I walked slowly through an old narrow laneway in the “Old Town” Altstadt. The facades of the buildings were so archaic, unique and unlike anything that I had experienced. I seemed to be moving in slow motion, oblivious to the occasional sound of locals going about their daily business.The street was almost hidden, barely noticeable and connected the arcades to the Old Marketplace, apparently renown for its goldsmiths that once used to peddle their antique craft in the many shops that line this roadway. Beautifully designed and coloured medieval and baroque facades, adorned with religious ornaments and decorations, complemented with intricately designed cast iron signs of artisans selling their wares are found everywhere. Furthermore, bouquets of neatly arranged flowers line the elegant buildings in this romantic picturesque thoroughfare, manifesting an atmosphere that is both archaic and romantic.
I paused on the bridge oblivious to the sound of traffic and looked out yonder towards the Old Town ”Altstadt”, nestled by the banks of the serene river. Having finished exploring the picturesque lane ways and brilliant Baroque facades of buildings dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods, I paused for long moments surveying the amazing scene that unfolded before me. The elegance and sophistication of the city were still forcefully imprinting itself within my mind as I gazed out spellbound across the river. A radiant sunny day cast forth its rays, illuminating an amazing mosaic of clouds that decorated Heaven itself. Below, archaic beautifully coloured Baroque buildings , vibrant church domes and spires were beautifully complemented against the rolling hills, richly coloured trees and blue sky with its brilliant clouds. It was one of those rare and beautiful moments forever imprinted within my heart, manifesting the beauty of Creation with the brilliance of European culture.
Located near the Austrian border and acting as a gateway to the European Alps begins Germany’s Romantic Road, meandering through picturesque towns and vibrant countryside. Manifesting a medieval heritage, “The Romantic Road” road winds through forgotten sections of countryside, connecting walled towns and charming villages. Travellers may enter a town through an arched gateway complete with guard towers. Gothic cathedrals, half-timbered fachwerk houses, beautiful historic hotels and often experience a medieval festival manifesting the charm of traditional German culture. Winding cobblestone streets eventually open up into beautiful squares, surrounded by elegantly designed German buildings decorated with a lovely array of complementary vibrant Mediterranean colours, a hallmark of the cultural influence of The Holy Roman Empire on southern Germanic culture.
Looking up from my reverie at the edge of the pier on a pebble strewn shoreline, I looked upon a ring of mountains, embracing a most beautiful tranquil lake. The brilliant snow capped and forested Bavarian Alps provided a wonderful backdrop, yielding to the expanse of the clear blue heaven and narrow sand shores below at the edge of the lake. Clear, blue water, occasionally punctuated by gentle ripples sending out waves across the otherwise calm surface and sound of waves lapping the shore reminded me of the Mediterranean Sea. The numerous piers, moored with brilliant coloured green fishing boats contrasted brilliantly against the blue water and snow covered shores during this warm and sunny day in autumn. I paused for long moments in silence, a moment of quite exaltation; words are inadequate to describe the serenity that filled my mind, heart and soul.
Looking yonder, admiring the brilliant forested green hills plunging into the valley below, wisps of smoke gently climbed heavenwards from chimneys and ice capped tiled roofs. The smell of wood fires permeated the air, while the singing of birds heralded sunrise. The serene picturesque town slept quietly on this cold winter day, nestled in the loving embrace of the valley. As the fog began to lift, the tall church spire towering over the brightly coloured buildings complemented beautifully the surrounding landscape. I turned around and continued climbing. Approaching the wooded hilltop at the footsteps of the Black Forest I paused to rest, admiring the beauty of my surrounds; suddenly, a scurrying sound from above, disturbed my reverie. Scanning the tall beech trees, I discovered to my delight a red squirrel with long tufted ears and bushy tail leaping nimbly from tree to tree. I paused for a long time deep in thought, smiling. My only companions, the morning song of birds and a proud acrobatic red squirrel. It truly was a beautiful and peaceful day.
It is a rare experience indeed when one walks about a medieval town, resplendent with archaic cathedrals and ramparts, winding alleyways and water filled canals or Bächle, yet coupled with hippie looking locals, smiling street vendors and mad cyclists, all in the one place. Wondering how to capture the essence of what was unfolding before me, I stopped by a narrow street with an archaic cobblestone pathway, in front of Bächle, and a row of old traditional Germanic buildings. Perfect setting; all I had to do was wait for an opportune moment. Moments later, I heard someone shouting “Juhu” a German expression of exhilaration and joy, as a crazy cyclist turned facing towards me with outstretched arms while balancing on his bike and continuing to ride along the street. I smiled and laughed as I clicked the shutter; this cyclist with so much character instantly entered into the gallery of my most beautiful experiences and fondest memories within my heart.
Looking out about me at the elegantly designed and colourful buildings reminiscent of the medieval period, germanic in design yet beautifully arrayed in Mediterranean colours, I turned the corner and entered the main road. The transformation was amazing to behold as I stumbled across numerous cafes, trade shops and street vendors selling everything from tulips to German sausages, much to my delight on a cold winters day. Walking through beautiful cobblestone streets, while dodging cyclists, avoiding trams and being careful not to fall into the Bächle or small water canals spread throughout the inner city, one is delighted by the numerous examples of Classical Romanesque-Gothic architecture. The thought of how a medieval city could suddenly instantly transform itself into a cosmopolitan Bazaar, never ceasing to amaze instantly made me smile.