Monday, May 31, 2010

Mittenwald - Southern German Alps

The Bavarian Alps are only a two hour train south of Munich. During the trip we leave the flat lands of the Isar River with their tractors and ploughed fields. Train stations lose their neat and tidy look and in several towns the yards are filled with large logs waiting for transport to sawmills. As we close on the mountains steep pastures and colourful villages like Mittenwald - at first I thought this might mean "in the middle of the bush" but later on a map I noticed both an east forest and west forest so Mittenwald actually is just the forest in the middle.

Mittenwald is a conservative rural community, vividly Catholic in their house paintings and staunchly holding to their values. When I entered stores or restaurants the greeting was always "Grusze Gott", or God's greetings to you. Georg, at the Deutsches Museum, commented that the religious influence of the German Reformation got no further west or south than the Rhine and Danube rivers. Not a hydrological barrier, rather the old boundary of the Roman Empire. South of the line cities remained powerful and conservative social forces maintained the old order through the Middle Ages and into the present. Beyond, in the wilds of the north, who knows what might happen!

Spring was well in place during my visit. The forests were emerald and as I hiked up the mountain I heard the most marvelous tinkling sound, rather like a waterfall. However as I closed on it the noise became a most ribald cacophony, a herd of goats, each belled, munching their way along the hill slope. It was lovely to hear.

Towering above the town are the Alps, just beyond is Austria.

On my way back to Munich I stopped to visit a friend who took me to his lake side local, where beer and freshly caught and barbequed mackerel were on the table for my last supper on this trip. We dined across the water from one of the small, but no less eccentric, palaces of "Mad" King Ludwig.

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