Sunday, October 22, 2017

German Castle Tour Day


Everyone has their favorite city, but sometimes, you come to change your mind by having a city steal your heart. Munich is that city for me! We started and ended our trip to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in Munich, so we got two wonderful doses of Munich.

Our very last day in Germany, we spent with an all day tour guide to take the four of us friends around to see all the castles and sites we could. We'd purposely left this to the last day, as the second to the last day was spent at the concentration camp Dachau (which is an amazing experience) but we really wanted to end on a happy note. Our guide picked us up in Munich at our hotel and we were going strong for almost 11 hours. Whew, what a wonderful, tiring, spectacular day!  In case you are thinking of visiting Munich (Munchen), these are things that are close by the city that you could do by driving or by getting a driver. 

Neuschwanstein is the last stop of journey, but I wanted to lead with a very famous castle.


(Below) Linderhof Castle- Ludwig's small private castle with beautiful grounds and fountains.  You need to march up a wide path/road to reach his castle. I guess he really liked being alone best of all. Even his dining table was raised and lowered from below in the kitchen to his royal dining room so that he didn't have to see his servants. 

Below is a shot of the pond about halfway up. You can't tell in these pictures, but the heavens are going to open momentarily and drench up.


The castle is in front of us (behind the person taking the photo) and overlooks some beautiful fountains, pools and gardens.  Not a bad place to be alone! The fountain sprayed every 15 minutes.


Now we are behind the castle, and this is the view from Ludwig's bedroom as he gazed up the fountains. At the very tip top you see a gazebo where local musicians came to perform.  Just far enough away from him...

Strangely enough, I did not take any photos of the castle itself.  It rained so hard while we waited for admittance number to be called (they take you in small groups by language) that we were laughing so much we didn't think to take any pictures.  Inside the house, no photos are allowed.  The castle itself is very much like a very large, very ornate manor house and not a castle in the humungous sort of way.


Ettal Abbey, a Benedictine church started in the 13th century.  Beautiful inside plus they make great beer there too!


(below) Oberammergau- darling Bavarian village that is home to the "passion" plays, but honestly should be known for the cutest village in Germany. So many darling buildings, flowers galore and painted frescos on the outside of the cute houses and businesses. In Washington State, we have the "Bavarian" village of Leavenworth, which is one of my favorite places.  Oberammergau is Leavenworth on steroids!


After the rain storm in Oberammergau, we drove through the countryside to what our guide called a "nice church".  We parked the can and walked towards this white church seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it was very remote and besides a tourist restaurant there was almost nothing else near this church.  Called Wies Church, is it a UNESCO site for an incredible Rocco style church.  


A bunch of chickens running around the church.


Until you've seen Rocco in person, you cannot really appreciate Rocco, just sayin'!


Next stop was lunch at a farm where they make great cheeses, on a hill overlooking a valley. The farm is called Schonegger Kase Alm, in Rottenbuch. They only retail their cheeses and meats at the farm, and there were a steady stream of people coming in to purchase, even though we were way out in the country.


Everything looked great and we had a huge assorted platter of meats and cheeses for lunch, with some bread and local beer to wash it down.




(Below) This is the view from our picnic table overlooking the valley with cow bells clinking in the distance.


Happy little tourists stuffed with cheese and meat.


How about a cute cow scratching her itches?


Last stop was Neuschwanstein castle- Ludwig's famous castle, he only lived there 6 months, so everything is is pristine shape.  Get tickets/reservation ahead of time, it sells out.  Plan for at least 3 hours, with an hour to get to the top, either walking or taking a tram.  Crowds... but so beautiful.

(below) Our guide suggested we stop before getting to the castle to get this picture.  One of my favorites from our trip.



DO NOT miss this overlook right at the end of the tour, nearest the restaurant and bathrooms.  We just wandered out there and our jaws dropped.  It's a quite small veranda with a spectacular view. I wish there had been enough time and space to get our photo taken in front of this. I guess I will need to go back.



 Right across from Neuschwanstein is Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of Ludwig. What a view!


Here's some nice pictures of some German dinners.


This might be my all time favorite meal from Germany, Pfefferschnitzel, or on other words, pork in a pepper cream sauce served with spatzle with cheese, oh and, topped with crispy onions.  I had this at the Augustiner in Munich.



We were exhausted by the end of this marathon day of sightseeing, but it was a glorious way to see so much of the Bavarian countryside.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chicken Piccata Soup


Yum!
This soup has some of my favorite flavor combinations- chicken, capers, lemon!
I also have to add this is a very simple and fast soup to make. 
I may have pulled some very lazy manuevers when making this....
But, you know, you need a soup like that, right?

I didn't have already cooked chicken so I threw a raw chicken breast in the chicken broth, cooked it gently for about 20 minutes, let it cool and then shredded it.  You could also used already cooked chicken, like from a rotisserie chicken too.

Ingredients
Serves 4

4 cups of chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp celery, minced
2-3 Tbsp carrots, minced
1/4 cup onions, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp capers with brine
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup dried spaghetti, broken into 1" pieces
2-3 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Bring the broth to a boil, add the celery, carrots and onions. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on a low boil.  Add the lemon juice, the capers and the broken spaghetti noodles, and continue to boil until the noodles are done.  Add the chicken and parsley, bring back to temperature and serve! Taste for salt and pepper.

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