Saturday, September 1, 2018

What The #@*&!! Happened on the A-95?


The good news is that after 60 straight hours it finally stopped raining for a few minutes. The bad news is that it happened while we were stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour.

Greetings from the Garmisch portion of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, our home base for the next two days, a place we didn't know if we'd actually reach today. We were about 11 kilometers out of town on the one main road that heads into this alpine city when local firefighters told us to exit because of something up ahead. We did that, only to find ourselves in that aforementioned traffic jam, which crawled along for over a kilometer until we reached another set of firefighters who turned us around and made us find our own route in a town with only one major road going into it.

Luckily, Loraine's old school. She still carries paper maps with her. So while my GPS was freaking out and telling us to get back on the now-closed freeway, Loraine figured out that we could take an alternate route that would wind us along a lake, up & down a mountain, and through small villages. We finally got to Garmisch, a couple of hours late and highly disappointed we lost the time, but we still arrived here safely, where a dinner of beer and cereal eaten out of a wine glass awaited us.

Yup. We know how to live.

As for what closed the main road, I as of yet have no idea. But I have two theories. One is that it has rained so much here the past few days that a landslide may have closed the road. We are in the mountains, after all., The other is that one of the drivers zooming past us on a wet yet speed limit-free autobahn ended up doing something stupidly spectacular. I have no idea if it was either of those, or something completely different.

But if I do find out I'll let you know.

Other than that, we did have a very interesting (albeit very wet) day once again following in the footsteps of this dude--

It's weird. From everything Loraine's told me about him and from everything I've learned about King Ludwig II the past few days, it's almost like he's become alive, in a sense. That, even though he's been dead for 132 years. And it doesn't seem like I'm unique in that particular sense; after all, he does have streets named after him--

His picture's on mailboxes--

And he even has his picture painted on houses around here, as well.

We also took a ferry boat over to an island on Starnberger See (Lake Starnberger) called Roseninsel, or Rose Island. It's where Ludwig's dad built one of their many summer homes, and where Ludwig  himself actually entertained a few people, or at least entertained them before he decided he wanted to be as far away from people as humanly possible.

There were very few people on both the ferry ride over and the island itself, and when they discovered we didn't speak German they all went out of their way to make us feel welcome and at home. That includes the college student who translated for us on the ride to the island, the lady who gave us a tour in English, even though she spoke very little of it, and the ferry driver on the way back, who hopes to make his way to Boston next summer to win a bet and be treated to a baseball game at Fenway Park.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. And something like this really goes against the grain of the stereotype of German people, the one that says they're all cold & aloof & humor-free. The people we met today were anything but. So maybe, just maybe, and if only because it kept everyone else away from the island, we should thank the never-ending rain for that.

Even though I'm personally loathe to do so.

The one other place we stopped before the traffic snafu was the place where Ludwig mysteriously died in 1886, on the other side of Starnberger See from Roseninsel. After being deposed and placed under house arrest in June of that year, he was allowed to go for a walk one rainy night with his shrink. A few hours later, their dead bodies were discovered in a mere two feet of water, in the spot where the smaller of these two crosses sits--

The “official” report was that Ludwig drowned in those two feet of water, but he was an excellent swimmer. The authorities never allowed an autopsy on his body, and the fact that his watch stopped almost an hour and a half before the watch found on the body of his shrink has led to all kinds of wild conspiracy theories, most of which involved his actually being murdered, either at the hands of his family, the Bavarian government, the Prussian government, or a combination thereof.

We'll probably never know how he actually died. But the fact that he died so young (40) and so mysteriously probably plays into the mythology that surrounds him. Much like James Dean or Elvis, his early death never allowed him to grown old & frail. You only know of him in his prime.

A prime that ended on the shore of that lake.

After that we hopped in the car for our slightly extended journey here, but before that happened we ran across this--

Yup. That IS what you think it is below the note, which reads (as much as I could figure out using an English-German dictionary) “I bought this bag at a store so you wouldn't have to touch your dog's waste. Please keep our roadway clean. Thank you!”

Germans. Not only can they be friendly if the occasion warrants, but they can also be passive-aggressively polite to a fault, as well!

Finally, two more good things that have happened in the past 24 hours. First of all, the musical last night was AMAZING. Just ask Loraine and her new boyfriend!

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the production was incredible. I've never been to a Broadway play, but I highly doubt that they could do anything that topped this. The acting and singing (especially from Loraine's new boyfriend) was top-notch, the technical work was amazing (they even had a miniature Starnberger See, the lake in which Ludwig was killed built into the stage), and even though we had little idea as to what they were saying, we were able to follow along with the story (thanks to Loraine's research into the king) and we both left the theater humming along with the music.

It was a great evening. And to top it off, the star of the show, Loraine's new boyfriend Jan Amann, even bowed in our direction during his curtain call.

I'd like to think he was as enchanted with Loraine in that dress as was I.

Finally, no matter what went wrong today nor how matter how wet it's been since Thursday morning, our entire trip has now been worth it.

Hi, my name is Jim, and I'm a cowloholic.


Sadly, the rain (which has not yet returned in any major form) has led us to cancel one of the major planned events of this trip, the full-day hike we had planned for tomorrow, the hike up to one of Ludwig's hunting lodges high on a nearby mountain top. It's a bit of a bummer; I was really looking forward to hitting the trails like a real German, spending the day getting a great workout and putting our now oft-used rain jackets to the purpose for which we bought them, hiking through a gorge with a waterfall on the way up to the lodge. But people who know the area say it's probably not that safe after this much rain.

Bummer. Guess we'll have to go look at another castle instead.

So with hopes that your skies are clear and your roads remain traffic jam free...

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