Sunday, August 28, 2011

Germany 1993, Part II of II

Monday, November 8

Cloudy and cold again. We are right on the lake but sit up high and should be able to see the Alps across Lake Konstanz but visibility is zero. This alpine house is set in an apple orchard and they must make kirshwasser as that is a bit fruit product. The area is known for the cherry kirshwasser. We had a great local wine with our dinner last night, which we’ll try to buy before leaving town. The apples by the way grow as grapes on a low growing support. Our family, the Werner Fioger, grow pears in their orchard.

Our drive took us over the Bavarian Alps – an unbelievable climb with spectacular views. We ran into cloudbanks that were a bit scary, but they didn’t last long. We drove to Fiussin and Schwangau and visited Hohemschwangan and Neuschwanstein Castles, the latter being the most beautiful castle or palace I have ever seen. It didn’t need furniture, as the walls, ceilings and floors were magnificent. The colors were glorious. IT was really quite livable – built in 1856-1886. It is still unfinished and Ludwig only lived in it for six months. His intention was to have Wagner’s Operas performed in the ballroom. They do have a concert once a year. We found a beautiful hotel on Lake Alpsee – fabulous accommodations and a great restaurant. His father, Maximillian’s place, Hohenschwagan, was not as impressive. We climbed up to it and across to Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein – our cardio workout for the day. We like Fiuscen Bier also – they all taste terrific! We met a darling couple at dinner – his dad runs Mobil Europe and they are both studying Economics, one in Munich, one in Veena, East Germany. 

November 9

Cloudy and cold! We are frustrated to get a good look at these Alps. We’ve been driving over them, but haven’t seen them. We’re on our way to Garmische – stopped to see Weiskichen, a magnificent church – not big, but a work of art. Outside it was peach and off-white. Inside it was loaded with gilt and the ceiling and walls were painted in gorgeous colors. The choir and organ loft was all gold and white. It took our breath away. Another three wishes.

We stopped at a little neighborhood church next to our hotel this morning that dated back to 1800. It was magnificent. The German churches are colorful and baroque – exquisite paintings and murals. We stopped in Oberammergau – nice center, but very much felt like a tourist trap. Too many souvenir shops. Then on to Linderhof, another of Ludwig II’s castles. It is much smaller than Neuschanstein, but he lived here most of his life. It is terribly glitzy – they get 5,000 visitors a day in the summer. Then on to Garmisch – nice town – lots of shops. I bet it would be fun in the snow. We’re staying at a nice Guesthouse, Kornmuller, we have an apartment. Off to Salzburg, Austria tomorrow.

November 10

Gastehaus Kornmuller is run by an elderly lady who is fabulous sales person. You can’t help but like her immediately. She speaks English she has learned from her guests over the years. The weather started out cloudy but by noon we had some sunshine and our first sight of the Alps. This is the Lyral area of the Alps and the mountains are magnificent. Some go straight up like a wall. Some are snow topped. We drove through Innsbruck to Kitzbuhel. Innsbruck is such a large city, we decided to pass and we’re happy we apt for Kitzbuhel. Jane will be happy and we sent her a card from her old haunts. They are all waiting for the snow to fall so business can begin in Kitzbuhel. Then on to Salzburg. We drove right into Old Town and found a Limmer John had seen recommended in a bike magazine. It looks tired outside, but is quite satisfactory and a short walk to town. The houses here and in Germany are built to last 500 years. The new houses have heavy, solid oak doors and plastered walls and marble stairs – very sturdy. We walked into town for our first chicken since leaving the USA. You never see it on a menu, but this town is very cosmopolitan and this was a chicken chain restaurant. Stores look very nice – very expensive – the exchange in Austria is 11:4 pence to a dollar. So if something is priced at 1500, it is approximately $150.

Enjoyed the conversation with a young mother and her two-year-old from California here with her husband for one semester while he is teaching at the University. A nice fifteen-minute walk back to our room. Early to bed as tomorrow we visit all the sights of Salzburg.

