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A touch of Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Austria Farm

Austria Farm

By Daryl L. Hunter

I tried to touch Bavaria once but my first attempt to get to Germany from Austria in 2014 was met with failure because of a closed tunnel. A closure that was clearly marked for dozens of kilometers at every round about: however, not knowing the language, I couldn’t read the signs. I did though get to explore a beautiful part of Austria I otherwise would have never seen.

During my 2017 sojourn of southern Europe, I wanted to make sure I got my touch of Bavaria so instead of driving into it for hours as was my intention in 2014, I got a room there so I had to be more diligent about really arriving. My previous four-hour window to visit Germany was ill conceived. A day isn’t enough either but we will take what we can.

 Weißensee Lake ussen Germany

Weißensee Lake Fussen Germany

I rented a room for next to nothing on beautiful Weißensee Lake outside of the village of Fussen, the inn chosen for its possibility of beautiful sunrise photos,  was as Bavarian cute as it could be, with the Fräulein inn keeper wearing the traditional dirndl, yep; I’m in Bavaria now.

As usual my wife Sharon and I hastily unpacked, then promptly headed out to Neuschwanstein Castle, the photo goal of my Bavarian trek. As a photographer I’m horrible about not taking the time, of which I have none, to enjoy the beautiful and cute inns I stay in along the way. Inn keepers don’t understand photographers eithe, gone before dawn and skipping the beautiful breakfasts that are often included with these country inns.

I know, I know Neuschwanstein Castle is a characterization of castles. Built into the side of one of the Bavarian Alps, the setting couldn’t be any better. Despite its Disney Land cheesiness, it is a great looking building in an unbelievable place and I wanted it in my portfolio. The builder King Ludwig wanted a fairy tail castle and he got one much to the chagrin of his over taxed subjects. It was built in the 19th century in southern Bavaria near the border of Austria, in a time when castles no longer had strategically and defensive purposes. So it was more of a monument mansion to King Ludwig like William Randolph Hurst’s monument mansion to himself in California.   At least William Randoff monument wasn’t funded from a government treasury. Regardless, both are great photo fodder, if not de facto castles.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

When I go to scout a location first I spend hours studying it on the internet, where to shoot from, what angles are best etc, to increase my chance of success with, oh so often, the too short of time I have allotted to complete the task. My traveling budget isn’t really a traveling budget at all; it is nothing more than wishful thinking + plastic.

Most of the photos I had seen were looking at the castle from above, to the valley below.   This view excluded the awesome Bavarian Alps to the west.   There were very few that did include them. This is because the best vantage point is hard to find.

Sharon wanted a tour of the castle and I merely wanted to get some photos of it so I dropped her off at the ticket office, I then set out to find the vantage point of my wishes. I knew I wanted to shoot from the east to the west so east I went, At the base of the cable car I scanned the landscape and I couldn’t find the vantage access I had read about, I walked and I looked, I walked and I looked then I saw it. A car driving down the mountain on I road I couldn’t see. I found my path.

Tyrolean Cows

Tyrolean Cows

It took awhile to achieve the desired elevation; however, I was happy to have a tiny road of switchbacks instead of the bushwhack up the mountain I was contemplating before seeing the road.

Upon my arrival at the vantage point of my desire, I was very thankful for the due diligence I invested to get to where I would achieve a castle shot with the magnificent Bavarian Alps behind. I did now know that I must return to capture the same scene in winter.

With my castle shot in the bag, I drove around the valley bottom to look and shoot the beautiful pastoral farmland with their quintessential Tyrolean cows wearing bells and beautiful churches scattered about. Bavaria is awesome.

Lech River, Fussen Germany

Lech River, Fussen Germany

After picking up Sharon it was time to go explore the town of Fussen, if the castle was made to resemble a fairy tail, Fussen wasn’t much different. Europe is just amazing, each little ancient fiefdom across the continent has its own personality, I wish I had the time and the pocketbook to explore them all.

The Lech River was a great foreground element for the Abbeys and other ancient architectural wonders along the river. Downtown was a great throwback in time, the main street was wisely turned into a pedestrian mall with outdoor cafes scattered about the wide cobblestone avenue. Sharon and I started some dinner while waiting for blue hour when I planned on photographing this cute little avenue.   While shooting the pedestrian mall the owner of the restaurant saw that I was getting some photos of his hotel/restaurant and offered to comp me our meals in return if I emailed him the photos – Done J The only thing that could of made those German noodles better was to turn them into a comp.

Old Town Fussen Germany.

Old Town Fussen Germany.

The following morning I got my sunrise photos of the lake at the hotel then it was time to set off for the Matterhorn in southern Switzerland.

Bavarian Countryside

Bavarian Countryside

The route took us west across the bottom of Bavaria and I was struck by the rural charm and the picture perfect villages along the way. I could have taken the Autobahn and saved some time and experienced the crazy roadway I had been hearing about for decades, but reluctantly my inner explorer won out and we took the slow scenic route and I’m glad I did. The light was to flat for good photography because of a steady drizzle but the looking and seeing was good.

My superficial touch of Bavaria made me hungry for more. It was now time for my superficial tough of Switzerland.

 

I lead photo tours

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