We Live To Travel

Isny Area

BEWARE! This post is incredibly long! You may want a refreshment to sustain you if you plan on reading the whole thing 🙂

We spent three days in this area, as this is the area that Senne and John lived in with their family before they came to Canada. This was really the whole purpose of the trip… to see this 🙂

When we travelled from Oberammergau to Isny we planned to stop at Neuschwanstein Castle. This is the castle the Disney Cinderella castle was based on. It was another of the palaces built by Ludwig the second (who built the one we saw at Chiemsee the other day). John had talked about visiting the castle 30 years ago, and knew we would also enjoy it.

When we arrived it was a ZOO! I am not kidding there were people everywhere. We walked up to figure out how to get tickets and saw approximately 2 million people in line, and a sign that said “Next entry at 18:00”. So all those people were standing in line to buy tickets for 6 hours from now. Um, no thank you. So we looked from the outside. None of us wanted to see it bad enough to wait at least 6 hours and be mixed in with a herd of thousands.

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There it is!

Okay, so we got back in the cars and headed off to check into our hotel which was outside of Isny in Maierhofen. This ended up being much more rural than I expected! Although, the hotel was excellent and the restaurant was to die for!

After we checked in, we had a bit of lunch at the hotel restaurant. I am not lying when I tell you that this place had the best Caprese Salad I have ever eaten. I don’t know what he put in the oil/dressing but it was spectacular. The restaurant is not cheap for sure, but definitely worth every penny.

I had developed a headache (the weather was changing from heat wave to thunderstorm) so decided to take a nap in the afternoon. Everyone else headed out in one car to check out the area where John and Senne lived. I will now let Steve type a bit, because he was there and I wasn’t 🙂

Here’s Steve!

Hello everyone.  I will apologize in advance for not being as eloquent of a writer when compared to my dear Lisa, but like she mentioned she was not with us when we visited the places I am charged with writing about…so you’re stuck with me for bit. 🙂

For those of you who know Lisa, you will attest to the fact that she is somewhat of a human barometer.  Severe weather change on the way, and Lisa will have the headache about four hours before it strikes.  I was not too concerned with her being absent for this leg of the journey because I thought we were just going to get a quick preview of the area by car, and that the “real” visit to the area would be the following day.  But I was wrong…and this turned out to be the one and only time we would visit the areas and places where my dad, John and the rest of their immediate family lived for approximately four years; Beuren was the last place they lived in Germany before the family moved to Canada in 1953.

Beuren is a small farming community in the South of Germany. The closest larger town is Isny and the closest major city is Lindau.  So the five of us, Dad, John, Mom, Angie and me said goodbye to Lisa and headed out.  I thought we were heading into Isny, but instead, with Dad driving and John navigating (this means they argue a lot with each other, disagree where we are and which way we should head next) we headed off in search of the community of Beuren.  It did not take long to get there from our hotel (maybe 45 minutes), and along the way John and Dad would point out things along the road they remembered.  Here are a few snippets…”

AS WE APPROACHED AND DROVE THROUGH THE TOWN OF BEUREN:

“Clem used to work for a farmer back there.”

“There’s the church we threw snowballs at.”

“These houses are relatively new.”

“Up here will be the Gasthaus.”

“There’s the school.”

“See honey, here is where we played and we would try to hit that clock.”

“It doesn’t seem that that field was big enough to play soccer on…but we did though.”

“There is the store.”

“That has changed, Oh my God.”

“I don’t remember it being that hilly, but I guess it was.”

“The distances are less than I remember”

Dad and John walking up the steps to the church in Beuren.

Dad and John walking up the steps to the church in Beuren.

A view of the church with the clock tower that they used to throw snowballs at.

A view of the church with the clock tower that they used to throw snowballs at.

And the school they used to attend is still across the street from the church (and it's still used as a school).

And the school they used to attend is still across the street from the church (and it’s still used as a school).

AS WE PULLED ONTO THE ROAD LEADING TO THE FARM WHERE THEY USED TO LIVE:

“There’s the two lakes.”

“He took out the cherry tree! My cherry tree is gone. I can’t believe he did that.”

“He used to have a potato field in here.”

“That’s the structure we lived in.”

“I wonder who owns this now?”

AT THIS POINT DAD STOPPED THE CAR AND JOHN GOT OUT TO KNOCK ON THE DOOR.

