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Published: December 27th 2006
I Love This Picture
I thought it would be nice to start off my Bavarian Roadtrip blog with a photo of the famous Bavarian castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein.
With family in country, we jump in a rented 4WD and head down south to revisit some of our favorite, and some of the most famous, Bavarian sites. And for those of you who have attention spans similar to mine, and have no intention of finishing the blog itself, please note that there are three pages of photos to accompany this blog, all worth a look.
Our trip started out when we left Heidelberg Friday night in our rented Mercedes ML 280 CDI 4matic in a chilly 48°F / 9°C and took off for Munich. The vehicle, to its credit, was huge and a real smooth ride and, most importantly, great on gas. Also, the automatic shifter pedals on the steering wheel were quite fun. Anyway, we take Autobahn 5 to A6 to A81 to A8 and the steadily decreasing temperature hits 35°F / 1.5°C as we hit a 2300 ft. altitude about 6:30pm. We reach Munich about an hour and a half later and drive around in circles for awhile before meeting up with Tamara and her friend Cassie at the Four Points Sheraton. We hop on the subway to the Hofbrauhaus, but a lack of any empty chairs
Cassie and Tamara in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, where our roadtrip began.
prompts us to eat dinner next door at the Hard Rock Café. This included a brownie sundae, which is always a good idea.
Saturday we’re on the road by 0730 and following A95 south, just after the late winter sunrise. A few miles out of Munich, we stop at a small town’s McDonalds to ask directions to the nearest Esso, and stay for a latté and gourmet muffin while warming up by the fireplace (see picture).
Surprisingly, even though the online weather channel predicted six feet of snow in this area in the last two days, we see only frost as we proceed into the Alps and through the tiny mountain towns between Garmisch and Hohenschwangau. Finally, we reach the latter town around 0945 and watch the Schloss Neuschwanstein grow upon the mountainside as we approach. We take a horse and carriage up to the 19th century Neuschwanstein Castle, past the Hohenschwangau Castle, but I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the last time I rode this horse and carriage ride up this mountain in April there was snow on the ground and now, in November, there was not. After a tour of
Yes, this is really a McDonalds. Yes, that is an actual fireplace blazing in the background. Yes, those are real tea lights on the tables. ...I'm going to be so disappointed in McDonalds whenever I make it back to the States.
the castle, through an indoor cave and under a 2000 lb. chandelier hanging over a floor of 2 million tiles and through a bedroom with indoor plumbing of natural mountain water and an automatic flushing toilet, we hike up to the Marienbrücke to see the castle from the bridge over the nearby gorge. It was a heck of a hike, especially since I was sick, but the view was well worth the climb, even though the unsteady boards of the bridge nearly threw me into a fit of hysterics abated only by the fact that I did not look down.
We rode back down the mountain in a carriage full of American tourists and ate lunch at the Müller Hotel, getting back into the car, faces flushed from wind burn, just as it started to rain rather hard. We arrive at the Linderhof Palace, another project of King Ludwig, about 1530 and take the guided tour which consisted of a man speaking about the castle in German, then pressing a button so a recording can tell us about the castle in English, and then in Italian. The mirror room is my favorite place in this palace, this visit as
On a photo pit stop.
well as my first visit. And I simply love all the porcelain, which mostly takes the form of candleholders. We spent very little time exploring the grounds, as most of it was blocked off because of the season, and we walked back to the car in the cold drizzling rain. The Mercedes tried to tell us it was 51ºF / 10.5ºC, but we’re pretty sure it was lying to us, because we were all freezing.
We start driving back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, passing by the familiar Stadl (hay sheds). We make one stop in the town of Ettaler to visit the Ettal Monastery. The church itself was closed, the doors guarded by a large, solid monk, so our pit stop mostly consisted of visiting a nearby store to buy some of the monk's specially brewed beer and liquor before getting back to the road. As we drive to the downtown area of Garmisch in the pitched darkness of 6pm, we are forced to pull over to let a parade pass by. We didn’t know what was being celebrated, but it started with alter boys carrying candles and crucifixes, followed by a priest, followed by a band decked out in full
Bavarian dress and playing the tuba, French horn, accordion, drums and more, and that followed by a whole town’s worth of parishioners, young and old, carrying paper lanterns.
