Written on October 12, 2013
This song is so ridiculously necessary. And badass.
Over the past weeks I have spent in Europe, I have fallen in love with Germany. Something about the countryside, the architecture, the cities, the language and the people have had me feeling extremely comfortable. A way to describe it is that if I were a square peg, growing up in Los Angeles felt like I was being shoved into a circular hole, and I finally found my square hole when I made it to Germany. Okay, so that may be a really super lame analogy, but you catch my drift.
I remember the first time I told my father that I had arrived in Cologne from Amsterdam, he asked me if it felt oddly familiar. At first I wasn’t sure, but now that I have spent some time in different parts of Germany, I do indeed feel that way. The reason why my dad asked me that, is because my last name is quite German. Ebersberger. As a child I was fascinated by Germany, I would research on the internet for hours about the country, the different cities, the history of it, and in 5th grade I even did my class Geography project on Germany. Being a history nut, family history is an interest of mine; and although I do not know much about my father’s side of the family, like when or where we really come from, it is a safe bet to think it is most likely southern Germany in the state of Bavaria. There is a tiny town about an hour or two south of Munich called Ebersberg. Obviously, while planning my trip, it was a goal of mine to see it and experience the city that my surname seems to have originated from.
A little history about Ebersberg….
It was founded by Benedictine monks in 934 A.D. when they built a small monastery. However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that the monastery began to exercise local jurisdiction. In 1595 the Pope at the time dissolved the monastery and gave it to the Jesuits. Being on the edge of the Black Forest, Ebersberg was the site of small battles between outlying armies like the Habsburg troops and the local peasants (who were later found to be innocent and were only fighting in self defense) during the Thirty Years War. In 1773 The Knights of Malta took over the building, and in 1808 the monastery was officially dismissed and turned over to the government to become semi-private property. All the while, Ebersberg had such a small population that it was only considered a village until 1954 when it was finally elevated to the status of ‘town’ or Kleinstadt. In order to be considered a Kleinstadt, there must be between 5,000-20,000 people residing there. I guess it ONLY took a little over 1,000 years for Ebersberg to finally reach that capacity! Today the population is around 11,000.
I hope you aren’t snoring… sorry, history buff mode is now turned off!
Alright, so, on to the fun stuff, my adventure through Ebersberg!
Joey and I were leaving for Salzburg later that evening from Munich, but knew that it was a priority for me to see Ebersberg. We got up fairly early and caught an S-Bahn train all the way to Ebersberg. Ebersberg was the last stop on the train, and the ride was so very beautiful. It was extremely rainy outside, but the gloom made the countryside that was passing me by from my window to be more glorious and vibrantly green. We finally arrived and got off at the train station to what seemed like a dead town. I mean, this is my last name people… I was expecting a red carpet, trumpets, and a crown the moment I stepped foot in Ebersberg! (Just kidding, I hate trumpets…)
We had no plan of what to do or where to go considering the internet didn’t have much of a MUST SEE list to offer us, so we just decided to wing it. We popped open yet another abandoned umbrella that our friend Nick from the Euro Youth Hostel in Munich gave to us, and started walking. There was a ton of construction going on, so our path directly towards the city center was blocked. We found an alternate route and admired the very old buildings along the way. Joey and I walked through the most quiet and dainty little outdoor market I had ever seen, and we came across a beautiful little fountain with a boar head on it. Here are a few photos I took around the town.
Eber means BOAR in German, so it happens to be on EVERYTHING; the maps, the signs, my family coat of arms… yeah. As an Ebersberger, I am nothing more than a boar on a hill. How glorious!
Anyway, the only building I really wanted to see was the old monastery, which I mistakenly thought had been turned into a beer hall. Welp, we found it, and it was definitely not a beer hall. All of the old town and the original buildings I had read about had been transformed into city-hall and government offices. LAME.
At this point we are soaked from head to toe, and we fancied a dry place and a hot beverage in our bellies. I was determined to find postcards for Ebersberg, but there were absolutely none in any of the stores we checked. Giving up, we walked into a little gelato/coffee shop that was along the main square. The people that worked there looked quite surprised when we walked in (probably because there were about 5 people in the entire town who braved the weather that day.) Joey ordered a coffee and I had a tea, and Jo decided to ask the staff what there was to do in the good ol’ town of Ebersberg. Well, the staff were oddly ALL Portugese, and they could give two shits that my last name was the name of the town that provided them with a job; AND they told us that there is nothing to see and that we should take the S-Bahn back a few stops to explore a different town that had more to offer. I was feeling very disappointed and bummed out that my childhood dream of visiting Ebersberg was turning into such a bust.
