So last weekend we went out for a bike ride. Nothing ambitious, just a chance to stretch our winter legs. Maybe just a run down to the Hirschgarten and back. A couple of kilometers…
The Hirschgarten is a large park that used to be the private hunting grounds for the Electors (aka the Duke). then, it became a place to raise deer for the winter goulash. And drink beer. Today, its one big park and a 8,000 seat beer garden in the summer. I couldn’t tell you about that part because it wasn’t summer when we rode through the park. Nor were there a lot of deer. In any case, it is an area that has been set aside for someone to go drink beer in since at least the 1700’s. And its neither the first nor the only such designated location.
By the time we crossed the park, I felt like I might be able to click off a couple of more kilometers. Since I’m the weak link in all this activity stuff, Beloved was willing to tag along for as long as I was willing to keep going. How about Allach? Another 4 kilometers or so? And off we went skirting our way around the outside wall of the 18th century Nymphenburg Palace and its grand gardens. We took an underpass to cross all the S-bahn tracks (19th century) and then started working our way north through a standard 1970’s Munich suburban neighborhood.
Hey, Beloved says, look over there – it’s a park with bike paths.
And the roof of some pretty building I think, I replied.
So, it being a spontaneous adventure and all, we took off toward the west. We rolled around several farm fields planted in what appeared to be snow-squished strawberry plants while also being surrounded by suburbia, to arrive at a surprising 15th century castle sitting next to the Würm river. And by river I mean more like a wide creek.
It was the Schloss Blutenburg, once a castle with a complete moat, then a hunting lodge, then a nobel’s house, then a nursing home and now the home of the International Youth Library. Not what we were expecting to find just sitting around in the middle of suburbia. And of course, there is a restaurant and a place to sit outside and drink beer.
Schloss Blutenburg also has a 16th century chapel built as one of the walls. Once built, it wasn’t messed with very much nor particularly bombed which meant it is a more or less 600 year old time capsule of a chapel. Which is both cool and odd. And also cold due to the lack of central heating. Or any heating. Do you want to know why everyone in portraits from this time ran around in about ten layers of robes and things?
It was all so – old. And unexpected. Sometimes I become lost when I look at buildings that are old. I feel small and of a very short life. I wonder who and what we are as I imagine big hair and bell bottom jeans walking in and out of that chapel. Or German and American army uniforms. Or big hoop skirts or empress waist dresses or big puffy coats or… all of that coming and going in that little cold chapel over the centuries. Not much longer then the pile of tree leafs left over from last fall.
I felt a lot of this in Rome too. We walked around the Coliseum and the ruins of the Forum while we were there on this last trip. The Romans built an arch of triumph built to honor a Royal roman and to celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem. I made sure to touch that arch. It was old. Very old and it is the closest I’ve come (so far) to world I have studied in Seminary. I am overwhelmed. We’re all just passing through.
So. After beer and lunch we got back on the bikes and took the long way home for a total of 27 some odd kilometers – about 15 miles if I’m remembering it all correctly. Which was great for winter legs and modern bike paths.