We find our hotel, the Posthotel Partenkirchen, soon after that, located in the pedestrian area of downtown. It was a beautiful hotel, the lobby decorated by elegant wood carving and our rooms were decorative as well, especially relative to the hotels we usually choose. The walls and ceilings were covered in wood, and we had a neat antique mirror and tabletop electric chandelier, and even the hallways were full of antique goodies. After a quick dinner, we head over to Garmisch’s only Irish Pub. It’s called “Irish Pub.” Here was had a round of white Tequila in honor of Veteran’s Day, before delving into our more traditionally Irish drinks.
Sunday we eat breakfast at the hotel, which included waffles, before heading into town. As it was Sunday, almost every shop was closed, so we make a quick stop at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort for gift shop goodies and hot coffee. Then we hop on the B2 for a countryside drive over the border into Austria, passing all kinds of
One's first view of the castle, approaching from the lonely country roads.
scattered stadl and Bavarian homes along the foothills of Southern Germany. As the rain turned slushy about 1010, we cross the border, solely signified by a two-foot by two-foot sign announcing “Republic Österreich.” The drive has wonderful views and the mountains were amazing. They were covered in a green so dark it was almost black and spotted with a dull brownish-orange, the trees giving the mountainsides the appearance of brushed velvet.
We reach Innsbruck, Austria about 1045 and find parking in the Zentrum, taking a space on the opposite side of the city park from the Imperial Palace. We walk down to the river to take a few pictures in the 40ºF rain, though one can’t complain about the cold when the dwindling rain reveals a rainbow painted across the snowy Alps. We walk around downtown, snapping pictures of the Golden Roof and nearby Christmas tree, visiting specialty shops and, of course, the Swarovski Crystal Gallery. We eat lunch at Wienerwald and I have excellent Hungarian Goulash soup. Then we shop a bit more as we stroll the city streets, heading back to the car as it starts to rain, and we’re all soaked by the time we reach
Horse and Carriage
Our transportation up to Neuschwanstein from the town below, with the Hohenschwangau Castle in the background.
the car at 1500.
We get back on the road and head back to Germany, and suddenly, between towns, the rain turns to snow. Since we were a car full of Floridians, we were obliged to stop for a romp in the snow. Tamara makes a snowman, Cassie makes a snow angel, and me, well, I made yellow snow behind some trees, mostly because I was tired of having to pay for public bathrooms everywhere we went.
When we get back on the road again, the snow turns to rain… then back to snow… then back to rain… and then we experience a short-lived snowstorm as we cross the border back into Germany at 1600, before it’s back to the grey rain to which we’re so very accustomed.
After dropping off our travel buddies in Munich and saying our goodbyes, we get back on the road at 1900, this time with me behind the wheel. I loved the cruise control on this thing, and going between 90, 95, 100, and 95 simply by pressing buttons on the steering wheel. Seth mentions that we’ve gained quite a bit of trust in each other since we’ve been living in
Me and hubby on the walking trail up to the castle (after the horse and carriage drops us off).
Europe, and I had to agree because I don’t know many people living in the States who feel perfectly safe driving 100mph (160km/h) in an SUV down a curvy, pitched black highway in the rain. Of course, if there were streetlights over here like there are in the States, I’d have been going faster. But if I were in the States, I’d have been driving slower. It’s hard to explain to people not accustomed to driving over here that this sort of thing is usually anticipated and thus, safer, as opposed to driving in the States, where this sort of behavior would get you killed.
We stop at a Burger King for dinner, another road trip tradition, and stay there for a full half hour because, quite frankly, we'd been in the car all weekend, and I don’t care how nice a vehicle is, nothing is 24/7 nice. We pull into Heidelberg at 2245, a little earlier than expected, and happy to be on solid ground again.
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