My goodness, what a day! We left the inn this morning to go to the town of Prien am Chiemsee, where Opa lived until he immigrated to the United States. On the way into town he casually remarked that out the window was the house he lived in as a child. Jess, Stefan, and I immediately had the same thought, pull over the car! Sabina wanted to knock on the door but we settled for taking some photographs and hearing about how he used to ride his bike down the road to town and play in the meadow.
Once in town we briefly walked around the square where he told us the well-known family story about seeing a man he thought was the devil emerge from a tank at the end of WWII. Jess and I both stood there struggling to conjure an image of that boy, about Tristan’s age. Down the road we passed his old school on our way to the dock on Chiemsee, a very large lake. Opa told us how they used to swim every day in the summer sometimes taking a rowboat across to an island and swimming back.
We took the ferry to the largest island in the lake, Herren Insel, where King Ludwig II built a palace, modeled to be a replica of Versailles. Opa was a tour guide at the palace as a teenager. He gave the English speaking tour. After lunch at the restaurant, where Opa’s mother used to be a waitress, we made our way down the path to the palace. Opa said the tour was briefer than when he used to give it but that the speeches were still pretty much the same. I knew Katie and Tristan could barely understand our tour guide and I wondered if Opa’s English used to sound like that. On the ferry back to Prien Jess noticed a large building across the water and asked about it. Opa said it was a rest home on the autobahn and incidentally his mother had been a waitress there as well. He added, “actually, once Hitler stopped there and she served him.”
After taking the ferry back to Prien we drove to Aschau to ride the gondola to the top of Kampenwald. I was a bit nervous about the ride since I get motion-sickness so easily. The ride wasn’t too rocky but it was so high. I don’t even know how to accurately describe how high it was. Unbelievably high. Despite the conversations with Tristan about what would happen if the cable broke or the wind blew really hard, or… we managed to make it to the top without incident. Once there, and actually on the ride up too, we were treated to the most spectacular views. Really, the photographs speak for themselves.
A few facts: the mountaintop is 4,813 feet above sea level; the gondola travels 2,760 vertical feet to reach the top, Opa says that as a teen they would hike up the mountain, have lunch, and then ski back down. The gondola hadn’t been built then. The ride down was steep and Tristan kept saying how fast we were going and how it seemed windier, and “Mommy, don’t you think we’re going so fast, maybe we are too fast.” so I readily admit I was quite happy to get out of that capsule.
We had dinner in Aschau at an Italian place, we were actually fairly close to Italy. While we were finishing it started to rain. We returned to the car and started driving back to our inn when we noticed a rainbow. What followed was one of those family comedies that has everyone laughing with tears in their eyes. We chased that rainbow down a tiny road, it was actually a double rainbow, and everyone kept shouting to stop so they could hop out and take another photo. One such time Opa fell out of the car half sitting in Katie’s car seat. That’s when the belly laughing really started. It was an amazing rainbow, we could see where it touched the ground in a meadow, and we could see the entire arc. We all agreed it was one of the best we’d ever seen.