Amerang, Chiemsee, Hinterglasmalerei, Stadtrallye, Heimatmuseum, Grillnachmittag bei Herr Rutz, Bad Feilnbach Apfelmarkt

On Wednesday October 6 the German and Aussie Exchange group were accompanied by Herr Gerd Kramer and Frau Sabine Stuerzelmeyer to the Amerang Bauernhaus Museum. The museum complex housed a number of houses that date back to the 17th Century.

What was particularly noteworthy was that the doorways to the houses were extremely low indicating that the people of this era were very short. They lived to about 40 years of age and this was due to extremely difficult living conditions with severe winters keeping them housebound. Open fires in the house would be flueless and hence parts of the house, including the kitchen would be filled with smoke and this would adversely affect health. The beds were all very small and were totally enclosed (box beds). Our students were bemused by the fact that chickens were kept in the kitchen to encourage them to lay in the winter as outside was far too cold.

After the very informative tour of Amerang, we reboarded the coach and travelled to the Chiemsee, the largest lake in Bayern. The fog by this time cleared just as we entered Prien. We went by boat to the Castle Herrenchiemsee which was the residence of King Ludwig II, the infamous Ludwig who also built two more castles, the world famous Neuschwanstein (which formed the basis of Disneyland's castle) and Lindenhof, the smallest and arguably the best of the three.

King Ludwig was a big devotee of the French Kings, especially King Louis XIV and XV. The Herrenchiemsee was meant to be an exact replica of the Palace of Versailles. In fact it was that, but he only completed a third of the structure, hence the wings of the Palace of Versailles were missing. Nevertheless, we did a tour of the castle and our students were blown away by the ostentatiousness of the appointments within the castle. This was one self indulgent King.

Sadly we weren't permitted to take photos as the flashes would have compromised the paintings and would have detracted from the experience of other visitors with flashes going off all over the place. Another reason no doubt would have been so that they could make some money out of the production of souvenirs etc.

The weather was absolutely delightful as we made our way out of the Palace and back down towards the ferry where we passed the Benedictene Monastry which at one time housed monks and which lateer served as the residence of King Ludwig as he oversaw the construction of his monument to the French Sun Kings.

Once back on the ferry we were then conveyed to my favourite, the Fraueninsel (the Women's Island). This small island is a delight because of a number of factors, it is home to 300 residents, many of whom are artists, fishermen and nuns who still occupy the convent which was built in 791. The nuns also run a "Kloesterladen", a shop that sells various religious artefacts, books, locally made produce and art from the island in addition to their honey liquor and marzipans. One can walk around the island in about 15 minutes but it is a terrific journey that fills all the senses as one smells the smoked fish, sees the yachts and small fishing boats and then wanders the tremendous well kept cemetery. The entrance step to the church is almost entirely worn down due to the feet of parishioners passing over it over 900 years.

A very busy day but a great experience for all, many thanks to Sabine and Gerd for being with us that day. Not doubt it wasn't overly stressful for them, however, we appreciated their good humour and company.

On Thursday October 7 the Aussie exchange students were involvedin an Art workshop conducted by Frau Peklo, the Wirtschaftschule Art teacher. The students were involved in Hinterglasmalerei, a traditional form of painting where the artist paints behind glass to produce their pieces. Historically the motifs were religious and honoured the Saints such as St.Florian the patron saint who protected houses from fire and St.Antonius the patron saint for returning lost items. Methinks he was smiling on Max and Elisha at various points.

The students produced their masterpieces through the morning and will be taking them back to Australia to families. I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Frau Peklo's time, support and encouragement through the workshop.

In the afternoon, directly after school the entire exchange group caught the train to Westerham to visit Herr Rutz who back in Bright in March had invited the entire group to a Grill (BBQ) at his place. Once we arrived at his house we conveyed all drinks, food, seats etc down along the river to a small clearing right on the river. Anjan, Herr Rutz's son had set up the BBQ and greeted us in both English and German. Again, the students were also warmly received by both Herr Rutz and his wife. We ate Semmeln (breadrolls) with scrumptious pork sausage and a very tasty salad. The Mangfall river flowing right past us was a lovely backdrop.

Thanks to the Rutz family for providing a tremendous Barbie and great company as well. It really was good for the German students to be reacquainted with their previous Direktor (Principal) and for the Aussies to make their connection with Herr Rutz again after the Passau trip.

On Friday October 8, Herr Kramer und Herr Gehart organised a Stadtrallye (town orientation) for the Aussie exchange kids. After negotiating various questions and areas through the town the group ended up in the beautiful Bad Aibling Kurpark, voted as one of the top 5 parks in Germany. We went into the Heimatmuseum. A very enthusiastic guide took us through the museum and showed us many relics. Of particular note was some of the artefacts that were found in Bad Aibling including several swords dating back to the Roman times and a mammoth tusk that was found in the Moors. The town of Bad Aibling dates back to the 8th Century and it was difficult for our Aussie students to conceptualise this as we can't imagine any civilisation as such being so old. Some of our students are sure to revisit the museum as they were entranced by the information.

Later on in the afternoon we went to the Therme Bad Aibling which is a swimming pool complex that also houses various spas, saunas, and unique bathing areas. We thank the Mayor of Bad Aibling Herr Schwaller for sponsoring the Therme experience. Students were allowed the whole afternoon in the complex gratis thanks to the Bad Aibling Shire.

Friday night many of us watched Deutschland play Turkey in a European Cup qualifier. This match was played in Berlin and was particularly interesting because Berlin is the largest Turkish populated city outside Turkey. Germany won 3-0 and with about 20 minutes to go, half the crowd left the stadium.

Today, again we were greeted with fog and it fell like very light drizzle. By 2.30pm it started to clear up and we drove to Bad Feilnbach, a small village in the vicinity for their very famous Apfelmarkt. Bad Feilnbach is the Wandi of the area and the Apfelmarkt allows local producers of apples to showcase their wares. It was my first visit and both Michelle and I were really impressed with the market. They were selling and demonstrating just about everything including cars, solar panels, bathroom finishes and delectable local produce and foods such as Steckelfisch (fish on a stick), humongous trout slow cooked over hot coals.

In the tents, traditional Bayerische Gerichte was consumed with Bavarian bands playing traditional tunes. I must say this was probably the best market I have been to, the atmosphere was great, the crowds manageable in relation to numbers, I never felt overwhelmed by hordes of people and there was plenty of space to sit down and eat and drink in relative quiet despite the music playing in the background. Leaving the market we glanced across to the right and saw the last rays of the sun shining resplendently on the Wendelstein, the iconic mountain in this area. What a tremendous way to finish off what was a great day.

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