You never really realize how much you love something until you’re reunited and this weekend I was reunited with snow. I went to Germany to see the Bavarian castles and I found myself in the midst of the first snow of the year. The rain of Galway gave way to big fluffy flakes that reminded me Christmas is rapidly approaching. Peter laughed at me while I stood in the middle of Munich’s main square in all my winter clothing trying to catch a snowflake. Okay, that’s more than enough about the snow. What we really went to Germany for were the castles. Saturday morning we took a train ride across the German countryside to Bavaria, home of the Neuschwanstein castle that inspired Walt Disney. The ride to Bavaria was beautiful in its own right with big blue skies and bright green land with those perfect fluffy white Toy Story style clouds. When we got to Bavaria, we were surrounded by the snow-capped Bavarian Alps and a valley view of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Peter had booked us tour tickets in advance so we were able to enjoy a lunch in the mountains.
We walked up to Hohenschwangau first, the summer residence of the Bavarian royal family. I love the architecture of these castles and the grandeur of the interior design. It was interesting to learn about the history of the royal family, especially Ludweig II. We learned that when he became king at 18, his first goal was to build a grand castle in honor of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein. Surprisingly, Neuschwanstein has never actually been finished, only 17 of the dozens are completed. Ludweig was pronounced insane and died before he could realize his dream. Looking at the castles, it is no surprise that they served as the inspiration for countless fairy tales. As amazing as the castles are, what really took my breath away were the views. The castles are set in the Alps overlooking down with mountains and lakes in the distance. It was sunny with light snowfall and made for a very Disney-like afternoon. After we returned to Munich, we went to a traditional beer hall, Augistiner Keller, for traditional German food and drink. A liter mug is very intimidating, but it was on my bucket list, so it had to be done. Sitting in the beer hall felt like a scene straight out of Beowulf or a Viking novel. The workers were dressed in traditional clothing and the food came out on platers fit for warriors (or very hungry travelers). It definitely felt like we in the midst of German culture.
Munich is a beautiful city and Peter and I really enjoyed taking our time walking around admiring the parks and buildings. We saw the animated figures act out German history to the bells at Marienplatz and took advantage of the student discounts at the museums. We climbed to the top of a cathedral tower and took in the aerial view of the city on the verge of sunset. The Munich Christmas market opens Friday and the entire city seemed to be preparing. Christmas trees, lights, and decorations were everywhere. There was a giant outdoor ice rink right outside of the square and every window showed a brilliant Christmas display. Being in Germany surrounded by Christmas and snow made me all the more excited for Christmas and to meet my family in London on Christmas day.
Back in Galway, we are in our last week of class for the semester. I still cannot wrap my head around how quickly this semester came and went. The Galway Christmas market is open and plans for Thanksgiving are in place. The holidays are officially upon us. Thursday, a group of us are going to attempt to make Thanksgiving dinner. I know there’s no way my stuffing will be as good as when my mom makes it, but I am still thankful for the amazing group of people I have grown close to and am able to celebrate the day with. After dinner, we will be having a Secret Santa exchange and then I am off to the airport to spend a week in Greece. I hope I never lose sight of how amazing it is to be able to travel. Last weekend, I was surrounded by snow and next weekend I will surrounded by sun on the beach.