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Monday, 05 May 2008

Beer-less in Bavaria - Page 2

Written by Sarah Jane Shangraw
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You love traveling. You love peeking in on other cultures. And you try to participate—not merely observe—by joining the locals in their customs, eating the food, drinking the drink. So what is it like when an allergy prevents you from partaking in full?

Let me tell you: When the region is Bavaria and the drink is beer—in fact the best beer in the world—it ain’t easy to say no.

Contrary to my guidebook’s explanation that the trails we followed were maintained in various grades to ensure the safe journey of all sorts of religious pilgrims to the site, it seemed only beer enthusiasts crowded the complex. I wondered: Was anyone here for the church?

Beer-less in Bavaria, Bavarian brews, Bavarian beer, Andechs, Bavarian monastery, Benedictines of AndechsAndechs boasts a baroque chapel dripping in gold ornament and statuary, with bright frescoes splashed across the ceiling. The first Andech pilgrims, drawn to see relics brought from the Holy Land in the tenth century by Saint Rasso, arrived at what was likely a more humble structure, the St. Nikolaus Chapel of Andechs Castle. Over the centuries, political wrangling among the region’s royals saw regicide, departures to the Crusades, and a mysterious 150-year disappearance of the relics. The church was improved, only to get moved, or burn, and built again. Today’s Rococo flagrancy hails from a rebuilding, in 1755, in honor of Andechs Monastery’s 300th year.

The visitors and tourists in evidence this day clearly didn’t care too much about the historical or religious aspects of the church one way or the other, their visit to the chapel a mere penitential obligation paid out of a vague sense of duty before heading for the beer. Once up the hill and inside the walls, they ducked into the church nave, looked up and around in one sweeping turn of the head, and left to join the crowd proceeding down the cobble toward the brew pub. Their steps, full of purpose, convinced me that theirs is a pilgrimage every bit as religious as the medieval worshipers of the holy relics. And although I didn’t taste any of the famous brews, amidst the throngs of Andech beer pilgrims enjoying the music, the company, and the views, I caught the buzz nonetheless.

© Sarah Jane Shangraw

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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