The Bavarian region is rich; rich with imposing mountains, clear lakes, rural farms and red-roofed churches. The Bavarian Alps with dimensions of an all encompassing proportion, towering conifers and jagged peaks reaching shadowy heights, make up most of Upper Bavaria – a region of inexplicable beauty, unaffected by the threats of time and human civilisation. In this part of the world, it is peaceful and quiet; there is tranquility in the gentle waters and the green is greener than the rolling meadows in springtime. Wild, untamed and free, Bavaria hosts some of the most beautiful glacial lakes, nestled at the foothills of the Alpine ranges. With the passing of time, word has spread of the many picturesque locations, and this in turn has drawn travellers such as myself to the premises of three of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria.
Königssee or the lake of the Bavarian kings is a glacial lake located in the Berchtesgaden national park, close to the Austrian border. Königssee is known for its emerald green colour; enclosed by formidable mountains on all sides, these surrounding craggy limestone rock cliffs form glassy reflections in its crystal clear waters. A wonder of planet Earth, Königssee is abundant in natural beauty and rivals the fjords of Norway and the lochs of Scotland in more ways than one. In an endeavour to keep the lake pristine, electric boats carry travellers to the hidden islands, otherwise inaccessible to the public on foot.
I hopped onto the boat and watched it make its way past verdant shores and through narrow and wide water passages, deep into the heart of the lake. As soon as the pier vanished from our sight, a profound silence descended upon us and we were taken in by the enticing landscape and the sight and sound of the cascading waterfalls. The heart-throbbing silence was broken by the sound of a flugelhorn that one of the boatmen blew; the protruding slopes of the hills reverberated the tune of the horn which produced a faint echo that became louder and louder with every passing second. I listened in earnest and must have fallen asleep to the enchanting melody, only to wake up and find that the boat was arriving towards the shores of St. Bartholomew.
The onion shaped domes and the white washed walls of St. Bartholomä sits on the western shores of Lake Königssee. Built in the 12th century, this Roman Catholic church is dedicated to St. James, St. Catherine and St. Bartholomew. The interiors of the church are built in a Baroque style and is loosely modelled on the cathedral at Salzburg. The church is in complete isolation from the neighbouring towns and can only be reached by boats or through an arduous hike over the surrounding woodlands.
The clear blue skies, the evergreen trees and the misty mountains reminded me of all things pure and good in the world. Idling away my time on the gleaming grasslands, I closed my mind to all things that weigh me down and lived the moment just as it was. Too exhausted after my adventure at the Untersberg, I thought it wise to leave the popular hike to the Eiskapelle (ice chapel) for another day. At that moment in time, I was happy and contended; just to be near the mountains.
In the summer months, the boat leaves St. Bartholomew and sails onwards towards the Salet pier which leads to the enchanted Lake Obersee. After walking for 15 minutes, I reached the lake; what lay in front of me took my breath away! I’ve had my fair share of travels but never have I ever witnessed the power of creation in such magnificence and glory. Through my eyes, I was living my fairy tale dream. Now that I’ve seen Lake Obersee, I know what paradise looks like!
When words fail, emotions take over; at Obersee, I felt a sudden rush of awe and wonder flowing in my veins. It held me spellbound as I waited and watched the scenery in a thoughtful silence. If this is how Bavaria welcomes me in my first visit, I wonder what the rest of the state has in store!
Enamoured by the ravishing beauty of the Bavarian lakes, I planned another trip to Bavaria, this time during the fall season. Around an hour’s distance from Munich lies Scloß Neuschwanstein, also known as the Walt Disney castle. Sitting on a high hill with the entire landscape in sight, I gathered my thoughts and penned down a Christmas letter to an old pal of mine. As the letter draws inspiration from the castle, the fall colours and the nearby lake Alpsee, I have decided to share parts of it –
Dear L -,
Greetings from Neuschwanstein! This one is from another one of my travels and this time, I write to you from Bavaria in Deutschland. This was one of those unexpected journeys that I had to plan in a jiffy. To you, who know me so well, my impulsiveness with regards to travelling must come as no shock or surprise! In spite of all your caution, I haven’t changed much in this regard; I am still a slave of recklessness and restlessness – ever ready to escape from routine and set foot into unknown lands and unforeseen situations.
As for Bavaria, up until now, I was blissfully ignorant of the landscape in this part of the world. Now that I have unearthed the secrets of this beauteous land, I have fallen in love with this newly found paradise. It’s as if the key to Pandora’s box has been found and the box opened. Only this time, the box has led me to a beautiful kingdom – robed in grandeur, untainted by man and governed by the laws of the last ice age.
It is already October and Fall has painted the leaves in red, yellow and orange. The hills are craggy brown and Lake Alpsee looks bluer than ever. The daylight hours lessen with each passing day and it is already colder than usual. Winter is on its way…
And as I lie in wait for the harsh winter months, my thoughts go back to last summer when the two of us were fantasising over the picture – perfect Neuschwanstein. I remember how you expressed your fondness for the style and architecture of the castle, and how you wished that one of us would send the other letters and pictures of the same. Life has finally brought me here, and sitting on a flat rock above a high hill, I can only think of how much you would have loved being here. King Ludwig the second had commissioned this masterpiece in honour of Richard Wagner, the composer but was unable to see its completion owing to his sudden death. Built in a Romanesque style, the castle is romantic to the core.
Once the magic of autumn draws to a close, Europe will be submerged in long months of darkness. Then all that is left to do, is wait for Christmas. The mistletoe and the holly wreath will already be on my doorstop by the time you receive this letter. My neighbour has shared a ginger – bread recipe with me and I intend to try my luck at it. I hope it won’t end in a complete disaster like our failed brownies!
So here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas from across the miles.
May your days be merry and bright –
May all your Christmases be white !
Your one and only,
Merry Christmas to all followers of the The Ecstatic Storyteller! Lots of love and God bless.