers. Within a half hour of our house, you can go paragliding, hiking, climbing, cycling, swimming, sailing, ice-skating, skiing (alpine and nordic), camping, sledding, horseback riding, and I am sure I am forgetting other sports.
We had what felt like a long, cold, snowy winter, but fortunately the weather has really warmed up in the past two weeks. I enjoyed the snow and the cold, but it feels equally wonderful to soak up the abundant sunshine we’ve enjoyed of late.
Our first truly sunny day came at the beginning of April, after weeks and weeks of grey skies. We took advantage of the warm weather by making a trip to the alpine lake called Walchensee*. The Walchensee area is breathtaking. Not far from Walchensee is Kochelsee, another fabulous alpine lake which we visited last summer. Here’s a good factoid: Walchensee is one of the deepest and largest lakes in Germany. I joked that perhaps it has its own type of Loch Ness Monster.
Typical of the alpine lakes, the water is crystalline blue. The color of the water and the clarity never ceases to amaze me! Along the lake are many little fishing houses. Some of them are privately owned, and others offer visitors the option to rent a boat to go out on the lake. In this picture, you can see just how blue the water is.
We mostly walked around the town of Walchensee since I had Rosebud with me, and our friend Jeremy had his daughter Abi with him. Abi (two years old) and Rosebud love playing together. In fact, I am told that on some mornings when Abi wakes up, the first thing she asks is if she will get to spend the day with Rosebud. Here they are, cuddling with me on a bench by the lake:
The lake is even more spectacular because of the surrounding mountain scenery.
I liked this sign by the side of the lake (sorry, dogs, as refreshing as the lake is, you are not allowed to go for a swim).
As you can see from the pictures, there was still a good amount of snow left on the ground. The lake is fed by snowmelt and alpine streams. Rosebud was fascinated by the water from one of the streams.
When we visited the tourist office, we learned that the Walchensee has been featured in paintings and the location has been used for films. Rosebud and I decided to take advantage of the spectacular background for our photo shoot. 😉
I really enjoyed our walk by the lake, as did Rosebud.
There are many more alpine lakes to discover. I can’t wait to see as many of them as I can. I hope to return to Walchensee again, because there are a number of excellent trails for hiking, biking and walking. I believe there’s also a cable car to one of the mountain peaks by the lake. And, come high summer, I hope to go for a swim in the lake even though the water is chilly.
*Language note: in German, der See means lake; if the word is die See, a feminine noun, it means sea or ocean.