Absinthe and sausage

Trip Start Jul 2003
Trip End May 2005

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Flag of Germany  ,
Thursday, July 17, 2003

Number 2 (16th July 2003 - 24th July 2003)
Spent far too long in an absinthe shop to remember where we got too. Many thanks for your emails. Will reply when internet prices drop!!
Took train past vaaaast Audi plant, sparkling in the sunshine along with the huge piles of aluminium die offcut waste. Deep valleys lined with forests and car plants. European city of the car (F) very impressive but far too hot. Huge civic city centre park surrounded with bank style buildings and subways underneath.
Boarded train to to new country and city (G). As we approached border, monsoon type rains hit with hail stones the size of bratwurst meatballs. Train halted as trees lined its path. Very pleasant change from the hot weather. Campsite washed out but very pleasant view over the city lake. No gold to be seen but apparently it´s all buried under the roads.
Hiked to train station with full ponchos, looking like separated front and back ends of pantomime horse.
Stopped in the small town of St Gallen to look at the incredible cathedral with its 20 or so painted ceilings, then took small mountain train to an Alpine town (H) known for its cheese to cheer up. They also had their own beer, and strangely a beach volleyball competition. Local fondue with local beer and local volleyball team. Wonderful.
Hike down through Heidi style mountains to narrow gauge railway to Wasserauen after breakfast of strong local cheese, soft fruit and water. Ooh dear. Cable car took us up to Ebenalp (1052m) and mountain church. Stomach churning all round, and Germany was there in the haze somewhere. More cheese and then train and bus to the next country, which was so tiny we almost missed it.
Rare European opportnity to have our passports stamped (which we did). Then we stayed in a tepee. In a cowboy infested setup where the beer was free (at the insistence of the barman who poured the first one over Will`s feet). What nice people. What a crazy place. The U19 European games were being hosted here and things got a little out of hand at Latino night. I think dancing on stage in front of TV cameras and ´a few´ locals may have been an error. Then back to the corral for more nonsense and burning of most of the town on the bonfire. And more free strong Contintental lager.
The next day consisted of 5 hours on horribly hot bus, changed at Feldkirch in Austria with pocketfuls of now useless Swiss francs. Arrived at happy-clappers festival at campsite in the beer friendly capital (J) of Bavaria. Spent most of the next day visiting the first and longest running concentration camp (K) of the 3rd Reich. Small amount of vast original site left, but enough of the cells and shooting wall to evoke plenty of feelings. Literally very sobering moments spending reading the history of the 3rd Reich and the horrors which were to follow.
Back into the city and some amazing cathedrals of medieval art. And then unfortunately collided with the Solar Festival of God-squadding Germans trying to be Africans. Very ironic after our morning´s visit to the concentration camp.
Walked to Hofbrau hoose, small litres of lager and large men in Leiderhosen (?) and feathers, but very little bum slapping.
Very humid and too much walking. Crossed Lower Limestone Alps to next city (L) and country. This city is named after its ´white gold` as the Celts and Romans called it. A little bit of nightmusic was accompanied by yet more cheese and rain. And then heat. And then rain. And then heat. Natural history museum was fantastic, as was the setting of this picturesqe city.
Another wonderful cathedral with 5 organs, tinkled by many a famous composer (one in particular).
Our next mission was to the mountain town of Werfen to find the largest ice caves in the world. After 50 minute train ride, scary bus ride up mountainside, 3 mile walk/climb, cable car, further walk/climb we arrived at the entrance. Strangely like queuing at Alton Towers. Thousands of metres up in severe heat the doors were opened. The drop of temperature to 0c inside caused incredible pressure change which blew our clothes off (100 mph) and we were in. And my word what caves! Vast caverns filled with natural ice sculptures, hundreds of metres thick in places and some of it thousands of years old. Personal tour in English by very keen guide who was probably born in the caves (his eyes were a bit pale).
Now sat in cafe, in a city (M) which brought fingers and swirls to the world.

Best go, music to be played and cheese to be eaten (groan).

Willie and Emmsie
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