Bavaria (Munich)

It's hard to believe that our time in Europe (at this point in our trip) is nearing the end. When we were planning this trip, we felt like our time here would feel like forever, but it has definitely flown by!

We spent the last week based in Munich with several trips out of the city to explore other parts of Bavaria (the German state that Munich is in). It is a truly beautiful area with breathtaking views in the cities and countryside.

When you think of pretzels, Oktoberfest, beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and dirndl, this is the land of Bavaria. If you were to take some of those things (or wear them) to northern Germany, you would be completely out of place (and people might think you're crazy). Bavaria is a land full of proud traditions that date back centuries. But with these traditions come a dark past, a past where Nazi Germany arose in Munich and spread from there. It was the area where the first concentration camps were created and Hitler rose to power. The delicate line with which the Bavarians (and all Germans) walk between proud traditions and a horrific past is a difficult one, but one they seem to be grappling with and coming to terms with as they recognize, accept and learn from their history.

Because of this history, the city of Munich has an interesting landscape. There are many historical parts in the Old Town of Munich, but the reality is that over 90% of the area was heavily damaged or destroyed during World War II. Many of these sites have been rebuilt, but most things are never the same when they are. Either way, it was a beautiful city and we enjoyed exploring it...

We spent an afternoon in the English Gardens, which is an amazing, huge park in the city. It was a beautiful day, and the park was full of people enjoying the weather and relaxing. There are even several areas where people can be found "river surfing". It was fascinating to watch (pics below, but if you want to watch a video, check out our Bavaria Instagram Story- @wonderfulroad).

We enjoyed all the deliciousness of food and drinks that Bavaria had to offer: bratwurst, schnitzel, pretzels, kasespatzle, beer, etc. We found ourselves most nights in a beer garden or beer hall, including the famous Hofbrauhaus, enjoying Bavarian food, beer and the lively atmosphere.

As mentioned before, we spent several days outside of Munich. One of these days, we traveled to the city of Fussen where two 19th Century castles are located- Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. We spent most of the day hiking up to the top of the mountain to reach Neuschwanstein. It reminded us of home in the Smokies and made our hearts quite happy to soak in the mountain air of the Bavarian Alps.

Neuschwanstein is a magnificent castle. As you will be able to tell below, it was the inspiration for Disney World's Cinderella's Castle as well as Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.

On a different day, we spent time just on the other side of the Bavarian/German border in the town of Salzburg, Austria. It too is a city full of so much history and beauty. We explored the city, saw lots of wonderful sites, visited the Salzburg Fortress, and spent time walking along the Salzach River. For those of you that are Sound of Music fans, you may recognize several of these backgrounds, as this is where it was filmed. Salzburg is also the birthplace of Mozart so his family home is there as well as several reminders of him throughout the city.

The final day trip that we took was about 30 minutes outside of Munich to Dachau, Germany. This is the site of the Nazis' first concentration camp. It was opened in 1933 and was in operation until it was liberated by U.S. Forces in April 1945. The camp was mostly preserved and now serves as a memorial site, museum and reminder of the atrocities carried out by the Nazis in WWII. The sites and stories that we heard while we were there were beyond anything we could imagine. I found myself tearing up several times as I heard about what the victims of Dachau and other concentration camps endured. I had heard the stories of concentration camps before, but both Perry and I said afterwards that it was so much worse than what we had ever thought. It was hard to see and hear, but it is an experience that I hope I never forget anything about. In all honesty, my words and pictures could never do justice to the experience of visiting Dachau.

If you want to hear more about our time there, please reach out to Perry or me, and we would love to tell you more personally about what we learned or point you towards information you can read or watch (there are videos that an American soldier took of the camp on his arrival to liberating Dachau in 1945- the footage is eye-opening and horrifying).

Visiting Dachau, though heartbreaking, was a fitting end to our time in western Europe. Throughout our time there, we were repeatedly faced with the reality of WWII and the devastation that it brought to the world. Being at Dachau was a reminder of the victims of the war and why the fight was worth it. There are two memorial signs at Dachau with words on them. They say more than anything I ever could about our experiences there and around Europe. They shed light on the lessons and hopes that come from recognizing the past and making truth a compass for the future. I can only hope that they ring true throughout the world, in my life and in yours:

"Never Again."

"May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933-1945 because they resisted Nazism help to unite the living for the defense of peace and freedom and in respect for their fellow men."


  1. I’m loving your blog! So many beautiful photos, and love seeing your sweet, smiling faces!
    Allison P.

  2. Amazing! You are doing a spectacular job, sharing facts and wonderful pictures! All so interesting! Thanks for doing such a good job with this! ��And I especially love the picture of Perry with the bearded unicorn statue! ��������& of course your smiling faces are a delight too! ��❤️�� Lovvvvve y’all!!


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