Prien am Chiemsee

We learned of this town back when a summer in Germany was still a small idea in our minds. Prien sits on the southern border of Germany and Austria and is on the main rail line between Munich and Salzburg. (We can’t wait to go a little farther south very soon!) Prien sits on Lake Chiemsee, often called “The Bavarian Sea,” and there are three main islands in the lake.

We arrived late-morning, after a train ride through southern Bavaria as the Alps grew closer and closer. We took the boat to the first island, Herreninsel, home to a palace built by King Ludwig II in 1878 which was meant to be a replica of Versailles.

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To get to the palace, we had about a fifteen-minute walk on the island, past some lovely green pastures and through a pine forest. The children enjoyed the walk, although after a 1+ mile walk (often uphill!) from the train station to the boat dock, my body was not enjoying it quite as much!

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The palace had some impressive fountains and lush green grass, so we plopped ourselves in the shade and ate our packed lunch. Again, the children entertained themselves and had the time of their lives with sticks (and later a lunch box!) in the grass. It’s not often that a few toddlers have the chance to play in front of a German palace.

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The kids are such troopers when it comes to these long days with missed naps and lots of walking, and they almost always choose to walk with us instead of ride in the stroller. I am so glad they readily embrace these new adventures. Especially if sticks, water, or rocks are involved. They had a chance to put their feet in the water and play with rocks (throw rocks), which is likely their favorite pastime as we waited for the boat. A highlight for them, I am sure.

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The second main island, Frauenchiemsee, is the smaller of the two, although we found ourselves wishing we had a lot more time to walk and explore. (Bedtimes were coming quickly, and we still had that mile-long walk back to the station and an hour plus train ride ahead of us.) Travis and I agreed to one day come back to the island, without children, so that we could walk and explore and eat with no other concerns. The island is home to a few professional fishermen, lovely gardens and alleyways, and a Benedictine nunnery that was built in 782.

On the way there, Edith made a friend with a very kind man who we were sitting by on the boat. He and his wife were understanding of the constant wiggles and occasional whining from the younger of the two children and he invited Edith to sit by him. She sat down right next to him and it was so cute to watch her slowly inching closer.

Another Edith story: on an earlier boat ride, a woman was sitting with her feet out, placed on top of her shoes. As we were getting ready to get off the boat, Edith says, quite loudly: “Mom, she has her toes out!” The woman understood perfectly, laughed, and started to talk to Edith. It was quite funny. Edith has begun to make comments about things she sees about other people, and I have been laughing to myself, thinking that it is quite convenient this is happening in Germany where most of the time, no one knows she’s talking about them. On the train, she saw a man with a large tattoo on his calf and said: “Mom, why did he color on himself?” After seeing a woman with ripped jeans: “Mom, she has holes in her jeans!” And upon seeing a man with a vape on the tram today: “Mom, what does he have?” All of this is, of course, with a pointing finger and spoken in a less-than-subtle voice. We’ve been working on the pointing first. Still, her comments provide some good laughs for Travis and me.

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The church is the only part of the convent that is open to the public, as it is still active. It was absolutely gorgeous, with lovely painted ceilings, soft light, and the feeling that it is very, very old. The patron of the convent is Saint Irmengard, who was a granddaughter of Charlemagne and the daughter of a German king. Her father built the nunnery, and she was the first abbess at Chiemsee. Her tomb, which dates 866, was in the church.

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We wish we could have stayed longer on the island, but were already pushing it with the babies. The boat back to Prien took longer than expected, so we caught an even later train back to Munich than we hoped. (And JH caught a stroller nap on the walk to the station!) Thankfully, the rain held off until we were on the train and we had a picturesque view on the way back. One day I would like to see Chiemsee in the sunshine, but the clouds for the day offered a few mercies: less sunburn, and some happily moody photos. All in all, it was a great day, and the children slept until 8 a.m. this morning—the first time that has happened this entire trip.

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