Tyrolling along

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

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Where I stayed
Hotel Altpost

Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Sunday, September 24, 2006

SUNDAY, 24th September
We left about 8.30am and drove around a fog shrouded lake which by the time we had passed Meersberg and Friedrichschafen and into the hills east of Lindau was still hanging around. In fact we missed some of the best parts because of that fog and it only cleared as we entered Immenstadt where we stopped and had a cuppa in a deserted square. There was only one other at those tables that Sunday morning. He sat alone, sipping on his early morning stein of beer, smoking his roll-your-own tobacco and slowly removing his shoes and socks. He hobbled over to the fountain nearby to wash his feet, returned to his table and tied his shoes to the to the handlebars of his bike. Sometimes I have the compulsion to watch the antics of the locals and report.
The mist had gone. It was delightful country once again...so green. Rolling hills, small farms with large homesteads, high mountains in the distance, ski lifts on both sides and blue skies above. We drove around Fussen following the signs towards the castles, one of which was the inspiration for Walt Disney's logo. It was called Neuschwanstein and the other, Hohenschwangen. The former was the fairy tale palace built by that mad King Ludwig. Methinks he was anything but mad. Eccentric maybe but he has left a legacy that most children in the word recognise.
There was an enormous car park at the foot of the mountain on which it stood and we were lucky to find a spot for 4 Euros near to the pathways up to the castle. But first of all...lunch. It was impossible to find a seat on which to sit and eat our sandwiches. We had to walk a fair way, around the back of a school to find a wall to sit on. Public seating is definitely discouraged in this country. No doubt by the hundreds of bars with a vested interest in funneling us to their tables. In retrospect I think we should have taken our lunch up to the castle.
Having filled our bellies again we went back to the circus around the foot of the mountain and discovered that we had three choices. We could either walk up the pathways to the castle, take a bus or go by horse and carriage. We chose the bus having been warned by friends at home that it was a tough tramp. We queued for about 20 minutes, clambered onto the bus with many others which was somewhat similar to the airport buses that shuttle passengers across airfields and were dropped off a couple of hundred metres from the castle but a short walk to that bridge. That bridge was a steel construction with timber planks as the walkway. It spanned a deep rocky ravine from where we and hundreds of others could get a near perfect view of the Mickey Mouse castle. It was quite spectacular as was the view of the gorge beneath my feet between the timbers. Anne raced onto this wooden bridge with all the others whilst I hung back a tad. For the first time in my life I was scared at the prospect of a bridge collapsing under the weight and movement of all those people. I could not get off it quick enough. If there was no one else there it would not have been a problem. It was all these people jostling for photo shoots on a rickety bridge that unnerved me. I hope they check it every day.    
To enter the castle it was necessary to buy a tour ticket which allowed you to join one of the many conducted tours. We had not bought tickets because of the expense and that it would take too long to complete. The tours were numbered and there were many up there waiting for their number to be called. We found it to be quite common in Germany in that popular historical sites were only accessible by an accompanied guide. I have no problem in principle with that except that the commentary was usually in a foreign language and took longer that I was prepared to linger. We wandered around the outside of the castle and into the first inner courtyard but, really, this palace looked much better from a distance. What did surprise me was that it was barely a hundred years old, so hardly a medieval monument as I had imagined. In fact much of it was completed in the 1920's when they, no doubt, had earth moving equipment, steam shovels and cement mixers.
We walked back and, gee, it was steep. I was glad we did not walk up. Some poor drunken sod was trying to do just that, collapsed in front of us, scrambled up, gave us a drunken salute and continued on his way. He will be dead by the time he gets to the top, I thought, but then he is young and full of alcohol. We were very tired by the time we reached the car. Lots of Brits and Americans here. A cacophony of English dialects that we had not heard for a while.
Off we went again. Up the so called Romantic Highway which ran from just south of where we were to Nordlingen and beyond. We were not prepared to go that far so we headed north with the intention of turning towards Oberammergau. We stopped off at Wieskirche...another baroque style church. Another beautifully decorated nave and altar...although the word garish comes to mind...lots of gilt, cream and pastels. On to Oberammergau where we arrived just as they were clearing up after a cycle race. The roads were blocked off in the middle of town and there were banners and PA systems everywhere being dismantled. Being Sunday this town offered free parking and we found a spot near to the centre from where we went on our usual exploratory wanderings. We found the Playhouse which had been Anne's objective in this town. It was the theatre in which was presented the Passion play every ten years and which involved all the townsfolk and, no doubt, the visitors too. It was closed but we could see that it was an open theatre...Greek style maybe...with room for hundreds on stage and thousands on the floor.
The shops in the town specialised in not only all those religious icons one would expect in a place like this but it was a mecca for lovers of dolls. Every other shop window was full of dolls, figurines or statuettes...I know not where one description ends and the other begins. I was taken by the metre high, mountain climber who was hanging from a rope off the side of a cliff. It would have looked great on our balcony at home. We had a drink in the Hotel Altpost in the town square and decided to stay there and in that hotel if they had rooms. They did and they were very comfortable. L had a cute room under the eaves with a bunk bed and a strange shaped bathroom designed to fit under the sloping roof. We walked around the town again looking for somewhere suitable to have dinner but they were either too expensive or closed. Our hotel was doing a brisk business so we ended up there and had soup and salad for me, schnitzel for them and a bottle wine between us.
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