Month: August 2015

Bavarian Alps

We travelled into the Bavarian Alps for the next stage of our holiday. The scenery was stunning as we drove further along the Romantic Road towards Schloss Neuschwanstein. The castles at Hohenschwangau are magnificent and worthy of many a painting. I did sketch a postcard which I sent to my Mother but I don’t have a picture of it with me. (to be added later). Here is a photo I took from the really scary Marien bridge of the rear of the castle.


Neueschwanstein Castle

We stayed in the hotel/restaurant at the foot of the castle. More a hostel than a hotel and it was fun to be walking around the castle at sunset when the crowds had disappeared.

An early start along the German Alpine Road took us through Bad Toltz, a pretty spa town and where I bought my only souvenir for the holiday, a x3 Faber pencil sharpener. Sad really but who needs souvenirs when you have a camera and sketchbook. Moving on we reached the Berchtesgaden Alps and stayed in a comfortable hotel besides the fast running and light blue Ache river. I tried sketching the wonderful sunset on the mountains from our bedroom balcony but I was too late and my mind was not in tune.

The next day we visited the Eagles Nest, with its glorious views and dark history. We chanced upon their busiest day in 20 years and there was a long wait in the cold tunnel for the spooky elevator into the center of the building. But the views were worth it.


Eagles Nest

We returned to an equally busy Berchtesgaden, where a music and dance festival was in full progress. Very  colourful and cheerful it was great to be a part of the local scene. The next day we hopped across the border to Austria. We wanted a quiet day after the previous crowds and visited the delightful open air museum of Salzburger Freilichtmuseum. We had a relaxing time wandering in the shade of the woods, visiting chalets, homesteads, watermills and a small railway.



The light and shade were inspiring and I hope to get some paintings from this visit. We had a day in Saltzburg, discovering the, castle, Sound of Music sites and wandering around the busy buy pretty streets.


Satzburg Castle

Next post: Munich


Bavarian welcome

We arrived in Nuremberg in heavy rain rain and trundled our bags across the cobblestones to our hotel. We didn’t have long in the town but saw the usual sites (they call in Dark History). The old town and city walls are pretty and well restored. No time for a painting though. We picked up the hire car, a flashy Audi, and drove West to the typical Bavarian town of Rothenburg. Saved from total destruction in WW2 by sympathetic officers on both sides, it is a stunning town. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on the city walls and had time to wander around, relax and I did manage to paint.

I set up in the afternoon, on the wall, looking across to another part of the city. As a painting location the town is perfect, views from every street and places to sit, out of the way of the large number of tourists. The hotel was close by and I could wander back for refreshments if I wanted. I leaned on the city wall and was ignored by most. I did have a friendly chat with a German couple, and they took a photo of me. The sketch is not quite finished as there is more greenery to place but overall I was pleased.



I sketched a street while I was waiting for food in the evening but it was a bit rushed and not so happy with the outcome.


Rothenburg Street

We moved on to a Bavarian town on the edge of a large lake called Prien am Chiemsee. Why here? Well King Ludwig II decided he wanted to have his own personal Versailles on an island in the lake. Built 200 years after the original in Paris its not finished but what is complete is stunning. It was raining when we went to visit the island and palace so the colours were a little dull. The others went to the museum of the mad prince but I wanted to sketch so I sat in the grounds with an umbrella and produced this….

pen and wash


I looked up to see if there was any local tango and I was in luck. Only 10 minutes away was an open air dance by the lake. I took a taxi there and had a wonderful evening milonga with the locals. Really lovely people and a delight to dance with. I even got a lift back to the hotel!

I found an hour to sit by the lake when the rain had dried up and produced a view across the lake with the mists, mountains, clouds and water. Once again I had a short chat, this time with a lady and her mother while I painted.


Lake Chiemsee

Next post will be on the stunning Southern Bavarian landscape and Austria, none of which I painted!

Wurst to come, travels around Germany

My family holiday to Germany was primarily a history tour of the country organised by my daughter. Of course I took my sketchbooks and dancing shoes but it was a whirlwind journey and not much time allowed for these dalliances. But I did slip some in when they weren’t looking.

Berlin is a modern city, with plenty of street life and a vibrant art culture. Although bombed in the war there is a lot of history to be found – and we found a lot of it. In 20 minutes while waiting for the river site-seeing tour to start, I sketched the view from the deck very quickly. To make up my lack of time and detail I added notes about the location afterwards. We were moored on museum island so there was lots to work out.


Spree Site-seeing tour

Just downstream from this point is an outdoor theater and dance floor. I grabbed a couple of hours to see what was going on and notch up another new city to dance in. It was a slow start as I had turned up early and very hot but the location was stunning.


Berlin Outdoor Tango

I quickly found some willing dance partners and had a wonderful time dancing in the sunshine, with an appreciative audience and lovely dancers. Some of the dancers were from Berlin but I did dance with other nationalities such as Russian and Argentinian. Wonderful.

We moved around the city to visit the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall and many other landmarks. With very little time I made some small pencil drawings where I could and found that the three I produced were all themed around Communism!? The Russian war memorial, The Berlin Wall and Marx/Engels (big beards) statues.

pencil sketches

My Communist Page

We had four days in Berlin and they were exhausting but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the city. I managed to find a couple of hours on Museum Island and sought out a place to sit, out of the public eye, with a decent view, out of the sun. The painting has come out better than I though at the time. The statues are very large, out of scale to the bridge, which is quite short, so they do look a little out of place but that’s how it was…


Palace Bridge, Berlin

I was using my small sketchbook for these, a Moleskin, with watercolour paper, and a waterbrush that I really like but I have difficulty getting the really deeper darks with. The next day with visited the Palaces and Schloss at Potsdam. Very beautiful and lots to see.

We left Berlin on the fast train to Nuremberg. With 5 hours to spare I set about making a quick page of the main landmarks in Berlin and Potsdam, taken from photographs and tourist leaflets. I like this type of sketching as you can create a montage and personal memory of the trip. I’ve still to add the words and headlines (in traditional German typefaces) which I will update later when I’ve found time to draw them in. Reichstag, Berlin Dom, Brandenburg gate, Ceclienhof and Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam.


Berlin and Potsdam Landmarks

More of the holiday, drawing and dancing in later posts.

Regarding the food mentioned in the headline – currywurst, frankfurters, german sausage – all tried and fine – once – but over time became a little tiring. I’m sure the Germans say the same about the food in the UK.