It turns out the farm is still owned and farmed by the granddaughter of the man who owned the property when Dad and John’s family were moved into the spare residence.  When my dad was four years old his family was placed on this farm.  They did not farm the land, the landowner and his sons lived in the main house and earned a living as farmers.  Because this farm had a secondary residence that was not being used, the German government basically told the landowner that he had to let my dad’s family live there (two parents and six kids…some of my older uncles were already living as adults elsewhere).  My Uncle John does not know if the landowner was compensated in any way for letting them live there, but he does remember that the farmer was not very nice to them.  Case in point, my Uncle John lived on this property from the ages of 8-12 years old, some time during this time he contracted Tuberculosis…he survived and after several months in the hospital was allowed to return home.  The doctors told my grandparents that every morning John needed to have a glass of milk to aid in his recovery.  My grandparents often did not have money for milk, so they asked the farmer if they could have one glass of milk each morning for their son (after all this was a dairy farm)…the farmer refused.  What a jerk!  (I originally wrote a different word, but my editor Lisa made me change it. In fact, I have a string of words for this guy… Who in their right mind would refuse a sick, recovering child a glass of milk, when you own and run a dairy farm?).  Luckily the neighbouring farm was owned and run by two very nice ladies and they agreed to provide John with a glass of milk every morning.  John would walk every morning to the neighbouring farm for his glass of milk

This farm has stayed in the family and is now owned by his granddaughter and her husband that now work the land.  The farm still operates as a dairy farm.  She and her husband were both very nice and spoke at length with John.

The current owners of the land talking with Dad and John.

The current owners of the land talking with Dad and John.

They let us have a look around, and I snapped a few pictures as Dad and John walked us along the path around the structure where they lived as a family for four years.

Behind Dad and John is the structure where they lived. Humble beginnings for two successful, great guys.

Behind Dad and John is the structure where they lived.

When my dad’s family lived in this building they did not get to use the entire space. A portion of the structure is where the pigs were kept. A wall and door separated the animals from the living quarters.

The view from the other side.

The view from the other side.

I found this quite sad, but not for the reasons you may think. The renovator in me was sad; I wanted to jump on in there, cut back all the over grown weeds, and bring this building back to life.

Visiting this farm filled me with a great sense of pride for my Dad, my Uncle John, and all their brothers and sisters; pride for how hard they all worked when they arrived in Canada. When they left Germany, they had nothing.  When they arrived in Canada, they had nothing.   They all worked extremely hard to better themselves, provide for their families and to give their children every opportunity that they never had as children…on behalf of my brother Chris, my sister Angela, me and all my cousins…THANK YOU 🙂

And now I’ll turn the writing back over to Lisa.

As we were staying for 3 days, John had some plans for other places we could visit in the area. The Bodensee is prime tourist area, and has many towns and a giant lake that are beautiful to see.

This morning we decided to go to Lindau. John, Senne and Dianne were raring to go at dark o’clock, so Steve, Angie and I left later, in our own car. I can not report what they did… but I heard they spent a lot of time stuck in traffic. It is definitely holiday time here in the Bodensee.

The drive to Lindau is short, perhaps about half an hour. We did have problems finding parking, which I suspect is also a busy summer thing… but did eventually find parking after about 45 minutes of searching. Almost all of the lots were full!!! (I know, I know, if we got up at dark o’clock they wouldn’t have been full 😉 )

We walked a couple of kilometres into the centre, and took photos of street markings and landmarks along the way so we could find our way back. On the way we found some blackberry bushes. They were mostly picked over, but luckily we had the tall guy with us who could reach up and get some that must have been out of reach to a lot of people.

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The handsome man picking me some blackberries 🙂

Besides doors one of the things I often find amusing are signs… I think this one means “Nothing is prohibited”. So if you want to let loose, Lindau is your place 😉

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Soon we entered the historical centre and admired the very pretty buildings. This is one of my favourite things about Europe!

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Me and the lovely Angela 🙂

After walking and admiring for a bit we decided to find some lunch. We took advantage of being on our own to try something different than a Gasthaus 🙂 We all agreed on Italian! I was excited to eat something different from the schnitzel, sausage, spetzla extravaganza we had been experiencing… not that it wasn’t delicious… I just like variety!

I was quite excited to see this on the menu… but not brave enough to order it.

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I’m just not brave enough to order an “extensive surprise” for my lunch.

So we ordered pizzas and calzones, which tasted delicious 🙂

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Look at the size of Steve’s calzone!

One of the small annoyances on this trip has been the amount of wasps. I’ve never seen so many, especially when you are eating outside. Even the bakeries are full of them! So we invented this fun little game while we ate. Steve finished his drink and then we would trap them in his glass with a coaster and let them out over by the flowers. After we all finished our drinks it turned into a competition who could catch the most… Steve won.