November 11

Good sunny day – warm, about 60 degrees. Walked to Mirabelle Plaza to meet our Sound of Music bus tour. There was a market day and the plaza was filled with vendors and shoppers. People are up early and stores open early – 8 a.m. for shoppers. It is the busiest time of day for local residents. The tour was great and they played the complete sound track from Sound of Music, as the tour progressed. The sun was out and we visited the places where the movies were set and some of the real places from the Von Trapp story. The mountain rides were wonderful and we stopped at St. Gilgen, a gorgeous village on the St. Wolfgang Lake and then again in Mondsee, a typical Austrian Alpine village – flower bedecked balconies and snowcapped Alps in the distance. We had hot apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and coffee in a Konditori in Mondsee. What a fun day!

Back in Salzburg by two, we visited Mozart’s home (not much) and 4 gorgeous churches all close together: St. Frances, University Church, St. Peters and Salzburg Cathedral. St. Peters is the gem although they are all masterpieces. We went up the funicular to the castle for the view, which is breathtaking. The trip up the straight cliff face was quite a thrill for me by itself. Upon coming back to earth, we stopped in Peters Stiftskeller for dinner. It is part of St. Peter’s church and they have been selling wine for centuries. However, it is a lovely restaurant – recently restored – food was fabulous – atmosphere superb. I’m out of superlations for today!!!

November 12

The sun is out and we have a milder day. We are driving to Munich. It didn’t take very long on the autobahn – even though we are traveling fast (85 mph) cars passed us like streaks of lightening. We want to stay near Iching where Roland and Lydia Jetter live as he is going to help us with our Munich program. We found a delightful town called Starnberger on Lake Starnberger See. The tourist office sent us to Pöcking (pronounced Perking) and we have a nice large room with bath and balcony. It feels like an English town to me. Most of the Bavarian kitsch is gone here. Roland came by for a visit and we had a glass of wine and we went over our schedule. Tomorrow from early 'til late we’ll be in Munich. We are just up the hill from the Bahnhof and trains run every twenty minutes into Munich. We had dinner right here in this wee town at one of the best restaurants yet. It was called Alt Kanzlei here in Pöcking.

November 13

We were certain it was raining when we woke and looked out. A heavy fog covered everything and the tin roof visible from our window was wet. So we set out ready for rain – umbrella, raincoat, oldest pants. We even took the car down the hill to the train station just in case it was still raining on our return after dark. It is cold – brr, as we stood on the outdoor platform waiting for the train to Munich. Arrived in Marienplatz in forty minutes – smooth, speedy trip. Reasonably priced: $12 round trip for two. The only thing cheap in this country I believe.

Munich is fabulous – the shopping area is wide open – no cars. Picture Fifth Avenue without cars paved in granite blocks with fountains, trees and beautiful shops and people. We visited St. Michael’s Dom Cathedral and St. Peter’s. The latter is most beautiful.

We went to the Deutsche Museum and saw Roland’s’ Venezuella Bridge. It was very impressive. It is a wonderful engineering museum, but I was too tired to enjoy it. The weather turned out fine, but so cold my face ached. The whole feeling of this city is exciting. We went to Hofbrauhaus and shared a mug of beer (1 liter) and met a darling young couple. She and her boyfriend were at our table. She is a medical student and he works on an oil tanker, but she was from Denmark and told us to visit Jutland for biking.

We found a great place for dinner, recommended by a lady we met on the train platform in Pöcking. It is called Marché (Move and Pick). They give you a card and you go from one station to another picking what you want. They stamp your card depending on the size of your plate. I was in a vegetable mood and filled a large plate with five different vegetables. It was one of our best dinners and definitely our least expensive. It was nice to see what was going on your plate when most of the time you pick from a menu you can’t read.

Ride home on train was very relaxing but we are walked out. Ice on our windshield had to be scraped to drive up to our hotel. Also, we saw the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz Square. This huge square was filled with people. Munich was filled with people – you could barely move in the street, although the stores close at 2 p.m. on Saturday for the day.

