There are places in the woods you may never find yourself. Deep in the green mossy thick of it, each step sinking you deeper and deeper into the earth. You may look up at the blinding light coming through the trees and notice just how tall they are. You may wonder what the view from the top is really like and realize how dark it is where you are, at the roots of those trees. At these stems are mushrooms and lots of them. That’s what a trip to the woods is like in rural Bavaria. Between Walsassen and Tirschenreuth, paths guide you into the forest where different mushrooms flourish. As we walk down a path, an old man has his woven basket and a small knife. He says this is his seventh time out here in the past two weeks, each time his basket is full to the brim. However, he doesn’t eat them, he gives them away. He just enjoys being in the thick of it.
It seems mushroom picking is a very popular hobby in these parts. However, I’ve been warned multiple times it’s not just for anyone. You need to know what you are looking for, the good and the bad. What the underbelly of a mushroom looks like and whether or not that may kill you the day after you have eaten it. Sometimes that is the only differentiating factor. There are many deaths each year in Bavaria from family’s dying because they have eaten poisonous mushrooms and I think my lens will put me at a safe distance from being one of those numbers myself.
On each side of our trip into the forest, we visited two towns. Waldsassen is famous for its beautiful library which took 22 years and 18 helpers to finish. You wouldn’t think much of such a small town but when you witness the beauty behind its history- you’ll think again. The library is carved out of wood and displays the 7 deadly sins in real life characters that guard each side of the four doors. It also has many pubs which carry “Zoigl” which is only brewed in this specific area of Bavaria. It is displayed by two overlapping triangles resembling a star (similar to the Star of David) which represent the six ingredients used to make the beer. Tirschenreuth is home to one of the oldest bridges in Bavaria and was recently redone with a large green space wrapping around the town hall. Off to the side of this new green space is an old truck, missing its doors, windshield and engine. Replacing it are flowers, leaves, nests and roots.
You would never know that each of these towns hold such history and beauty. Unfortunately, I believe that’s the case for the majority of places we normally wouldn’t visit or wouldn’t know of. So, hopefully on your next drive to a major city, you will be able to stop at some smaller towns on the way to appreciate what may make them special for you.