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After lunch we walked around town a bit more. It has a beautiful harbour!

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And of course lots of beautiful buildings. The Germans seem to be quite into painting giant murals on the buildings.

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As we were walking Steve and I found a little shop selling inexpensive rings. We have left our wedding rings in our safe deposit box, so thought we’d just find something along the way to wear on the trip. This stall had tons of rings so we began the search. At first we thought we would get matching ones. Turns out when you have one person with giant hands and one person with little hands the matching rings are not so easy to find. As a matter of fact I was having trouble finding rings that fit me. Then we found another tray underneath that had way more rings that fit me… turns out it was the “kinderringen” tray. Yep, kid’s rings 🙂 Anyway, we found rings we quite liked and purchased them for the whopping sum of 15 Euros altogether. Steve got into some deep conversation with the guy who had the stall… he was quite into yoga/enlightenment/new age stuff and was a big traveller. He also convinced Steve to buy a necklace with the “tree of life” on it. It is quite cool actually 🙂

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Our fake wedding rings.

We decided to have a fake wedding since we were getting new rings. We found a fountain in front of a church… which once again was named after Stephen (he is REALLY famous here!) and said our heartfelt vows. Mine were “Here’s a ring, now we’re married again.” I’m such a romantic 😉 Angela agreed to be our official wedding photographer. Lucky thing she is fast, because right after she clicked this photo someone put a naked toddler in the fountain right behind us!

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Because we are silly, we continued with the wedding theme for the rest of the day 😉 We didn’t find any cake, but found ice cream. We took our ice cream and sat in a nice shady park just outside the old city walls. This is where Angie took the photo of us feeding each other ice cream (instead of wedding cake).

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It got even sillier after this, if you can imagine!

The park was actually quite beautiful and provided a nice spot to rest in the shade. It was blazing hot again today!

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Our walk back to the car was quite lovely and took us over a bridge and by the lake, where we looked on jealously at people who were cooling off by taking a refreshing swim.

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This little duckling was hitching a ride on his Mama’s back!

When we returned to our hotel (Landhotel Zur Grenze) we were surprised to see Senne, John and Dianne just arriving. They were out for a long time. Turns out they decided to also drive to Meersburg after going to Lindau, but the traffic was a nightmare. Unfortunately, they spent a REALLY long time in the car today. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

The hotel was having entertainment in for the evening… 4 guys playing alpenhorns. I was excited to see this, but even more excited to get the chance to eat dinner in the restaurant. I knew it was going to be amazing, if the lunch from yesterday was any indication!

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The nice lady who runs the hotel and restaurant with her husband gave us this great little table out on the terrace. Front row seats for the show. What you can’t tell in this photo is that there is a dark windy storm blowing in right now. Shortly after we arrived we had to take our stuff inside. No problem though, as we had a nice table by the window!

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The food was spectacular!

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Look how excited Angie is about her scallops and prawns!

The guys started playing their alpenhorns out on the grass behind the restaurant. I was surprised at how versatile the horns were. They look like such a simple instrument, but really made a variety of sounds.

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Not too long after they started,  the rain came and they moved in to the patio. I think they must have still been getting wet though, but they played on nevertheless. Perhaps the giant beer steins you see resting on the horn stands helped them persevere!

 

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Dinner was amazing, the entertainment was like nothing we’d ever seen before (for real!) and there was only dessert left to be had. When a meal is that good, you have to have dessert too. Here are John and Dianne checking out what is available 🙂

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We had one more day in this area, and eliminated cities by the lake as choices as the traffic had just been so terrible, that Senne was not interested in facing it again. John chose some small towns he remembered as a child, and we planned to visit those.

The first place we went to was Wangen (pronounced Vongen as I was corrected many times :)).

We weren’t sure what we were looking at here… but just planned to wing it. When we arrived there were a lot more people than we expected. Turns out we were just in time for the “kinderfest” parade 🙂

This was a parade where each of the villages came with bands or children’s groups of some type. When are we ever going to see a kinderfest parade in Germany again? So we watched. Steve took a lot of photos because the kids were just so cute, but I’m only going to include a few because this post is already ridiculously long!

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This little guy was so cute playing along with the big band 🙂

Last one… I promise!

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They were throwing candy in this parade (Steve insists this is a thing… why have I  never been to a parade where they throw candy?!?) and these two friends were super-duper excited that they got a piece!

After the parade we walked through the town a bit and then Steve and I decided we were done for the day. We were all German-towned out 🙂

Angie headed off in the other car to visit the next two places on the list and Steve and I relaxed at the hotel.

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