Our visit to Herrenchiemsee

Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel which is the largest Isla in the Chiemsee Lake in Bavaria. It’s about 60k SE of Munich. So yesterday morning we packed up all our gear and left Salzburg by coach about 9am to head to Prien am Chiemsee where we caught a boat across to the island. It’s just a short 15 minute ride. (By the way, masks are still required on public transport in Germany & Austria- seemed a bit strange when we sitting on an open top deck of the boat.).

Another beautiful drive on the way to the lake.

King Ludwig built a palace on the island to rival Versailles. David & I did not do the walk to the palace – we’ve seen plenty- so we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful time sitting in the gardens, gazing into space and reflecting. It was very pleasant. Of course, we visited the restaurant for coffee and cake too. Those who walked to the castle said some rooms were even more ornate than Versailles. How could that be possible?. What a waste of money. It seems he ran out of money so it couldn’t be finished. He spent 10 days on the island and mysteriously drowned in the lake.

Check out my Apple streusel at the restaurant overlooking the lake.
Out coffee spot!
A view of a section of the Palace Gardens

After the boat ride back, we caught a little steam train up the hill where a different bus collected us to bring us here to Innsbruck. We got in at a very civilised time of 4:30 but unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it until 9. We were compensated by being served a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant. The first included dinner that has been really delicious.

Our little steam train

Today’s itinerary was a bus ride to the famous castle, Neuschwanstein Castle which is said to be the inspiration for the famous Castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Then, having bought your lunch yesterday, you had to eat it on the bus whilst driving to the station to catch the train to the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze. In order to do all that, departure by bus was at 7:30 and arrival back at the hotel was expected to be at 7:30 pm. Both excursions necessitate a lot of walking and not easy walking.

My medical issues mean that I can’t possibly have that early a start so I have stayed in Innsbruck but I did get up early & wave them all of this morning for a huge day, especially for those in their 80s. I’m hoping David is ok!

Instead, I’ve had a very pleasant wander around the old town, a delicious morning coffee and cake and sushi for lunch. It was meant to rain and be very chilly on the mountain but the top looked clear earlier so I hope the views from up there are amazing.

Coffee and cake in the old town of Innsbruck.
Very tasty sushi for lunch
Amazing old steps in the Art Gallery I wandered into – Ferdinandeum
Will it be fine up there? I hope so.

Now to read my book and rest.

One of the great reads by Fiona McIntosh. This one’s set in York. She always does extensive research so the background is fascinating. Fiona is currently visiting Wiltshire, doing research for a book set there. I wonder if any of our Alley places will get a mention.

Definitely worth reading: “Bridge of Clay”

In the last year or so, I’ve read three books about teenage boys: Jasper Jones, boy swallows universe and, now Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak, the author of The Book Thief. They’ve been very different stories but have all told the stories of boys growing up in difficult situations and have all been great reads.

I hear about incidences which occur in the high school classrooms in which two of my daughters teach and I ask myself what situations are these kids trying to cope with as they go from childhood to adulthood. Certainly many kids today, as always, don’t have it easy.

This book was published last year and is set in suburban Sydney, Australia where Markus Zusak lives with his wife and two children.

The Dunbar family consists of five brothers. Their mother, Penelope is dead and their father has fled. The story is narrated by the oldest of the boys and tells the story of their life, their love and their brawls and how it all came to pass.

It flips backwards and forwards, going into the parents’ history which I found very disconcerting at first. It was hard to remember who was who. Many times, in the first half, I almost returned the book to the library unread.

But then the author hooked me. This morning I did my chores, met my daughter for a walk and a coffee and came home to continue to research and write my grandfather’s story but I saw the book and my plans went awry. I have done nothing but read on until the end.

It’s a wonderful story of stories, of loves, of youth and animals, of internal battles….. and, of course of the building of a bridge, a very special bridge.

It’s just a great story. I recommend it to you.

“little fires everywhere” by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng has written two books. This is her second novel and the first I’ve read. I’ll be looking for her first, Everything I never told you, as I really enjoyed little fires everywhere.

I’ve been thinking about the book since I finished it last night. I think it is the story of three mothers and their children but it is so much more as it stimulates thought about our western society, the way we treat others of different classes and colour and what makes a good mother.

The story is set in Shaker Heights, a meticulously planned suburb of Cleveland Ohio where the author grew up. Elena Richardson and her lawyer husband have four children and they are the perfect embodiment of a successful Shaker Heights family.

Mia Warren, a photographic artist, and her daughter Pearl live a nomadic life and Mia has promised Pearl that they will make a permanent home at their next stop which turns out to be in Shaker Heights. Mia has, however, total disregard for the rules of the lifestyle here.

Friends of the Richardsons decide to adopt a Chinese-American baby girl that has been left outside a fire station in the snow by her desperate mother, a work colleague of Mia.

I loved reading this book. There was love, angst, caring, disdain and lots of intrigue. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. And there are little fires everywhere.

It’s being made into a miniseries to be released in 2020 with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. I’m looking forward to it.

A new Aussie author that I’ll be following

I’ve just read the third novel by Jane Harper, The Lost Man. Like The Dry this one is set in the Australian outback, this time in South West Queensland rather than Victoria. Life on a cattle station in the outback is a struggle for all. One of the three brothers is found dead of dehydration in the scorching Christmas heat beside an old stock man’s grave and no one understands why he would have left his vehicle with all his food and water to walk ten kilometres to this headstone.

The story delves into the tensions around families at Christmas and how these tensions are magnified by the death. We go back into the past to enable us to understand the present. It was an excellent read, as was The Dry. I didn’t want to put it down.