Now that that's out of the way and the gods of the EU bureaucracy are (hopefully) appeased, on with the travelogue!
Last time, we traveled from the Black Forest to Neuschwanstein, in Bavaria. That covers quite a bit of distance, and in between we did make a few other stops. I saved those for this post, to keep everything organized by theme and so I could use this awesomely punny post title.
First, to catch up with a couple of things. That night in the Black Forest, we stayed in Hornberg, in a hotel up on top of a hill.
Since we'd had a big meal at the open air museum, most of us didn't feel like eating that evening. But I was hungry and so were my youngest brother and his wife (R&C), so I grabbed my husband and we drove back down the hill to a charming little restaurant, where we had a wonderful meal. The salad dressing was especially good. My brother and I were trying to figure out what it was made with. Some kind of nutty-tasting oil. Anyway, it was yummy, and we had a wonderful time. That was one of the best things about the trip, going off together with one of the other couples or one or two of our siblings and just spending quality time together.
So we had dinner and drove back up to the hotel, and that night were treated to a thunderstorm over the mountains. In the morning, this was the view from the breakfast room at the hotel:
So we drove on our way, through the forests and mountains and valleys and on out of the Black Forest. My husband got to drive on those winding little roads. Not exactly the Autobahn, but its own sort of challenge. We stopped for lunch somewhere, might have been Sigmaringen, which has a really cool castle but we didn't see it except from the cars as we drove by. Anyway, it was in a town near the headwaters of the Danube River. After lunch at a little bakery (I had a Schwabische Pizza, a soft pretzel topped with tomato sauce, pepperoni, and cheese), we walked down to the riverbank and saw these swans. Which seemed just perfect, swans on the Danube River.
And then on to the first of two famous Baroque/Roccoco style churches on our itinerary, Ottobeuren Abbey, built 1737-1766. (Pictures first, then commentary)
Then the next day, on our way to Neuschwanstein, we stopped at the second church, Die Wieskirche (or Church in the Meadow), built 1745-1754.
Probably the thing you notice most about these pictures is how ornate these churches are. All the art, all the statues, all the carvings, all the ornamentation, all the shinies. Kind of like music from the same period, by composers such as Bach and Handel. The melody is there and the harmony is there, but it's very heavily ornamented. Some people think it's all a bit overdone. But I love this style. There's so much detail to look at, you could spend days seeing every little thing. The real beauty, though, is when you step back and take in the whole. The color palettes, the motifs, the themes of the artwork and lines and balance of the ornamentation all blend harmoniously to make a glorious, awe-inspiring, and (to me, at least) spiritually uplifting whole. The architects and artists who created these buildings had a vision, and they didn't hold back on it. Kind of like with Mad King Ludwig and his fairy-tale castle. He had a vision of something wonderful he wanted to create and he went for it.
And I just think it's really pretty :D And these happy cows living near the Wieskirche agree with me.
To me, these churches (and Neuschwanstein) say, If you have a vision of something beautiful you want to create, go for it. Don't hold back because you're afraid someone might think you're crazy or have bad taste. Go big or go home. Sydney or the bush, as they used to say in the old Peanuts strips. Go for broke. (But don't spend your entire personal fortune and wind up deeply in debt, floating in the lake with your "doctor.") Make something that will make someone stop and catch their breath and go "Ah!" (even if it's you.) And it doesn't have to be Art. Anything of beauty - a family, an enterprise, a tradition, a legacy of kindness. Go for it.
I love this quote: "We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
~ Marianne Williamson
Next time: Into the East, part 1. (yes, I'm skipping some more; I'll get to everything in time)
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