Back from Bavaria

Just returned from a two-week work trip in Germany, and as usual with these, it’s better for me to talk about them afterward. Not that there was anything particularly hush-hush involved—on this occasion, we were helping NATO practice procedures for providing military assistance during natural and man-made disasters in peacetime. Things went well.

Weiden in winter.
Weiden in winter.

Anyhow, it was nasty cold in Germany, as you might expect im Winter, wenn es schneit. I’d never before seen the Bavarian countryside bundled in a blanket of snow, and it was suitably picturesque. Food was good, as always, and I ate enough schnitzel, schweinebraten, wurst, and smoked trout to hold me until the next trip. Yum. Our compressed schedule, combined with the frigid, icy weather, limited my touristing opportunities, but I did manage to get outside for a wander once or twice and snap a few cellphone pictures near our lodgings at Weiden in der Oberpfalz. Friends and family can access all the pictures I took on this trip via Facebook.

Blue Tit at feeder
Blue Tit at feeder. Click for larger image of well-fed bird.

The folks in Weiden seem to love their birds—there were lots of feeders posted in back yards and on apartment balconies. I also saw several trees festooned with colorful net bags full of suet, which the local equivalent of chickadees (I think these were “Blue Tits,” better picture here) were industriously working-over. The stork that resides atop the old town hall was absent. I suppose she’s migrated south for the winter, probably enjoying a plate of linguine with clams and a nice glass of vino in Florence right about now.

My internet connection was dodgy again, which always seems odd in a country as tech-savvy as Germany. Maintaining a stable connection on Skype or GoogleTalk was a challenge. The Lovely Wife and I often had to fall back to text-messaging for our daily chats. I brought along the Nook e-reader she gave me for my last birthday and made good use of it, finishing off William Gibson’s Distrust That Particular Flavor; the first volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI’s excellent three-part work on the life and ministry of Jesus; and about half of a 1096-page tome containing the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.

Yes, I have an odd reading list.

"Gnadenstuhl," or "mercy seat" depiction of the Holy Trinity, flanked by two saints, from mid-1500's
“Gnadenstuhl,” or “mercy seat” depiction of the Holy Trinity, flanked by two saints, from mid-1500’s

On the way home, our team usually overnights in Freising, near the Munich airport, to avoid driving a slick, foggy Autobahn in the wee hours to catch our early-morning flights. I spent a pleasant afternoon touring the Mariendom, aka Freising’s historic Sts. Mary and Korbinian Cathedral (which I’d visited before), and the remarkable Diocesan Museum adjoining it (which I had not). The museum didn’t look like much on the outside, but I was astonished to discover four impeccably-maintained floors of religious artwork and artifacts, from the 1100s and onward, within. There were special exhibits on the life of cloistered nuns and portrayals of the Christ Child in German Catholic art.

What I especially loved about the museum is that the exhibits were contained in a winding series of little rooms connected by doors. Just when I thought I’d seen everything, I’d find another door and discover a spacious hall packed with woodcuts, or stained-glass windows, or portraits, or bits of ancient altar furnishings. Exploring the building was an adventure in itself. I departed wishing I’d had much more time to spend—and also wishing I’d brought a better camera.

Auf Wiederesehen...
Auf Wiedersehen…

Perhaps next time.


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