I arrived in Beilngries on Wednesday afternoon and was picked up by Ben at the train station; we then drove the 12 km to his place, stopping at the store first to grab supplies for dinner. With my bag dumped in a corner, we caught up on what had been going on since we’d last seen each other in Berlin in October. I mentioned that I’d been sledding for the first time only a few days prior, and Ben enthusiastically declared that he loved sledding and we absolutely must. That being the plan, we drove to his parents’ house so that we could borrow their sleds, then returned to Ben’s house to climb the hill behind his house and sled down. Armed with beers… which are of course, the perfect beverage for below freezing weather, we climbed the hill to our starting point. We sat on our respective sleds, drinking and chatting before finally descending. God damn. Sledding is so much fun. If I could go sledding sans the snow… I would just be the happiest girl… I guess that’s why people go ice blocking in AZ though! Once we were at the bottom of the hill it was rapidly getting dark, so we returned to Ben’s via a shortcut through the woods. We had dinner and played backgammon; it’s been AGES since I’ve played, so I needed a reminder about the rules, but I soon had the hang of things. We then decided to head into town to go drinking, which I feel is really just an inevitable decision. The bar had a backgammon board, so we continued our battle, betting drinks on our victories. I then proceeded to lose every single match. We left the bar and continued to drink Jaeger (do you remember how I’ve mentioned in the past the fact that I seriously dislike anise-seed flavored liquors) over even more backgammon. The amount that I drank over the course of the night was epic, and I am amazed that I didn’t get sick. After I had had enough, I put myself to bed.
I awoke on Thursday with a splitting headache, and in conversation with Ben, discovered that I had woken up shortly after putting myself to bed, and we had drank even more… but since the Jaeger was finished by this point, we started doing shots of whiskey… news to me! There is not much to report for Thursday as Ben went to work, and I attempted, in vain, to sleep off my killer headache. Ben had no painkillers to be found, and so I suffered until 9PM… but it’s my own damn fault. I am merely documenting that which occurred.
On Friday, we drove to Murnau, where Ben’s girlfriend, Tanja, lives. We hung out, watched ‘28 Days Later,’ which I had never seen before, and found fantastic, and had a fantastic dinner prepared by Tanja’s friend, Anna. That night Ben, Tanja, Anna, Tanja’s sister Sonja, and Sonja’s fiancé Beni, and I all went to a club that had an electro night on Fridays. I was refused entry because I had forgotten to bring my ID, so Ben and I had to return to Tanja’s apartment so that I could fetch it; luckily it was only a ten minute walk. The club was fun– we danced and drank for hours. I drank far too much Jaeger, which I Beni told me is “Germany’s finest whiskey.” I stayed until 4AM, at which point, I was exhausted, not to mention extremely drunk, and needed to go back to the apartment to sleep. I got to sleep on a waterbed that night, but when I got home and lay on the bed, I was in no fit state to feel like I was at sea, so slept on the floor for a few hours and in the middle of the night relocated to the bed.
On Saturday, Ben and I planned to go to Füssen to see Neuschwanstein Castle. We left around 1PM, taking Sonja’s dog, Emma, with us so that she could get some exercise. Ben couldn’t take the dog into the castle, so because he is amazing, he walked and played with the dog while I toured the inside of the castle. Side note: Neuschwanstein Castle is the castle after which the Disney castle is said to be modeled. The tour was phenomenal and it was, without a doubt, the most incredible castle that I have ever seen. The interior was refined and extraordinarily decadent, yet not gaudy, in my opinion. It featured chapels, a throne room sans a throne, due to the fact that King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the king for whom the castle was being built, died before the castle was completed, secret rooms, secret passages, and one secret passage that has been made into an artificial cave, based on the concept of the Hörselberg, the realm of Venus, from Richard Wagner’s opera ‘Tannhäuser.’ King Ludwig II admired Wagner very much, and subsequently had Neuschwanstein built as a homage to him. This is yet another instance in which I am sad to report that I have no pictures of the inside of the castle because photography was forbidden, but if you take a look at this site, you can take a look at what I got to see firsthand. Take a look at the throne room, it was my favorite! After the tour, I met Ben outside and we walked back down the hill to the parking lot; we had to drop off the pup. With Emma safely home, Ben and I began the long drive back to Beilngries. Once home, the remainder of the night was filled with good music and even more backgammon.
On Sunday, we were lazy and didn’t do much of anything… except play backgammon, of course. We talked about going to a monastery nearby, but by the time that we were ready to go, Tanja had arrived, so we went to go and pick her up. She wasn’t feeling well so we returned to Ben’s and spent the rest of the night just hanging out.
On Monday, Tanja left early as she had school, and Ben had work. I stayed in while Ben went to work, worked on my cross-stitch, and packed my things ready to leave to Munich. Ben had a break between 5PM and 7PM, so in that time, he swung by in order to drop me off at the train station. Time was tight, but we made it because we are speed-racing champions. I took the train to Munich, where I was met by Katharina, Brigitte’s eldest. We drove to a bar to meet a friend of hers for drinks as he was about to leave to study in Israel. We stayed for a while before leaving for a restaurant to meet a few more of her friends for a birthday dinner. After dinner, we went back to Katharina’s and got to catch up and find out about each other’s lives, as the last time we saw each other was in 2001, and much has changed since then!
On Tuesday, we went on a tour of the BMW factory, which was one of the most fascinating things I have gotten to experience in a long time. The automation is on an absolutely stellar scale, with 97% of labor accounted for by robots. The robots were mesmerizing; Katharina and I agreed that we could have watched the all day. Every move was precise and perfect, like a delicately choreographed dance. After the tour, Katharina cooked a delicious lunch. I then had the option of going to explore the city, but instead chose to take a nap, as I was exhausted and unfortunately, beginning to come down with something. I woke up after napping for a few glorious hours, and shortly thereafter, we had dinner. We then walked to the nearest Metro station, and from there I took a series of trains to the airport… making a mistake in routes of course, complete tit that I am. One of the Metro lines diverges into two different routes, the back cars headed to the airport, and the front cars heading to another area within the city. I thought I was in the back cars, but as it turned out, I was not. I then had to get off at the next stop, and wait for the subsequent train, which was twenty minutes late, and then get on the correct train headed for the airport, which didn’t arrive for another half an hour. I made it to the check-in desk with minutes to spare before they closed, and the rest was cake. The journey to London Stansted was thankfully uneventful, but once at Stansted the fun began… but I’ll discuss that party in the next entry.
A town on the way to Neuschwanstein Castle.
The first view of Neuschwanstein Castle
Snow covered trees on the walk up to the castle
The Bavarian Alps
Ben and me in front of the castle
Hohenschwangau Castle, which lies at the foot of the hill where Neuschwanstein stands. King Ludwig II used to live there as a child; unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to tour this castle as well.
The view of the castle as we began our drive home.
It seems I don’t have any pictures from Munich, which is a bummer. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the BMW factory, so my camera got no love. Good times were had though, and with that I was off to the airport!