A few minutes later a young man sat down across from us at a table alone and ordered himself a coffee. I can’t recall if we approached him first or if it was the other way around, but somehow the three of us got to talking because we were all American. This guys name has completely disappeared from my memory (surprise, surprise) but I will just call him Tyler, because Tyler sounds familiar, sort of.
So, Tyler is from San DIego, California, and was staying in Ebersberg for a few days because he had fallen in love with a german girl (who was from Ebersberg) that he had met while he was traveling through Spain. He told us of his adventure so far and how magnificent Spain was. There is a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) where travelers can chose one of many pilgrimage routes throughout Europe that all end at the Tomb of St. James in the northwest of Spain. I believe Tyler did the most popular one, the Camino Frances which stretches about 500 miles! The route takes about a month to walk, but is apparently one of the greatest things many European travelers have done. For example, I later met a guy in Budapest who had done the same trip, and after hearing about it, I have added it to my bucket list! What an accomplishment…. can you even imagine?
After coffee we invited Tyler to come with us to walk to the Museum of Nature. The museum was at the edge of the Black Forest, and the lengthy walk to it proved to be absolutely stunning.
Once we got to the top of the hill, there was a dirt path lain with large trees on both sides that lead to the museum building. The fascinating thing about these trees is every single one of them had a white plate with a soldiers name, hometown, age, and rank on a plate nailed to the tree. All of them were WWI soldiers. I later discovered that inside the forest itself there were hundreds more of these plaques. I thought I had taken close-up photographs of the plaques but I guess I didn’t. Blast.
Unfortunately the Museum of Nature was closed that day (or for the season, who knows!) so the three of us decided to explore the forest ourselves. The rain had stopped at this point, and the view from the hill was breathtaking. All of Ebersberg was laid out below us in a glorious lush of green, mist and and vibrant flowers.
We were deep in the forest at the point where I made this video for my brother, sister, and my dad:
Let’s just NOT comment on the hideousness that is the still youtube chose to use for this video, shall we?
We walked through the forest a little more and came upon a monsterously tall Lookout-tower. Being numbingly scared of heights I didn’t necessarily want to make the journey to the top, especially in the rain, but I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t see MY town from the best view I could. Truth be told, I did it for my fellow Ebersbergers.
As we began our descent up the steep, slippery metal tower, a storm hit. Of course, right!? Why wouldn’t it!? We were caught in a torrential downpour of rain and thunder and insane winds. But, we prevailed and eventually made it to the top. I held onto the safest ledge at the top that I could find, almost in tears from fear, but found the strength to pry myself away for a minute to take a few photographs. This is probably the only one that came out considering the rest were blurred by rain:
Although the view was absolutely beautiful, I had had enough: I came. I saw. I conquered. And I just wanted to get the hell down from there before I slipped on a puddle and fell a million feet down to land on the ground of my newly beloved forest with a big ol’ fatal SPLAT! I mean, could you imagine the irony? Or the headline? AMERICAN GIRL FALLS TO HER DEATH IN THE FOREST THAT DONS HER LAST NAME. Yeah… I had many of these morbid thoughts as I slinked my way back to ground level.
At this point we began our trek back to the train station so we could make it back in time for our train to Salzburg. I tried to use the already injured umbrella to my advantage as much as humanly possible, but the wind mercilessly murdered it within 5 minutes of leaving the tower. I mean, deformed umbrella to the max, inside-out with spokes all over the place like something out of the nightmare of a mother who uses the “you’ll poke your eye out, kid!” warning too frequently.
Kind of like this:
The walk back was pretty miserable. The three of us looked as though we had just jumped in a river for a quick bath, my Doc Martens were soaked through to my socks, my leather jacket was about 5 lbs. heavier from the absorption of water, and my makeup was running down my face like a 16 year old girl on prom night whose date stood her up. Although it was humorously wretched, the rain eventually stopped and we made it to the train station. Joey and I grabbed a delicious dôner kebab sandwich, bid Tyler farewell, and boarded our train back to Munich. I hung my jackets and my scarf over the handrails above my seat to dry for the majority of our journey back until the train began getting more crowded.
All in all, I would love to visit Ebersberg again someday, preferably with a few family members and with a plan to find records of our history there. The little town was extremely charming, and if I accidentally have children someday, I hope to take them there as well.
On that note, I will leave you with this righteous 1993 jam because, well, Ebersberger is the name I call MYSELF. YUP.