November 14

We wake to rain but I suspect it is clearing as I can see snowcapped mountains in the distance. This is a nice little town. We can see an apple orchard from our balcony and sheep grazing in someone’s backyard. We drove into Munich and became thoroughly lost for two hours. We found ourselves by accident at the Olympic Stadium that was on our list to see. It is a very unusual way to hang a roof, but looked quite homely from the outside. We gave up on the palace and left for Iching and our lunch with Lydia and Roland Jetter. They made our trip to Munich – what great people – so hospitable. We had a fabulous lunch, beautifully served in their home. He is so interesting and we hope we’ll see them again in the US. Their youngest son, Michael, is undergoing experimental treatment for leukemia and it is a very difficult time for them. Their daughter is expecting in February, a first baby. Other son, Andrus lives in Switzerland. After lunch we drove around the Starnburger See back to Pöcking and it was beautiful with the snowcapped Alps in the south, visible all the way. Even saw the Zugspitze – tallest peak in Germany.

We came back to Starnberg to find many people out walking on Sunday evening after dark in the cold, blustery evening. All the stores are closed except the newspaper store at the Bahnhof and a couple of bakeries that are being cleaned out. It is very different from the US, but people are out walking or strolling through the town center and in the parks and along the lake with children and carriages.

November 15

Wake to light snow flurries! Off early to Romantic Road. It is so raw and cold. I haven’t been warm in Germany except in bed. It poured the entire day. We drove through Augsburg to Donauworth to Nordlingen. It is a walled city and we took a quick tour in the rain. This road is lined with picturesque villages, but the weather was too bad to stop. We stopped at Dinkelsbuhl for a quick tour. It was not so good in the rain. We pushed on to Rothenburg odt and registered at the Hotel Glocke – very good – very German – excellent German dining room. John had a lentil dish and Spaetzle that was delicious. I hate to admit I had Bratwurst and Kraut twice today. Hoping for good weather tomorrow so we can see more of this town.

November 16

Snowflakes – cold and blustery. Rothenburg is the most picturesque and loveliest medieval city we’ve seen so far. We walked the town including the wall, which is quite scary. We didn’t walk all around the town on the wall, thank goodness. It is very high from the street and very narrow and although you have a banister, the walk is not smooth. The stairs are very steep going up or down to the wall. We stopped at the Konditorei for some apple strudel and coffee to warm our ears, and looked in the stores. Too expensive, not worth the prices. I bought a few little trinkets for Emily and Eric. We left about noon to finish the Romantic Road – on to Bad Mergentheim where we had lunch – another beautiful little town.

The quaint little towns are all running together in my head at this stage. We drove through Tauberbischofsheim to Wurzburg. Our hotel is very nice – another ring hotel Wittelsbacher Hof. The dining room is particularly lovely and completely painted in faux. We had a fabulous dinner – we are nearing the end of our trip and we are ready to go home.

Wednesday, November 17

Wurzburg, Wittelsbacher . Looks like another gray day. This is a holiday so we’re not sure what will be open. This is our last day in Germany. We really have seen Bacaria – could have shortened this by four days. Drove to Wurzburg Lentrum to see the Residence and the Cathedral. The Residence is a very large palace-like building which housed the Bishop in Residence of Wurzburg, one of the only towns that remained Catholic during the Reformation. The Residence is immense – beautiful art work but very cold. We also went to the Cathedral, which was destroyed in WWII. It has been completely restored. You can tell the old and new. The exterior is completely new, but they are to be commended for the fabulous job of restoration. We are tired of museums, etc. The town is empty due to a religious (Catholic) holiday. Everything is closed except the Residence and the church. We did a check on the route to the airport in Frankfurt and went back to Aschaffenburg for the night. The Wilder Man is another Ring Hotel and very dependable and reasonable. It is very cold. We’ll be off early tomorrow. These little German Hotels are rather cozy. The family runs it and I expect lives here also. They are extremely clean. I believe one of their shortcomings it hat brown is their favorite color. Outside buildings in Germany’s small towns are usually pastel – pink, peach, or yellow are most common. It has been a good trip but we are tired.

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