I did not want to leave Rothenburg as there was more to see. Granted I could say that about most of the places we visited on this trip. Stephanie kept reminding us this was a taste of Europe. We left for Dachau to visit the first Nazi concentration camp memorial. Due to time constraints, we had a very short time here. I had a hard time processing all the emotions and things I was learning while walking all over the camp. Our local guide Achim was the spitting image of one of my friends back home. They could have been brothers.
Holy cow, this place was huge. There were only 2 of the 34 prisoner barracks remaining. Achim said no one ever escaped. We visited the barrack yard, the crematorium area with the gas chambers, and saw the various memorials. We had twenty minutes to explore on our own before, so we looked at the highlights in the museum area.
We arrive for lunch at Andechs Abbey, the home of a beautiful Rococo church. We hiked up to see the church first and then off the beer hall. Klosterbrauerei Andechs is a monastic brewery well known for its Andechser beers. The brewery is still run by the Benedictine monks. I finally got one of those huge pretzels and a deep-fried roast beef-something was equal parts salty and amazing.
The “White Church” is a Rococo masterpiece. Set in a valley where pilgrims came to see a statue of the Scourged Saviour that wept tears. My sister, who had been here before, said this was her favorite church. It was lovely.
Our last stop in Bavaria was the King’s Castles. I didn’t know if we were hiking up to the castle or taking the bus to Neuschwanstein Castle. To have time to take photos at the Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge) we took the bus. For dad’s sake I’m glad we did as it was a hike. Mom said it felt like Aunt Cheri was trying to kill her hiking up to this castle when they visited in the 60’s. A large group of Asian tourists took the bus with us, and I learned about their view of personal space when a small woman decided to snuggle up to me and rest against my backside. That was a new experience for me. We got to the bridge and I thought it was going to be more sturdy. However, it was a suspension bridge with an amazing view. I forgot to shoot a photo of the bridge from behind or from the castle. It was a bit of a hike to the entrance point.
It was such an amazing place. The forest was lush and pastoral. King Ludwig commissioned Neuschwanstein Castle (New Swanstone Castle) as both an homage to Richard Wagner, the composer, and as his personal retreat. King Ludwig was a romantic at heart and he decked out the inside of his castle with the most beautiful murals. They appeared to be in a Pre-Raphaelite style with subject matter taken from Wagner’s operas and mythology. Unfortunately, only a third of the castle was finished before the king’s murder. But weeks after he passed, people were paying admission to get into the castle. To this day it is the most visited German tourist site. Sadly there were no photos allowed inside. It was a short tour, but it was beautiful. We stopped by the cafe and noticed there was a terrace. What a gorgeous view.