Bavarian Rhapsody

My job has once again sent me overseas for a while, so it’s time for another series of travelogues from this Ugly American Abroad. Destination–Germany.

Ah, Bavaria in the springtime. It’s almost enough to make me bust out into a yodeling rendition of “The Lonely Goatherd.”

Almost.

It’s very pretty here in the southeast corner of Germany–rolling green hills dotted with wildflowers where they’re not dominated by broad fields of wheat, barley, and hops. Yes, this is beer country, and the citizens are very proud of their local brews. We drive past villages with lofty towers, crumbling stone walls, and onion-domed churches from their medieval past, ringed by functional, boxlike modern buildings. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and there’s a earthy, pungent hint of barnyard in the air which is more homey than unpleasant. Not a bad place to spend a couple of weeks.

Weiden's coat of arms

I’m lodging in the city of Weiden, officially known as Weiden in der Oberpfalz, a bustling little community that extends into the surrounding countryside to cover an administrative area serving around 300,000 people. The town first appears in historical records from 1271, with the first settlements probably established about the year 1000 A.D.

Two major European trade routes intersected at Weiden, which helped fuel its initial growth. These days, it’s known for high-quality porcelain manufactured by the Bauscher and Seltmann companies, and a mail-order house, Witt Weiden, that specializes in bed linens and clothing. The community is perhaps most proud of its favorite son, composer Max Reger, who spent much of his childhood in Weiden and returned there later in life to write music for organ and piano. He was elected Dean of the University of Leipzig in 1907.

So, as I wander and explore in my off-duty time here, I’ll post some pictures of the interesting things I find and write down my thoughts as I try to make sense of the whole experience. Auf Wiedersehen!

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