Cuckoo clock land

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, September 22, 2006

FRIDAY, 22nd September
Perfect blues skies as we drove out of Strasbourg but then the fog came down and we saw little of the drive south to Colmar along a very busy highway dotted with the headlights of the oncoming traffic. [I have always been of the opinion that if you cannot see a car approaching in broad daylight without it having its headlights on then you should not be driving a car. On principle I, therefore, rarely put my headlights on during the day. Following a vehicle with the rear red lights on can create confusion if and when that vehicle brakes. On the continent for reasons that elude me 80% of the motorists have their lights on at all times. There are rules in Italy where it is compulsory to have them on when on an autostrade. It is also  necessary in the many tunnels in the mountainous areas of southern Europe...although those tunnels are often well lit. In fog it would make more sense to have sidelights on but not around here...full headlights were ablaze. If headlights have to be on then the Americans have the best system. Their new cars are fitted with headlights that automatically switch on at all times but keep the rear lights switched off.]
We took the road off to Haut Koenigsbourg with the intention of finding the castle of the same name. The road, which until now had been level (the Rhine valley), now took off up into the hills narrowing down to one lane in a delightful village called Ribeauville which was awash with flowers and ending at the entrance to Koenigsbourg Castle.
It was wonderful surprise. This fortress had laid in ruins for some 200 years until the early 20th century when it was decided to rebuild it. Over the years it has literally been rebuilt from the remaining foundations and outer wall to a wonderful example of what can be done with a lot of money and dedication. But it was not a castle in the conventional sense. It was of an oval shape as it followed the contours of the top of the hill and the rocky cliff.
There were numerous rooms on several levels, all furnished with items from different centuries and collected from various sites. There were three indoor courtyards overlooked by the protective ramparts and thick walls. There was an assortment of cannons up on the battlements and inside was the armoury which contained mostly hand weapons. In the dining hall the walls and ceiling were covered with frescos and chandeliers overlooked an oak dining table.
We walked up turrets and across balconies and down stairwells. There was no pretence that it be anything but a restoration but it had been rebuilt, where possible, with much the same materials and from designs that were garnered from illustrations and photos from previous centuries as an anthropologist could reconstruct an ancient face from skull bones.
Bodo Erhardt (1865-1945)  was the architect. In 1901 Wilhelm II authorised and funded the project which initially took some eight years but has been ongoing since then. It's a bit Disneyish with its fairytale spires and constant stream of visitors but no, Walt could not have built this. If it was not for the fact that I could read some of the French text there was no way the casual overseas visitor would have known the extent of the restorations.
There was an outer wall through which the defenders could shoot their arrows. Every time I turned a corner there was something different. No regularity to it. It had been added to for centuries previously and Ebhardt had captured every nook and cranny. It seems that every time we come upon a new cathedral or castle it is better that the one before. Terrific view over the valley in spite of the fog below which refused to lift.
We drove on to Colmar and parked in the 'old town' car park as it was called to discover that it was free! Probably because it was a long way from anywhere but not a meter to be seen...most unusual. [There really was not a patch of spare ground within a town or city where there was not a parking meter or 'automat' as they are often called. Pay and display in the UK. Park the car, feed the machine, place ticket on dashboard and try not to forget where you parked it! Sometimes in smaller towns there was just a time limit as in Holland and you were obliged to put a blue disc on the dashboard which indicated your time of arrival. Otherwise, for all street and underground parking have plenty of coins to hand.]In the Plaza de Jean d'Arc we sat at an outside table and had coffees while we decided which way to go. In spite of the map across the road we still did not know which way to go to see the 'little Venice' as advertised in the brochures. Anyway, we walked this way and that way, saw some old and some new but never seemingly getting to the heart of the town. At last some old stuff...bits here and bits there until we came across a flower bedecked drain! And then a wider waterway with an excuse for a gondola upon it. I am was quite pretty. We crossed one bridge and back over an other and that was it. We had had enough so went off in search of the car. We bought some bread rolls and ate them on the run. We had a lot of ground to cover yet.
We circled around Freiburg having decided that it was just another cathedral and followed the busy road to Lake Titisee. We found ourselves caught up in that same traffic holdup we encountered the previous time where they were rebuilding a bridge. This time it took hour or more to get through and you should have seen the queue the other side! I was a little concerned about the water temperature in the car. (I topped it up when we got was very low...but it did not make much difference).
In Lake Titisee we practically retraced our steps of the previous week showing all to L. She went cuckoo and bought two of those clocks in addition to the one she bought in Triberg the day before. I just hope they don't all strike the hour as she goes through customs in Sydney on her return. We ended up in the ice cream shop and I had a banana split while the girls had black forest cake.
From there it was an uneventful run back to Moos.
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