By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager
A few years ago I was visiting friends in Bavaria. There was no itinerary—no plan, just a day-to-day “whatever” laid back visit. My friends really enjoyed surprising me, so I never quite knew what the day would hold – well, except for beer and a tray of meats and lots of bread. One morning I woke up and was told we were going on a little drive, but to wear comfortable clothes. No other hints. We drove through the hills and valleys of Bavaria until we came to a little dirt parking lot across from a lake. Ammersee Lake the sign read. I couldn’t tell how big it was and I don’t remember it being a busy lake, but, then again, it was late September and a little cool. Again, with no explanation, we crossed the little street and went onto a dock where a handful of people were waiting, until along came a small boat. A mail boat it turned out to be. Apparently, I was going to be part of the mail route around this lake. Off we went. The first stop was a little village where a few people got off and a couple of people got on. The mail bags were given and then the boat puttered off. Much the same happened at each stop, until about an hour or so later, when my friends told me we were getting off at the next little village. “Great,” I am thinking—”lunch!” What a nice ride to get lunch! As we walked along a pretty street, lined with quintessential Bavarian houses with their peaked roof lines, wooden accents, window boxes, and picket fences, I felt like I had stepped into a fairytale. My friends opened a gate at one of the houses and led me into the side yard. “Oh, this is nice,” I am thinking… “we are visiting their friends for lunch.” Nope. On we went through this side yard to a small trail and into the woods! None of this made any sense. But now the comfortable clothes did. We proceeded to hike up a mountain trail, complete with tree roots and moss and all the other things you find in a dense forest. As we hiked up, others were hiking down, most with walking sticks and a common greeting, “Gruss Gott” (think – it will come to you what it may mean… sound it out…notice the G is capitalized). After what seemed a very long time, we finally reached a clearing—a meadow actually—with a towering ornamental, onion-shaped steeple rising above a line of trees. Magical. So, across the meadow we walked, like Dorothy and her friends to the Emerald City. Only Emerald City in this case was a monastery. Kloster Andechs is a monastery where they make beer! Of course. And there were meats and breads. Of course! We sat at long wooden tables and made toasts and made friends and had a jolly time. They sang German songs and I pretended to know the words. As the afternoon shadows grew longer and I knew dusk was coming, I started to get a little nervous about hiking back down through those dark woods and catching a boat and getting back to the car safely. I expressed my concern to my friends and they repeatedly told me not to worry. But I admit, I did. As it got darker, they finally said, “time to go,” to my relief, and led me through the monastery to… a big tourist bus! YUP… the little dirt parking lot was actually no more than a ¼ mile away!!
So, why do I tell this long story? My friends gifted me a wonderful lesson of life. They took a simple tourist attraction and made it into a full on adventure. What if I just took the bus to and from? I would have missed the surprise of it all—the tiny storybook villages, the people I met, the smells I smelled, the feelings and emotions of awe, and, later even a little fear. The magic of seeing that steeple in the distance. And then entering the monastery mid-party! So this is my message—take the long way, the adventurous way… Don’t rush an experience. Go for the surprise! Create memories. Look for the magic, see the wonder and feel the awe! Unless you’re tired… then take the bus. 🙂 Prost!!