Friday, May 18, 2012

Off to Bavaria soon to see a mad king

1130 PM by the beach somewhere in Malaysia

Yesterday I had to finish a lot of work as I knew I was flying to Malaysia today and there was just so much to do before take-off. It's another trip, of course, so there I was planning spa treatments at my hotel and looking up shops and restaurants to visit. But in between editing articles and planning for Malaysia, I just couldn't resist doing a bit more legwork on my upcoming trip to Europe next month with two good friends.


Our plans keep changing, actually. One day it was just a stopover in Istanbul on the way to Prague, and then things became more elaborate; we thought about driving to the Black Sea or the Greek border.

Our final extra destination, which we all agreed on last Saturday night over dinner, was Vienna. I thought we could have a few good meals and a lot of delicious cakes here before heading back to the Czech Republic.

There's another reason I want to visit Vienna again, actually, aside from the food. I'd missed visiting the crypt at the mysterious 17th century Capuchin Church on my last trip some years back. This is where most of the Hapsburg emperors of Austria are interred.


Now seeing a couple of graves -- or over a hundred, actually, as at least 150 members of the Hapsburg dynasty are buried here -- isn't interesting to most people, myself included. However, after that trip to Austria, I'd started reading an excellent biography of the beautiful but mercurial Austrian Empress Elisabeth (known as "Sisi") that was originally written in German for a largely European audience, but that had been translated finally into English.

In this book, there was a poignant tale about how Empress Sisi had ventured into this isolated church at midnight, several days after her only son Rudolph had committed suicide in his hunting lodge and was buried in this church with much shock and pageantry. She had come at this late hour to cry alone at the tomb of her son as she'd obviously had to keep her feelings in check during the public ceremonies.

Apparently, the only monk on duty at the Capuchin Church had been woken up by knocking at the church door on this very late evening, and when he opened the door, he was shocked to find Sisi in front of him, wanting to be let into the family crypt. He led her in and then left her alone, staying at a distance far enough to give her privacy but also near enough to hear her wailing out his name all night.

I wanted to see the setting for this scene myself.


However a Vienna redux is not to be -- at least not this time. My two friends want to go to a place automobile enthusiasts consider heaven, and I'm happy to agree even if I don't know a thing about cars. It's not far from Munich, which is a good enough reason to go, and from Munich we can explore Bavaria.

The last time I was in Bavaria was as a child and I still remember my amazement at seeing the fairytale castle of the mad King Ludwig (incidentally, either Sisi's uncle or cousin) and the colorful villages of Bavaria. This vision straight out of a child's fantasy book was probably one of the experiences that got me hooked on travel.

And today I found out that there's even an outlet store in the area, so it's certainly going to be a nice trip. We're going to drive to Munich and then work our way to Prague. This is still about four trips away but already I can't wait. Have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are in the world, and hello from a sunny and really peaceful place by the sea.


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