It has been a couple of weeks since I gave an update. I was all ready to write about my experience at Oktoberfest, but I wound up bringing something back home that was unintended. COVID….
I knew better than to believe someone when they say, “It is only allergies.”, and it did come back to bite me in the behind! I spent four days in bed. After that I tested positive for another 4 days, but I just felt like I was suffering from a bad head cold. It has now been 12 days since I first tested positive, but I am still suffering some of the cold symptoms. The worst, and also my biggest fear, is that I am not able to walk up the hill from the train station without resting at least one time. I had never recovered fully from my first run in with Covid from 2022. I am worried that those long term symptoms will get worse.
I have been very jealous of my wife. She seems immune. She rode in the same elevators with the person who spread the virus, and we both spent about 5 hours driving back from Munich with the same couple who both tested positive the same day I did. She had one day where she “didn’t feel right,” but always tested negative. I am very thankful for her, though. She worked from home all last week, and was able to keep the household running while I was quarantining myself.
Getting sick almost cost seeing my parents. They were on a cruise around Italy and the north east Mediterranean. After the cruise they decided to swing by Zurich for a few days and visit. I felt pretty bad that they had to stay in a hotel, but some good friends made their stay a little more enjoyable. They were traveling with a couple who have a daughter that also lives near Zurich, so THANK YOU Sarah and Francois for entertaining two sets of parents for a couple of days until I tested negative!!!
My parents did give us another example of how awful airlines are. They looked into moving their flight up a few days, but the cost to change their flight would have been MORE than their original tickets. Delta wanted almost $9000 to move a flight up! That is simply ridiculous.
Oktoberfest has been an annual festival that has been happening since 1810. The festival originated as a marriage celebration that lasted five days. The next year the celebration was paired with a state fair. Even in the beginning it was a pretty big event. That second year the festival had over 1800 booths selling food and beer! Each of the Munich brewing companies sets up a tent that can hold about 6000 people each. The multi-week event now draws over 6 million people every year to Munich. The festival goes through about 76,000 hectolitres of beer. For my metrically challenged readers that equates to almost 2 million gallons!
I am really glad I had the chance to visit, but I wish I had done so about 30 years ago. I think I would have been more into showing up at 10 AM and drinking until the next morning when I was in my 20’s. The festival was both everything I thought it would be, and more. I was not expecting the large carnival grounds. I thought the whole thing was going to be beer and food. That makes up a big part, but at least during daylight hours it is truly a family event.
The bier was excellent!!!
One of the places I have wanted to visit is Schloss Neuschwanstein. On our drive back home from Munich the side trip to this area would only add about an hour to the drive; so we decided to make a detour. What we did not account for was the popularity of Neuschwanstein even after the “tourist season” is over. We tried to get tickets for the castle, but none were available. So we called an audible and visited a castle that is only a kilometer or so distant. The castle we visited is Hohenschwangau.
A few posts ago, I explained that I had never learned about the difference between a palace and a castle in my younger days. Well Schloss Hohenschwangau is the exception that proved my rule about the differences.
The castle was built in the 12th century. The castle was originally built for the defense of the area, and it was built by a knight. Over the next couple of centuries the castle became a hunting and vacation lodge. Then in the mid 1700’s the castle was razed by Austrian troops and officially became part of Bavaria. In 1832 Maximillian II bought the land and began to reconstruct the castle. This where the definitions of castle and palace get mixed up. Maximillian II kept the outer walls of the castle, but gutted and remodeled the interior. During this remodeling process the “castle” became a “palace.”
Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximillian and his family. When Maximillian died in 1864 one of his sons took over the throne. The Queen Mother continued to live in the residence. In the mid 1800’s Ludwig decided he needed a bigger palace; so he began construction of the larger and more opulent Neuschwanstein. Today Neuschwanstein is the more famous of the two castles, but that in no way degrades from the opulance of Hohenschwangau.
Unfortunately, this is another place where photos were not allowed inside the building; so I do not have any to share. Every room had very elaborate murals that told stories about Bavarian History. With the murals was some painted text that told the story. I assumed the writing was added in the 1900’s when the castle became a tourist attraction, but our guide corrected me. The writing was done at the time of the painting. Our guide said, legend says the King did not want to explain the story to every visitor so he had the stories put on the walls to lessen his annoyance. :). Another interesting tidbit about the murals. All of the murals were made during the remodeling. The artist NEVER set foot in the castle. He was sent drawing as to the dimensions of the walls, and he created the art and sent it to the workmen. The workmen simply copied his drawings from paper onto the walls.
We will certainly be visiting the area again. I want to see Neuschwanstein before we leave. So this was a good trial run. We learned the crowds are going to be ridiculous so we need to buy our tickets early, and get to the parking lot at first light!
What is coming up?
Well, our season of visitors has come to a close. In our time, in Switzerland, we had more visitors in 2023 than we have had in total the three years before! It was really fun, and hopefully that will continue through next year as well. We are starting to get our next travel plans together, but there really will not be any big trips for the next couple of months. I will be heading back to the US for deer hunting in about three weeks, and then we will both be going back for the Holidays.
Fall is certainly here. I was a little amused to see the traffic around all of the ski shops over the last week. Everyone is getting excited about cold weather and they are getting the skis tuned up for the season.