I don’t know about you but when I think of romantic destinations across the world and honeymoon hot spots, I can’t say I’ve ever really pictured Germany. How easily our pre-conceived notions can mislead us. As we were visiting the Munich Christmas Market, we decided to venture out of town for a day to visit Bavaria and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
Whose idea this actually was is a contentious issue. I generally think of myself as the ideas person in the marriage – the dreamer and the procrastinator. Pumpkin is all practicality. He gets things done and actions my plans. So I’m adamant it was my idea to go and that he arranged it. Who knows and who cares? Either way, I was astounded at just how beautiful Bavaria is and had we had a winter wedding, I now stand firm that this would rank up there with the best of them for alternative honeymoon destinations.We organised a fabulous trip with Pure Bavaria Tours – an independent, one-man show founded, driven and guided by a local Bavarian gentleman by the name of Mario – in my opinion, these are the best type of tours. Had we ventured to Neuschwanstein ourselves or opted for a train tour, we would have been taken straight to the castles thus missing out on these beautiful churches and the glimpse into Bavarian village life.
This Catholic Church was built at the end of Baroque period. From the outside, you’ll notice a sundial on the church tower and the architecture seems simple and understated – you’ll take a few photos and then you wonder if you’ll forget it. There is an alarming sense of paradox, therefore, when you walk in and see just how intricate and ornate the interior of the church is. Unlike many of the neo-Gothic churches, there is no stained glass here.The church is light and airy with whitewash walls and pillars and stunning biblical paintings. Shades of whites, yellows and pastel pinks predominate, reminiscent almost of a baby’s nursery with gilded sculptures at the altar, as with most Catholic churches. Unlike the neighbouring Weis Church, this one is not Unesco-listed and therefore less densely populated with tourists. I loved them both but perhaps this one took the edge for me, slightly off the beaten track and it was difficult to surpass that sense of being awestruck when we first walked in here with no real expectations.
Wies Church is larger and was declared in 1983 to be a world heritage site by UNESCO. Built in the 1700s by the famous Zimmerman brothers, who were famed for designing and building beautiful churches, this Rococo church took 4 years to complete. The brothers actually lived about 55km from the area and were therefore put up in a small house next to the church, whilst they got to work on it and you can see this beautiful cottage next to the church .Although they had a team of workers supporting them, the younger of the Zimmerman brothers hand painted the ceiling of this church entirely by himself. When you see the height of it and imagine how this was done in the pre-electricity era, you cannot help feel utterly inspired at what talent he had and what we as humans were capable of without the assistance of any of the gadgets we all depend on so much nowadays. If you look up to the upper deck, you’ll spot a beautiful white organ, which took 750 000 Euros and 5 years to restore.
As we drove through Bavaria, the low sun glistened on a blanket of snow, as if dusted with crushed, crystal confetti. I remember when I first got engaged, how I spent months just looking at my new bit of bling, gleefully, repeating “it’s so sparkly” – I was like an over-excited child and was something of a stuck record but that morning in Bavaria, looking at the shimmery white ground beneath us, that same phrase resonated.
We drove down hill on a country road, which was lined with ice-topped conifers, slender and impressive. It was like Narnia but with the undulating Alps in the distance, interrupted only by their staccato peaks. My friends, who ski (so in fact, most of my friends) often tell me about “good snow”, a phrase which sounds strange to those of us who don’t ski. We don’t talk about good rain and bad rain or good sun and bad sun so I remember always being perplexed. But to me, in my non-skiiing world, what we saw in Bavaria that day was good snow. Great snow. Perfect in fact.
We traversed several traditional Bavarian villages with small thatched houses with their snow topped rooves so uniform that you almost wonder if they were built that way. There were layers of log wood in all directions. The village dog, well known to all the guides, turned his head towards us with a courteous if passive acknowledgement, unfazed by the strange faces, conditioned I imagine after years of visitors. We saw a few donkeys and horses peering their heads out of small stables in the villages.
It was fascinating to hear that the term or even concept of organic food doesn’t really exist here in the farms of Bavaria as this form of pesticide free, natural farming has been practiced here for generations, without any such labels. If you haven’t already fallen in love with the idea of Bavaria, then my descriptions need improvement and you’ll have to take that up with me not Bavaria but my final persuasion tactic would be to tell you about the Cheese House we stopped in for lunch. Dairy farms are rife in Bavaria and we were treated to a platter of locally produced fresh cheeses of ample varieties including a nutty cheese, a pepper and herb cheese, some soft creamy cheeses.
Fresh white baguette and rye bread slices accompanied the cheese, which was so light and flavoursome and would have set us back a fortune at home. Here, without the costs of transportation, packaging, shipping etc, we paid an extremely measly 3 euros per person for the best cheese I’ve ever tried. There are a few varieties available at a counter if you want to buy some. I was full for hours and it may serve you well to bring your antacids with you!If you are planning a winter wedding and haven’t visited Bavaria, this would be a picturesque and unique honeymoon destination with snow topped villages, locally-made cheese, striking churches, a horse-drawn carriage ride up towards the historic and grand Neuschwanstein castle (blog post pending!) and then a couple of days in Munich for some mulled wine and Christmas lights. You will already be in love with each other and here, you will fall in love with Bavaria.