You know, we almost didn’t make it to Füssen (southern Germany). As we were approaching the Italian-Austrian border, in fact, I realized I’d forgotten my U.S. passport at home. And I didn’t have a copy of my permanent visa, either. Aaaagh! I couldn’t believe I’d been so bloody forgetful. But by then it was way too late to turn back. We’d just emerged from a lonnnnng stretch of bumper-to-bumper traffic and were absolutely pooped. When I confessed my stupidity to Stefano, he announced that he’d abandon me at the border, so I’d have to go back to Florence alone…by train (oh, he wouldn’t have done that, of course!!!…Hmmm…at least, I don’t think he would have!!! 😉 ).
I began digging frantically through my wallet and purse, and, LUCKILY!, discovered that my original Italian drivers’ licence was (sort of!) valid for travel inside the European Community… Incidentally, by “original” I mean that my licence is still the original paper document I received when I first passed my driver’s test at age 19 here in Italy. We’re talking…more than 30 years ago!
I suppose that wouldn’t be unusual, except that my licence photo hasn’t changed in all these years, so I’m still, uhmmm, a gorgeous 19-year-old with long blonde hair. Funny how here in Italy you can still LEGALLY look like you did decades ago… 🙂
At this point, I should mention that you can now opt for a modern electronic drivers’ licence (credit card format, with a photograph and a microchip). In fact, Stefano has one of those. But a couple of years ago, when I renewed my licence, I chose to keep my old paper licence. No reason, really…Anyway, as it turned out, that was an amazingly good decision on my part, since this paper document doesn’t say it can’t be used to travel inside the European community…whereas if I’d opted for the new licence, I couldn’t have left Italy on Thursday afternoon…as we will see in a sec…
So we kept driving…
But, after passing through the last toll booth before hitting Austria, we got flagged down by an Italian police officer at a RANDOM checkpoint.
Bloody hell!!! And sure enough, when Stefano rolled down his window, the policeman asked for our documents. He then took them over to a colleague who immediately got on the phone. Here we go, I thought, I’m screwed now…our holiday is going to end right here, and I’ll have some splainin’ to do…
But then, after what seemed like hours, the first policeman finally walked back to our car, handed back our documents and wished us a nice trip. PHEW! What a scare!
We’d decided to spend our holiday in Bavaria mainly to visit King Ludwig’s castles. I have to admit, though, that we were a bit disappointed. Perhaps our expectations had just been too high. Although, truth be told, a couple of unfortunate circumstances didn’t help matters:
1. The first castle we visited (also the most famous), Neuschwanstein Castle, was under partial renovation, as you can see if you look really closely at the first two photos (on the right in the first photo; on the left in the second). So all of our shots, even those taken from Marienbrücke (= Mary’s Bridge, second photo), have what appears to be a big bandage on one side…not that attractive, eh…
2. The main castle would have looked much much MUCH better if it had been shrouded in snow. But it didn’t snow at all during our stay. Not even one flake. 🙁
While we were a bit disappointed by Neuschwanstein Castle, we instead quite liked Linderhof, the only castle that was completed before Ludwig died (under mysterious circumstances, all the guides told us, almost in a whisper…). Linderhof is shown in photo number 3, depicted above with my inseparable MM buddy, Honey. Same colours, too!
Personally, I think this castle should be visited in the spring or summer, when the unattractive wood boxes protecting the statues and central fountain in the garden get removed. And that is also when you can visit the Venus grotto, which is closed during the winter. Sigh…
Linderhof’s Hall of Mirrors. Now that got a big “wow” out of me. The mirrors are placed in such a way as to give the illusion of a never ending hallway. Extraordinary. I wish I could have taken a photo…bummer.
The following day, Saturday, was rainy, foggy and icky. Before breakfast, we asked our hostess if she had any suggestions as to what we could do. She marked a couple of places on a map but recommended that we check out the city of Ulm’s Gothic cathedral and its large Xmas market. So, even though Ulm wasn’t exactly around the corner from Füssen (about a 1.5 hour drive), off we went.
Ulm is famous mainly for two things, as far as I know: it has the tallest church steeple in the world, and it’s where Albert Einstein was born. But as much as I enjoyed the peace and quiet inside the gigantic cathedral, I couldn’t wait to get outside and walk around the cheery and bright Xmas market located in the square in front of it. The atmosphere was one of delirious happiness. Infectious…in a good way, of course!
The market was packed to the brim with people, so much so that it was difficult to walk around and have a look at all the stalls…more than a hundred, I think.
But everyone was happy and cheerful and courteous and not pushy and “shovey” at all…perhaps in part thanks to the copious amounts of mulled wine or some sort of hot spicy and clearly alcoholic beverage being carried around in mugs everywhere 🙂 I’m actually sorry now that I didn’t try any, but since I don’t know more than a couple of words of German I thought I’d better stick to ordering (or rather, gesturing towards!) something simpler…
And so Stefano and I ate a couple of sausages. I know, I know, I know! But just for a few hours I forgot all about hygiene (I didn’t even whip out my hand sanitizer, fancy that!) and being food-conscious…
The main food items being served at the Ulm Xmas market were sausages of all sorts (see photo), so in the end I just went for it. Besides, I can assure you that none of the food vendors were selling plates of broccoli seasoned with turmeric and garlic… 😉
Well, I have to admit that I enjoyed my bits of sausage (shared with Stefano, who ate most of it). The Bavarian white sausage or Weisswurst is wonderfully tasty, and we also shared a spicy bratwurst sausage stuck inside a baguette on a bed of chopped horseradish. That was definitely the longest sausage I’ve ever seen in my entire life, even longer than the hot dogs sold in Provincetown, MA…
Anyway, since, as I just mentioned, my German is nonexistent, I ended up pointing to the food, basically saying “ja, bitte” to all the condiments being offered, with no idea what they were…Living dangerously, eh! 🙂
Depending on its dimensions, sausages are put inside a baguette or roll and covered with condiments (if you say “ja, bitte” like I did, that is, hehe) and handed to you on a paper napkin. After paying, you then have to make your way carefully to a less crowded area to eat it. Easier said than done.
Anyway, it was so much fun to watch people making their way through the crowds while holding their sausages and mugs high above their heads. My camera doesn’t take good night photos, unfortunately…so I don’t have any shots of the sausage and mulled wine bearers. You’ll just have to imagine the scene…
Ulm was loads of fun. For me, in fact, it was the best part of our entire trip…And it put me in the holiday spirit, too!
I LOVE the photos! I hope your buddy had a great time. 🙂
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I just returned from my Naturopath today and he suggested I take a product called Wobenzyme N. Do you have any experience with this supplement?
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Please read this first?
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I am amused by your travel account. Since I live in Füssen. I can understand your disappointment. We were just terrible rainy weather.
Now the castle and the city is packed in a thick blanket of snow .Shame that you can not see tthis wondervull view. If you come again to Füssen Maybe we can meet and yes I can show the beauty
Merry CHRISTMAS! I am also bake cookies on.