On our last day in Regensburg we decided to take the hour bus ride to Walhalla. A replica of the ancient Greek Parthanon (we saw the original a few months earlier in Athens…and another replica in Nashville some years back). Set upon the banks of the Danube, Walhalla serves as a hall of fame for notable and distinguished Germans throughout history. Built in the 1800’s before the formation of the modern German state, “German” was initially understood as “Germanic”, and included ancient Germanic peoples (Gothic, Vandal, Lombardic, Anglo-Saxon) as well as medieval Dutch, Swedish and Russian figures.” (thanks wikipedia).
We got off the bus in the town of Donaustauf and would need to do a bit of climbing to reach Walhalla, perched high on a hill. As we walked, we saw the Sanctuary of St. Salvator, also situated rather high up, and decided take a look.
Unfortunately, the doors of the church were locked. We spied a path heading up the hill behind it and I suggested we take it. It was heading in the right direction and I figured if we could take a little uphill nature hike instead of climbing a million steps, it would be preferable. Phil consulted the map and agreed.
On our way up the hill, we passed a very familiar sign; la concha del peregrino or the scallop shell of the camino de Santiago. We saw the golden shell symbol throughout Spain, marking the way to Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the famous Pilgrimage ending at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, the burial place of St. James. The original camino (road, path, or way) begins just across the French border from Spain in St. Jean Pied-du-Port, high in the Pyrenees mountains. We learned during our time in Spain that there were many routes one could take, beginning in Italy or the south of Spain. We didn’t know there was a route through Germany! What a cool surprise and a nice hello from our years long adopted homeland.
Our path popped us out just beside Walhalla, conveniently at the refreshment stand. We each quenched our thirst with a raddler before walking on to take in the lovely building high on the riverbank.
We took in the building from all angles and popped inside to see the busts of the notable Germans featured there before taking the many stairs down toward the river.
We took a different route back toward the bus stop, through a lovely park, Englischer Garten, where we saw the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower). It seemed an odd place to see a Chinese Tower which was originally built in 1800, and rebuilt later, in 1952. Now it was fenced off to the public which was a real bummer because I was dying to take the little steps to the top floor and peek inside.
We had some time to enjoy the little town before the bus arrived so we grabbed a couple of coffees and pastries from a local bakery. The bakery had no seating so we found a bench to sit and enjoy the sun while we waited. After finishing our treats, we noticed we were sitting directly across from yet another bakery and well, decided to go for round two, ¿por qué no? (why not?).
Our last evening in Regensburg, the sun was shining and we took in the beautiful stained glass of St. Peter’s Cathedral. When I think of Germany, catholic churches and cathedrals don’t come to mind. In fact, I didn’t know that so many Germans were catholic. They are and they have gorgeous churches. The stained glass at St. Peter’s Cathedral rivaled that which we had seen in León back in Spain.
As we wound down our time in Regensburg, the knowledge that we were also winding down the time on our grand adventure. It felt bittersweet to be certain but we weren’t going to let that stop us from experiencing these last few moments and places to their fullest.
Stay tuned for more on our last days in Germany and our final European destination, Iceland!